New Holland Island in St. Petersburg, Russia
New Holland Island in St. Petersburg, Russia
New Holland Island in St. Petersburg, Russia

Moving to Russia

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Nov 27, 2021

Summary: Moving to Russia? Expats talk about what you need to know before moving to Russia.

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What do I need to know before moving to Russia?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Russia, they said:

"Traffic is usually terrible in Moscow so you should choose an area that's convenient for work, school and anything else you do regularly. We preferred living in the centre as we like going out and being close to the theatres, music and concert halls etc. Some people prefer living out of town in the compounds, mainly for the children. There are some lovely family friendly areas in town too. It's basically about reaching a convenient compromise for your whole family," said another expat in Moscow.

"Do not come here if you don't speak Russian. Expect to robbed and ripped off, so don't complain when it happens. You must make a lot of contacts with locals to avoid this. This is not like America. There are no "bad neighborhoods"," added another expat who made the move to Moscow.

"Moving your personal effects: Don't! Air freight costs are outrageous and boat shipments aren't much better. Buying comparable items here has worked quite well for me. The prices for many articles are about 50% higher than USA prices but without the customs duty, VAT, paperwork and forwarding nightmare of dealing with shippers, delays, and local trucking co's. Choosing the neighborhood: Locate a real estate agent who can speak at least some English, it isn't difficult if you ask around. Expect to see many different properties! And watch your step! (literally!) In the US we don't think much about our footing because the floors are all level from room to room, or from street to entry. Here in SPb it is very easy for the tourist to fall because the streets and floors are all at different levels! Expect to step up and down often. Laundries are rare, indoor personal washers and clothes driers are rare but becoming more commonplace. You can pay to have a bought W/D unit installed but there may not be a heat outlet vent for the dryer. The bathtub becomes the usual instrument for washing one's clothes, air drying is common," explained one expat living in St. Petersburg, Russia.

"You should have a trustworthy Russian mentor... someone affiliated with your company, or somehow known to someone you know. Either that or a very experienced expat contact. Deal only with a well-established reputable house agency recommended by your trusted contact. Don't be dazzled by an amazing-looking flat in a historic district without first checking out what'a available for groceries etc. nearby. Find out what public transport is available nearby. Try to locate walking distance to a subway (tube)," said another in St. Petersburg.

How do I find a place to live in Russia?

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Italy, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and the Living in Panama Guide. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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William Russell Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance

Get a quotes for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
Get a Quote

Living in Russia GuideLiving in Russia Guide

Guide to Living in Russia covering expat life, local culture, finding a home, diversity and more.

Russia Forum Russia Forum
Meet other expats and talk about living in Russia.

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Contribute to Russia Network Contribute
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