Russia Expat Guide

I repatriated to Russia in 2016 (on the “advice” of my detractors). Joke’s on them – I like it here much more than in any Western country, and don’t intend on returning any time in the foreseeable future. Though my main reason was really that I identified as Russian, and a Russian nationalist at that, and living in the West like one of those “svidomy” diasporoids is cringe. This will obviously not apply to many people reading this, though I do know of a number of Russians repatriates who returned for similar reasons.

Why Russia?

Why should you consider Russia? I gave some comprehensive reasons in the Moscow Guide, but to briefly recap:

(1) First World amenities – at least in Moscow, SPB, and most of the millioniki – at “Third World” prices. Your money – if denominated in dollars or Euros – goes a lot farther.

(2) From architecture to the space program, Russia – like China – feels like a civilization that might have a future, building neo-Byzantine cathedrals and experimenting with nuclear space propulsions, while Western countries wallow in #BLM and “GloboHomo” as their very identities dissipate amidst the rising tide of color. Although elements of /pol/ believe that the situation is analogous if not worse in Russia, it is largely just a meme. Even the cosmopolitan capital of Moscow is 85-90% Slavic (and 99% “white” by American definitions). Across most of provincial European Russia, it is a Poland-like 98-99%.

(3) While Western countries are going down on most measures of civilization, Russia – along with the “Visegrad” nations – is steadily recovering from its post-Soviet nadir. On more and more metrics, they are meeting up and overtaking. The dynamics are positive, even in spheres where absolute values still leave much to be desired.

(4) There is virtually nothing in the “civilized West” that Russia does not have. Not just Moscow, but all of the bigger cities – including even relatively provincial backwaters like Bryansk – have the full range of the SWPL accoutrements of life (gyms and yoga classes, gourmand coffee and craft beer, steakhouses and molecular gastronomy). Over the past decade, bureaucracy has become much more streamlined, and consolidated into easy to use government e-services websites. The much ballyhooed “import substitution” has resulted in the development of Russian alternatives to foreign products, from wines and cheeses (which are now vastly better than they were in 2014) to even niche offerings like ostrich eggs and maple syrup. As a continental civilization, Russia also offers a near full range of climates and leisure activities, such as world-class skiing resorts (and casinos) in Sochi-Adler, volcanoes and heli-skiing in the Kamchatka Peninsula, beaches in the Crimea and the Kuban. One can also choose to live anywhere from Moscow, one of the world’s largest metropolises, commercial emporiums, and concentrations of human capital, to some isolated village in the Siberian taiga (the Far East offers free land to settlers).

(5) There is much more effective freedom of speech in Russia than in the West. You are not going to be hounded out of your job if you – or your relatives – don’t ritualistically signal your support for #BLM. Never mind discussing their IQ. Since the decriminalization of Article 282 in December 2018 – that’s Russia “hate speech” law – the government isn’t going to lock you up for complaining about Caucasian ethnic nepotism either. Although SJWs do exist – especially in the elite universities – they are largely confined to the Internet (or their closets). For now, at any rate.

It’s also the case that the state of sex relations is better in Russia than in the US. They are largely untainted by either third generation feminism, as #MeToo returns the US to its Puritan roots, or Men’s Rights Activism and its more perverse mutations into the incel movement and the influence of outright misogyny in American Alt Right discourse. To the contrary, while feminists write anguished screeds about “patriarchal” and “misogynist” Russia in the Western MSM, it somehow manages to have the highest percentage share of female business leaders of any OECD country. That is because while Russia maxed out on “equity feminism” during the Soviet period, it steered well clear of its SJW counterpart “gender feminism” and attempts by marginal West-worshippers to normalize it have thus far been in vain (helped by many of their proponents being Bioleninist freaks).

Thanks in part to this, as well as less obesity, dating is certainly more fun in Russia than in the US. I am not going to focus on this, because I am not a “game” blogger, and in any case this is not a stereotype or frame of mind that I wish to promote – least of all to potential sex tourists or Russian wife hunters. In any case, the days when any fat Westerner could waltz in and be swimming in pussy thanks to his fat wallet were over by the 2000s. Otherwise, if you have at least a little understanding of Russian, are well groomed and not obese, and basically don’t come off as a loser, you are not going to be denied life’s carnal pleasures.


Russian Life 101



Whether you are in Russia for a short “sampler” or on a longer stay – perhaps with a look towards becoming a full-on expat – I will assume you will be doing tourism. This is something that is due to become much easier for foreigners from 2021 with the introduction of a new e-visa program for citizens of 53 countries.

