6 Things to Know About Moving to Russia

Posted Moving Abroad / June 9, 2017
Kate Holland

A true grunge and rock music fan born in Seattle, Kate has moved across the country and started writing about her experience.

Whether you have always been a fan of the country and its culture or decided to move spontaneously, Russia is a country that has a lot to offer. You’ll be mesmerized with its extraordinary architectural pieces and enticed by the unique cuisine. Here’s what you should know about moving to Russia before you depart on your adventure!

Is It Expensive to Live in Russia?

Moving across the world can be stressful and scary enough on its own; the last thing you want to worry about is whether you’ll be able to afford a fitting life at your new home abroad. While deciding where to live, Russia may seem quite pricey, especially since Moscow is one of Europe’s most expensive cities, bear in mind that these statistics come from locals, not expats. If you lived in New York or San Francisco, chances are you’ll find this country relatively affordable, despite relocating to a big city.

Cost of Living in Russia

You’ll be happy to hear that living costs for expats are comfortable, as groceries and utilities are inexpensive, even in major cities such as Moscow or Saint Petersburg. If you live on your own, the monthly costs in Moscow without rent usually amount to 42,037.07 rubles (which is about 560 USD.)

For a family of four, it stands at slightly less than 2,000 USD, which is a lot cheaper than in the US. Additionally, outside the big cities, expenses are even lower. However, living costs will depend mostly on your lifestyle choices as housing and rent vary depending on the town. If you’re interested in renting, people use sites like Kvartirant as a starting point for apartment hunting.

Transportation is relatively cheap; however, If you decide on shipping a car overseas, make sure you include gas prices in your expenses, a gallon is around 171 rubles.

Overall, you’ll find that most necessities are relatively cheap, considering that living in the US is 129% more expensive than in Russia, according to the Expatistan site.

Should You Save up Before You Move?

Depending on your circumstances, whether you’re moving with kids, alone, for a job or to college, marriage, or similar, you’ll need to organize a budget and maybe start laying aside some money from wages for the move.

Remember, you’ll also need to pay for moving services, but also moving supplies, and additional international moving costs. Besides, it’s never a bad idea to have a safety fund for unexpected mishaps, especially when moving overseas – this is one of the most beneficial relocation tips you can get.

If you’re moving for marriage, you might not be able to find a job immediately, so having some money set aside will keep you afloat for a while.

Residence Permit and Different Visas You Can Apply for

Before you set off to your dream destination, make sure that all of your documents needed to travel abroad have been taken care of, starting with your visa and residence permit. Surprisingly, that’s one of the things people forget when relocating.

Unless you’re moving internationally for marriage, in which case you’ll be eligible to apply for a temporary residency permit, you’ll have to apply for a visa. Since you’re planning on staying for a while, a tourist one is out of the question. While business visas are a viable option, it allows you to stay only up to 90 days in a 180-day period. So we suggest the following.

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Work Visa

If you plan to live and work in Russia, you would have to secure work before actually arriving. Usually, employers would be the ones to help you with your working permit. The working visa allows you to stay in the country for up to three years with the option of extending your stay. Additionally, inform your employer whether you’ll be moving with a spouse or other family members so that they can include this information in your working visa application.

Student Visa

If you plan on moving abroad for the first time to study, you will need to apply for a student visa. Naturally, the university you’re enrolling in will help guide you through this process.

Health Insurance in Russia

While government-funded healthcare is available, it can be somewhat chaotic and unpredictable. So people often get private health insurance. Additionally, many Russian companies offer health insurance in their employment packages.

You’ll be happy to hear that in cities such as Moscow or St. Petersburg, clinics and doctors are up to standard, and staff are versed in many languages, so you won’t need to worry about miscommunication. However, if you choose to relocate to a smaller area, be aware that in Russian facilities outside of the major cities, English is rarely spoken.

So breaking the language barrier might be a problem. Nevertheless, always discuss health policies with your employers; they will give you a better insight into the system since they’re the ones to notify about your relocation.

Work Opportunities for Expats

Being informed about the Russian job market is a crucial part of relocating.

Usually, work in international companies and language schools is available for expats that move overseas. There is a high demand for English teachers, for example. Naturally, if you speak a bit of the language, your chances of getting a job are higher. Furthermore, highly qualified professions such as engineers and IT professionals are highly sought after in this country, so if you’re versed in this field, chances are you’ll land a job sooner.

Best Cities to Live in

If you still haven’t decided where you’d like your home to be, here we have a list of the best cities to live in for expats.

Moscow, the Russian Capital and Cultural Center

Moscow is, of course, one of the cities with a large expat population and one of the best places to live abroad. Since the city is a political, economic, and cultural center of the country, it comes as no surprise that it’s the number one place for relocating.

While living in the Russian capital, you’ll see some of the best architectural pieces, such as the St. Basil’s Cathedral, and famous landmarks, such as Lenin’s Mausoleum.

If you’re interested in learning more about Moscow before your relocation, we suggest checking out this video!

St. Petersburg, the Number One Place to Visit in Every Tour Guide

Often seen as a bit westernized due to being home to many expats, St. Petersburg offers employment opportunities and beautiful architecture, which are good reasons to move here. The former capital has a rich history for all those history buffs and architecture enthusiasts. You could use your free time to explore around. The city is also one of the most important centers for trade, research, and industry in all of Russia.

Nizhny Novgorod, for all of Those Looking for IT Jobs

If you’re interested in furthering your career in the IT sector, this city might be the one for you! As one of the nation’s hotspots for producing software and hardware, it might be worth checking it out when figuring out how to move abroad. Nizhny Novgorod also has a flourishing engineering industry, especially in transportation and automobile production.

Moving to Russia Can Be The Best Decision of Your Life

Now that you know all the basics about Russia, all that’s left is to organize your moving budget, call up an international moving company, find the right packing services, and set off to your new life! You can also take advantage of car shipping, use a free month-long storage service, and bag some awesome relocation insurance deals.

All you’ll really worry about is how and when to tip movers, as well as how to pack all your clothes for the Eastern European weather. Good luck with your international move.

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