Discover more about life in Russia with this handy guide on where to live in Moscow, where to live in St. Petersburg, and a selection of other Russian cities.
Moscow and St Petersburg. While these are often considered the best places to live in Russia – in part due to having a higher proportion of jobs in Russia, better healthcare facilities and international schools – there are several attractive Russian cities that are growing in industry, IT and research.
This guide helps foreigners decide where to live in Russia, with a short explanation to Russia’s popular and emerging cities:
- Best places to live in Russia
- Where to live in Moscow
- Where to live in St Petersburg
- Popular Russian cities for foreigners
Expats in Russia tend to enjoy a comparatively high standard of living to many of their Russian counterparts, choosing in many cases to live in gated developments or in expensive apartments in city centres. You can read more about the history of Russian housing.
Expat communities in Russia have a particular draw, partly because of Russia’s vastness, its significant rich/poor divide and the lack of interaction between locals and western expats, which some put down to the difficult language barrier.
This is one reason why Moscow in particular is popular for foreigners, with its concentration of expat dominated housing developments, English-language international schools in Moscow and good access to private healthcare centres, for expats who find the Russian healthcare system limited compared to what they are accustomed.
St Petersburg is also a beautiful Russian city, located on the Baltic Sea, with Baroque-style architecture and a reputation as one of Russia’s main cultural centres, with important art, ballet and theatre centres.
Moscow has the largest expat community in Russia, as many foreigners work in the numerous international companies in the Russian capital. Moscow’s most central and expat-friendly areas carry a high cost of living in comparison to many other places in Russia.
- Boulevard Ring: Moscow’s most central area boasts the popular neighbourhoods of Tverskaya – the perfect place for younger expats who want to be at the centre of it all – and Patriarshiye Prudy, which boasts a beautiful city park and has high property prices to match.
- Garden Ring: The neighbourhood of Arbat features some beautiful architecture within close proximity of the foreign embassies. Property prices are expensive in this attractive area. Elsewhere, the Tretyakov Gallery area is more up-and-coming, with lots of shops and cafes on its two busy main roads.
- Pokrovsky Hills: A little farther out, the guarded community of Pokrovsky Hills is popular with expats, with the Anglo-American School of Moscow nearby and a European Medical Centre on site.
- Roskina: While Roskina is outside of the city boundaries, it’s a great place for expats who work in the west of the city, and is home to the British International School.
St Petersburg is Russia’s second largest city, with a population of more thabn five million people. While the market isn’t as thriving as in Moscow, properties in the city centre can still be expensive. City workers tend to prefer the 1930s and 1950s homes compared to the more modern equivalents.
Expats working in the city centre could be better off buying or renting a property farther out, but need to consider that the traffic coming in and out of the city during rush hour can make commuting a very difficult task.
A little under 300 miles (485km) to the southeast of Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod is quickly developing as a location for expats. Russia’s fifth largest city has a couple of flourishing industries that attract expats, and property prices are nowhere near as high as Moscow or St Petersburg. Nizhny Novgorod is one of the main centres for the IT industry – particularly hardware and software development – and also has an growing car manufacturing industry.
To the east of the Ural Mountains, and just over the border in to Asia, Yekaterinburg is often described as Russia’s first Asian outpost. The popularity of the city is growing, with the five-hectare commercial district of Yekaterinburg-City currently under development on the banks of the Iset River. While development is slow, the new quarter is set to bring more Russian jobs to the city. With an abundance of natural resources in the area, the metal industry is among the most popular here and while property prices can be expensive, they’re still lower than in the capital.
Deep in Asian Russia, Novosibirsk might seem like a pretty remote place to move to. Siberia’s reputation as being completely isolated is a little unfair, however. Novosibirsk is the third largest city in Russia and has a thriving industrial sector. IT is an emerging industry as well, and expats interested in pursuing science careers will find themselves in one of Russia’s research centres. With a smaller expat community than some other popular Russian cities, being able to speak fluent Russian here is a distinct advantage.