This guide was written prior to Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine and is therefore not reflective of the current situation. Travel to Russia is currently not advisable due to the area's volatile political situation.
Many expats moving to Moscow have similar questions about how they will adapt to life in the Russian capital. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about expat life in Moscow.
How safe is Moscow?
Moscow is quite safe compared to many other big cities. As long as expats are aware of what’s going on, and take the usual precautions, they should be safe. Using public transport is safe, and expats should also feel comfortable walking home alone, provided it’s not in the middle of the night.
What is the cost of living in Moscow?
The cost of living in Moscow depends heavily on what kind of lifestyle an expat leads. In general, Moscow is more expensive than any other place in Russia, and some prices, particularly those of accommodation, can be high. That said, expats can live a comfortable life in Moscow if they are willing to live like the locals. Cooking at home most nights of the week is one sure way expats can save money.
Does a person need to learn Russian before moving to Moscow?
Yes, this is an extremely good idea. It is probably best to learn some basic Russian, and at least to know how to read Russian Cyrillic before arriving. The grammar is quite complicated. For example, there are six cases for nouns, with endings differing in each case depending on whether the noun is masculine, feminine or neutral, and again whether it is plural or singular.
Are the locals friendly to expats?
Russians maintain a distant and uninvolved mask in public. That said, once befriending a Russian, expats will be amazed at how warm-hearted and generous Russians can be. There is some resentment towards expats who come to live a superior lifestyle in Moscow, so be prepared for some street-level negativity.
Are weekend getaways from Moscow possible?
It is possible to take an overnight train to St Petersburg. On the whole, though, weekend breaks are not that popular. Most Muscovites stay in the city, as there is plenty to amuse and entertain them right there. The notable exception to this is over the summer months, when there is a mass exodus to the dachas (summer cottages) on the outskirts of Moscow, either for the whole summer or as long as possible.