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.
From its Soviet-era apartment blocks to opulent churches and government buildings, Moscow is a city of contrasts. Known as a city of romance and revolution, expats will find an interesting lifestyle in Moscow that may take some time to get used to.
Moscow is a vibrant metropolis bursting with energy and creativity. Not only is it Russia’s political and economic centre, but it also forms the country’s cultural and artistic heart. There are plenty of shopping opportunities, eateries and a lively nightlife to enjoy. Although expats will find some of the costs involved in living in Moscow to be relatively high, there are plenty of pursuits to enjoy that won't break the bank.
Shopping in Moscow
Moscow shopping certainly caters for big spenders, but for those who don’t have the means to shop like the rich and famous, there are many bargains to be found.
There are various malls and boutiques in the city centre. Okhotny Ryad, at Manezhnaya Square, is an underground mall. Expats can find a range of goods including high-street fashions, perfumes, electronic products and sporting goods. GUM is the most well-known and iconic department store in Russia where one can find a range of high-end brands and gourmet foods.
Local markets include the Izmailovsky market and the Cheremushinsky Rynok market. There's a claim that the exclusive Eliseev Gastronome supermarket sells the best caviar and vodka in the city.
Nightlife in Moscow
The nightlife in Moscow is extraordinary, featuring everything from bars and clubs to bowling alleys, billiards rooms and casinos. The trendiest nightlife areas are in and around Kitay-Gorod, Arbat, Khamovniki, Tverskoy and Presnensky.
With long winters, it’s no surprise that one turns to alcohol to forget about the cold. Alcoholic drinks are a normal part of social life in Moscow, particularly Russia’s famous vodka.
Eating out in Moscow
There is a variety of cuisine available in Moscow. Expats will find international flavours well represented in the city, from Eastern delights to Western eateries and fast-food joints. There are also plenty of good local restaurants offering classic Russian cuisine.
Restaurants in Moscow can be expensive. Middle-range restaurants fill up quickly so it’s best to book in advance. Some of the best restaurants in Moscow are in the Garden Ring around Kitay-Gorod and Red Square. Poklonnaya Hill and Kiyevsky Station Square are also popular dining areas.
Entertainment in Moscow
For those with more refined tastes, the performing arts are alive and well in the city, particularly ballet and opera. There is no shortage of events in Moscow. Visits to the Bolshoi Theatre, Gogol Centre and Stanislavsky Electrotheatre are highly recommended.
Sports and outdoor activities in Moscow
The city’s cold climate will appeal to winter sports enthusiasts. Ice-skating is an especially popular pastime that is enjoyed throughout the year but particularly in the colder months. Moscow becomes a winter wonderland each year, with outdoor skating rinks dotted around the city. The most well-known skating rink is in Gorky Park.
Kayaking, running and football are other popular activities. Expats will find a lot of runners in Moscow. It’s free and a great way to stay in shape. Expats can also find running clubs to join: a great way to meet people.
►What's On in Moscow lists the annual cultural and entertainment events that expats can enjoy in the city.
"Just stay curious and join all kinds of events. This is not difficult in Moscow – festivals and all kinds of events are happening every day. Try to take the first step, get out of your comfort zone..." Read more about lifestyle in Moscow in Yulia's interview.
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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