Moscow Property Prices

In recent weeks I’ve had cause to look at Moscow property prices.


There are basically three major socio-economic regions in Moscow:

  • The center – Upper middle class, very high property prices (300-400,000R/sq m), cosmopolitan, tilted against Putin and towards liberal parties like Yabloko, full of cafes with Macbook toting hipsters, do not discriminate against immigrants when renting out their properties (presumably because its not like Central Asian Gastarbeiters can afford the prices there anyway).
  • The south-west and west – Middle class, moderately high property prices (200,000R/sq m), tilted against Putin and towards liberals and Communists. This region traditionally hosted a large percentage of Moscow’s academic/R&D institutions and hi-tech factories, so the locals tend to be engineers and technicians and their well-educated children.
  • The east, south and north – Lower class, low property prices (150,000R/sq m), tilted towards Putin and especially the nationalist LDPR, majority proles – though very few work in factories, with a significant contingent of lumpenproles (one woman in my flat died from a drug overdose a few weeks ago) with a growing immigrant presence.

Whereas you see many Central Asians in the center of Moscow, there they are almost inevitably doing street sweeping or construction work, whereas in the outskirts there many of them start appearing out of work uniform. Most of them actually live in the cheaper outskirts, and are increasingly buying up property there. This is accompanied by ethnic tensions. One such region, Biryulyovo – which has Moscow’s second lowest property prices – was the site of a small race war back in 2013 provoked by the murder of a Russian by an immigrant. That said, it’s (still) a long way from the yearly “fireworks” you have in Paris.

In the meantime, I also suspect that many of the more successful locals from the prole areas are making their way to more prestigious regions. In the USSR, you tended to live where you worked (your apartment was assigned to you). With a free market in real estate, the way is clear for the sort of “cognitive clustering” that you see throughout the US and Europe, where the brightest, richest, most successful (all inter-correlated) converge onto good neighborhoods close to the center, while the duller and less successful elements are left behind in the Biryulyovo banlieues.

(Incidentally, this cognitive stratification is a microcosm of Russia as a whole – the average IQ in Moscow is ~106, versus ~96 in the rest of the country).

Here is a graph that I think supports this interpretation (left: Rubles / sq m, right: USD / sq m).


Vykhino and Zhulebino (blue, orange) are classic prole regions – at 120,000R per sq m, they are marginally more upscale than Biryulyovo, but only just. Sokol (red) is a solidly middle-class region, and contains two universities and an industrial museum within its boundaries. Its average property price is 200,000R per sq m. Tverskaya (green) is a super-elite central region that hosts many of Moscow’s tourist landmarks, including the Bolshoi Theater; property prices there are a cool 400,000R per sq m.

But the trend is even more interesting – note the steady stratification of property values of Sokol and Tverskaya relative to prolecore Vykhino-Zhulebino. Even as early as 2013, Sokol was only about 40% as expensive, whereas today it is more than 60% as expensive. The differential between Vykhino-Zhulebino and Tverskaya has increased from being twice as expensive a decade ago, to almost four times as expensive today.

(This isn’t due to any particularities of the chosen regions – the trend for the prole South-East as a whole relative to the middle-class South-West and the elite Center matches the specific example above).

london-house-price-mapNor do I think this is likely to change anytime soon. This differential in real estate prices is now approaching what you see in both Paris and London (see right), both of which are far more advanced on the diversity (and financialization/cognitive clustering) front than Moscow.

This isn’t great for me personally. For instance, while it was still possible to leverage my apartment, which is in one of the crappier regions, to jump into the center a decade ago and maybe 5 years ago, it’s no longer so realistic today. I suppose I should hurry up while regions like Sokol are still within reach.

I suspect these differentials will continue widening in the years ahead. Immigration will continue, and might intensify as the Russian economy emerges out of recession. Cognitive clustering has a momentum of its own and isn’t going to run out of steam anytime soon.

