Home Moving to Russia Where to Live The best Russian cities to live in as an expat
Last update on July 13, 2020

Discover more about life in Russia with this handy guide on where to live in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and a selection of other Russian cities.

Whether you’re planning to rent in Russia or buy Russian property may influence where you decide to live in Russia. Housing prices in the popular Russian cities are considerably higher.

Moscow and St Petersburg. While these are often the best places to live in Russia, 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

Expats in Russia enjoy a comparatively high standard of living to many of their Russian counterparts. Many opt for gated developments or in expensive apartments in city centers. You can also 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.

Popular Russian cities

This is one reason why Moscow is popular for foreigners. 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 to.

St Petersburg is also a beautiful Russian city. It’s located on the Baltic Sea with Baroque-style architecture. The city has a reputation as one of Russia’s main cultural centres, with important art, ballet and theatre centres.

Where to live in Moscow

Moscow has, by far, the largest expat community in Russia. Many foreigners work in numerous international companies in the Russian capital. However, Moscow’s most central and expat-friendly areas carry a high cost of living in comparison to many other places in Russia.

Below is a brief explanation of Moscow’s suburbs and neighborhoods that are popular with foreigners; for the full lowdown, see our guide on where to live in Moscow.

  • Boulevard Ring: Moscow’s most central area boasts the popular neighborhoods of Tverskaya. This is the perfect place for younger expats who want to be at the center of it all. There’s also Patriarshiye Prudy, which boasts a beautiful city park and has high property prices to match.
  • Garden Ring: The neighborhood of Arbat features 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: Although a little farther out, the guarded community of Pokrovsky Hills is popular with expats. It’s home to the Anglo-American School of Moscow with a European Medical Center 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. It’s home to the British International School.

Where to live in St Petersburg

St Petersburg is Russia’s second-largest city, with a population of more than five million people. While the market isn’t as thriving as in Moscow, properties in the city center can still be expensive. City workers tend to prefer the 1930s and 1950s homes compared to the more modern equivalents.

Where to live in Russia

Expats working in the city center 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.

Popular Russian cities for foreigners

Nizhny Novgorod

A little under 500 kilometers 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. Thankfully, property prices are nowhere near as high as Moscow or Saint Petersburg. Nizhny Novgorod is one of the main centers for the IT industry, particularly hardware and software development. It also has a growing car manufacturing industry.

Yekaterinburg

To the east of the Ural Mountains, Yekaterinburg is 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.

Novosibirsk

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 centers. With a smaller expat community than some other popular Russian cities, being able to speak fluent Russian here is a distinct advantage.