Expats in Russia: Life of Foreigners in Moscow

Westerners get used to stereotypes about life in Russia. Some people still hold onto some of these stereotypes, even in times of Internet, Instagram, and YouTube, with millions of photos and videos at their fingertips.

I can hardly believe that one can think it’s possible to meet bears in Russian streets. Or it’s always brutally cold in Russia. Or that all Russians drink a lot of Vodka.

Some opinions seem to be utterly ridiculous. We all use computers, gadgets, mobiles, and it’s quite easy to check any information online or ask Russian citizens in social networks.

Russia for many westerners is associated with something distant, dangerous, and incomprehensible. Let’s dispel these myths.

Stereotypical Views On Russia

Here are some popular beliefs about Russians and living in Russia.

Russian Weather

Russian climate is severe and it snows the whole year round.

Yes, temperatures can be extreme: from -30°C (-22°F) in winter to +30°C (+86°F) in summer, but the weather can also be warm and nice. There are some places like Astrakhan and Sochi where it gets extremely hot during summer. Don’t forget, Russia is the largest country in the world (nearly double the size of the USA) spreading through 9 time zones. It has subtropics as well as areas with permanent frost. It’s extremely diverse, just like the USA. Moscow, for starters, has the climate similar to New York.


Stereotypical Views On Russia

Moscow summer 2014.


Stereotypical Views On Russia

Russia’s largest resort city Sochi, which is located on the Black Sea.



People overseas think that Russians drink too much vodka — if not every day, then on weekends for sure.

Indeed, there is a problem with alcohol consumption in Russia but that doesn’t mean that all Russians are alcoholics. Alcohol is present at many events, it is a matter of tradition.

People in big cities tend to work hard and earn a living. Drinking is certainly not something they do every day.

Besides, the current econimic problems make Russians to drink less. Vodka consumption dropped by 12% in 2014 and continues to decline.

Stereotypical Views On Russia

Vodka sales dropped in Russia in 2014.


You can come across a lot of funny stories about Russians abroad being treated as if all Russians were hard drinkers. One girl described how her American boyfriend during their visit to a supermarket was strongly pushing her away from shelves with alcohol. As she stated, it may be hard to explain that being Russian does not imply that the person is certainly an alcoholic.

Russians Are Rude

It is believed that Russians do not smile, they are always gloomy and serious. They can be even rude.

Expats quickly notice how sincere, compassionate, and hospitable people in Russia can be. The truth is that Russians are nice and friendly but not in public. It is a norm in Russia to wear a “serious face” in public places.

People in Russia actually like foreigners. Russians are pretty curious and will be happy to talk to you and get to know more about you.

Stereotypical Views On Russia

Foreigners do not expect Russians to be so hospitable and friendly.


However, you can still come across some impolite and annoyed service personnel in metro, supermarkets, hospitals. Many expats complain about that.

The essense to understanding Russian manner of communication is the phrase, “cut the chit chat”. If you cut off the small talk, Russians are direct and straightforward. They just spend much less time for meaningless pleasantries. Some foreigners consider it refereshing. Others think it’s too blunt.

Russia Is Dangerous

Some people abroad consider Russia as ‘never-ever-in-my-life’ destination.

Its obscure and dangerous image frightens people off. They think it’s easy to get into trouble there and some criminals are waiting for them around every corner.

That’s how the majority of foreigners see Russia.

The truth: It’s not any more dangerous than any other European country. In fact, it may be safer than some of the European destinations. Just don’t do anything illegal and you’ll be fine.


The most popular views on Russia

Foreigners may consider Russia as ‘never-ever-in-my-life’ destination.

Russian Girls

Russian women are the most beautiful in the world. All Russian girls want to mary a foreigner because they want to move to western countries. They think that life abroad is better and more comfortable.

Beautiful Russian girls

Tall, blonde, and pretty, this is the image of Russian girls abroad.

After reading a lot of opinions about Russian girls I noticed that the following features are repeated more often: blond, tall, beautiful. This is an image of a Russian beauty. Maria Sharapova and Anna Kournikova are the symbols of pretty Slavic women.

All foreigners point out that Russian girls are attractive and feminine. They like to wear dresses, skirts, high-heeled shoes.

Not all Russian girls are blonde, you can find any hair colour. And, of course, not all of them want to marry a foreign man and live abroad. Russian girls would be happy to marry a decent local guy but sometimes they cannot find such a man.

Most Russian women are not feminists and want a man to be a leader in a relationship, while western men and women expect to be absolutely equal.

In general, foreigners are surprised that Russian women want to be weak and constantly expect from men courtship, support and flowers.

There is a real paradox: on one hand, women want to be weaker, but on the other hand Russian women are incredibly strong. They had to go through a lot of difficulties and hardships over the Russian history. And even today nobody is surprised to see a Russian lady who is looking after her children, husband, runs the house and makes money.

Perhaps that’s why women want to be weaker. She wants to be with a man she can rely on.

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

Although today the situation in Russia is changing a bit. Women look for more independence and strive for a career growth.


Vice Miss World Sofia Nikitchuk

Miss Russia and Vice Miss World 2015 Sofia Nikitchuk is a brunette.


Heinz Schulze, who has lived and worked for more than 8 years in Moscow, feels that Russian girls are looking for wealthy men with a car, apartment, and a large bank account. At the same time they are good housewives but can be moody and too strict with their children.