Finally, I suspect that the advent of driverless cars in one or two decades will produce another major uptick in housing prices in the central regions of the world’s metropolises. One of the few major downsides of life in big cities is that traffic congestion costs go up 34% with every doubling of the urban population. The much greater efficiency of driverless cars should largely nullify those costs, turbocharging property prices in big cities and especially the central, already very expensive cores of the big cities even further.

I am obviously not in the business of giving financial advice. That said, even all else equal, I suspect that in Russia as in most of the Western world, people who move to the big cities – especially the expensive, prestigious regions where high property prices form an effective wall against vibrant diversity – will do financially better than those who stay in the outskirts.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. In the USSR, you tended to live where you worked (your apartment was assigned to you).

    People exchanged apartments with each other all the time. They put up ads in newspapers for that purpose. Some did complicated exchanges involving large numbers of apartments, trying to gradually get something out of nothing.

    With a free market in real estate, the way is clear for the sort of “cognitive clustering” that you see throughout the US and Europe, where the brightest, richest, most successful (all inter-correlated) converge onto good neighborhoods close to the center, while the duller and less successful elements are left behind in the Biryulyovo banlieues.

    The Center of Moscow was always prestigious and cognitively elite: in Soviet times, surely in tsarist times. But I’m sure that this clustering increased recently.

    Some time ago a commenter named JL said here that southwestern Moscow is expensive because that’s where the wind usually blows from. By the time air ends up in the east, it’s already gone through the rests of the city, picking up car exhaust and, in pre-post-industrial times, factory fumes.

    In regard to driverless cars:

    The first time I saw automatic, self-service supermarket check-out must have been more than 20 years ago. It’s still rare. I’ve been hearing about the paperless office for about as long. Offices are full of paper. We have electronic forms at work, but we still print them in multiple copies. Databases have replaced hand-written files, but that just made people print tons of screenshots from them. You’d think that driverless subway cars would be easy to implement, but it hasn’t been done here.

    It would be interesting to examine the reasons for each one of these failures. A person who knows in advance which technology will catch on and which one won’t can become fabulously rich.

  2. vinteuil says

    Why are you looking in Moscow instead of StP?

  3. “Driverless” cars are a complete turkey, we only still hear about them because the usual suspects have already poured a lot of money into this sinkhole.

  4. If you’re a technomane, and you take your own statements seriously, you should believe that in one or two decades everyone will be genetically engineered to have the same IQ (one gazillion) and hence there will be no need for barriers against diversity. Also nobody will need to work, because robots. But not even technomanes take their own statements seriously.

  5. The long term trend in London is for every inch of it to become gentrified (and satellite towns within elektricha distance) with only small pockets of council blocks remaining which are coming under increasing pressure to be sold to developers. Only a very tiny elite can afford to buy from their income there, the rest have inherited or rent. The gap between a prole’s income and a solidly middle class one is trivial as a fraction of the cost of a house, especially after tax. “high IQ” professionals without inheritances generally live like students. English proles without inheritances sensibly turn their noses up at the prospect of wasting most of their wages on renting a kommunalka room so leave; English proles with inherited houses rent them out to “high IQ professionals” (mugs) and live somewhere else. McJobs are increasingly done by immigrants who can minimise their rent by putting up with truely dreadful conditions in order to have something left after tax and rent If i were you I’d stay put and wait, unless the neighbours are especially offensive.

  6. I’m not so sure about that, but you could think of the metro as a kind of driverless car. Advances in this kind of technology are more likely to benefit the suburbs. People living in the centre can walk to places anyway (though i might be drastically misjudging rich Russians here). Zil lanes/congestion charges will come soon, unless the city’s proles and lower middle class retain enough political heft to stop them.

    How good are the elektrichas over there? In the UK the home counties are almost as expensive as London; trains can transport you into the centre fairly quickly (for an exorbitant price though). If this phenomenon doesn’t exist in Russia yet then it might be worth gambling on it coming about: Dacha villages becoming commuter villages. You could leverage the apartment for several in whatever the Moscow equivalent of Surrey is.

  7. PiltdownMan says

    120,000 Roubles per square metre converts to about US $200 a square foot. Ergo, a 3,000 square foot “prole” home in Moscow costs about US$ 600,000.

