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In this page: Communities of Expatriates | Ranking of Cities | Renting an Apartment | School System | Health System | Tourism and Culture | Individual and Civic Freedoms | Religion


Communities of Expatriates

The Number of Expatriates
The expatriate community is about 80,000 people, most of them living in Moscow.
Blogs For Expats
Expatriate forum in English
For Further Information
Way to Russia
Immigration Authority
Federal migrations service (in Russian)
Transportation Companies For Moving/Removals
List of international moving companies.
Moving companies specialized in dealing with Russia

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Ranking of Cities

Cost of Living
Moscow is ranked the 4th most expensive city in the world (Mercer Consulting 2012). St Petersburg is 28th. This is mostly due to the price of real estate and that of certain imported goods (top-of-the-range clothes and foodstuffs especially).
In general, living a Western-style life is expensive. Nevertheless, some essential goods and services or those that are consumed on a massive scale by the local population remain cheap.
Quality of Life
Because of the sanitary conditions and the lack of democratic freedom, Russian cities are poorly ranked on the world scale in terms of quality of life.
Nevertheless, for several years now, the majority of goods and services you find in Western cities are available in big cities in Russia, and easily accessible because of the long opening hours. Moreover, these cities have many open spaces and possibilities for outdoor activities, which makes spring and summer very pleasant.
Sanitary Conditions
Moscow is generally described as one of the cities where the sanitary conditions are the worst in the world. Novosibirsk and St Petersburg are ranked slightly better.
If it is true that pollution and the poor quality of the health services are important problems, it would be an exaggeration to advise a healthy person against living in Russia.
For Further Information
The ranking of the most expensive cities in the world.
The ranking of the cities in the world where the quality of life is best.

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Renting an Apartment

Description of appartments
Apartments are divided into 4 categories (from the least comfortable to the most comfortable): Soviet, renovated ("remont"), renovated Western-style, ("evroremont") and luxury ("luks" or "elit").
Apartments are often rented furnished.
Normal Lease Term
The minimum rental period is 6 months. The rent is usually to be paid in cash.
Rental Costs
You will be asked for a deposit of a month's rent which it will be difficult to get back.
Agencies or Private Rentals
It is preferable to go through an English-speaking agent because unscrupulous behavior is common. A lot of small ads are in fact placed by agents.
Agency fees are usually 1 or 2 months' rent.
Rental Agency Websites
Green and Green Realty
List of rental agencies
Private Rentals Announcements Online
Moscow expat community advertisements
The Moscow Times
All-Russia advertisements
Other Possibilities For Accommodation
Flat sharing is becoming more and more common. There are websites to look for flat-mates, and the largest is .
For Further Information
Guide to renting (in English)
Legal advice

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School System

School Level
The Russian education system is good. Very elitist, the quality varies considerably between establishments. Teaching is exclusively in Russian.
Compulsory schooling is from age 6 to 17.
International Schools
There is a French lycée in Moscow , German, Italian and Japanese schools and some Anglo-Saxon schools such as the British International School . Nursery schools, most often attached to these establishments, are also available.
In St. Petersburg, most Western expats go to the Anglo American School.
For Further Information
Federal education agency (in Russian)
Studyabroad Russia

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Health System

Quality of Healthcare
The quality of care is noticeably poorer than in Western countries.
It also varies a lot according to the region: from tolerable in Moscow, it can become very basic in remote regions.
International Hospitals
There are many private clinics, with Western standards. For example, the American Medical Center and the European Medical Center in Moscow, the American Medical Clinic and the Euromed Clinic in St Petersburg.
Health Insurance
Accessibility of the Health Insurance Network to Foreigners
Every foreigner living and working in Russia must have private medical insurance.
Where there is a reciprocal agreement, free access to care may apply.
Health System Insurance Body
Federal compulsory Health insurance Fund
Health Ministry
Ministry of Health

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Tourism and Culture

Different Forms of Tourism

Old cities in the European part, and especially the cities of the Golden Ring .
Museums and art galleries in the big cities. Theatre, ballet and opera.
Russia is crammed with natural resources: the Volga, Caucasus and the Urals, the forests of Carelia and Siberia, lake Baïkal, the Kamchatka peninsula.
There are numerous active monasteries across the country.
You should make a note of the monasteries of Souzdal and Sergueiev Possad near Moscow.
Thermal tourism is concentrated mainly in the North Caucasus, around cities such as Mineralny Vody, Kislovodsk , Zheleznovodsk or Essentuki .
Most establishments are Soviet sanatoriums with Spartan comfort.
In summer, people bathe in many lakes and rivers, especially on the island of Serebrianny Bor in Moscow.
There are several resorts on the Black Sea starting with Anapa (sand beach) and Sotchi (pebble beach).
Winter Sports
Cross-country skiing and skating are practiced practically everywhere in the country.
Downhill skiing is booming. There are bigger resorts in the Caucasus, and also in the Urals and the Kouzbass.
Outdoor Activities
Fishing, rambling and white-water sports.
Luxury shopping is generally concentrated in the GOUM or TSOUM in Moscow and in the Gostiny Dvor (in Russian) in St Petersburg.
The market in Izmailovsky park is renowned for souvenirs, furs, crafts and other Soviet antiques.

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Individual and Civic Freedoms

Political Freedom
The domination of a single party and the use of administrative structures for political ends (propaganda, elimination of opponents...) limit political freedom considerably.
Civil Liberty
World Ranking of Freedom of the Press According to "Reporters sans Frontières", 2013 report : 148/179
Evolution: 6 places down compared to 2011
For Further Information, Consult Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2013, Reporters Without Borders
Free Access to the Internet
Rule of Law
Quite bad. Many trials or arrests are carried out for political reasons.
Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights
There are some restrictions on freedom of movement and residence, through registration procedures.
Women's Condition
Relatively good
For Further Information
Freedom House
US Secretary of State's Office
Memorial: Russian association for the defense of human rights
Annual report of Reporters Without Borders on freedom of the press
Human Rights Watch

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Degree of Freedom
There is total freedom of religion in Russia. Nevertheless, the Russian Orthodox Church tries to oppose what it considers to be proselytism on the part of the Catholic Church.
82% of Russians are believers. Orthodox 70%, Muslims 10%, Catholics 1,2%, Buddhists 0,7%.
Role of Religion in Society
The Orthodox Church has an important political role.

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