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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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William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance

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," added another expat who made the move to 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"," explained one expat living in Moscow, Russia.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

How do I find a place to live in Russia?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"We chose a family friendly area - Chisty Prudi - and used Evans estate agent for our first two apartments and Penny Lane for our last one. We used others too but Evans worked out to be the most reasonable overall and their agent actually listened to what we wanted, rather than showing us a whole load of rubbish. Penny Lane did a great job helping us find our last apartment," explained one expat living in Moscow, Russia.

"I have been lucky enough to converse with some Russian people online and to later meet them in SPb. The city varies widely in terms of housing. Some areas are industrial and you'll find smoke pouring into your windows at odd times. The better areas tend to be near universities, metro, large shopping malls ("magazines"). One advantage here is that for a small sum of aboout $0.50 US (20 ruble) you can take a bus and travel the city while seeing it's various facets," said another expat in St. Petersburg.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Russia?

"Apartment. Yes, in town it's almost always an apartment. Some expats prefer to live in the compounds out of town, which are usually town houses," remarked another expat in Moscow, Russia.

"I am in what Americans might consider a "condo", here it is a flat or apartment. The rents here are comparable to USA major city rents on a per square footage basis (here it is square meters of space). The quality of construction leaves much to be desired, exposed water and sewage pipes, occasional outages of water, and other minor annoyances, but this is typical for SPb. Get accustomed to hearing many car alarms at night, especially on the weekends. Here they are LOUD! Not like the dainty alarms found in the yuppie neighborhoods of America. Most heating here in water heat from the exposed pipes and radiators. Air conditioners are rare but seldom really needed," said another expat in St. Petersburg.

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What is the average cost of housing in Russia?

If you are thinking about moving to Russia, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"Much higher. I could rent a house on the beach in South Carolina for the price of a 2 room flat here. Expect to pay $1200-1800 a month if you live alone," added another expat who made the move to Moscow.

"This is the grand question indeed! Rentals are fair priced at about $10-$20 SqM/month. You get what you pay for! Buying an apartment here is expensive and getting more expensive. The best areas here for ex-pats are usually near to tourist areas and these are going for up to $3000 SqM. As mentioned above, the quality is not the best. Most buildings are from the Stalin era (1930)," explained one expat living in St. Petersburg, Russia.

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William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance in Russia

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

What should I pack when moving to Russia?

We asked people living in Russia to list three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They responded:

"You can pretty much get everything in Moscow now (although some basic things are still ridiculously expensive!), but I would take Marmite and Pimm's. We left most things at home due to customs as we didn't want any hassle when leaving the country in terms of additional paperwork," commented one expat who made the move to Moscow.

"Bring with: 1. Several electrical plug adapters, they convert the US flat pins to the round pins usable in Russia. Bring more dual-voltage electrical appliances (240 VAC here). 2: Money pouch, money belt, or ankle wallet. 3. Laptop computer internet enabled. 4. Comfortable house slippers. Leave at home: 1. Heavy voltage convertor box. 2. Second pair of shoes. 3. More than 3 changes of clothes," remarked another expat in St. Petersburg, Russia.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

New Holland Island in St. Petersburg, Russia

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