Just a few years ago Russia was the place to be for expats.
With a strong and growing economy, creating opportunities for experienced workers from around the world, life in Russia looked increasingly rosy.
Just recently, for example, Russia was cited as one of the very best destinations for expats to enhance their careers and learn new skills.
However the evidence suggests that this may now be changing, with ever more expats leaving the “motherland” either through choice or lack of employment.
There are a number of critical changes which have occurred in recent years. First of these is the fall in value of crude oil; a critical part of the Russian economy.
As oil prices started to fall, so too did the wealth of many Russian business owners. This, of course, trickled down the economy leading to fewer mid- and lower-level jobs.
Then of course there are the growing tensions with the West, which has resulted in Russia blocking imports of many products. At the same time the West has introduced sanctions against Russia.
Added to this, the value of the ruble has fallen while the Russian economy as a whole shrank by 3.7% last year.
All these factors have had an impact on expat life in Russia. With a smaller economy there are fewer expat employment opportunities. Furthermore, thanks to the declining value of the ruble, paying expats in their native currency is getting ever more expensive, making expats a less appealing option for Russian companies.
Lastly, a number of expats are becoming increasingly wary over Western tensions and are therefore opting to leave Russia for new opportunities in other countries.
Now, one could be forgiven for assuming that these are all only moderate changes. A slight decline in the value of oil, the ruble and the Russian economy couldn’t have had too much of an impact on expat life in Russia, could it?
As it turns out, the figures paint a rather starker picture than may initially be assumed.
According to recent statistics over two thirds of Germans have now left Russia to work elsewhere in the world. Even more extreme, tensions with America have contributed to ever more US citizens departing. If recent figures are to believed then 79% of US expats have now exited Russia since the peak just a few years ago.
Quite what Russia’s long-term outlook as an expat destination looks like remains to be seen.
Some experts are claiming that the Russian dream is now dead for most expats, who are finding better opportunities in other countries. Other rather more optimistic expats claim this is likely just a temporary situation and that those who remain in Russia during this difficult period will likely benefit strongly as the Russian economy begins to grow again, and new growth is experienced.
Whatever the future may hold its clear that at, least for now, Russia is losing a lot of its highly qualified expat workforce.