So I guess it would be fair to live up to expectations and tell you where I actually live and wrap up this topic. Currently I am staying in the apartment owned by my grandmother and my mom. It's in a Stalinist apartment building--meaning that it's sturdy and has fairly high-ceilings (3 meters, to be exact). In this picture, the balcony on the fourth-floor on the right, is ours.
Russians seem to be more aware of square meterage. At about a 100 sq. m., this apartment is fairly large: two bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen, bath, toilet, and balcony. While all of this may mean little out of context, few average Russians have apartments of this size. It may seem luxurious with two people living here now (grandma and me), but when I was little, there were six of us living here. Basically, apartment space in St. Petersburg is at a premium and this shapes social interactions and views of privacy: much less likely to be invited to someone's house, house parties are rare, etc. Oh, and there will be all sorts of stuff crammed into small spaces. This old stuff sometimes makes me feel like I am truly back in the USSR--but since the apartment is not mine, I just deal with it.
Positives about this apartment include that within a one block radius, there are all sorts of public transportation that take me to most parts of the city (or at least to the nearest subway-stop), nearest subway stop is a twenty minute walk (a little far by SPB standards, but ok), within a two block radius are eight grocery stores (including two 24-hr ones), the harbor and park are two blocks away (with the sea wind keeping the air cleaner), and the neighborhood is not overly busy or dirty. If I had to give a Twin Cities point of reference for the proximity and cleanliness, I would use Uptown. On the map, the red dot and square (bottom left) are basically where we live on Vasilievsky Island (the city-center is at the center/bottom right-edge of the map).
We also have a nice courtyard and live across the street from a quiet (!) BFA-Actors dorm (those who know that I worked with the BFA-London program should appreciate this fact).
Some random observations that I would like to share about Russian apartments are that: a separate toilet and bathroom give an apartment more value (over a combined bathroom), not all buildings have elevators (ours does), almost all heating is central, wallpaper is considered nicer than painted walls, few people have carpeted floors, most appliances are smaller (less space) and dryers are uncommon.