Saunders 1865 | Moving to Moscow

Moving to Moscow

Are you moving to Moscow? As the capital city of Russia, Moscow city is home to around 12.2 million residents, whilst 16.8 million reside within the urban area.  It is situated on the River Moskva in the Central Federal District of European Russia.

Our free, in-depth Moving to Moscow report includes info on:

• The best areas to live
• The good schools
• The average monthly rental prices
• The excellent public transport system in the city

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Putting Moscow on the Map

As the capital city of Russia, Moscow city is home to around 12.2 million residents, whilst 16.8 million reside within the urban area.  It is situated on the River Moskva in the Central Federal District of European Russia.

Moscow is served by four international airports, Vnukovo, which is 17 miles south-west of the city, Sheremetyevo, 18 miles north-west, Domodedovo, 26 miles south and Zhukovsky, which became operational this year, and is 40 miles south-east of the capital.

Between the three currently operational airports, they handle a staggering amount of passengers per annum, Sheremetyevo services 6 million, Vnukovo, 18 million and Domodedovo, 30,5 million.

From the airport to the city there a number of transport options to consider.  Taxi transfers, Aeroexpress – which offers non-stop, dedicated trains, and lastly the bus and the metro.  The later option should only be used by those familiar with the areas.  The Cyrillic language is still used on the front of buses, causing confusion with those used to the Latin alphabet.

As the ninth most expensive city worldwide, Moscow has one of the largest urban economies and is the among the faster-growing tourist destinations.  It is also the most northern and the coldest megacity on earth, and the most populated inland city.

Listed as the major cultural, political, scientific and economic centre of the country and Eastern Europe, Moscow is the biggest city in the whole of Europe.

Travelling around Moscow is not always easy for newcomers.  The metro, with its 200 stations and 12 lines, is fast, cheap, clean and punctual, and carries around 7 million passengers per day and is often crowded.  Taking photos and filming in the metro is prohibited, and cameras have been confiscated as a consequence.

There is a monorail system with 6 stations.  Buses, trams, and trolleys are not always on time, but they reach areas that the metro doesn’t.   They are all priced equally, and tickets may be purchased at bus kiosks, metro stations and directly from the driver.

Marshrutka, or minibus shuttles, handle 16 passengers and cover the same routes as trolleys and buses, and one flags them down like a standard taxi.

Any normal passenger vehicle may operate as a taxi, so it is wise to negotiate the fee before getting into the car.  They are considered safer than the official taxis, of which there are numerous different companies, some with English speaking drivers.

Driving is extremely time-consuming and taxing.  Hours of delays in the extremely heavy traffic make arriving timeously difficult.

The Areas

Greater Moscow is a sprawling city, covering 970 square miles.  There is an abundance of accommodation available, but it is a tricky business negotiating with the landlords, who mainly would like to be paid in cash, to avoid taxes.  For relocated personnel, with their companies covering the accommodation for the family, higher rents may be charged as the rental monies would have to be declared.

There are three categories of apartments; pre-revolutionary with larger rooms, high ceilings, parquet floors and thick walls; Soviet-era flats are small, sparse and were built for communal living; Western apartments have generally been renovated to remove the Soviet type décor and replaced with Western-style standards and are favoured by expats.

Apartments that have not been renovated cost up to 50% less than a renovated one.  Accommodation can be either unfurnished or furnished, and the landlord will add or remove furniture ….. at the right price.  However, there are plenty of home furnishing stores in the city, for those wishing to purchase their own.

With the constant, atrocious traffic at all hours of the day, residents tend to look for properties close to a metro station.

The Garden Ring – closest to the city centre

Patriarshy Ponds

An expensive, quiet residential area, it is close to the centre and very popular with relocated families.  Transport is plentiful, with four different metro lines and five metro stations offering access to the main city routes.  There are also ample theatres, museums, embassies and museums in the suburb, with its focal point being a city park with a pond.

Chistye Ponds (or Prudy)

This area has been gentrified and is one of the most desirable areas for expats.  18th and 19th-century apartment buildings face a little lake, and there are restaurants and French and English cinemas in an area with European features.  There is a French-language school close by.


Central, lively and convenient, connecting the Kremlin and Red Square in the far north of Moscow city centre, Tverskaya is close to all transport routes, making it a noisy place to live.  However, beautiful houses line the sides streets in the quieter areas, close to Kamergersky Lane.


A central area, bordering on the Christ the Saviour Cathedral with its golden dome, this is the most architecturally elegant area of the city.  With Art Nouveau-style blocks and many modern, contemporary residence, this is very expensive but a prime area for relocated executives and their families.

Third Transport Ring – further out of the city, but offering more space for families.

 Leningradsky Prospect

Running up from Tverskaya, this is a busy avenue.  Long associated with bohemians and arty folk, the ‘Artists Village’ is still popular for those favouring an eccentric neighbourhood with a quirky feel.   However, the commute to the centre in rush hour is long and time-consuming.

