Covering 6.6 million square miles and spanning two continents and nine time zones, there is no doubting Russia’s mammoth size and dominance in European and Asian culture. Despite being home to idyllic countryside and culturally rich cities, much of the world views Russia as an unwelcoming place due to its history and political standpoints.
The Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank, release their global Prosperity Index annually. The survey ranks the most prosperous countries in the world. Many assume prosperity is used in reference to the financial standing of a country and, while this is included, the Legatum Institute considers more factors in its ranking.
Ranking in 101st place in 2017 (out of 149 countries) was Russia. This puts Russia in the bottom 30%, with its rankings for personal freedom (143rd), social capital (130th), and governance (115th) the main reasons for its poor ranking. Russia’s best results were for education (26) and natural environment (56).
Spread across Europe and Asia, how much does it really cost to live in Russia?
Considering it is the largest country in the world, it is no surprise that Russia is diverse and resource-rich. Despite suffering from low oil prices and sanctions in recent years which resulted in a lengthy recession, the economy returned to growth in 2017. This is set to be the trend for at least the next few years.
According to The World Bank, Russia needs to address issues with productivity growth, improve the health of the population, and give all the population access to quality education.
The official currency of Russia is the Ruble, which is abbreviated as RUB. Each ruble is divided into 100 kopecks. Notes currently in circulation include 5, 10, 50, 100, 500, 1,000 and 5,000 rubles. Coins include 10 and 50 kopecks, and 10 rubles.
It is illegal to pay for anything in Russia using US Dollars or Euros.
Housing in Russia for Expats
Finding a home in Russia can be a trying experience and it is best to utilise an English speaking estate agent to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. Like most countries, the properties become more expensive the closer you get to a city and Moscow boasts the highest housing prices.
Very few expats entering Russia every buy a property, renting is the preferred method and some employers will include this as part of a relocation package.
The majority of properties available in Russia are apartments, with houses only being found on the outskirts of big cities or in rural areas, away from employment opportunities. The majority of apartments tend to be pre-revolutionary, Soviet-era, or western in style.
A one bedroom city centre apartment will cost around £360 per calendar month, with three bedrooms taking this figure to £650.
Expat Healthcare in Russia
The World Health Organisation has noted Russia’s healthcare as one of the worst in the industrialised world. The standard is unsatisfactory compared to what many expats are used to and widespread corruption can see many professionals demanding bribes from patients for treatments that should be free.
Understandably, expats living in Russia are encouraged to invest in private health insurance. Many also pay a premium for evacuation to a country elsewhere in Europe should they require surgery or specialised treatment.
Expat Education in Russia
Although schools have come a long way since the Soviet regime in Russia the education system is far from expat standards. State schools are seldom used by expat families and they prefer to send children to private or international schools. A private preschool will cost parents an average of £265 per month, whereas international schools tend to fetch around £5,500 per year per student.
Cost of Transportation
Few expats drive in Russia due to the congested roads and chaotic driving style of Russian nationals. Some companies pay for their relocated staff member to have a driver, but this can be an affordable option for expats that are on a strong wage.
The metro systems in some Russian cities, buses, trams, taxis and trains are all very affordable. Some tickets cost a matter of pence when converted into British pounds. A monthly pass is only around £22 and a one-way ticket can be as little as 37p.
Jobs in Russia for Expats
Throughout Russia, the number of job applications being submitted far surpasses the number of vacancies available. There is a high demand for professionals in the human resources, IT, business development and finance sectors. Many expats end up teaching English, nannying, or translating whilst they try and secure other opportunities.
Many multi-national corporations in Russia are actively seeking foreign speakers and the most competitive industries include government, publishing and mass media.
Comparison to UK
The world’s largest database, Numbeo, has a vast selection of user contributed data in regard to Russia. Compared to the UK, the cost of living is significantly less in Russia.
The tables below provide an over view of the differences in costs between Russia and the UK. Please note that all Russian prices have been converted into British pounds.
|Groceries||UK Price (£)||Russian Price (in £)||Cheaper Country?|
|White bread (500g)||£0.95||£0.39||Russia|
|Local Cheese (1kg)||£6.04||£5.50||Russia|
|Transport||UK Price (£)||Russian Price (in £)||Cheaper Country?|
|Utilities (Monthly)||UK Price (£)||Russian Price (in £)||Cheaper Country?|
|Electricity/Heating/Water for 85m2 apartment||£150.49||£82.19||Russia|
|1 minute of PAYG talk time||£0.16||£0.02||Russia|
|Internet (10 Mbps, unlimited data, cable/ADSL)||£24.39||£5.47||Russia|
|Clothing||UK Price (£)||Russian Price (in £)||Cheaper Country?|
|Jeans (Levi or similar)||£63.47||£61.15||Russia|
|Dress (chain store)||£31.65||£32.59||UK|
|Nike running shoe||£64.20||£63.77||Russia|
|Leather business shoes||£76.64||£78.79||UK|
|Eating Out||UK Price (£)||Russian Price (in £)||Cheaper Country?|
|Fast food meal||£5.24||£3.73||Russia|
|3 course, mid-range, 2 people||£55.00||£24.85||Russia|