Expats in Russia will find the cost of living to be reasonable. In Mercer's Cost of Living survey for 2021, Moscow was ranked 62nd out of 209 cities, while St Petersburg was ranked 119th. Although Russia cannot be regarded as a cheap country to live in, as a whole, it is more affordable than many western countries. An expats cost of living in Russia, however, will highly depend on their lifestyle. 

Those who are wanting to live a life of luxury in a major city, such as Moscow, will find their expenses will add up quickly. Those who are willing to live like a local, however, can live comfortably on an average salary, while still being able to put some money away each month. 

Typically, expats working in Russia start on an employment package for the first two to three years. It’s worth trying to negotiate a package that includes accommodation, health insurance, a car or driver, schooling and a living allowance. Expats who earn a decent salary with these additional benefits will certainly find themselves enjoying a comfortable lifestyle in Russia.

Cost of accommodation in Russia

Accommodation options preferred by expats in Russia fall broadly into two types: apartments in the city or houses in secure compounds outside of the city. Finding a high-priced rental with low-quality amenities is not uncommon. We advise house hunters to enlist the services of a real-estate agent or relocation company and visit prospective properties in person to avoid a bad deal for a poorly-maintained property. Expats should also account for utilities which may not all be included in a rental contract.

When looking for accommodation in Russia, new arrivals should consider the location wisely. The closer to the city centre, the higher the rent will be. Expats on a budget often look a bit further from the city centre, while still considering the proximity to public transport connections. Public transport in Russia is usually reasonably priced.

Cost of food in Russia

There is an abundance of supermarkets scattered all over Moscow and other big Russian cities that offer quality food at affordable prices. That said, international brands and wine remain expensive, and those wanting to shop at the more upmarket stores will also pay higher prices for products. The hunt for familiar home brands means most expats also become accustomed to shopping around.  

During the long winter months, vegetable stocks in supermarkets are noticeably depleted as produce is seasonal in Russia. Imported varieties can be outrageously priced and costs can therefore add up during these months.

Cost of healthcare in Russia

Private healthcare in Russia can be expensive. The state medical system can be hard to navigate, especially for expats who don't speak Russian. It's therefore recommended that expats take out private health insurance in Russia, and many companies offer this as a standard feature of employment packages.

An initial consultation with a general practitioner might be reasonably priced, but fees can quickly escalate and become prohibitively expensive if specialists need to be consulted, tests are required or in the case of an emergency.

Cost of living chart for Russia

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows the average cost of living in Moscow in January 2022.

Accommodation (monthly)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

 RUB 68,000

One-bedroom apartment outside city centre

 RUB 40,000

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

 RUB 147,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside city centre

 RUB 76,000


Eggs (dozen) 

 RUB 105

Milk (1 litre)

 RUB 73

Rice (1kg)

 RUB 95

Loaf of white bread

 RUB 47

Chicken breasts (1kg)

 RUB 305

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

 RUB 175

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

 RUB 350

Coca-Cola (330ml)

 RUB 62


 RUB 178

Local beer (500ml)

 RUB 210

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

 RUB 3,000


Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute) 

 RUB 2.15

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

 RUB 472

Basic utilities (per month for a small apartment)

 RUB 8,560


Taxi rate (per kilometre)

 RUB 15

Bus/train fare to the city centre

 RUB 50

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

 RUB 49

Expat Health Insurance

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