The Monster Guide to Moving to Russia • A foreigner in Moscow

In 2014 I moved to Moscow for the first time. I was then a student who already lived in two different foreign countries. But Russia was a different animal. This was not just another European country to feel good about. It was a big bad, scary, unknown Russia.


I had a lot of questions then and I wish someone would write me such a guide.

That is why I have summarized in this article everything I know about life in Russia and the move to Moscow. Each section will answer the most common questions people have about moving to Russia.

The Monsters’ Guide to Moving to Russia

Do people speak English in Moscow?

The bad news is that English levels in Russia are still pretty bad, though slowly improving.

The good news is that you can get by without knowing Russian, especially if you stick to the big cities.

In Moscow and St. Petersburg, I would estimate that about 50% of people under the age of 30 can at least to some extent communicate in English. Ordinary Russians over the age of 30 usually do not speak English. In all the other cities, it’s much less than that.

Knowing Russian is very useful and convenient But I would not say it is mandatory. Yes, it’s more pleasant if you really understand what people want from you. It also helps you a lot in making friends. I will do Highly recommend learning to read the Cyrillic alphabet. If you do not even know how to read, you will feel pushed to the level of a two-year-old child.

How safe is Moscow?

Moscow is 100% safe to travel to.

If you are a tourist and intend to visit Moscow for any reason, you have nothing to fear.

I am by no means a massive traveler but I have been to a number of countries in Europe and the US. Moscow and St. Petersburg are as safe as any other major Western capital.

There is very little petty crime like pickpocketing, scams or strangers and the like. It is very likely that you will not encounter a little corruption by the police, since this was blown up a few years ago.

You can go out at any hour of the night inside the city center. The amount of shady people or places where you will feel uncomfortable is close to zero.

Russians have great appreciation for Western tourists. Both Asians and blacks are generally fine. They tend to belittle Central Asian immigrants, who do a lot of low-wage jobs in Moscow and are second-class unofficial citizens.

So if you are away, or you may be mistaken that you are away, it may be a little unpleasant here and there. But nothing will jeopardize your security.

Speaking English always opens a lot of doors in Moscow, even if you may not be understood all the time.

Safety in Moscow

How is the weather in Moscow?

The climate in Moscow is very continental. The air is very dry in contrast to the air of New York City for example. That city felt to me like a beach resort. Very high and very low temperatures become a little more bearable.

Between December and March, the temperature never rises above 0C for a longer period. January and February are the coldest months and yes, you will easily get several days in a row where it is -20 degrees Celsius or less.

This can be good or bad news, but St. Petersburg, for example, is much worse in this regard. I experienced 27 degrees Celsius there and it was pretty cold to say the least.

The actual summer lasts only three good months, June to early September. It usually warms up quite a bit with temperatures around + 25C, sometimes even above that. Outside it is tolerated thanks to the dry air. In the metro you will be sweaty and sticky. More or less the same in winter to be fair.

The funny thing about the weather in Moscow is that there is almost no spring and autumn.

The end of April and especially the beginning of May is when the real spring begins in Moscow. The norm is 15C + in May but it can get even warmer (and colder …). June is usually already a summer month.

By the end of August, one can feel that summer is already recovering and September is the only real autumn month in Moscow. The temperatures are still moderate, so it’s still nice to be outside.

Winter in Moscow

Sunny winter day (no kidding)

How to take taxis in Moscow

Taxi in Russia

Yandex Taxi today is actually often the cheapest option to get a ride. Inside the city center, you will have a hard time spending more than 500 rubles (~ $ 8), even if prices go up during peak hours. Yandex Taxi gives you the option to choose a fixed price or travel by the meter. The first is usually better.

Yandex is the cheapest and most reliable option. Outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg, this is also the most common app. That’s why I recommend Yandex in most of the smaller cities in Russia.

Uber is a decent and fast option although it can be more expensive, especially if it has a price increase (which can happen to the experienced party man on a Saturday night). Their customer support is friendly and any problem is usually resolved quickly. Their drivers are the weakest of all the big companies.

Gettaxi is similar to the other options. Prices can be a few percent higher, but you may also grab a cheaper ride if the other apps have price increases. I have been using Gettaxi more and more lately and I am quite happy with them. Gett will usually happen at 10% from Uber, but I found it to be worth that difference in terms of service.

