Find the requirements to rent in Moscow and how to find Moscow apartments for rent – plus learn about your tenant rights when renting an apartment in Moscow.
If you’re looking to move to Russia’s capital city, you will need to find accommodation in Moscow and figure out where to live in Moscow, whether you want to be right in the heart of the city or out in the quieter suburbs, plus whether it is better to buy or rent in Moscow.
For expats relocating to Moscow, choosing to rent in Moscow can be a feasible solution in the initial period as Russian law tends to be very favourable to tenants. Renting an apartment in Moscow allows more flexibility to shop around and research particular areas, but can also help you decide how long you want to stay and whether buying a property in Moscow is a good option, as many expats are on temporary work contracts in Russia.
Our guide explains the necessary information for renting in Moscow:
- Renting in Moscow overview
- Types of apartments to rent in Moscow
- Rental prices in Moscow
- How to find Moscow rentals
- Rental agreements in Moscow
- Documents required to rent in Moscow
- Where to live in Moscow
- Expat communities in Moscow
The rental real estate market in Russia has been very competitive following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990, where all property was state owned and allocated to individuals to ‘use’ based on their occupation. Post-communism, Russian housing, in particular Moscow property, has flourished with a buoyant market for renting and buying Russian property.
However, as the Russian economy expanded post-communism, rental prices in Moscow also dramatically rose; capitalism and more foreign investment meant an influx of foreign nationals and an increased demand for accommodation in Moscow.
But, according to Bloomberg, since the crash in oil prices and the terse political situation in Ukraine and Crimea in 2015, many international firms have withdrawn or made investment cutbacks in the country. The decreased demand for property has lead to a drop in the price of Moscow rentals, up to some 40 percent in some of the city’s most desirable neighbourhoods. While the marketplace is still very competitive, renters in Moscow can get more for their money.
As a rule, the majority of rentals in Moscow are apartments and come either furnished, semi-furnished or unfurnished. Most landlords will accommodate your requests to add or remove furniture and, in some cases, you can agree for them to buy furniture you have purchased when you leave.
In the outer suburbs of Moscow, there is also a number of gated complexes and luxurious villas coming up on the market. Naturally, with more space you should expect to pay a premium, plus factor in the longer commute into the city, but you will have more chance of finding a house to rent in Moscow.
For students, there are dormitories, room rentals and homestays to help reduce the cost of renting in Moscow. Read more in our guide to student accommodation in Moscow.
There are also some distinct styles of Russian housing, such as the kommunalki, communal flats as seen in Moscow, and dacha, small houses in the countryside. These are explained in our guides to the history of houses in Russia and Moscow apartments.
Rental prices in Moscow are typically listed with square metre measurements and a monthly cost listed in roubles or US dollars. According to Numbeo, a one-bedroom apartment in Moscow’s city centre will cost an average of USD 1,000 (RUB 55,000), whereas you can expect to pay USD 550 (RUB 33,000) farther out in the suburbs. A three-bedroom apartment can average from USD 1,500 (RUB 90,000) to USD 3,000 (RUB 180,000) depending on the location and size. However, there is room for negotiation with rental prices in some cases, for example, through Russian utilities or negotiating on furnishings and redecoration. Rent is often still paid in cash, but most landlords will accept wire transfers in roubles or dollars.
A one-month rent deposit is also required by most of the landlords in Moscow. If you are using a real estate agent to find rentals, they are likely to charge a small amount called a ‘caution fee’ to secure the property, as well as additional fees for administrative and arrangement services for drawing up rental agreements, among others. This can vary from agent to agent, so ask upfront for costs.
The most common way of finding property in Moscow is via an estate agent, although if you have a good grasp of the Russian language and want to get a better price, you can source local Moscow accommodation in newspapers or online with website such as Gdeetotdom, Cian, The Locals and Kvartirant that list properties from estate agents and private landlords.
Whether you decide to use an estate agent or go it alone, you may need a translator to ensure you can clearly communicate with the agent or landlord and fully understand what the rental includes.
For peace of mind and greater understanding, foreigners can opt for an international real estate agent to draw up the necessary lease documents in Russian and English, but naturally they will charge extra for this service.
There are also real estate agents and serviced apartments in Moscow catered to expats; doing an online search will reveal numerous websites, including:
Rental agreements in Moscow are usually prepared by the real estate agent and are rarely notarised. A standard lease is written in two languages – Russian and English. Contracts are relatively short but the terms may vary, so read carefully before you sign.
Moscow rental contracts usually last from one to three years. An early termination requires a one to three-month notice to the landlord. Early termination by landlords, however, is not customary and against Russian legislation, unless a tenant is in breach of an agreement.
