To fix this shameful mistake, I have wrapped up the post about the question that people ask me a lot recently.
Is it hard to live in Moscow as an expat? Are people nice and friendly? Or gloomy and closed? How do I make friends? Which places do I go?
If you are a tourist in Moscow, not an expat, I recommend reading this post – 18 Best Things Not To Miss in Moscow
Calm down my friends, I’ve got it all covered for you!
But first of all, let me explain to my other readers why is it so important? Why do people want to go to Moscow all of a sudden?
Well, the thing is, Russia is in ongoing economical crisis at the moment. And, even if Moscow used to be one of the most expensive cities in the world, it is far from true now.
But at the same time, it has saved the high standard of living, all the nice restaurants, great transportation system, amazing nightlife. What does it mean for you?
It means that now everything has just become twice cheaper!
You can live a very good life, renting a nice flat, going out, learning the language – everything will be very cheap!
Moscow is especially great for digital nomads, who want to stay in some place with good living standards for not so much money and work online at the same time.
True, it is not that affordable as Chiang Mai for instance, but you can rent a good 1 bedroom apartment for US$500 thanks to the currency exchange rate now.
Ok, as now the advantages are clear, let me begin the “interview”, where basically you, my dear reader, is interviewing me:
Please remind me: you said you were from Moscow originally? Did you grow up there?
No, I am from the city called Yekaterinburg. It is located kind of in the middle of Russia, in between Siberia and Moscow and it t is the 3rd biggest city after Moscow and Saint Petersburg. But I used to live in Moscow for a while as well, so I can tell you a little bit about the city.
How is it different from America and Western Europe? How is it the same?
Moscow, and Russia in general, are very special places. I cannot really say that it belongs to Europe fully, nor I can say that about Asia. We have our own special blend that makes us unique.
Answering your question – Moscow is an old city, and the city center has that charm of an old European capital. There are tons of shopping malls and restaurants on every corner! Sometimes I feel like Moscow is way more alive than some European capitals, all the places are open late if not 24/7. You do not have to wander around in search of an open supermarket on Sunday like, for instance, in Paris, it is all open.
Are people there friendly toward expats and foreigners?
Yes, I would say so. You might encounter some problems when you learn our alphabet or ask for directions in a busy metro (oh, those people in Moscow metro, always in a rush). But generally, people are very interested in foreigners and are willing to help them even despite the language barrier.
What part of life is hardest for people who move there from out of the country? Any tips to help them overcome this?
Yes, as I mentioned above you should learn to read the alphabet. You will need it in order to read the signs, transport – everything. Yes, it might look really scary in the beginning, but, if you look closer, it is actually quite similar to the Latin one and when I teach my friends, they apprehend it in 30-40 minutes.
The weather might be another issue (it is Russia, duh!). But keep one thing in mind – we have a lot of resources to warm up our houses, and this is when we do not go cheap. Actually, when I was living in Italy, I felt cold and sick all the time during the winter there, because the heating system there cannot be compared to the one in Russia.
What tips would you give people to help them assimilate with the culture and the locals?
Moscow is a good place to start assimilating the Russian culture. People are more open-minded there and much more progressive.
Make as many friends as possible. Even if Russian people might seem cold and gloomy at first, remember, we do not smile to strangers, we just do not see the reason why we should do it. But you will completely change your opinion about Russians and Russian hospitality as you will get some local friends.
Get a VK account (a national Facebook that we use more), especially if you want to meet pretty Russian girls! 😉 They are also more likely to speak foreign languages to help you assimilate in the beginning.
What tips would you give me to make friends with the locals and other expats?
Again, Moscow is the right choice as it is busting with this kind of groups. Just to name a few sites that I have used myself to hang out with international crowd – Language exchange Group (a really cool way to meet new friends while mastering your language), Toastmasters Moscow (another great ways to make friends practicing your public speaking skills (in English). Couchsurfing is often a great way to meet local people in any country – just drop them a line asking if they are interested in meeting for a cup of coffee (better, tea, we love tea! 😉 ). Have you heard about meetup.com? Just search for a group that interests you and join some of the meetups. It is quite active in Moscow.
Once you get to know a couple of circles of people it will be easier, you will be invited to more event, will meet more people etc.
Are there any bars, restaurants, etc that are popular with expats?
Timeout rooftop bar is a pretty cool place to meet other expats with an amazing view to the city, located in Beijing hotel (a former KGB building);
Noor Bar – is conveniently located on Tverskaya street (the heart of the city), Moscow’s best bar in the eyes of Timeout magazine, thus, many foreigners hang out there;
Jagger Bar in Moscow is usually full of foreigners as well.
P.S. I also HIGHLY recommend visiting St. Petersburg, it is just 4 hours from Moscow with a speed train. I also have a great blog post about things to do in St. Petersburg, check it out!
Russia is a very special place, do not miss you chance to live here for a while!
You know, they say “Strangers are just friends you don’t know yet”.
Don’t be shy, just approach people first, use all the endless opportunities that this great city has to offer and you will be able to experience the real Russia with its real people and hopefully understand our mentality a bit better! 😉
What do you think? Have you been to Moscow? What are your pros and cons about the idea of living in Moscow? My expat friends in Moscow, do you have anything to add?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
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