Moving to Russia
Many expats think of moving to Russia as embarking on a mysterious and potentially dangerous adventure. But in truth, many foreigners seem to have little notion of what the present-day Russian Federation is really like. The oppressive Soviet state was dissolved in 1991 and, although modern Russia is still very much overshadowed by its turbulent past, it has emerged as a proud country prepared to assert its place as a global superpower.
Most expats relocate to Russia for a senior or managerial position, and to take advantage of the attractive accompanying salary packages. Others come to teach English, or to expose themselves to a rich, interesting and complex culture.
Russia, especially the heavily expat-favoured economic centres of Moscow and St Petersburg, has a high cost of living. Most of the services that appeal to Western foreigners tend to levy higher fees than the local equivalent. Furthermore, the government-managed systems of education, banking and healthcare will likely fall far short of the standard that many expats expect.
Russia’s former isolationist policies have limited its populace’s exposure to foreigners, and many expats report that they find the locals unapproachable and cold. The sizeable language barrier also creates a tangible divide. That said, expats willing to put time and effort into learning the local language and culture will find that most Russians are keen to welcome them to their country and help them settle down.
Russia is famed for its extremely harsh, cold, dark and long winters, and the severity of the weather cannot be denied. However, summers can also be very hot and pleasant, with plants and other wildlife going through impressive growth spurts in the warmer months. The further north one goes, the colder the weather and the longer the winter. Areas of southern Russia, like the resort city of Sochi, have far more temperate climates.
Regardless of what motivates the move to Russia, it’s important that expats prepare for an overseas experience like none other. Overall, Russia is a vast and varied country, and expats would be wise to learn as much as they can to prepare before they relocate to this unique destination.