If you are considering living in Russia, you need to know what positive and negative aspects this country has. Please note that St. Petersburg and Moscow, in particular, are a reality in themselves.
It is difficult for a foreigner to find a job in Russia. There are some opportunities in hospitality (cook, pizza maker, etc.) or for very specialized professions (computer science, marketing, engineering, trade, energy, etc.), where you can get good salaries. In Russia, with the exception of Moscow and St. Petersburg, there is an underdeveloped market and it is easy to start a profitable small business because there is still a lack of many things, unlike in the West where everything is now available.
There are two sides to the Russians’ attitude towards the West. On the one hand, Russians constantly blame Western countries for all their problems, but they wear Italian clothes, have American devices, drive German cars, drink French wines, etc. They do not develop or create anything, all their money comes from oil, gas and their mines, nothing more.
People are very hospitable, and even though they may seem reserved and cold at first, it is not difficult to make friends. Of course, in order to fully integrate, you have to know the Russian language. The majority of the population does not know the English language. Therefore, for everything you need – from buying bread at the local store to asking for information – you must use Russian.
Corruption exists everywhere and at every level. Even all companies, it is common to have an “official” salary and an “unofficial” salary. Most people could not survive without the second salary. And neither could the companies. In Russia, it is common to pay police officers, firefighters, and officials at all levels to avoid sanctions or obtain permits. You have to pay nurses and doctors to get better care in hospitals, or pay the teacher to pass a college exam. It is also possible to pay for the acquisition of diplomas or driver’s licenses.
The bureaucracy in Russia is terrible. In this regard, there is an anecdote that says: “A document that is considered authentic requires a seal, a signature and another document (with a second seal and signature) that proves that the first document is really valid”.
Russian society is strongly class-oriented. People who belong to a higher social class have a strong sense of superiority over those who belong to the lower classes. This leads to a “show-and-play” attitude, where everyone tends to appear richer and more fashionable than they actually are. Members of the upper class go unpunished when they come into conflict with a member of the lower class. In practice, this means that a person who has power or money will always be found innocent in a dispute with an ordinary person, whether he is in the right or not. The civil rights of minorities are not absolutely protected; on the contrary, they are regarded with contempt and belong to the lowest and most despicable stratum of society.
Life in Russian cities is quite slow and smooth. Moscow and Saint Petersburg, on the other hand, offer a wide range of cultural activities and social events. The nightlife in these two cities is excellent, and there is a wide selection of bars, clubs and restaurants. The quality of museums, art galleries, theaters and concerts is also exceptional. Cities are generally very green and have numerous parks and playgrounds for children. In Moscow, the rhythm of life is different from other cities. It is faster. Some people do not like it, others, especially young people, love the hustle and bustle of this metropolis. They all move fast, hoping to gain time on their journeys from one place to another.
Russia is generally a safe country with a low crime rate. There are no ghettos or high crime areas. The outskirts of cities always have the poorest people and many immigrants, but compared to the outskirts of some Western European cities, it is still a paradise. Moscow is also a relatively safe city despite its size.
The cost of living outside the major cities, especially outside Moscow, is incredibly low. In Moscow, on the other hand, life is expensive. Rents are high. Prices for food and services are generally higher than in other cities.
Most condominiums are 9- or 17-story prefabricated buildings. Tenants generally do not take care of the common parts of the building and the public space, which is often dilapidated. The apartments are usually small, a one-bedroom apartment averages about 30 square meters or a little more. The condominiums are equipped with central heating, which is turned on and off at a time determined by the municipality.
Russian roads are really bad, just outside the city center they are full of potholes. Public transport (metro, streetcar, bus) or private transport provide a wide range of urban and extra-urban services. Moscow has an impressive public transportation system. Not only is the metro clean, safe, efficient and fast, it is also very beautiful. Tour guides show tourists some of the city’s most beautiful stations. There is also an extensive network of buses, trolleybuses and streetcars throughout the city. Moscow is very large with its suburbs. This means long travel times and a lot of time lost in traffic jams. The city’s population of about 20 million people puts enormous pressure on the city’s transportation system, resulting in significant congestion during rush hours. It is definitely not a city by human standards. It is quite normal to take 1.5 to 2 hours to get to the workplace. Traffic in the central areas is terrible, rush hour remains a nightmare.
In Russia, especially in Moscow, there are several international schools that provide excellent quality education and services. The poor quality of public health care, i.e., outdated facilities and lack of equipment and medications, makes it essential to purchase private health insurance. There are several private centers in Moscow and St. Petersburg with doctors who speak English in most cases.
Weather is definitely not Russia’s strong point. Apart from the southern regions, one has to be prepared for long and cold winters and the fact that the sun does not show itself for many days of the year. In summer, life takes place more outdoors, with walks, barbecues, excursions, etc. While in most of the country pollution is not a problem, in Moscow air pollution and noise are a problem with extremely poor air quality.
Living and working in Russia pros and cons
Living in Russia, pros
- Easy integration
- Good business opportunities
- Low crime rate
Living in Russia, cons
- Difficulties in finding employment
- Inefficient public services (school, health, etc.)
- Bad weather
- High bureaucracy
- High corruption
- No environmental protection
Living and working in Russia, conclusion
If your move to Russia will allow you to earn a good salary because you work in sectors such as: IT oil, trade, etc., you will probably live better than in your home country. On the other hand, if you are looking for an unskilledl job, you will have a worse standard of living.
In Russia, the streets and sidewalks are in poor condition, elevators are often broken, hot water is not always available and tap water is undrinkable. Minorities have no protection, corruption and repressive bureaucracy are part of everyday life. But still, it’s not a bad place to live. In the cities there are many shopping centers, restaurants, discos and beautiful parks. If you get involved with the reality that surrounds you and accept the culture, this is a country that can offer you an unforgettable life experience.
For all the information on how to work in Russia, I recommend you to read the article: Working in Russia
On the other hand, if you want more information on how to move to Russia, I recommend you to read the article: Moving to Russia