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In this page: Communities of Expatriates | Ranking of Cities | Renting an Apartment | School System | Health System | Tourism and Culture | Individual and Civic Freedoms | Religion


Communities of Expatriates

The Number of Expatriates
The expatriate community is about 80,000 people, most of them living in Moscow.
Blogs For Expats
For Further Information
Way to Russia
Immigration Authority
Federal Migration Service (in Russian)
Transportation Companies For Moving/Removals
List of international moving companies.
Moving companies specialized in dealing with Russia

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Ranking of Cities

Cost of Living
Once ranked among the most expensive cities in the world, Moscow and St. Petersburg are now considered relatively cheap on a global scale. They are respectively ranked 67th and 152nd most expensive cities in the world according to the Mercer Index 2016.
Quality of Life
Russian cities are generally ranked poorly in terms of quality of living as they suffer from traffic congestion and air pollution. Moscow and St. Petersburg are ranked 168th and 176th out of 231 cities according to Mercer Index 2017.
Sanitary Conditions
Moscow is generally described as one of the cities where the sanitary conditions are the worst in the world. Novosibirsk and St Petersburg are ranked slightly better. If it is true that pollution and the poor quality of the health services are important problems, it would be an exaggeration to advise a healthy person against living in Russia.
For Further Information
Quality of Living Worldwide City Rankings –Survey - Mercer
Cost of Living Worldwide City Rankings –Survey - Mercer

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Renting an Apartment

Description of apartments
Apartments are divided into 4 categories (from the least comfortable to the most comfortable): Soviet, renovated ('remont'), renovated Western-style, ('evroremont') and luxury ('luks' or 'elit'). Apartments are often rented furnished.
Normal Lease Term
The minimum rental period is 6 months. The rent is usually to be paid in cash.
Rental Costs
You will be asked for a deposit of a month's rent which it will be difficult to get back.
Agencies or Private Rentals
It is preferable to go through an English-speaking agent because unscrupulous behavior is common. A lot of small ads are in fact placed by agents. Agency fees are usually 1 or 2 months' rent.
Rental Agency Websites
List of rental agencies
Private Rentals Announcements Online
Moscow expat community advertisements
The Moscow Times
Other Possibilities For Accommodation
Flat sharing is becoming more and more common. There are websites to look for flat-mates.
For Further Information
Guide to renting (in English)
Legal advice

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School System

School Level
The Russian education system is good. Very elitist, the quality varies considerably between establishments. Teaching is exclusively in Russian.
Compulsory schooling is from age 6 to 17.
International Schools
There is a French lycée in Moscow, German, Italian and Japanese schools and some Anglo-Saxon schools such as the British International School. Nursery schools, most often attached to these establishments, are also available.
In St. Petersburg, most Western expats go to the Anglo American School.
For Further Information
Federal Education Agency (in Russian)
Studyabroad Russia

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Health System

Quality of Healthcare
The quality of care is noticeably poorer than in Western countries.
It also varies a lot according to the region: from tolerable in Moscow, it can become very basic in remote regions.
International Hospitals
There are many private clinics, with Western standards. For example, the American Medical Clinic and Hospital and the European Medical Center in Moscow, the American Medical Clinic and the Euromed Clinic in St Petersburg.
Health Insurance
Accessibility of the Health Insurance Network to Foreigners
Every foreigner living and working in Russia must have private medical insurance.
Where there is a reciprocal agreement, free access to care may apply.
Health System Insurance Body
ILO Social Security Inquiry
Health Ministry
Ministry of Health

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Tourism and Culture

Different Forms of Tourism

Old cities have been historically influenced by European tastes, especially those inside the Golden Ring. The Golden Ring is a route through several cities and smaller towns to the North-East of Moscow. It is the best way to explore Russia's history and architecture.

In Moscow, the Red Square and the Kremlin are the two best examples of historic sites to vist in the city. St. Petersburg is best known for its beautiful and historic sites. For example, the Winter Palace has a rich history as a home to the Royal family until 1917 and is arguably the most oppulent palace in Russia. The Ploshchad Lenina (Lenin Square) is dedicated to Vladimir Lenin, the father of the Russian revolution, and decorated with a light and music fountain and a statue.
As the capital, Moscow has many cultural sites. The State Tretyakov Gallery hosts a large collection of Russian art, some of which dates back to the nineth century. The Museum of Applied and Folk Art samples traditional Russian ceramics, furniture, china and textiles. Even the Moscow Metro is a site to behold, it's colloquially known as the Underground Palace.

St. Petersburg is the old imperial capital, and the second largest city in Russia. As such, it has a rich abundance of classical Museums and art galleries. For example, Hermitage is one of the largest museums in the world and was founded by Catherine the Great in 1764. In central St. Petersburg you can find plenty of palaces and theatres hosting ballet and opera.
Russia is full of natural sites to visit: the Volga, Caucasus and the Urals, the forests of Karelia and Siberia, Lake Baïkal and the Kamchatka peninsula. Krasnoyarsk is a very popular place to visit because of the outdoor scenery available like the Stolby National Park and Enisey River.
There are numerous active monasteries across the country, with some of the most beautiful within the Golden Circle. You should make a note of the monasteries of Suzdal and Sergueiev Possad near Moscow, and the Alexander Nevsky Monastery in St. Petersburg.
Thermal tourism is concentrated mainly in the North Caucasus, around cities such as Mineralny Vody, Kislovodsk, Zheleznovodsk or Essentuki.
However, most establishments are Soviet sanatoriums with Spartan comfort.
In summer, people bathe in many lakes and rivers, especially on the island of Serebrianny Bor in Moscow. Russia has an abundance of lake and seaside beaches.
In the Ural mountains lies Lake Turgoyak, which is known for its clear waters.The Russian city of Samara is located on the banks of the Volga. Here, you can find plenty of sunbathers and beachside cafes.
There are several resorts on the Black Sea starting with Anapa (sand beach) and Sotchi (pebble beach).
Winter Sports
Cross-country skiing and skating are practised practically everywhere in the country. Downhill skiing is becoming a very popular activity. There are popular ski resorts in the Caucasus, and also in the Urals and the Kouzbass. Of course, the most famous place to ski is in Sochi, home of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Outdoor Activities
Fishing, hiking/rambling and white-water sports.
Luxury shopping is generally concentrated in the GOUM or TSOUM in Moscow and in the Gostiny Dvor (in Russian) in St. Petersburg.
The market in Izmailovsky park is renowned for souvenirs, furs, crafts and other Soviet antiques.

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Individual and Civic Freedoms

Political Freedom
The domination of a single party and the use of administrative structures for political ends (propaganda, elimination of opponents...) limit political freedom considerably.
Civil Liberty
World Ranking of Freedom of the Press According to "Reporters sans Frontières", 2021 report : 150/180
Free Access to the Internet
Rule of Law
Quite bad. Many trials or arrests are carried out for political reasons.
Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights
Average. There are some restrictions on freedom of movement and residence, through registration procedures.
Women's Condition
Relatively good
For Further Information
Freedom House
Memorial: Russian Association for Human Rights Defense
Annual Reporters Without Borders report on freedom of the press
Human Rights Watch

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Degree of Freedom
There is total freedom of religion in Russia. Nevertheless, the Russian Orthodox Church tries to oppose what it considers to be proselytism on the part of the Catholic Church.
According to a survey in 2011, 82% of Russians are religious. Orthodox 70%, Muslims 10%, Catholics 1.2%, Buddhists 0.7%.
Role of Religion in Society
The Orthodox Church has an important political role.

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Latest Update: June 2023