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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. Check out this InterNations guide for all the important info — from international schools to instructions on how to use a Russian taxi.
Expats living in Moscow had better brace themselves for the Russian climate.

At a Glance:

  • As the largest and wealthiest city in Russia, Moscow has a lot to offer expats, including a range of international schools and private healthcare facilities.
  • However, this comes at a price — Moscow is also the most expensive city in Russia, and this is especially reflected in accommodation costs and school fees.
  • The city offers a range of public transportation options, meaning you don’t need to brave the busy roads if you don’t want to.
  • The cultural offerings are almost unparalleled, and you can pick from classical ballet, contemporary art, or exploring some of the city’s history.


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.

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 fairly warm, so you will also have the opportunity to enjoy the city in the sunshine

A Wealthy City: Cost of Living in Moscow

According to the 2017 Forbes List, Moscow is only beaten by New York and Hong Kong when it comes to the number of resident billionaires. Although you don’t need to be a billionaire to be able to afford living in Moscow, it certainly doesn’t come cheap.

In the past, Moscow regularly made the top five of the world’s most expensive cities for expats, for example in the Mercer Cost of Living Survey. However, it became more affordable when the Russian ruble lost its value against the US dollar in 2013, and as of 2017 it was ranked 13th in the Mercer survey. Housing, schooling, and medical costs make up the largest chunk of the expat budget.

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, which may have long waiting lists. It is advisable to contact the school as soon as you know that you will be moving to the Russian capital.

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 expat kids living in Moscow. Another advantage of a public school is that it will most likely be very close to your home.

Private Schools: The Solution for Expat Children

Generally, private schools are uncommon 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.

As mentioned above, 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 start at around 5,000 EUR but can be significantly higher. They can also be joined by additional costs, for example an entrance fee or school transport. Fees for kindergartens and childcare centers are usually slightly cheaper. If possible, ensure that schooling for your children is included in your remuneration package by your employer.

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, so it is worth checking if this type of schooling is offered by your embassy.

Selected International Schools in Moscow

The Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO-University) is a prestigious higher education institution run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs 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. "

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