Frunzenskaya Area

Situated between Gorky Park and the Moskva River, with a large green area, this is a popular district for families.  However, the small apartments in the old Stalinist blocks are expensive.

Taganskaya Area

To the east of the Garden Ring, historically this old area was surrounded by five monasteries, defending the eastern border of the city.  The accommodation offers value for money, but can be a little noisy.  There is a vibrant Las Vegas atmosphere, with many businesses.

Barrikadnaya Area

Good value, great public transport, situated on the border of the Garden Ring, this area offers several luxury residential projects.  Also home to the American Embassy and the Moscow Zoo, many affluent expats live here, in the north-west of the capital.

Who lives and works in Moscow

As the capital of Russia and the largest city in Europe, Moscow offers a cultural experience combined with a fascinating history, telling the story of communism and democracy, repression and freedom, abject poverty and prosperity.  A vibrant, noisy city unlike anywhere else in the world, with a tight-knit community of relocated families, it has become more liveable recently for foreigners as it becomes more westernised, seemingly making the expats much happier.

The Russian people are gregarious and friendly and if they speak your language will open their homes to you gladly.  However, be careful not to show too much admiration for their household décor, as they are likely to give the item to you.

With a British contingent of 29 000 relocated persons, many of whom do not speak Russian, people tend to stick together.  With Western staff generally occupying high positions in international corporates, the need to speak the local language diminishes, resulting in very few of them learning the language.  There are many international groups such as the British Women’s Club and the International Women’s Club which are particularly welcoming to newcomers.  Many have taken on the role of organising events, balls, and charity affairs, keeping themselves busy throughout the year.

However, the legislation for foreign companies to trade on the Russian Stock Market may change things, encouraging more international corporates to open for business in Moscow, and thus more relocations.

The Best Bits

Known for its stunning architecture, Moscow is home to such historic buildings as the Kremlin, Saint Basil’s Cathedral with its brightly coloured, onion-shaped domes, Red Square, Lenin’s Mausoleum,and many others.

40% of the territory is covered by greenery.  It has a large forest within an urban area and over 100 other parks, including Gorky Park, but excluding the squares, boulevards, and gardens.

With over 100 museums, including museums of natural history, science and technology, art and art history and many historical museums, all with the highest quality exhibits, Moscow is a veritable treasure chest for information junkies.

A hop-on, hop off bus tour introduces newcomers to the city and its best-known attractions and history.

A guided Metro tour takes visitors through the many highly decorative stations.  This veritable labyrinth of spectacular stations displays opulent decorations and beautiful, lavish architecture.  As one of the architect’s said “They used to have palaces for kings.  We are going to build palaces for the people”.

There are dozens of tours in Moscow, so finding the right ones is easy.

The biggest city shopping centre is GUM, with neo-Russian architecture, plenty of eateries and big-brand shops.

Spectacular theatres line the streets, including the Bolshoi, the State Kremlin Palace, and the Moscow New Opera Theatres.  The city is world-famous for its ballet and operas.  The Children’s Musical Theatre helps educate youngsters in opera, ballet and fairy tales such as Puss in Boots and Snow White.

Bringing the kids

Moscow, with its great reputation for education, has nine top-ranked universities and five English-speaking international schools, some offering the respective national curriculum of their countries, and others the International Baccalaureate.  The syllabus includes Russian language classes. These schools are open to all students, including local scholars.  An entrance examination may have to be taken.

There are many good Russian schools, but very few international scholars attend them.

Relocating to Moscow

With its amazing architecture, thriving economy, great education and a rich culture, Moscow has a lot to offer.  It’s a true 24-hour service culture: dining out, grocery shopping and even haircuts can be enjoyed 24/7.   Spoilt for choice with plenty of good areas to choose from, and a complex (but quick! You’ll wait less than 30 seconds for your metro during rush hour) public transport system, special care must be taken to ensure that transport for children to ferry them to and from school should be taken into account.  There are also language issues to be considered. English is spoken in the international companies, but there are few English speakers or signs in English.

More, now than ever, a specialised relocation agent is required to guide you through all the obstacles.  Finding accommodation in areas that suit your budget and lifestyle, advice on schools that speak your language, help in finding places to meet people with similar interests to you and your family and to prepare you for the new culture that awaits you, the agent will be there to ensure you relocate effectively and efficiently, with the minimum amount of stress and fuss.


City Centre
Good Schools
Great Transport
Museums & Galleries
Average Monthly Rent - Moscow
Apartment (1 bedroom) in city centre 56,972 руб
Apartment (1 bedroom) outside of centre 33,929 руб
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in city centre 119,600 руб
Apartment (3 bedrooms) outside of centre 60,983 руб
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