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Living in Moscow

Curious about living in Moscow? The city has changed a great deal in recent decades: once the center of Communist power, it has become a vibrant international metropolis. In this guide we tell you all about living in Moscow — from international schools to instructions on how to use a Russian taxi.
Expats living in Moscow had better brace themselves for the Russian climate.

Moscow is Russia’s capital city and is located in the European part of the country’s vast territory. Currently, the city has more than 12 million inhabitants. It remains the political and economic center of the country, and its cultural life surpasses that of other Russian cities.

According to the 2014 Forbes List, Moscow has surpassed New York as the city with the greatest number of billionaires for the fourth time in five years. Although you don’t need to be a billionaire to be able to afford living in Moscow, it certainly doesn’t come cheap. According to the annual Mercer survey, Moscow made the top four of the world’s most expensive expatriate cities for ten years running. However, that changed in 2013 and 2014 when the Russian ruble lost its value against the US dollar. Housing, schooling, and medical costs make up the largest chunk of the expat budget.

The city has a humid continental climate. You are likely to experience a true Russian winter — very long and very cold. Summers, on the other hand, are usually quite warm. So you will have enough opportunities during your time in Moscow to enjoy the city during the summer months.

Finding the Right School in Moscow

Among the first steps for expat families is finding a school to send their children to. Most expats living in Moscow enroll their children in one of the city’s international schools. These may have long waiting lists. It is therefore advisable to contact the school as soon as you know that you will be moving to the Russian capital. Also, make sure to have schooling for your children included in your remuneration package by your employer: tuition fees can be exorbitant.

Some expats prefer to send their kids to local public schools in order to fully immerse them in the Russian language and daily life. Education in public schools is free of charge and open to all expats living in Moscow. Another advantage of a public school is that it will most likely be very close to your home.

International Schools: The Solution for Expat Children

Generally, private schools are a very uncommon phenomenon in Russia. Those living in Moscow, however, are lucky: even for an expat hot spot, the city has a wide selection of international schools. Children of expats living in Moscow can often choose between studying according to a foreign national curriculum, the Russian national curriculum, or the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. For younger children, many of the private international schools have attached kindergartens and childcare centers, making a family’s expat life in Moscow significantly easier.

International schooling is a major factor contributing to the high cost of life in Moscow. Depending on the school and grade in question, annual tuition fees range from around 7,200 USD to 26,500 USD. Fees for kindergartens are usually slightly cheaper. Please also see the list below, with the most popular international schools among expats living in Moscow.

In addition to said international schools, many embassies in Moscow organize native-language schooling for children of embassy employees on their own premises. Children of other expats from the respective countries may be admitted as well. Currently, some of the embassies offering this type of schooling include the diplomatic representations of Poland, Bulgaria, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, and South Korea.

Selected International Schools in Moscow

The Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (MGIMO-University) is a prestigious higher education institution offering full undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs in English, plus various courses at the Bachelor's and Master's level in English, French, and German. 


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Jürgen Hofmeister

"When I came to Moscow I barely knew anyone, but now I've got dozens of expat contacts from dozens of countries. "

Caroline Hayes

"At the first InterNations Moscow event that I attended I was absolutely delighted by the elegant atmosphere and the high-quality expat crowd. "

Global Expat Guide