    Exactly what kind of proletariat is this? And what are salaries in Moscow like?

  8. This is all certainly true. Sobyanin has yugely spruced up the center – in parts, it is almost unrecognizable from what it was more than a decade ago (and for the better). So the demand for real estate there has continued increasing, with the recent recession barely making even a dent on it (none in ruble terms) as you can see from the graph, while the peripheries and especially the prole areas have continued sliding down.

    Re-driverless cars. There will be a tipping point where they surpass the quality of the average human driver (we are already pretty much at that point). Not only will they be safer, but vastly more efficient in terms of mitigating traffic congestion (elementary example: When green light appears, two second delays as each human driver car accelerates in turn; with driverless car, this can happen near simultaneously). Then it is a matter of regulations and revvying up production. As a lazy person, I would much prefer a driverless car, and there are huge numbers of people who think the same. There is going to be a market for those cars.

    This doesn’t apply to automated checkouts because the gains in efficiency are modest to non-existent (human workers will actually process products faster than customers), and the costs of a minimum wage salary are competitive with the cost in additional thefts enabled by automated checkout. Nonetheless, high wages and labor protectionism do tilt the balance towards automation. For instance, I noticed huge amounts of automated checkouts when I was in France more than a decade ago, even in small stores. There are fewer of them in the US, and I have yet to encounter them here in Moscow; in contrast, the shops here are ridiculously overstaffed by West European standards.

    I think the primary reason driverless subway cars aren’t a thing in most places yet is thanks to powerful unions. This is certainly a factor with BART at any rate.

  9. citation plz kkthx

  10. Because (1) I live here (2) so do at least 75% of my Russian contacts (3) its better, at least 50% of the interesting things in Russia take place in Moscow, maybe 10% at most in SPB.

  11. 3000 square foot is huge for a flat nowadays.

  12. You’ve never boosted CRISPR or automation?

  13. This is a potentially good idea, thanks – i’ll explore it.

    Elektrichkas are good and still very cheap, esp. compared to UK rail prices. You can travel to many of the 1-2 hour locations for $5. I traveled from London to Portsmouth and from London to Oxford last year, it was something like 25GBP, IIRC.

  14. Yes, 3000 sq f. = 280 sq m is ridiculous.

    Standard studio is 35 sq m, three bedroom – around 60 sq m. Divide your figure by five.

  15. What I am asking is can you please cite where I predicted that 100% of jobs will be automated and that the average global IQ will be a gazillion in 2036 (okay, I’ll even accept 115).

  16. Boris N says

    For a long time I have had a strong opinion that the Moscow people are mentally ill. And that rage for the overpriced inflated Moscow realty make me sick. Only mentally ill people would pay an enormous amount of money to live in such an inhospitable place as Moscow. For $360,000 one could buy a good villa somewhere at the southern seas in Europe with 9-month summer and enjoy life. Instead they buy a 60 sq m concrete cell in a human anthill to “enjoy” 9-months winter, traffic jams, smog, usual road dirt, and other “privileges” Moscow may offer.

    They always say only in Moscow you can earn “real money”, only in Moscow there is the “action”, but what’s the worth of those money if you have to live in such a city? Frankly, this applies to the majority of modern anthills a.k.a. megalopolises, but Moscow beats them all in its insanity and absurdity.

  17. What I was saying is that to predict those things would be the logical outcome of believing what you often seem to believe about new or speculative technologies, not that you had actually predicted them.

  18. Outside rush hour UK rail prices are not nearly so bad, if you use the cheapest reseller.

  19. Boris N says

    A mentally ill kind.
    If seriously most of them have inherited their apartments from the Soviet times, when it was mostly the state which built those tower-block houses and gave apartments to the Soviet proles. In the 90s those proles privatized their apartments. So in theory they are extremely rich, but usually they do not sell it, and just continue to live as they did before.

    3,000 sq ft/280 sq m is an unbelievable and unusual apartment in Russia, the typical Soviet apartment is 30-80 sq m, with one to four living rooms (plus the kitchen and one bathroom).

