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What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

If you don't make friends with anyone else in the expat community (or don't speak Russian well), it's likely to be non-existent. However, it's really dependent upon you. We have made some friends here and make an effort to get together with them on a somewhat regular basis, which helps. Given how small the expat community is here, especially with how few US employees the embassy has, you have to make an effort. You can't sit back and wait for a social life here. - Oct 19, 2011