This guide was written prior to Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine and is therefore not reflective of the current situation. Travel to Russia is currently not advisable due to the area's volatile political situation.
The cost of living in Moscow is quite high but is largely dependent on an expat's lifestyle. Expats working in Moscow who earn a decent salary will be able to manage day-to-day costs just fine, especially in comparison to those in major cities such as New York and London. Additionally, expats may be lured to Moscow by lucrative employment packages which offer benefits including private health insurance, a driver and schooling allowances.
While there are a few expenses in Moscow that expats will not be able to avoid, such as accommodation, many expats can decrease their cost of living through their choice of lifestyle. Living like the locals, which could involve cooking at home most nights and not spending large amounts of money on going out and visiting expensive tourist attractions, would certainly decrease expats living expenses, for example.
Cost of accommodation in Moscow
Housing will likely be an expat’s largest expense in the Russian capital. Expats living in central areas can expect to spend more than a third of their monthly salary on rent. New arrivals looking for accommodation on a budget should consider exploring the areas and suburbs outside the city centre, while still bearing in mind public transport connections.
Additionally, while utilities may be cheaper than in major European capitals, expats in Moscow should budget for water, electricity and gas. These are not always included in the monthly rental and could be additional expenses.
Cost of transport in Moscow
From the metro, buses and minibus shuttles known as marshrutka to taxis and self-driving, there are many options for getting around. Each comes with its own costs, and expats may be pleasantly surprised by the affordability of transport in Moscow. Public transport tickets are fairly cheap, and petrol prices also fall below the global average.
Expats who plan on driving in Moscow may need to invest in car insurance, while others may opt to hire a driver. These may add to an expat's general expenses.
Cost of education and schools in Moscow
Families relocating with children will most likely need to cover the cost of school fees. Most expats who face a language barrier in Russia send their children to a private or international school that follows the same language and curriculum as their home country. Fees at international schools can be high, and preschool fees for young children are also fairly costly. Where possible, we recommend expats negotiate an allowance for school fees in their employment contract.
Cost of groceries in Moscow
The cost of groceries in Moscow can be comparable to or higher than prices in other major international cities. Prices for necessities like fruits, vegetables, and dairy products can be relatively affordable, while speciality items are generally pricier.
Cost of entertainment and eating out in Moscow
The cost of entertainment and eating out in Moscow can vary greatly and largely depends on the type of establishment. On the whole, though Russian prices are generally quite reasonable, prices in Moscow can be higher than what expats might expect. In terms of entertainment options, Moscow offers a wide variety of options to suit various interests and tastes. From visiting museums, theatres and concert halls to enjoying outdoor activities, expats will find a range of options to keep themselves entertained.
Cost of living chart for Moscow
Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows the average cost of living in Moscow before Russia's war in Ukraine and was last updated prior to 2022.
|Accommodation (monthly rent)
|Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
|One-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
|Food and drink
|Milk (1 litre)
|Loaf of white bread
|Chicken breasts (1kg)
|Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)
|Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant
|Big Mac meal
|Bottle of beer (local)
|Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)
|Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)
|Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)
|City-centre public transport fare
|Gasoline (per litre)
►An expat's expenses depend on their personal preferences and lifestyle choices. Get some insights on the lifestyle in Moscow
►For more info on expenses in the country as a whole, read Cost of Living in Russia
"Meat, poultry and milk products are considerably cheaper compared to Indonesia. But fish and tropical fruits are as expensive as gold." Eva, an expat from Indonesia, shares her experience of moving to Moscow in her interview with Expat Arrivals.
Are you an expat living in Moscow?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Moscow. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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