Moscow, Russia Report of what it's like to live there - 05/17/16
Personal Experiences from Moscow, Russia
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
Washington, DC. DC to Amsterdam then to Moscow usually. Very limited direct flights from the U.S.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
For embassy housing: on the compound, in a city apartment (singles and couples without children), two housing complexes outside of the city center - Pokrovsky Hills and Rosinka. Each has their pros and cons. Those with kids at the Anglo-American School of Moscow seem to enjoy living in Pokrovsky as it is next door to the school but the commute from there to the embassy is difficult.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Plenty of grocery stores - shopping is a hassle because of traffic and crowds. Many people use a grocery delivery service.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Lots. Many of the standard U.S. chains are here plus many European chains and Russian restaurants. You will not go hungry here.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Maybe some mosquitoes in the summer, but, honestly we rarely encounter any insects.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Plenty of help available. Cost varies greatly.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Gym available at the U.S. Embassy compound.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
We use the ATM at the Embassy and at the school without problems. Depending on your bank, your card may not work here. You can write checks at the embassy cashier as well.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
A few. Catholic, a couple of non-denominational churches and an Latter Day Saints (Mormon) church that I know of.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
You can get by with little Russian but it will limit your ability to get things done.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
We took regional trains without any problem. For taxi, we use GetTaxi or Yandex Taxi.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
You will see any and every type of car here. Traffic and parking is difficult, so a small car is nice for that. But having a 4WD or AWD is helpful with the many potholes and wet weather. There are no hills in Moscow but if you plan to go outside of the city at all, you might want something that can handle rough roads.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes. The cost varies based on location and speed. Reliability is sketchy.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Bring an unlocked phone. A sim card and month to month plan here are readily available and inexpensive.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
Some work with refugees, animal shelters.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
2. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
Not great. Better outside of the city than in it. Spring time brings horrible pollen that causes many to suffer.
3. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
Horrible spring allergy season here. Eating out with food allergies would be very difficult, especially if you do not speak Russian.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Beautiful, mild summer. Short fall and spring. Long winter - but not as cold as I had anticipated.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
We had our child at AAS and had a good experience overall. The school has amazing facilities (indoor swimming pool, multiple gyms, state of the art theater, etc.). As with any school, some teachers are better than others but overall we were pleased.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
The school has made some accommodations. It all depends on the child and their needs.
3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Yes. There are lots of sports available through the school, the expatriate community and the embassy.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Large but shrinking each year. Morale is mixed. It is what you make of it. Some people really enjoy Moscow and others are counting down the days until the end of their tour.
2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Good for families. I would assume good for singles and couples as well.
3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Probably not - at least not if you want to live openly.
4. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Travel in Russia and around Europe.
6. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Ability to travel in Europe relatively easily.
7. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Need for privacy.
3. But don't forget your:
Warm clothes - good quality boots and a long down coat are essential.