So you visited Russia and fell in love.
Perhaps it was the oldest lake in the world – beautiful, clear, Lake Baikal or one of the other natural places. Perhaps you enjoyed a ski trip to the snow-capped mountains of the Northern Caucasus. It could have also been the balmy beaches of the Black Sea coast.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to pick it all up and move to Russia, you’re going to need to do your homework. For the purpose of this writing, let’s assume you’ve done the obvious – your visa preparation. What’s the next step will be to immigrate and start living in Russia? Let’s find out!
- 1. Study
No, seriously. Did you know you will need to pass a test about Russia’s history and vocabulary before you can live there?
Don’t worry. No Calculus here, but you will need to know at least 1250 Russian words, facts about Olympic figure skating champions and Russia’s communist past, so study up! A minimum score of 75% is required to pass.
- 2. Do The Math
Can you afford to live in Russia? In 2012, Moscow was named the fourth most expensive city in the world for expats for the third year in a row. Not much has changed, even after Ruble’s collapse in 2014.
While housing is extremely expensive, groceries are less so. Expect to pay about $1,718 USD per month to rent a 900 square foot furnished apartment in an expensive area. The same dwelling in a normal area would cost about $940 per month.
Like to cook? A pound of boneless chicken breasts will run about $2.47 USD, or 157 Rubles. A dozen large eggs would cost $1.57, or 100 Rubles.
Eating out? A Big Mac Combo costs $4.24 and a basic lunch including a drink in the business district about $7.00.
Don’t forget healthcare. Ranked #130 by the World Health Organization, the Russian healthcare system is under-funded, but attainable, with policies ranging from $700 per year for expats to use public clinics, to $2,000 per year for the ability to use private hospitals. Those with a residency permit are allowed access to the same free public care as Russia’s citizens. Not bad at all.
- 3. Taking Household Items With You
Yes, you really can take it with you when you go! But, it’ll cost you. A quote was obtained for shipping a 40-foot cargo container from New Orleans, LA, to St. Petersburg, Russia. This is the standard container needed to ship all of the household items for a 3-4 bedroom home. At the time of this writing, the fee for this service is between $2,000 and $2500. It is highly recommended that anyone considering using this service do their research with the International Organization for Standardization and the World Shipping Organization.
- 4. Don’t Forget Fido
As long as your dog or cat is accompanied by proof of rabies vaccinations, as well as immunization against other infectious disease, they can enter Russia without quarantine time. Your international veterinary documents will need to be translated to Russian before traveling. A 15-digit microchip isn’t required, but is highly recommended.
You may take up to two of your furry friends without much hassle. However, if taking more than that, a 21-day quarantine will be required, as well as a special permit.
Moving to live in Russia can seem like a daunting and expensive task, but if you are willing to adjust your accustomed standard of living to that of the locals, you can do it successfully. All it takes is a little bit of research and a lot of patience :).