Moscow housing is a big topic. For those who come to live in Moscow for a long period of time, finding a good apartment is a number one priority. Most people say Moscow downtown is limited by Garden Ring. However this is not fully correct, because parts of Moscow also known as downtown extend beyond just Garden Ring. Thus, areas within Third Ring can be called downtown. Most expats live either in downtown or in one of two international communities located on Moscow outskirts. If you are thinking on where to live in Moscow and downtown is on your list of options, consider below points.
Benefits of living in Moscow downtown:
Diverse choice of apartments of different styles (layouts, sizes and designs) and levels of service. Depending on your demands and budget you can find an apartment in a cozy pre-revolution historical building or simple soviet-style block type building. Or you can opt for a brand new high-class condo complex. Options like historical buildings may not be available in other parts of the city.
Many places to go, especially if you speak Russian. This is a real luxury to be able to go to the theater or exhibition after work in the evening and later have dinner and not having to drive or use public transportation. On weekends there are plenty of options on spending time nearby your place: events, festivals, parades, numerous places to visit.
Going to work on foot is a real advantage if you work in downtown or close to the city center. No car traffic, no passenger crowds in subway.
Lots of places to eat or have a drink: restaurants, cafes, bars. Most interesting eating places found in downtown.
Subway stations in a close proximity. Subway station density is higher within subway ring line. Usually you would have at least two alternative subway stations close by your place if you live in downtown.
Clean, nice looking streets, convenient for strolls or going to work. In the past years Moscow government started street rebuilding program. As a result of it, pedestrians were given priority in downtown. Sidewalks became wider, more convenient for walking, nicely decorated. For those who bike there are bike lanes.
Accessibility of street events. If a festival happens, or parade or anything, you can just walk there. Street events happen all the time regardless of season.
Prestige. You can impress your Russian counterparts by saying you live on, for example, Tverskoy Boulevard. This does count in establishing credibility for those in higher positions and gives you image of prestige, importance and success.
Disadvantages of living in Moscow downtown:
High rental costs. You (or your company) will pay hundreds thousands of Rubles (that is thousands USD/EUR) for renting a decent apartment. Cheaper options in downtown mean smaller and run-down places, not pleasant neighbors and inconvenient locations.
Small number of grocery stores. Only few corner shops available to buy some food. Few larger supermarkets located in the center, but location and unavailability of parking might prevent you from using them. In any case food stores in downtown are smaller in size and carry limited stock of groceries, compared to stores in other parts of town.
Limited sporting options. There are much less sports clubs and other sports facilities in downtown and those available are pricey.
All goods and services are pricey. Even simple services like dry cleaning or basic groceries have much higher price tags in downtown, compared to other parts of Moscow. This means higher cost of downtown living in general.
Street noise. A good number of major roads and busy streets go through downtown. Traffic in Moscow never stops and in most parts of downtown you will be exposed 24/7 to a roar of hundreds of cars running past your place and air pollution they produce. If you are lucky you can find a quiet place in downtown, but this requires an extra time and effort.
Limited or no parking. Like in almost every big city parking is very limited in Moscow downtown. All street parking is toll, and payment process is not very straight forward. If you park your car in a wrong place or wrong way, they will fine you or tow away your car.
Horrible car traffic. If your place of work requires car ride to reach, be prepared to stand in traffic for hours. Especially it gets worth when major snowfall hits Moscow in winter, or some event takes place and they all happen in downtown.