Living and working as an expat in Russia

Living and working as an expat in Russia

Living and working as an expat in Russia

For a truly unique expat experience, the challenge of Russia is well worth taking on.

Russia may well be seen as a part of the European continent, but its vast expanses and intriguing culture make it stand out as a challenging relocation destination. The massive country is now making serious economic progress, leading to a good number of international companies setting up headquarters in its major cities. As a result, Moscow and St Petersburg now have thriving expatriate communities ready to welcome new arrivals and help them to understand new challenges and a very different lifestyle.

The difference and diversity which is modern-day Russia is a challenge to the vast majority of expatriates and the harsh climate takes some getting used to for those from the world’s more southern regions. However, salaries for expat professionals are high enough to allow a comfortable life in a gated community safe from the country’s rising crime rates. Inefficient customer service and an appalling level of hard-headed bureaucracy are the two issues which most impact expats' day-to-day lives.

Facilities aimed at expats include decent international schools as well as modern, well-provided healthcare, but the cost of living can be a problem, especially in Moscow, now rated as the fourth most expensive expat location for the third year running. In the same survey, St Petersburg came in at 28th place, but it’s still counted as expensive. Housing in both cities is also pricey, but living like a local as regards groceries, eating out, public transport and petrol saves a great deal of money better spent on other things. A small number of Russians speak English, with learning enough Russian to get by earning brownie points as well as much amusement as the language is one of the world’s most difficult.

The Russian economy is one of the world’s fastest-growing and is attracting expat interest as regards relocation. The only way to snare a job is to apply outside the country, as finding work as a new arrival is extremely difficult if not impossible. In addition, applying for your own work permit is a tricky, lengthy process. One sector where jobs are easily available is education, as Russian schools are crying out for native English teachers. Unfortunately, most schools only employ part-time teachers, and salaries are low enough for successful applicants to need a second job to make ends meet.

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