Introduction to Russia

Russia is a land of extremes. Even after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia remains by far the world's largest country, comprising of over 17 million square kilometers (Canada, by comparison is just under 10 million sq Km, the USA, excluding Alaska, 8 million sq Km) covering 11 time zones and with a population is around 142 million.

Moscow, the capital, is Europe's largest city with a population of 10,524,400 (as of 1st June 2009) and is the seat of government and by far the most significant economic centre, as well as being home to the greatest number of billionaires in the world.

For foreigners, Moscow can be an expensive place to live. In 2008 the city was voted the most expensive city for expatriates for the third year in a row, however by 2009 it ranks third behind Tokyo and Osaka.

Russia has much to offer the relocating expatriate executive, not only in terms of significant business opportunities, but in terms of the richness of its culture as well as a strong heritage in every aspect of the arts and sciences, of which Russians are justifiably proud. On the other hand, Russia is still characterized by a seemingly all-encompassing bureaucracy. An awareness of both immigration formalities and the ways in which bureaucracy can have an affect business is essential in order to ensure a trouble free and enjoyable stay.

Expatriate life in Moscow

Life in Russia is full of challenges! However, a little preparation both before your relocation and after arrival can be of immense benefit throughout the rest of your stay. Expatriates who make at least some effort to acclimatize to their new environment, whether by taking Russian language lessons, enjoying the wealth of culture the Russian capital has to offer, reading up on the country's rich history, developing an interest in its architecture or travelling to the Russian hinterland beyond Moscow will invariably lead a much fuller life while in Russia and take away with them any number of unique memories and experiences.


Many foreigners associate Russia with long, cold winters and little else. Those who arrive in Russia in the summer months (June to August) are often pleasantly (and sometimes unpleasantly!) surprised by how hot the Russian summer can be. Spring and autumn tend to be brief periods of change between very low and very high temperatures.

Winters can indeed be cold and are always accompanied by snow. Rarely does the temperature in winter fall below -25 degrees centigrade (in Moscow at least) and the average January temperature is around -8 degrees.

Summers are short and hot. The average July temperature for Moscow is 18 degrees although heat waves with temperatures in the lower 30s are not uncommon from mid-May to mid-August.


For winter, it is best to have 'removable layers' of clothing as it may well be cold out on the street but the interior of Russian buildings – both homes and offices – may be very warm verging on uncomfortably hot. A good, warm hat (made of fur or insulated man-made materials) is an essential piece of kit, as are scarves, gloves and good warm winter boots.

Summer wear needs to take into account both very warm, humid temperatures as well as frequent showers which occur when the weather is thundery.

Russian Language and Culture

Russian is not an easy language to learn and will require considerable time and effort to master completely. However, your time in Russia will be much more rewarding if you make some effort to learn the language and at least the basics about Russia's cultural heritage. A working knowledge of the Cyrillic alphabet is most useful for reading place names and street signs and is easier to learn than one may imagine at first glance. Your company should be able to arrange Russian language lessons for you as well as a guide to Russian cultural peculiarities.

Personal Safety

Moscow is no more dangerous or safe than any other large urban area of comparable size. Indeed many long-term expatriates often comment positively on how safe Moscow feels. This is not to say that crime is not a problem and every expatriate should try not to draw unnecessary attention to themselves and be aware of the possibility of petty crime especially in crowded areas and on public transport. Make a list of emergency telephone numbers – your office, your embassy, Russian-speaking friends etc. and always keep these with you. You should also register yourself and your family members with your country's embassy.

DISCLAIMER - This information is provided for general guidance only and was compiled by Troika Relocations from sources which were correct as of October 2009 and is published in good faith, without warranty. Please note that Customs, Visa, Immigration and Work Permit regulations are subject to change at any time and without prior notice. Troika Relocations cannot be held liable for any costs, delays, loss or other detrimental events resulting from non-compliance with Russian Federation Customs, Visa, Immigration and Work Permit regulations or alleged to have been caused directly or indirectly by the information provided above.

May 20 2014
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