Standard rental terms tend to be favourable for a tenant. Landlords usually insist on a right to inspect the property on a regular basis. Rent is denominated in dollars, roubles or less often in euros, and is usually paid monthly or quarterly, although longer advance payments can be made to reduce the rent.
Rental contracts of one year or longer need to go through the state registration in the Federal Registration Service. It is a bothersome procedure that requires the personal presence of both the landlord and the tenant. To avoid this, the length of the rent is often kept at 364 days in most cases or a tenancy agreement is used in place of a lease where possible.
Much paperwork is also required to rent accommodation in Moscow, from both the tenant and landlord.
Your landlord should prove ownership and the right to legally rent out the property, which can be a standard ownership document or shared ownership. Standard ownership documents may include a variety of documents depending on when and in what manner the property was acquired. Certificate of the State Registration of Ownership Rights states the address of the apartment and the owner’s name. If there is more than one property owner, it will indicate the share of ownership but will not list other property owners. Such certificates accompany any ownership document if the property was acquired after 1998, but earlier transactions don’t require this.
If the property was privatised, the ownership documents will come in two parts: the Agreement of Transfer and the Certificate of Ownership. Privatisation documents list all owners and their shares. Another common ownership document is the sale-purchase agreement.
Besides ownership verification, it’s important to see the landlord’s identification – usually a passport. If a property has multiple owners, make sure that all property owners sign the lease agreement or provide a power of attorney to act on their behalf.
The tenant doesn’t require elaborate credit checks, but landlords usually ask for a copy of a passport and visa, and in some cases for proof of employment. It is also customary to leave a contact person and a phone number of your office.
In Moscow, tenants are required to be registered at their residence. Tenants can register in the Moscow Visa Registration Office (UVIR), using their landlord’s notarised consent or a rental contract.
Paying utilities while renting in Moscow
When renting an apartment in Moscow, basic utilities such as water, heating and facility management fees are typically included in the rental price. However, additional bills for electricity, internet, television and telecommunication services are usually paid separately by the tenant.
Utilities in Russia are state-run and generally cheap. However, this does mean that tenants have no control if they’re living in a typical Russian apartment, rather than a plush western-style building, as the government dictates when the heating is turned on and off. Also, it’s worth noting that in the summer, the hot water is turned off for up to three weeks during the season across the whole city to carry out routine maintenance.
Read Expatica’s guide for more information on utilities in Moscow.
When deciding on where to rent in Moscow, it’s important to decide beforehand what you can afford, the type of accommodation and minimum requirements you need, as well as the location and amenities it offers. Specifically, in Moscow, the roads are always busy, so having a close proximity to the Metro or finding an apartment within walking distance of your place of work or study will play a big factor in your commute time.
Read Expatica’s guide for more information on where to live in Moscow.
Renting in Moscow city centre
For many young expats or those needing convenient access to the city, choosing to rent in the centre of Moscow puts you in the heart of it all. Tverskaya Street, leading off from Red Square, is the most central street in Moscow, complete with high-end shops and nightspots that attract foreigners and wealthy locals alike.
Other central areas that are a little quieter, but equally as central, are between Arbat and Kropotkinskaya, which are beautiful tree-lined pedestrianised streets with a relaxed, cafe lifestyle.
Other popular residential areas
Slightly out of the centre you’ll still find pleasant areas within the Sadovoye Koltso, also known as the Garden Ring. These are generally quieter, residential areas with good links to the city centre and plenty of local amenities, such as restaurants, cafes, shops and green areas.
One of the areas favoured by expats and locals is the Patriarshiye Prudy, on the north-eastern edge of the Garden Ring. With a pretty park as a central focus and good transport links with four metro stations all within walking distance, it can be a perfect compromise for city living with more space.
However, if you want a slice of European architecture and charm, then Chistye Prudy is another attractive residential area, with a lake that offers boating in the summer and skating during the winter months.
For expats in Moscow looking for international neighbours or extra comfort and security, there are a number of communities in Moscow. These are typically guarded compounds or serviced apartments with 24/7 security. Rental prices in these communities can be on the higher side, ranging from USD 1,500–3,000 per month for townhouses.
Some of the most popular and prestigious areas for international communities are Pokrovsky Hills and Rosinka International Resident Complex, both situated in the northwest of Moscow and near some of Moscow’s private international schools.
Naturally, choosing to rent in the suburbs will mean a considerably longer commute, but in a city that is densely populated and relatively polluted, this is a small price to pay for fresh air, open space and quiet.