Expat Exchange

Moscow, Russia

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Sep 17, 2022

Summary: Expats, digital nomads and retirees talk about what it is really like living in Moscow, Russia. They offer advice about meeting people, cost of living, finding a home and more.

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What do I need to know before moving to Moscow?

Live in Moscow? Answer this Question

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Moscow, 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.

How do I find a place to live in Moscow?

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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," remarked another expat who made the move to Moscow.

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

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"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," said another expat in Moscow.

What is the average cost of housing in Moscow?

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If you are thinking about moving to Moscow, 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," commented one expat who made the move to Moscow.

What should I bring when moving to Moscow?

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People living in Moscow were asked what three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They wrote:

"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," explained one expat living in Moscow, Russia.

Where should I setup a bank account in Moscow?

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We asked expats in Moscow what banks they use and there advice about banking. They advised:

"Yes, Raiffeisen Foreign currency accounts offered including Dollars, Euro, Sterling. No charge for transferring funds between accounts when using internet banking services. Full internet banking service available," remarked another expat who made the move to Moscow.

What are the schools in Moscow like?

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"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," commented one expat when asked about 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," remarked another expat living in Moscow with children attending Anglo American School.

"I would recommend to do enroll child in advance (spring time) - otherwise you might loose the place for your child," said another expat in Moscow with children at Atlantic International School.

"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 parent with kids at Atlantic International School in Moscow.

"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," explained one expat living in Moscow, Russia.

"The facilities and feel of community are what make this school special, however academics seriously lack. The school attempts to incorporate too many things into the curriculum causing students only to get the general idea of all things. Although this is an American school there is no SAT prep class. The school forces children in the high school to go through IB courses but neglects to focus on it enough to have neccesary EE classes. My recommendation is to attend the school, take advantage of the facilities and sense of community but if you can afford it teach your child at home through tutors in order to prepare him/her for college. There is also a very long wait list for this school. If you are interested in the school and your company or embassy does not provide a pre-paid seat, you do not hold an American, Canadian or UK passport expect 1-2 years of waiting. During this time most children attend the British School- a profit oriented and not to be recomended school. AAS is a good school but one has to consider some major flaws," said another parent with children at Anglo-American School of Moscow in Moscow.

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.

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Expats in Russia offer advice about healthcare, hospital visits, emergency rooms visits, finding a doctor and buying health insurance in Russia.

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
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William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

Expats MoscowExpats in Moscow

Expats, digital nomads & retirees talk about what it's like living in Moscow.

Russia Index Moscow Index
An index of all of our site's Moscow information.

Russia Forum Russia Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in Russia on our Russia forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

Contribute to Russia Network Contribute
Help others in Russia by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Russia.

Expat Healthcare Advice in RussiaHealthcare & Health Insurance in Russia

Expats in Russia offer advice about healthcare, hospital visits, emergency rooms visits, finding a doctor and buying health insurance in Russia.

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