How to find an apartment in Moscow

For short term rentals Airbnb is the most convenient option. For long term rentals you have several options.

My favorite option is to use a site called This is without a doubt the best and most common site for buying and renting properties in Russia. Everything is in Russian but Google Translate will help you. It is constantly updated and most of their suggestions are legitimate. There are also options to filter to different parts of the city, filter by metro station and all sorts of other things.

This is by far the best site and the only thing I would recommend using. The only small downside is that many of the offers come from real estate agents and are therefore subject to a commission. If you do not speak Russian, you will have a hard time negotiating with the landlord yourself. Still, it is a price worth paying.

The cost of living in Moscow

Here is my basic rule of thumb for detailing the cost:

  • $ 2,000 a month and you will have nothing left
  • $ 5,000 a month and you live very well
  • $ 10,000 a month and you live like a king
  • $ 30,000 per month and you live with 3 models in a penthouse
  • Ingredients: About 200-250 € per month for one person .. I also spend 200-250 € on eating out because I am independent and get lunch or dinner outside the house sometimes.
  • Outdoor food: Lunch is usually a special menu at a price of 4-8 euros that fills you up well (soup, first course, main course and drink). Regular meals depend on where you go. Low stains They are a maximum of € 10 per meal. Medium restaurants 15-20 euros. Luxury restaurants Can be as expensive as you want, from € 50 and up.
  • delivery: The metro costs less than 1 euro for an unlimited ride. I have an annual ticket that cost me about 250 euros. Cheap taxis too. € 10 for the cheapest ride in peak times.
  • housing: I live 20 minutes from the center in a fairly new apartment of 50 sqm for about 650 euros per month, all services are included. In the center it will be about 2-3 times the price. You can live for only 250 € in a neglected Soviet apartment two hours from the center or for € 3,000 in one of the skyscrapers in Moscow.
  • Entertainment: For the prices of nightlife, you should check out my ultimate guide to nightlife in Moscow. Go to a cheap movie theater, $ 10 at most per ticket. Theater tickets range from 10 to 100 euros, the same for sporting events.
  • Shopping: I never buy in Moscow so I will not know. In general, prices are about the same as in Europe, where everything is 10-20% more expensive than in the US (even more clothes).
  • drive: If you go on a pre-packaged tour, you can travel for 200 euros, including flight and hotel. The downside is that it’s going to be mostly out of season and not the best hotels. Summer flights to international destinations are not cheap. Starting from € 200 to Germany, more expensive for summer destinations in Europe. Cheap domestic flights unless you want to fly to Siberia or the Far East (€ 300-400).
  • Insurance and health services: I get my insurance and health from Germany so there is no response to that.

How to find a job in Moscow

Finding a job is pretty hard. Russian companies can not easily employ foreigners because foreigners need a work visa. In order to obtain such a work visa, they must complete an elaborate process that proves that you are competent enough and required to do this work. This is why finding a corporate job in Russia is foreign is a pretty difficult process. Most companies today are no longer willing to hire a foreigner illegally. In addition they also do not want to take on the costs and time to get him a work visa. If you still want to try your luck, head hunter Is the best site to start looking for a job.

Another option is to be sent to Russia as an exile. I can tell you about it like the next guy because I know nothing about the process. However, it is much better than finding a job in Russia, because they will pay you a western salary, you will get help with housing, insurance and all the money. If you are a corporate employee, do so.

The last option is a freelancer or your own business. You can always teach English but I really recommend not. Being self-employed is great because if you earn hard currency but spend in rubles, you are doing geography and taking advantage of the relatively low cost of living.

There are two possible ways to live legally in Russia. You need a visa as a qualified specialist or a work visa.

To be hired as a highly trained specialist, you must earn above a certain income threshold and be of exceptional value to your employer (the burden of proof is on them). In short, if you are an exile or working in a higher position, this will not be a problem. If you are beginner or self-employed, forget about it.

You can also get a work visa from a Russian company. However, it is expensive and time consuming for the company so it is unlikely that they will do so. There is a way to get a work visa and legally own your company in Russia. This way you can live legally in Russia while you are a freelancer or own your own business. Contact me for additional legal and administrative advice and assistance regarding owning your own company in Russia.


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