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

Living in Russia Guide

Living in Russia Guide

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Aug 19, 2019

Summary: Expats, global nomads and retirees living in Russia talk about meeting other expats, befriending locals, the local culture, diversity in Russia, international schools, crime and more.

People living in Russia share their experiences making friends, adjusting to the culture, what expat life is like in Russia, healthcare in Russia and more.

Deciding Where to Live in Russia

When we asked expats living in Russia to offer newcomers advice about choosing a neighborhood and finding a home, they replied:

"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," said 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," mentioned another expat in Russia.

"My wife is Russian, so I'm not typical of most expats. She always wanted to live on Vassilievsky Island, and a few years ago she negotiated a very complex chain of stae-owned flat trades to end up with a completely trashed empty 5-room communal flat in the neighborhood. I don't know how she did it (and I don't think I want to). We subsequently gutted the place and renovated it," commented one expat who made the move to Russia.

"I chose to live as close to the office as possible. My colleagues helped me by giving advise and transporting me to some appartments to check them out and helping me negotiate," remarked another expat living in Moscow, Russia.

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What Expats Appreciate about Their New Culture

We asked expats in Russia what they appreciated about their new culture. Here's what they had to say:

"Adventure, learning, growth, new foods, new experiences, new people, newness, change... I can go on and on," said one expat living in St. Petersburg, Russia.

International Schools in Russia

"A pricey school with the curriculum of a mid-level American public school. It changed to common core a few years ago which is baffling and the change was done apparently without clear understanding of the international parents. It is now a mish mash of PYP, common core and IB programming. The math program is very poor. They run some standard testing but the computer systems often fail during testing and scores are therefore uneven. Teachers' kids appear to be given preferential treatment. Teachers have special use of facilities and parents are made to pay to even use the gym facilities! This school is sub par in my opinion. It is a shiny, beautiful building on the outside, without the academic structure you would expect. Administration is not responsive and can actually be unwelcoming to those who point out problems. We were glad to leave," said one expat whose children attend Anglo American School of Moscow in Moscow.

"Think hard about attending here. This school thinks it is much better than it is. The curriculum, particularly math, is very weak. Most parents engage tutors for the children to keep up with the home curriculum. The teachers' children receive preference in sports, drama clubs etc. The teachers receive preference for use of school facilities such as the workout room. It is not nearly good enough for the high tuition paid and the headmaster is ineffective. The administration does not welcome constructive criticism. The best advice? Attend ISM if given the choice," added another expat with kids at Anglo American School in Moscow.

"I would recommend to do enroll child in advance (spring time) - otherwise you might loose the place for your child," commented one expat when asked about Atlantic International School in Moscow.

"I am very worried about this school. Is it a school? I'm not sure. It seems so strange that this is a school run by Turkish businessmen who have been given offices in a tiny school, when there are not enough classrooms for the children. I am getting the feeling that they have employed a few western teachers to give it a look of being credible, but they are hiding behind them. Everything is done so cheaply - and so is the canteen food. My children complain of the boring food! Not enough resources for students! ICT VERY tiny. I am paying good money - for what?," remarked another expat living in Moscow with children attending Atlantic International School.

"To look at the kindergarden at Rechnoy Vokzal as a good range of qualified teachers from a range of countries. It is a small school, where you get to know the teachers and all of the children know each other," said another expat in Russia with children at Atlantic International School.

"Here everyone is welcome: the atmosphere is multicultural and English-speaking; As I've mentioned, there is a free trial week; Many tutors have worked out their own methods of teaching; Physical Education classes also include Physical Therapy; The celebrations and concerts held at school are amazing! I've been to a couple of schools in Saint-Petersburg and this one is really the best! Judging by my kid, the tutors know how to find a mutual understanding with any child and how to make him interested in studying," remarked another parent with kids at Infant School (International School) in Saint Petersburg.

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Join our Russia Expat Forum

Visit our Russia Forum and talk with other expats who can offer you insight and tips about living in Russia.

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 6 Best Places to Live in Costa Rica, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and 7 Tips for Obtaining Residence in Italy. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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First Published: May 23, 2019

New Holland Island in St. Petersburg, Russia
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