Expats in Russia: Life of Foreigners in MoscowStaff author: Adilia S.

Last month Moscow hosted an exhibition about life of expats in Russia. There are about 100 thousand of expatriates living and working just in Moscow. Although some foreigners left Russia due to the economic downturn, many more remain residents.

Expats About Russia

Expats About Russia

People enjoy hanging out in restaurants, cafes and night clubs.

Some westerners are fearful about coming to the country because of stories they have read online or in the media.

But Russia can be a great destination for expats and many of them feel excited about their life here. Some foreigners stay in Russia for more than 10 years and do not want to leave.

Why? What do expats like about this big and sometimes mysterious country?

Busy Life

Paolo from Sweden says that he enjoys Moscow busy life. Moscow is open 24 hours. People are going to cafes, restaurants, night clubs, hanging out with friends. He believes anyone will fall in love with Moscow if he likes life in big cities.

Polly Barks from the United States has been living in Moscow since 2010. She is originally from a small town (about 3.000 people) and feels excited about Moscow lifestyle. You can always find what to do in the city. Besides Moscow is the mix of old (Soviet) and ultramodern buildings, which make the city even more dynamic. She loves just wandering around the capital of Russia and admiring its architecture.


Expats About Russia

Just have a look: Starbucks and McDonald’s are written in Russian.

Moscow Parks

Teacher of English Will Fowler says that he’s fond of Moscow parks. He says that when he is upset he goes to Kolomenskoye. This beautiful park is situated within the city. It’s nice to walk in the park alone thinking about different things.

He also really likes the City for its contemporary art and Winzavod (winery) for its sense of freedom.

Moscow has over 100 parks within the city limits, not mentioning countless gardens.


Expats About Russia

Kolomenskoye: The Museum-reserve is a former royal estate situated several kilometers to the southeast of the city center of Moscow.


Expats About Russia

Izmaylovsky park is one of the largest in the city.


Expats About Russia

Gorky Park of Culture and Leisure is The Central Park in Moscow. It opened in 1928.

Russian Food

When asked what he likes most of all about Russia, Paolo answers that the new food he tried in Moscow is awesome. He finds Georgian cuisine absolutely amazing. Paolo also likes bliny (local pancakes) — they’re cheap and tasty.

Guiseppe from Italy agrees that the local food is really tasty. He loves borscht and smetana.

When Catherine Bernie from the USA decided to go to Russia, everybody had recommended her to try borscht. Now it’s her favourite dish. She also likes Russian honey cake. She finds it delicious.

Russian People

All the expats share their impressions gained during socializing with people in Russia.

Derrick Paul Brown, an American basketball player living in Russia, didn’t expect to see such warm relationships between locals.

He thought that people are not openly friendly, they rarely smile. He says that as soon as you talk to someone you come to understand that Russians are very open. As he believes, they simply do not display their inner emotions to strangers.

Russian People

Derrick Paul Brown, an American basketball player, lives in Krasnodar, Russia.

Polly also thought that Russians were gloomy, but after some time spent in the country she believes the opposite. Now she thinks that Russians can be very helpful and positive. Peole cannot help but smile when hear a foreigner speaking Russian.

William Hackett-Jones from Great Britain says that he learned how to be generous from Russians. Life is not easy in Russia, so people try to support each other. When he was in a trouble, English friends sent him beautiful messages asking if they could help him. Russians, to his great surprise, did not ask him about anything but offered a concrete assistance.


Expats About Russia

As William thinks, life in Russia is not easy, so people try to support each other.


Paolo says that Russians just need time to get to know you better. But if they see that they can trust you, they become extremely hospitable and kind.

Russian Women And Relationships

The majority of foreigners find Russian women attractive and feminine.

Expats living in Russia often say they can’t understand relationships between local men and women.

Paul wonders why Russians need so many flower shops: they are everywhere in Moscow and other cities. A man always comes to a date with a bouquet of flowers. If it happens in a restaurant, the waiter brings a vase for the flowers. Paolo calls it “flower centered dating culture”.

Polyglot Luca Lampariello admires Russian girls, especially their sense of family. He admires the positive side of such division between men and women, which is in decline in Italy.


