Survival Kit for Expat Life in Moscow

Survival Kit for Expat Life in Moscow
27 May 2016

Survival Kit for Expat Life in Moscow

Expat life in Moscow can be overwhelming. The first time that I came to Moscow I really would have liked some help to figure out my way around this huge city. I was feeling totally lost and I was always looking for some advice about where to go, where to hang out and generally about how to live as a real “Москвичка”.

If you have already been or you are about to go to Moscow, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

The first impression of expat life in the city is always quite shocking: huge buildings and large streets, traffic and pollution, places opened late if not 24/7, people around day and night, constant noise, no smiles and no contact with the locals.

Indeed, Moscow is a city that has to be discovered and to be understood.

This is not an easy town for a foreign and even less for a tourist, but don’t you worry because this city is truly capable of surprising and fascinating people. When you’ll abandon your the initial fears, Moscow will catch your heart with its urban charm and it will be hard for you to forget her or even to leave her.


While searching for your apartment you might get confused by the great size of the city and the lack of knowledge of the language.

Tips: Find a flatmate (it’s more fun and you might meet some very interesting people); Avoid the rental sites commonly used in Europe (more expensive and low price-quality ratio); Check Expat forums like “” or “” and if you are not too afraid of sharing an apartment with a real Russian check also Russian sites like “” and “” or start following groups on Facebook or VKontakte like “Сдам-сниму” or “Сдать/снять квартиру”.

Finally, if you don’t mind living far from the city center you will have a broader choice as well as lower prices. While if you prefer the convenience of a central apartment, you should look for places exclusively inside the circle metro line (Кольцевая линия), although it’s going to be more difficult to find something decent and cheap.

Wandering around the city

For transport during your expat life experience, use the Metro: it’s fast and cheap. Tip: Download the App “Yandex Metro” to orient yourself in the so-called “underground city”.

Don’t like smelly people and being pushed around? Learn how to call a taxi raising your harm, say your destination and always negotiate the price. Taxi drivers can smell newcomers from a mile off and they will try to fool you no matter what.

Don’t speak the language well and don’t want to be fooled? Download the Apps “Get taxi”, “Yandex Taxi” or Uber. I would say that Uber is the safest and the most convenient one.

Never take taxis during peak hours, keep in mind that cars in Moscow spend more time standing still than moving.

A night out

If you are looking for a restaurant or a nice bar to drink something good and meet some locals, head down to the streets around the metro station of “Lubjanka” and “Kitai Gorod”. There, you can’t go wrong, you will find plenty of pubs, cocktail bars, wine bars and clubs with commercial, rock, techno, Russian and even Latin-American music.

If you are in the mood for dancing, you should go to the “Red October” (красный октябрь), an island located across from Christ the Saver Cathedral. There you will find some of the most popular night clubs of the city like Gipsy, Rolling stone or Icon, in addition to several galleries, restaurants and bars with terraces like Strelka.

Очень важно (very important): Say always yes to invites. It will be a unique opportunity to experience Russian hospitality and improve your language skills. You might be surprised to see how hospitable Russians and Moscow itself are.

I hope that my advice will be helpful!

What else? Удачи! 🙂



Matilde, currently learning Russian at Liden & Denz Moscow

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