    The median salary in 2015 in Moscow was 45,000 RUR or $700, the average 65,000 RUR or $1000 (so that means only 30% get more than that). So it’s rather the rabble who live in concrete cells which are worth hundreds of thousand dollars.

  20. To each their own!

  21. Anonymous says

    Sort of OT: Doesn’t the internet obviate the need to be in a major urban area to be around and benefit from the intelligentsia? Charles Murray has lived in the asshole end of nowhere— up near West Virginia– for decades. This is where he had done all of his work from, from The Bell Curve on. Apart from that, why Moscow? Why not Sochi? Less Central Asian immigrants and more hospitable climate.

  22. jimmyriddle says

    Driverless cars will happen for sure.

    In a few decades people won’t own cars they will be summoned by an app. They will be fewer cars that do much higher milages.

    Car parks will be smaller and less capital will be locked up in parked cars.

    As for automated checkouts – it’s a matter of familiarity and labour costs.

    When I was a student in London, the biggest bookshop was owned by a batty old lady called Christina Foyle. To buy a book, you took it to a counter and were issued with a “chit”. You took the chit to another counter and paid, and the chit was stamped. Then you went back to the first counter with a stamped chit to collect the book.

    This sort of thing was standard in large British shops in the ’50s.

    Mrs Foyle died a few years ago and the shop is now just a normal bookshop – fewer books, no charm.

  23. Colleen Pater says

    You sound like a rube from the sticks sneering at new york. Oh its true owning property in NYc and in the mountains I agree at this point in my life. But you dont understand youre a parochial. cities are where things happen always have been for thousands of years most intelligent people are more interested in new developments than in family life in the country. So as soon as they are able they leave the country and their family and head to the city where they quickly learn how to survive the heavy competition. yes that competition makes conditions for the aspirants seem not worth it to you but you do not understand what they are weighing the cost against. If they succeed and all the young are confident they will despite the odds they will have it all. They will have a villa on the ocean and a penthouse at court. BTW you fail to explain how these imaginary people would be able to afford this villa you think they ought to be living in. It is only by surviving in the city that they would have the means to afford a villa instead of a city home, once they have reached that point they are more confident they can survive a bit longer and have both. They are usually all in leveraged to the hilt to maximize return should they succeed, so there really is not going to be a trade of apt for villa until they have paid off the apt and saved enough to have an income from savings while living in your villa, in the meantime they contribute to the bid under city property. Obviously the wealthy understand the attraction to villas as well as you since villas cost as much as city properties, but villas are in areas where despite your protests you cant really make money unless you have succeeded to a level where you can transcend the usual markets and have you money doing the work.
    That said, the odds of making it in a city, the conditions currently one must endure, and frankly the value of becoming one of the deciders in today’s culture etc, is such that I would not recommend to a young person who has no special edge that makes their chances of success extraordinary should attempt it. I think they will likely waste the most productive years of their life in a rigged system designed to get them to make that foolish sacrifice without even the reward of a culturally intellectually interesting life. i would counsel them to live as humans are meant to live and take advantage of using their high IQ in an area where they have less competition and more compensation.Also I think global realestate is in a bubble no markets can be wrong longer than you can stay solvent so I am not yet selling or shorting but Im not buying either.

  24. The center – Upper middle class, very high property prices (300-400,000R/sq m), cosmopolitan, tilted against Putin and towards liberal parties like Yabloko, full of cafes with Macbook toting hipsters, do not discriminate against immigrants when renting out their properties

    People with property in the center do not rent to immigrants from the former USSR. They actually tend not to rent to Russians, either, because Russians with that kind of money often also have connections that can make things inconvenient if they choose not to leave or to play games with ownership because they like the place so much. They also tend to be bad people. Nice people generally didn’t get rich in Russia.

    The ideal person to rent to would be a Western businessman.

  25. West Virginia is close to Washington DC. The equivalent in Russia would be to move to some place on the outskirts of Moscow oblast.