Kenneth, who met his partner through the dating site Elena’s Models, disagrees:

“I had a bankruptcy in 2009 and have struggled to get back on my feet. I even thought that I might got on here before I was financial ready. It turned out that the women I corresponded with did not care (I was honest from the very first conversations on Skype). The woman I am with now was corresponding with a man from France as well. A very rich man, who has a huge mansion and even a private jet. She chose me! Not him. Why? Well I was more sincere, did not try to control her or the situation and I am super romantic. My woman does not hide she would like a fancy new car. The French man offered her this, I can not. But she really did not want only the car right? Cause she chose the man who could not give her a new car (yet). The other women I was corresponding with was also interested in me. What surprised me was that a majority of the women was on the top 100 popular woman on EM. My conclusion: No they do NOT go for the money (some will of course, all countries have gold diggers). But as all other women I ever met, they do want to feel secure. If you can provide a minimum of financial security in their life, it doesn’t matter if your rich or not. This goes for all women I have ever met. It’ nature.”

He gives advice to men dating Russian girls:

“Be yourself. Be nice. Be respectful. Be romantic. Then you get the girl, and she will not ask you for more than you choose to present her!”

Women-expats were asked what they thought about Russian females. They said that Russian women looked attractive but they tend to wear too much make-up. Western ladies also pointed out that Russian girls often wear clothes that do not fit the situation.

This is actually true. Russian women tend to dress like models on podium for every occasion. But modern Russian girls also favour casual look, wear snickers, T-shirts, jeans, and may look just the same as American girls. But they still like to highlight their femininity and spend a lot of time and money maintaining their beauty.

Imagine American women on “Extreme Makeover”, that’s what Russian ladies do every day, week, months of their lives. If you want to look pretty, you can. This is what the beauty of Russian women is about: looking after themselves, grooming, behaving like ladies.

They do it to get and keep a man. There are 86 men in Russia for 100 women, so girls have to work harder to have a partner. It is simple demographics. If there were 117 men to 100 women like in today’s China, it could change.


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I am Russian and some of these stereotypes made me smile actually. On one hand, it’s really difficult to imagine foreigners still believe in some of these tales about Russia… On the other hand, I undestand that Internet actually can strenghten and propagate certain stereotypes, especially when it comes to YouTube videos for example. We all know one of the most popular way of whiling away the time in Internet is online video. By the way, here arises another modern stereotype about Russian driving skills. Most of my foreign friends think that all the Russians drive super drunk having severe… Read more »

I live in Russia my whole life. And I can’t believe these tales and myths. Foreigners have a strange view of our country because of false information on the Internet. If they lived in Russia for a long time they they would have understood that it’s stereotypes. Actually Russians aren’t what they represent. We are the same as all people of the Earth. Do not make us superhumans!


“Superhumans”? 😮 I would say, that’s the opposite of classic stereotypes about Russia and Russians.


It’s so funny to know what do foreigners think about Russia, because we don’t notice about features of our country usually. I think foreigners would be surprised by true Russia. But maybe we know wrong facts about other countries and cultures too)) I really want to know true about it, but not myths.


Vodka is a Russian product and is liked in this country. Read Russian classics who describe vodka consumption before dinner. Especially Gogol who depicted landlords of the 19th century and how they drank a small glass of self-made vodka (very little about 30 g) whish was followed by pickles. Only after that they went to the dining-room. It was a great tradition ruined now. I see very few drunkards in this country.


When I was in France, I was shoked by their stereotypes about Russians! One of the funniest cases happened to me, when me had a party and one Frenchman made “Russian” toast. He said “На здоровье!”, happily looked at me and drank a shot. He was suprised to see me laughing, cause , I don’t know why, absolutely all foreigners are sured that we say these words when we drink)))


the situation would be better, if Russia was a more visited country, which demands some actions to attract tourists and there are no much of them. the last olimpic games was a great opportunity, but personally i think it was failed. fifa world cup is coming, another good chance to open Russia for foreigners.


That’s a real problem while we are travelling. The foreigners always asking me if it’s real thing that Russian women give birth to children right on the snow? Or – is it real that we start our day with vodka, and we don’t need to eat if we have vodka. You seriously think so?


I live in Russia, so some of these stereotypes seem to me ridiculous. But people are not from Russia really believe in all this. For example, foreign films and serials for people who drink a lot, they say that they have to live in Russia.
I was upset that foreigners really is an opinion about the Russian.


Lacking only the stereotypes about walking on the streets bears, we have very cold weather and we always wear a cap with earflaps. Haha.. this really very funny! But something, as silly as may sound, is true.


It was funny to read. I bet stereotypes exist about every country, but there are too much of them about Russia. I think you should visit the country to see everything on your own eyes and just then realize how different it really is. I hope I will visit Russia someday (not just the airport between flights 🙂 ), and collect my own thoughts about this country.


I live in the USA and can say that many of the US citizens DO believe in these fairy tales. Bears, vodka, endless winter. The list of their imagination is too long. The majority actually lives in own “protected small world” called the USA and has NO idea and interest of what is going on in the world around. That is too sad. How is it possible to be such a great country and have no knowledge about the simplest things? I am sure that the Europe does not have such a problem.


When I read it I recalled one TV program where a narrator travelEd to different countries. He visited Nitherlands. Audience watched the beautiful nature, many flowers, people who rode bicycles to their work and prefered a healthy life.
The narrator asked a policeman in a street: “Many people think that there are free drugs and prostitution in your country. Is it true?” Policeman answer: “So, many people think that there are bears in streets, people drink vodka every day and winter is always in the Russia. Is this true?”
The narrator was from Russia.

From time to time because of my work I go abroad. And very often I face with stereotypes about Russia. Once we had a meeting in the Northern France. After meeting we went to the open-air cafe. It was spring already but it was rather cold in the evening. And soon I began feel really really frozen. As well as my foreign colleagues (from different countries). Suddenly some of them addressed me: “Oh, but for you this weather should be really comfortable and ok. You used to live in cold”. I didn’t know how to explain that I feel cold… Read more »