Moving to Moscow

Moscow, the capital of Russia, is the main city for expats stationed in the country. It is an incredibly large, interesting and challenging destination, offering a wide variety of experiences for expats.

Before moving to Moscow, expats should read as much as they can about the city to prepare themselves, and to help minimise any initial culture shock. One of the best ways to prepare for moving to Moscow is to learn some Russian, and definitely to learn how to read the Cyrillic alphabet.

Moscow is a rapidly expanding city, with the only constant being change. While it is regularly listed amongst the top ten most expensive cities in the world, Moscow can be somewhat underdeveloped, and expats will find themselves occasionally having to make a mental switch between life in the first and third worlds. Those with money can enjoy a lavish lifestyle, on a par with any major international city – but they must be prepared to pay for this privilege.

The standard of public education and hospitals can be considerably lacking; however, expats have the option of sending their children to one of the private or international schools located in the capital, and there are private healthcare facilities available too, for those who are willing to pay.

Moscow has an extensive public transport system, with the most common means of transportation being the metro, which is very efficient, safe and cheap. Many of the stations are lavishly decorated, and constitute works of art in themselves. During rush hour it can get crowded, especially in the centre, but generally, the trains will be less crowded than in London or Tokyo. Buses can be very infrequent, so another good option is to take a marshrutka (a minibus taxi), which follows a fixed route that often mimics the bus route. Traffic congestion can be nightmarish in Moscow and many expats choose to hire a driver rather than braving the roads alone.

The city vies with St Petersburg for the title of 'Russian Cultural Capital', and while most would agree that St Petersburg deserves this title more, Moscow is by no means short of cultural activities and events. No visit to Moscow is complete without a trip to the Bolshoi Theatre, and ballet performances at the Kremlin Palace are outstanding. There are many fascinating museums in the city, as well as wonderful architecture (particularly in the city centre). Some of Moscow’s most attractive features are the many public parks dotted throughout the city, which give it a more spacious and leafy feel. Going for a walk in the park is a daily habit for many residents.