Frequently Asked Questions about Russia

Expats moving to Russia are likely to have a number of questions about life in their new home. Below are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about relocating to Russia. 

Do I need a car in Russia?

It greatly depends on where one intends to live. In the bigger cities like Moscow and St Petersburg, public transport is very efficient, safe and cheap. Maintaining a car can be very costly and a nightmarish bureaucratic experience. One will also have to get a Russian driving licence. On top of all this, the weather conditions in Russia make it more challenging to keep any car running. However, if living in a more rural area or planning to live on the outskirts of the city, one will need a car. Many expats opt to hire a Russian driver.

Is it worth learning Russian?

Definitely. This is a must, even if only learning how to read the Russian alphabet and a few basic phrases. One will not easily find Russians who are able to speak English, even in Moscow, and it is very important to know the basics of Russian before arriving. 

How safe is Russia?

Crime rates are high in Russia, and theft (pickpocketing in particular) and extortion are the most common crimes against foreigners; most of these incidents occur in areas associated with public transport, underground pedestrian crosswalks and popular tourist areas. Provided expats take adequate precautions, they're unlikely to be affected by such crimes in Russia.

How is it possible to travel within Russia?

The major cities have good public transport systems, but the more rural areas do not. There is an extensive railway network across the country, which is the most popular option for long-distance travel. Aeroflot, the Russian national airline, also has many domestic flights connecting major cities.

Can I open a bank account in Russia?

The Russian banking system remains small and somewhat fragmented but is improving. Expats are able to open a bank account in Russia, but most choose to bank with an international bank in Russia rather than opting for a local bank. ATMs are widely available, and although the country remains a largely cash-based economy, most establishments in the main towns and cities accept credit cards.

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