This page has my reviews of Russian towns and cities at the top, and there are separate pages for:

Here is a list of useful sites and resources:



Many ordinary state services are streamlined and online, mainly through the Gosuslugi portal. However, some more specific cases do still require a more “hands on” approach.



I can’t give any specific recommendations on getting into Russia apart from how to get a temporary re-entry permit on account of one’s Russian passport becoming dated (a rather exotic situation that won’t apply to many people). Fortunately, there are many such guides on the Internet. In any case, I understand that getting a Russian visa is relatively trivial, at least relative to the hurdles that Russians have to leap through to visit most Western countries.

For longer-term stays beyond tourism, there are several options:

  • Get a multi-year reentry visa.
  • Get residency.
  • Get citizenship in one of the “easier” CIS states, and utilize an easier route to Russian citizenship through that (Armenia is often recommended for this).

As of April 24, 2020, it is no longer necessary to give up your foreign citizenship to acquire a Russian one.


Housing and AirBnb work as well in Russia as they do anywhere for finding short-term accomodation.

I am not sure about the best way of finding long-term rentals. Never had to do it.

For longer term investments, I have some advice on the Moscow property market in Advanced Muscovology.



Citizens have access to state healthcare insurance (though they will treat foreigners as well). They are also eligible for comprehensive screenings (диспансеризация) for free once every three years depending on their year of birth.

There are also many private clinics with highly qualified doctors that offer better quality service than the state-owned healthcare system, and at much cheaper prices than in the West (e.g. the American Medical Center in Moscow is often recommended).



Sberbank – State-owned bank that nearly all Russians have an account with. They have a highly convenient and digitized mobile app that allow you to send money to anyone if you have their phone numbers (Russian grandmothers were using it to collect rent money while Americans in Silicon Valley were still mailing in checks to their landlord), and it also offers a variety of savings accounts and competitive brokerage services.

Transferwise – have found it to be the cheapest and most efficient service for sending and receiving money from abroad.

Brokerage services – Sberbank has them, but I have been recommended Alpha Bank and (second place VBT Bank) instead. Tinkoff also enjoys popularity.



E-commerce is not quite at American (or Chinese) levels, but it is booming and promises an end to the mall construction boom that defined the 2010s.

In contrast to the US, where the industry is dominated by Amazon, the Russian e-commerce is dominated by a few oligopolists – e.g. Ozon, Wildberries, Beru (Yandex) – as well as a multitude of smaller players. On the one hand, this makes shopping slightly less streamlined than in the US. On the other hand, it does have the advantage of being more resilient – one factor that may be highlighted now that Amazon has begun pulling more and more books on ideological grounds.

The best way to manage shopping is to use the Yandex.Market price comparison service. Although it is generally safest to buy from big name retail giants, it is often possible to find great deals from smaller vendors (e.g. I recently bought my Bose noise-canceling earphones at a significantly lower price than I could have gotten in the US, which tends to be very cheap for electronics). So long as they have a verified account with Yandex.Market and many reviews (at least a few hundred) that are highly positive on average, then you are likely safe ordering from them. At any rate, I have yet to be scammed.



Metro – In Moscow, SPB, and many of the millioni, the public metro systems are cheap, beautiful to travel in, highly efficient, and equipped with WiFi.

Buses – Default in the smaller towns and outside areas covered by the Metro.

Taxi – Yandex.Taxi, Uber (which is also owned by Yandex.Taxi), or Gett (a direct taxi service) are the options most often used in Russia. They are very cheap by First World standards.

Gypsy cabs – I am speaking about the suspicious Caucasian characters offering their services when you fly in to Sheremetyevo. DON’T use them! Unless you feel like paying twice as much for a ride to Moscow as you’d pay if you used a legitimate app, such as Yandex.Taxi, Uber, or Gett. (Same piece of advice goes to other East European countries, like Romania). It bewilders me that they haven’t been rolled up yet, given the scams they run and how they create the feeling that you’ve arrived to a Third World country.

Railway – Solid, cheap way of traveling medium distances:

  • $15 for an overnight train from Moscow to SPB with the cheapest platskart option).
  • Slightly more expensive is the kupe option where you share with three other people, but you are screwed if one of them is a heavy snorer. So I actually prefer the common sleeping areas in the platskart.
  • There are Sapsan and Strizh trains from Moscow to Saint-Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod, both of which take 3.5 hours-4 hours to traverse. Very convenient, though they cost the equivalent of an air ticket or slightly more.

