How much does it cost to live in Moscow, Russia?
Many expats come to stay in Moscow on a pre-arranged job contract. They are paid good salary, have benefits and relocation support from their employers, so expats never have to worry about costs of living in Moscow.
Sometimes it happens that people relocate to Moscow, Russia not having any job contract or any substantial source of income. This can happen for a number of different reasons, mostly private, I guess. The question comes up — what it’s gonna cost me to live in Russia, specifically Moscow, as it seems to be the most popular destination for foreigners to relocate?
Below is an estimate of minimum costs of living in Moscow per month for one adult.
Primary components of living cost:
- Health insurance
- Apartment rental
- Clothes and personal necessities
It is very wise to have health insurance in Russia. Annual cost is around 30,000-35,000 Rubles paid at ones.
Initial rental cost will be a monthly rental fee multiplied three times. There will be three monthly rental costs to be paid all at ones: one for the first moths of stay, one for the last month of stay and one as a real estate agent fee. There might be a damage deposit, but let’s imagine apartment owner does not charge that. Also you can agree on smaller amount with the agent or eliminate it altogether if you are moving into a shared apartment or someone you know leaves apartment and you move in.
The cheapest one-room decent apartment will cost you 30,000 Rubles monthly. This is will be in relatively remote locations, but still within MKAD. That means your initial payment, as described above, will be 90,000 Rubles.
Since you are on budget and renting inexpensive apartment, most likely you will have to pay for utilities and maintenance — fully or partially. Depending on what is included in the rent and how much of electricity and water you consume, it will be an extra 3,000-7,000 Rubles. Let’s imagine a very likely scenario that apartment owner pays maintenance fees and you only have to pay for electricity, hot and cold water. In this scenario your utility bill will be around 3,000 Rubles monthly.
You can save on housing, opting for shared apartment. Living in shared apartment will cut rental and utility costs (at least twice if it’s two tenants in a two-room apartment), albeit you’ll have to compromise your privacy and overall comfort.
For getting around, the most economical option is to buy a ticket for 60 trips. It costs 1,900 Rubles (as of September 2019 and in might change in 2020) and is valid on all kinds of Moscow transportation for 45 days. If you have to commute for work or school daily and make some extra trips on weekends you will use up all 60 trips in one month. If you have to use two types of transportation 60 trips will not be enough and you will have to spend extra money on tickets. Single trip will cost 38 Rubles if you use Troika card. If you live outside MKAD and your commute includes train or intercity bus that will add extra cost.
It is sort of hard to estimate how much you will spend on groceries, because different people eat different food and have different daily needs. If you are into saving on food, you will have to buy raw products and do your own cooking.
How much food costs in Moscow? Below are some average prices for quality food in Moscow stores, all in Rubles. I emphasize quality food, because Russian stores sell a lot of fake products and simply rubbish you don’t wanna eat. Also, when estimating costs of groceries it is assumed that you will keep a balanced diet eating fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, healthy grains and other products good for your body. You can live on bread, pasta, canned food and cheap factory processed products and save some money this way, but in the long run it will have a toll on your health.
Prices on some products in Moscow food stores
All prices are per 1 kilogram, unless indicated otherwise:
Milk (1l)-65; Eggs (10)-60; Cheese (locally produced)-500…700; Beef-500…700; Chicken-300; Pork-400…500; Bread (loaf)-60; Pasta (one pack)-80; Potatoes -25…150; Carrots-30; Tomatoes (seasonal)-150…120; Lettuce mix (pack of)-200; Cucumbers (500g pack)-90; Salmon (local, frozen)-500; Salmon (imported)-1300; Olives (canned, imported)-150, Flour-85; Apples-80…150; Oranges (imported)-110; Bananas (imported)-65; Lemons-100…150; Beer (local, 450ml bottle)-65..85, Wine (Spanish, Imported)-350…500.