Expats About Russia

Flower shops in Moscow are open 27/7, just the city itself.


Thai girl Ploychanok Pontavornkunchai says that Russian men are courteous and attentive. They never forget to open and hold the door for a girl. She has never met so many gentlemen though she’s been to lots of places in the world.

Costs Of Life

Paolo doesn’t think that Moscow is extremely expensive. The only things he finds expensive are property prices.

On the contrary, Holly says that Moscow is an expensive city. She consider prices for property, clothes, and electronics to be too high. Only the basic food and transportation are cheap.

Here are some approximate prices that will help you to decide whether it’s expensive or not.


Expats About Russia

Prices in Moscow — click to enlarge. (Screenshot: numbeo.com)

Taxes For Expats

Guiseppe says that foreigners love the country’s low income tax. It’s 13%, while in Europe it can be up to 40%. Thus it’s possible to have a high income in Moscow and pay low taxes.

Foreign exchange rates are also attractive. Tax rates for Russian residents is 13%, while for non-residents it’s 30%. To become a resident for tax purposes, you need to spend in Russia at least 183 days in a year.

Russian Adventurousness

Many expats note that life in Russia is exciting and full of adrenaline.

Charles Thompson from the USA moved to Russia when he was 15. He’s been living there for 5 years. Recently he visited America and found life in States boring and too predictable. He got used to be excited and a bit stressed.

An actor from the USA, Odin Biron says that life in Russia still fascinates him. He never knows what is going to happen tomorrow. Every day is an adventure. He’s been to lots of Russian cities, took a 4-day trip through the country and saw things that impressed him. He confesses that he’s afraid of going back to the USA.

Russian Instability

Odin Biron plays one of the leading roles in a popular Russian TV series “Interny”.


  • Guiseppe recommends to rent an apartment in the city center to enjoy a walking distance proximity to home from a variety of places.
    Expats About Russia

    Yellow blue bus – Я люблю вас – I love you

  • Holly Barks mentions that it would be useful to learn some Russian words and phrases.

By the way, do you know how to say I love you in Russian? It’s extremely easy. Just remember the following phrase in English – Yellow blue bus.

Yellow blue bus – Я люблю вас – I love you.

There is one more:

Horror show – Хорошо – Good (Ok, fine).

Hope that now that you’ve learned some positive things about Russia, it’s not “never-ever-in-my-life” destination for you anymore.

Watch 2 short videos about life of expats in Russia. In the first video Derrin explains what he thinks about Russians, has some borscht in one of his favourite restaurants and shows off his home.

The second video is about Abhishek Rungta from Toronto, Canada, a mobile app developer working for a Russian bank. He dispels myths and stereotypes about Russian people.


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it was interesting to read what foreigners think about our country! also I’ve heard a lot from Russian people who moved to live abroad, that our people are very sincere and kind. it really is pleasant fact!

Over my search, I have come across many men from the US, that are moving to Russia. Most are looking for the love of their life or are married to a Slavic woman. I have even spoken with many men here in the US, that would love to move away, but are scared. People need to remember the rest of the world thinks the US has no problems and everyone is rich. Foreign people see movies from the US and think this is the way life is here. We have a great deal of issues, the rest of the world… Read more »
Hi Bryan, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I have traveled throughout Russia quite a bit but have not been to Ukraine, although I will be going there in a couple of months. I have a lot of Russian and Ukrainian friends here in the states and they are some of the best people I know. I had seriously considered moving there many times but now with young children and being divorced it is not an option for me till they are older perhaps. But the hospitality of Slavic people is second to none and I really enjoy their friendship. Of… Read more »

Moscow is my dream! No one can get bored there! It is huge. It is better than some European countries. I can hardly imagine this. And Moscow is definately not Russia. It is Moscow like another country. It differs so much from other cities in Russia. No wonder that expats enjoy living there.


I really respect people who were able to come to our country and reach the heights in their career. Actually, it is very difficult to live in a foreign country with other people and culture. Many people are afraid to come to Russia because of a lot of stereotypes about our country. I am very glad that despite this many foreigners want to live and develop in Russia.