    Apart from that, why Moscow? Why not Sochi? Less Central Asian immigrants and more hospitable climate.

    Sochi is also outside of where anything happens.

    Imagine if in the USA there existed one city that combined New York, Washington, Boston and LA. That is, the center of trade and the high arts, of government, of academics, and of entertainment. That’s Moscow.

  26. Anatoly, you didn’t mention the Caucasian takeover of parts of Moscow such as the area directly east of the MGU area. Someone close to me saw his neighborhood near Nakhimovsky Prospect turn into another Azerbaijan; the final straw prompting his move was when his grade-school kid starting speaking with a Caucasian accent.

  27. This interesting article is about France, property, and culture but it captures what is happening throughout the West and, to an extent, in Russia:

  28. I wouldn’t call Nakhimovsky Prospekt “directly east of the MGU area”. MGU is West, whereas as NP would be closer to due South. It’s pretty near the Chertanovo ghetto, so I imagine you’d see some seepage from that neighborhood of upwardly mobile Russian byidlo and kavakaztsi. Incidentally, I used to live around the corner from the main MGU building, while my stepson studied at school near NP; it was a good 25-30 minute drive each way. Anyway, it’s a nice area, calling it another Azerbaijan sounds a bit rich.

  29. The rental market changed considerably after 2014. There was a fairly large exodus of Western businessmen from Moscow as a result of their Ruble-denominated salary taking a 50% hit in dollar terms. Landlords of high end properties now have to rent to whomever has the cash or let them sit empty, which a lot of them do.

    They also tend to be bad people. Nice people generally didn’t get rich in Russia.

    I know Moscow landlords who have gotten screwed by Western and Russian renters alike.

  30. The rental market changed considerably after 2014. There was a fairly large exodus of Western businessmen from Moscow as a result of their Ruble-denominated salary taking a 50% hit in dollar terms. Landlords of high end properties now have to rent to whomever has the cash or let them sit empty, which a lot of them do

    “Our” American is leaving next month, after having lived there for 10 years. Place will be remonted and then sit empty rather than be rented to Russians or people from southern or central Asian republics.

    I know Moscow landlords who have gotten screwed by Western and Russian renters alike.

    We had a Frenchman who left the country without paying the last rent and leaving damage. But that sort of thing is minor compared to the problems that rich connected Russians or Caucasians can do.

  31. I wouldn’t call Nakhimovsky Prospekt “directly east of the MGU area”. MGU is West, whereas as NP would be closer to due South.

    It’s directly east, though not terribly close. The person I know who live there found it convenient because he worked at an academic institute off the orange line and there was a direct bus going west. The orange line is between the red (MGU) and grew (NP) lines.

    I imagine you’d see some seepage from that neighborhood of upwardly mobile Russian byidlo and kavakaztsi

    Yes, a lot of the Azeris were shop owners, rather than employees. Their semi-educated kids would brag about how much money their parents made, and wouldn’t study. This made the school environment pretty bad for the Russian minority in the schools. I haven’t seen stats by ethnicity for the neighborhood but having visited and stayed often over the years until the late 2000s the population change was very noticeable. The metro station was also getting increasingly crowded and it wasn’t due to more ethnic Russians.

  32. LondonBob says

    Nah I pointed out the relationship between prevailing winds and where the expensive real estate is due to pollution.

    Super impose an electoral map of London over that map and the high value areas line up perfectly with Conservative held seats. Not sure why the US, media projection at least, associates wealth and success with left wing politics, certainly doesn’t apply to Britain. Even the UKIP vote is lower mid and middle class.

  33. Cities become bad when population gets out of control and no commitment to proper organization and infrastructure exists.
    Current globalization has created a much worse situation than when old imperial cities existed. A total depopulation of rural zones instead of easier access to them and promoting large anthills that offers less and less access to whomever is moving there than in the past.
    Even without population growth, people come and leave the big cities in large numbers, so why stir the pot with more calls directed to rural people and loosening immigration laws for citizenship or work permit?
    But then that’s the idea. Do not organize the big cities and its infrastructure consciously, let it swell up to critical numbers, have a lot of unskilled people to work in many kinds of lowly labor, be it manual or office labor, let real state boom in prices and build a lot of buildings with egg-size apartments for the highest bidder.

