Tips for expats heading for St Petersburg

Tips for expats heading for St Petersburg

Tips for expats heading for St Petersburg

St Petersburg may not immediately spring to mind as an expat destination, but it’s a fascinating city nevertheless.

Not much has been written about becoming an expat in Russia, which is hardly surprising given the present contentious state of relations between this massive country and the USA. However, the Russian people have a long-established culture of hospitality and welcome incomers from Western lands with open arms. Expat professionals are often treated as if they were celebrities, as Russians in general are desperate to get to grips with the English language.

St Petersburg is a unique city, both for its fascinating history, culture and architectural glories, and is well set-up as regards both online and offline help for new arrivals. It’s advisable to take at least several courses in the Russian language before you leave, but for those who don’t have time there are a number of good language institutes in the city. Your first step should be to contact your home country’s consulate and let them know you’ve arrived and where you’re staying, not just in case you need them in a hurry later on but also as they’ll be happy to connect you with other expats and invite you to events.

Connecting via social media with established expats in the city is recommended, as you can get help with visa issues, accommodation and other essentials from those who’ve been there and done that. There are many expat groups in and around St Petersburg, all of which are more than happy to help. You’re certain to make Russian friends as well, especially if you open a VK account, This Russian version of Facebook has an English interface, great for finding events in the city. The local version of an expats’ club is the International Women’s Club, also open to men and holding monthly meetings, events and get-togethers as well as supporting various groups involved in charity activities including volunteering.

If reading is your hobby, English language literature can be found in bookshops as well as the city’s libraries, many of which also hold regular events. For leisure and fun, the city’s bars are the place, with some even offering stand-up comedy in the English language. Sports are popular, and the city even hosts an Australian football team which regularly competes with other European teams. All in all, it’s actually easier to settle in and get the most out of St Petersburg than it is in many better known expatriate destinations.

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