Cost of Living in Russia

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There is no escaping the fact that the cost of living in Russia is high. In Mercer's Cost of Living survey for 2018 Moscow was ranked 17th out of 209 cities, while St Petersburg was ranked 49th. Expats can expect essentials like accommodation, groceries and education to eat into their budget. Basics, like good quality food, are also much more expensive than new arrivals might expect. Expats outside of the urban centres will find the cost of living to be less severe, but still higher than many other destinations.

Typically, expats working in Russia start on an employment package for the first two to three years after which many stay on and ‘go local’. It’s worth trying to negotiate a package that includes accommodation, health insurance, a car or driver, schooling and some daily living allowance. 

Cost of accommodation in Russia

Accommodation options in Russia fall broadly into two types, apartments in the city, or houses in secure compounds outside of the city. 

Expats are often caught by surprise when they discover the low quality of the communal spaces that come with high-priced rentals. Dodgy looking apartment block entrances are normal and antiquated lifts are common. The public parts of most buildings are still government-managed and are usually dated and poorly maintained.

Living outside of the city means expats will spend at least an hour, and possibly much more, on their daily commute. Public transport is faster and cheaper than driving a car in rush hour, but those who use it will need to get to and from the station in below freezing temperatures for around six months of the year. 

Food costs in Russia

There is an abundance of supermarkets springing up all over Moscow and other big Russian cities, but good quality food and wine remain expensive and vary in quality. During the long winter months, vegetable stocks in supermarkets are noticeably depleted and imported varieties can be outrageously priced. The variable quality and the constant hunt for familiar home brands means most expats become accustomed to shopping around.  

Healthcare costs in Russia

The state medical system is chaotic, hard to navigate and unpredictable. It's recommended that expats take out private health insurance in Russia, and many companies offer it 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 an emergency situation.

Cost of living chart for Russia

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average cost of living in Moscow for July 2018.

Accommodation (monthly rental in a good area)

Furnished two-bedroom apartment

 RUB 45,000 

Unfurnished two-bedroom apartment

 RUB 40,000 

Furnished two-bedroom house

 RUB 90,000 

Unfurnished two-bedroom house

 RUB 80,000 


Eggs (dozen) 

 RUB 77 

Milk (1 litre)

 RUB 65 

Rice (1kg)

 RUB 70

Loaf of white bread

 RUB 38

Chicken breasts (1kg)

 RUB 277 

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

 RUB 127

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

 RUB 350

Coca-Cola (330ml)

 RUB 58


 RUB 171

Bottle of local beer

 RUB 100

Three-course meal for two at mid-range restaurant

 RUB 2,500


Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute) 

 RUB 2

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

 RUB 471

Basic utilities (per month for a small apartment)

 RUB 7,856


Taxi rate (per kilometre)

 RUB 11

Bus/train fare to the city centre

 RUB 55

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

 RUB 42

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