The truth about relocating to Russia

The truth about relocating to Russia

The truth about relocating to Russia

Relocating to Russia isn’t exactly at the top of most expats’ to-do lists, but are preconceptions of the vast country based on facts or fake news?

One way or another, arriving to work in Moscow alters the perceptions expats may well have about the country and its people within a very short time. Once the shock of the prevailing weather dies down, the energy of the city is stunning and the Russian language is confusing at best and incomprehensible at worst. Just the sight of Red Square and glorious St Basil’s Cathedral give new arrivals goosebumps, and the Russian Metro with its splendour of artworks and amazing décor is unforgettable.

Moscow’s Hollywood-inspired persona still rests on freezing winters, lurking secret agents, gun fights, the Lublyanka dungeons and multi-billionaire oligarchs plotting the demise of Western civilisation. Luckily, reality rarely, if ever, follows spectacular misrepresentations, especially in this city with its wide, clean streets, cultural and artistic beauties, onion-shaped towers, musuems and endless historic sights. In other words, expats can enjoy Moscow as much as any other world city famous for its arts and culture.

The Russian language is admittedly difficult, especially as regards reading its Cyrillic script, and English isn’t exactly widely spoken. Taking classes in the home country as soon as you know you’ll be relocating to Moscow is the best idea, and continuing with an online course after you’ve arrived will help. Culturally, Muscovites don’t smile a lot – maybe because of the cold – but that doesn’t mean you’re not welcome. Expat kids adore the winter snowdrifts, skating on frozen ponds and sledging, although grown-ups might not be so keen.

One downside to living in Russia is the lack of efficient state-run healthcare, making private health insurance essential for long-term expatriates. Public education isn’t up to standard either, but there’s a good choice of international schools with English-language curricula. In general, living costs are on the high side, but the city makes up for a lot with its nightlife, cultural scene, world-class ballet and opera plus all kinds of musical events including the latest, loudest trends. All told, although new arrivals may find it off-putting in many ways, Moscow truly has something for everyone.

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