Bonuses if you order tickets from the official RZD (Russian Railways) app.

Air – Flights within Russia are becoming very cheap and affordable, and the tourism has been taking off with it – the 2010s have seen vigorous airport construction.
There are typically $25 return flights from Moscow to Saint-Petersburg; $50 flights to Sochi, as well as to Ekaterinburg and London (cheapest West European destination); $100 flights to Irkutsk; and $300 flights to the Russian Far East cities as well as Beijing.

Driving License
You can also buy your own car, though to be frank there’s not that much point doing that in Moscow, where taxis are cheap and the Metro can get you almost anywhere. If you want to get a driving license, you will need to spend an ungodly amount of hours on mandatory driving lessons. (Fortunately, if you already have a driving license from a country that is a member of the Vienna Convention – that is, most countries that are not the United States – then you could exchange your license for a Russian one). You will need to obtain proof from a drug-testing dispensary and a psychiatric dispensary located in your area that you are not a drug addict, an alcoholic, or suffer from mental problems. You will also need to bring a medical certificate of clean health from a clinic (they will guide you through it). You will then need to sit a theoretical exam, and two driving tests – one that tests you on maneuvers, another one that tests you on real world driving.



Many cities even outside the capital now have diverse and high quality food scenes, as the sovok culture of going to restaurants just to show off how cool and rich you are retreats into the dustbin of history. Now, it is all about having a good culinary experience.

Russian Cuisine – Check out my World Cuisines page and Ctrl-F “Russia” for ideas on dishes that you should try.
Likewise, my guides to Moscow and Saint-Petersburg contain information

Tipping – 10%
Is not strictly necessary, a 10% tip for good service is recommended at non fast food establishments.

Spiciness – The Russian palate is not used to spices, so Indian restaurants keep it tame. So make sure to formulate your order as “extra spicy” or “I have been to India” or “pretend I’m an Indian” if you want heat.

Dietary Preferences – Covered comprehensively in the Moscow Guide and large extensible to Russia as a whole.

Beef & Steak
The post-Crimea sanctions have resulted in a renaissance in the beef industry, with Russia beginning to make its own, high-quality steaks. Yet another Bolshevik crime: Destruction of Russia’s steak tradition. During the USSR, beef consisted of low quality meat from slaughtered old milk cows; post-Communism, steak culture was reimported whole from America – the names of cuts you’ll find in supermarkets are Cyrillicized US names (rib-ay, Chak Roll, etc). The idea of eating medium/rare steak was very strange to post-Soviet Russians and took a while to catch on (I recall a US businessman acquaintance complaining that steaks in Sochi cost ~$100 c.2010, five times more than in USA). This only changed for the better in the past decade, esp. since 2014 sanctions. Russia now produces steak from its own beef cows. Unlike in the US, grass-fed is actually cheaper than grain-fed, thanks to abundant unused land. Prices similar to American ones. Hail Miratorg!



Movies – There is a list of foreign movies with subs (no dubbing) in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg available at the SubsCity website.

Dating – A few nightclub reviews in Moscow guide (though I don’t frequent them). Tinder is commonly used.


Sport & Hobbies

As mentioned in the Moscow guide, most Russian housing developments have calisthenics equipment. While designed for children, there are no rules that adults can use them. Here’s a Russia-wide map of outdoor workout areas.

Gyms are a dime a dozen, ranging from mainstream options with modern equipment to unadvertised weights rooms in various basements. Hiring a trainer is much cheaper than in the West, so you might as well do it if you have access to a respectable dollar/Euro-denominated salary.

As a country with long winters, ice rinks are also very popular and can be found well nigh anywhere. As are all kinds of general “cool” “outdoors” sports clubs and hobbies (e.g. cross country skiing, horse riding, paintball, reconstruction, etc).

So far as guns are concerned, Russia is unfortunately not the United States. Shooting ranges are not that all that frequent, and bullets are expensive.
That said, ranges are frequent enough, and shotguns and hunting rifles can be acquired with the proper license.

Russia obviously has an entire complex devoted to that in Adler (near Sochi). Though an avid skier back in California, I have unfortunately not yet been there myself, as the coronavirus cut short my plans to go there in 2020. That said, people who do regularly there say that the facilities are excellent and better than most (more expensive) European analogues.