You will need to buy soap (from 30 Rubles to 1,000 Rubles), laundry detergent (200-450 Rubles), toothpaste (100 Rubles), other personal hygiene items, cleaning detergents, toilet paper and so on.
If you wanna check prices on specific items, go to any online grocery store that serves Moscow and see how much things cost.
In total it is estimated that you will spend around 30,000 Rubles on buying all food and everyday necessities. Again, it will very much depend on your personal needs, so above amount would be an average. I also don’t believe anyone can make living on less than 20K Rubles as it will me more of a survival, not a living.
If you work or go to school, you will have to spend money on eating out during the day and cheapest meal (business lunch or some basic sandwich and a drink) you can get would cost around 200-300 Rubles.
Another thing is, in Moscow everything is extremely far (unless you live in the center, but then you don’t need to read this article). If you are going somewhere it takes hours and you spend the whole day in town, so you’ll need to have some food.
Multiplied by 20 average working days, it adds 6,000 Rubles to the budget.
If you work or study, as an option, you can bring your own food to eat during the day, if your company (or school) has facilities where you can eat. Most Russian offices do not provide their employees places to eat food, whilst most international companies do. If you work for a good company it most likely will provide some allowance to pay for your lunches.
It is assumed that internet will be included in the apartment rental price. If it’s an extra cost, it will be somewhere between 500 and 1,000 Rubles per month depending on the “last mile” technology used by internet provider and connection speed.
Calling plan with some minutes for local calls included and generous data package will cost you around 500-600 Rubles monthly. The data package would be about 4Gb of mobile internet. Some cellphone companies have data plans with unlimited traffic on messengers, so you can use that to connect with your family and friends all the time and never worry to run out of traffic.
You will most likely need to socialize and eat out, perhaps visit some events. A simple dinner in an inexpensive (but good) cafe will cost you around 1,500 Rubles with some basic alcohol. Theater tickets start from roughly 600 Rubles cheapest, but good seat on a good theater performance will cost around 2,000-3,000 Rubles and more. Clubs can be expensive, so clubbing is not on the list of minimum estimates.
As you can see above estimates do not include buying anything than food and essential necessities. Buying things and paying for services is unavoidable, so there will be an extra cost for that. There might be unexpected expenditures as well. If you are living in Moscow there will be costs of clothing, personal cosmetics (if you use that), perhaps you will spend some money on your hobby, travel. If you get sick, basic medicine to treat a simple flu will cost you roughly 1500 Rubles and doctor visits will be extra if you don’t have private insurance. There can be other costs of living depending on your situation and circumstances.
In total, based on real life experiences, absolute minimum (not including apartment rental cost) comes up to 50,000-60,000 Rubles per month for one adult. In today’s exchange rate that is about US$770-US$900.
You can spend less, depending on what your needs are. In most cases smaller budget would likely mean compromising quality of living. Many Russians live on a much lesser budget, but locals mastered the art of living on a small money. It takes probably to be local and a whole life to learn all the tricks on living on small budgets in Russia. After all, many people survive here, not really live, thus budgets of locals is not a good point of reference.
What are the minimal costs of living in Moscow?
50K-60K (overall living costs) + 30K (apartment rental) gets us to a minimum budget of 80,000-90,000 Rubles per month. This amount gives you an idea of a minimum budget to stay in Moscow.
Thus if you are looking for a job in Moscow, it should pay a very minimum of 80,000 Rubles (after the income tax). This amount will afford you living here. But again, it will be a very basic, modest lifestyle, when you have a shelter, simple food and basic needs met. More demands and higher quality of everything will require more money.
If you live outside MKAD in one of satellite cities, costs will be less, because prices are somewhat smaller outside Moscow.
If you are relocating with a partner, obviously the minimum cost of living will not double. You will save on costs of some groceries and apartment costs.
This article is to give you an idea of a minimum costs of living in Moscow, not to draw you a plan of spendings.
If you have children you will have to pay for their private school (very pricey). If they speak Russian, can attend local public school that is free.