Moscow, Russia

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Jul 30, 2021

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?

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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," added another person living 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"," explained one expat living in Moscow.

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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," explained one expat living in 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," explained one expat living 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," remarked another expat in Moscow.

What to Bring When Moving to Moscow (and what to leave behind)

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When we asked expats living in Russia what they wish they had brought when moving to Russia and what they wish they had left at home, they replied:

"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.

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 in 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," remarked another parent with kids at 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," explained one expat living in Moscow, Russia.

"I would recommend to do enroll child in advance (spring time) - otherwise you might loose the place for your child," said another parent with children at 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?," commented one expat when asked about 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 in Moscow, Russia with kids at Atlantic International School.

"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," wrote an expat living in Moscow with children attending Anglo-American School of Moscow.

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

Moscow, RussiaGuide to Living in Moscow, Russia

Moscow, Russia: Cost of Living, Healthcare and What to Know About Living in Moscow

Russia Forum Russia Forum
Join our Russia forum to meet other people living in Moscow, Russia.

ContributeContribute
Help other expats and newcomers by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Moscow.

Healthcare in RussiaHealthcare in Russia

Information about healthcare and hospitals in Russia.

Moscow, RussiaMoving to Moscow, Russia

Expats offer advice about everything you need to know before moving to Moscow: what to bring (and what to leave behind), how to find housing and more.

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Advice about renting and buying real estate in Moscow

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Expats talk about what it's like living in Moscow, Russia: Cost of Living, Healthcare and What Newcomers to Moscow Should Know

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