  34. Philip Owen says

    Sportivnaya and near Frunzenkaya metro is not always hugely overpriced as your map seems to indicate. Green blobs in Khamovniki. Nice area. Will rise due to the new railway.

  35. Diversity Heretic says

    Any thoughts about the future of Khamovniki? I kind of like it. It was neat to be walking in a park near the Frunzenskaya Metro Station and find a small momument to an anti-aircraft battery stationed there that defended Moscow from 1941 to 1943.

  36. vinteuil says

    Interesting. For a casual visitor like me, StP is just fantastically beautiful & rewarding, without too much effort, while Moscow is kind of a bear.

  37. Philip Owen says

    It is my favourite part of Moscow. The convent gives it roots and Sparrow Hills gives it lungs.

    I was asked to find finance for an office block development there in late 2015 2016 in the worst of the crisis. It was funded by someone else before I had a reply ready. They did everything right in making the proposal. Single page summary etc. Even so, it shows the place is highly desirable. Yandex Dengi, Amex and a lot of other of the less showy banks are there. Frunzenskaya is still a working class part. Nice that it is mixed.

    The FIFA 2018 World Cup will speed development as does the rail station on the inner ring.

    Any yet, the Yunost Hotel has been destroyed of character. It was a “Best of Soviet” with pictures of Brezhnev (and small ones of Stalin) and a fabulous art collection. Now it has been modernized. I book “Likehome” apartments near the market when I can. I shop in a covered market.

  38. jim jones says

    In London you stay away from the red areas:

  39. The London map seems out-dated. I’m from west London but everything recently has been heading east: Transport, Olympic Atadium, Docklands financial centre & generally considered ‘trendier / cooler’ than the bourgeois west.

  40. JerseyGuy says


    Are high end, single family suburbs a “thing” like they are in the US? Are any of them located on the map that you provided? Also, what about St. Petersburg? Does it have the same amount of high end clustering that you have in Moscow?

    Traditionally, one of the great things about American real estate was that it was (and still is to a large extent, decentralized). Yes, you do have significant clustering in NY, DC, SF, etc. However, there are a lot of emerging, smaller cities like Raleigh, Nashville, etc. that offer good jobs at a much lower price. Do you have anything similar in Russia?

  41. You don’t really have suburbs of the American variety in Russia – those were built in the heyday of US automobile culture, which never really got off in Russia.

    I suppose the scatterings of dachas closer to Moscow, which become denser and less overtly rural as you approach the city, might eventually come to resemble an extended suburbia, though.

    Moscow is the opposite of decentralized, unfortunately – most of the cool things are happening in the center, and even to get anywhere else, you usually have to pass through the center. This is a huge planning failure that is putting strain even on an otherwise extremely efficient metro system.

    I don’t think there’s any equivalents to Raleigh/Nashville. There are some well off smaller cities – in the central region, Yaroslavl comes to mind – but Moscow remains in a league of its own.

  42. I think you’re being a bit paranoid, but it’s your asset to do with as you please, of course. We were reluctant Moscow landlords, thankfully for only a few months. Having moved permanently to our house in the suburbs, we put our flat on the market to sell in the summer of 2013. By the end of the year, with little interest from prospective buyers, we decided to put it out on the rental market as well.

    In the early spring of 2014, our flat was rented by a moneyed gentleman from Lugansk (I wonder, would you have rented to him, or would he have been too “Russian” for you?). He was relocating to Moscow and his plan was to rent our place, and look for a flat to purchase and remont, while his pregnant wife waited in Odessa. Less than a week after May 2, 2014, he called to say he liked our place, wasn’t finding anything else particularly to his liking, and could we negotiate a price? We didn’t negotiate for long and the deal was done by the end of May.

  43. one woman in my flat died from a drug overdose a few weeks ago

    I know Moscow is conducive to such behavior, but try not to party too hard, we’d miss you here at!