Here are some housing options for students looking for accommodation while studying in Moscow, adapted from recommendations by the School of Russian and Asian Studies.
Finding affordable accommodation can be difficult in an expensive city such as Moscow. The options range from University dormitories to home stays and renting apartments. Website www.sras.org offers some useful tips.
The idea of home stays is that you will live with a Russian family. The hosts are often elderly and they take foreign students to live with them as part of the family. This option is definitely recommended if you want to get to know the locals and the real Russian lifestyle. Also, home stays are great for your language skills.
Students have their own rooms, but they usually share the kitchen and the bathroom with the host family. As a rule, apartments in Russia are not large. The apartment might feel very crowded at times and you should be prepared for that.
Generally, students have their own keys and they can come and go as they please. Inviting guests over is usually accepted, as long you ask your host family first. You should not be surprised to find that your Russian family might be just like a real family, telling you to be home for dinner or to clean up your room. You will have to respect their rules while staying in their home.
Staying in a Russian family’s home can be very different from your normal way of life. Not many Russian’s have internet at home for example. Respect is also very important in Russian culture and you should be aware of this at all times. Do not expect to use anything without prior permission.
Costs of home stays vary per location but on average they are around USD 200-250 (~ RUB 5,900 – 7,450) per week. Most families operate on a budget and your costs might be higher due to extra meals or laundry costs.
Dormitory housing in Moscow
University dormitories are usually located on campus or nearby. Students will be living with other students, both Russian and foreign. Dormitories are usually lively places to live, with a lot of activities and staying in a dorm will allow you to meet new people easily. However, this can hamper learning of Russian as foreigners tend to spend their time with other foreign students.
The rooms are usually around nine square meters, and they are furnished with a bed, a table and a cabinet. The rooms can be either private or shared, in which case the room will be larger as well. You will share the bathroom and kitchen facilities. You are expected to take care of your personal space and to keep it clean. Usually in the dorm they also have cafeterias, snack bars and cafés.
In the dormitories students are allowed to come and go as they please. However, most dorms lock up for the night and then you will need to wake up the guard when coming back late. Bringing guests can be difficult as students will need to show their student ID when entering a dorm. There are also designated visiting hours that can be restrictive.
Costs are usually around USD 100 (~ RUB 2,970) for the room with facilities, although they can vary depending on the university.
Renting apartments and rooms in Moscow
If you have spent some time in Russia already you might consider renting an apartment with some friends. It takes time to search for an affordable apartment in good condition, so it is probably not the best option when arriving at first.
Ads in newspapers which look like private ones are often from agents who request a month’s rent as a commission. Although it might sound expensive, it is a better option than trying to find something alone.
There are many points to consider such as making sure the contract states everything it is supposed to state and that it is given to you also in English and not only in Russian. Also the contract should be registered or you could face a fine and possible deportation from Russia. Therefore, if you are interested in renting, it is safer to rely on an agent. More information on rental contracts can be found here.
Information on renting an apartment can be found here.
The school of Russian and Asian studies / Expatica