Can you afford life in Moscow?
17 May, 2019
Russia’s pulsating metropolis Moscow is with about 12 million registered inhabitants – locals assume that the number is clearly higher – the largest Russian city. A tour of Red Square with a view of the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral or a stroll through Gorky Park – Moscow is full of attractions and won’t let you get bored. But nowadays it happens more and more often that former tourists fall in love with the Russian metropolis and don’t want to go back to their homeland. Every day, the capital attracts new inhabitants from various cities and countries. But can everyone afford a life in Moscow? How has the financial situation to be, at the best, in order to be able to walk along Tverskaya every day?
Minimum wage: 11,280 rubles (about 155 EUR)
Average net income: 70,000 rubles (about 959 EUR)
30,000 – 60,000 rubles (about 420 – 840 EUR) per month for a two-room apartment
Life in Moscow is certainly exciting, but the search for a place to stay can quickly get to you. Although it can be difficult, there should be something for every budget. A room in a shared apartment is the cheapest way to live in Moscow. Depending on which district of Moscow you end up in, the costs range from 15,000 to 30,000 rubles (about 205 – 411 EUR) a month. The rents for one-room apartments in the suburbs, on the outer edges of the Metro card, amount to about 30,000 rubles (about 420 EUR) per month. As expected, the rents in the city centre are of course significantly more expensive than further outside, but it is surprising that the rents in the centre of Red Square are not necessarily the highest. This is because there are only very few apartments in the immediate vicinity of Red Square. Instead, the average apartment rents around the metro station Kropotkinskaja are clearly ahead with about 116,000 rubles (about 1,590 EUR) per month. The station is not far away from the Pushkin Museum and the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the shopping street Arbat is nearby and the Gorki Park is a longer walk away – sure you want to live there. Those who want to spend a little less, but still have a high budget for the apartment rent can make themselves comfortable in the area of the business center Moscow City. But of course, the view of the high-rise towers also has its price: the rents differ very little from those around the station Kropotkinskaja.
Be sure to pay attention: When you move in, you pay two monthly rents directly, because there is a deposit on the costs for the first living month. If you have found your accommodation through the help of a broker or an agency, you can also pay an entire or at least half a month’s rent to these.
2,075 rubles (about 28 EUR) – Unlimited monthly ticket Metro
Moscow has one of the most architecturally splendid means of transport in the world: the Moscow Metro. But it is not only breathtakingly beautiful, it is also both practical and inexpensive and is considered the most reliable way to get around Moscow. A trip with the Metro costs 55 rubles (about 75 cents), but those who want to use it for several weeks or even regularly should buy the Troika Card. You can load it with money at the counter or at the machines in the stations or save time and money by buying a monthly ticket for 2,075 rubles ( about 28 EUR). With this you can travel 30 days (there are also tickets for less or even more days) as often as you like with the Metro.
Between 5:30 and 1:00 you can use the metro. Thus, if you have to get from A to B during the night, you have to use other means of transport. A comfortable, but not necessarily time-saving option is the taxi. In Moscow, the taxi ride is quite cheap compared to other European cities. In the city centre, a taxi ride costs between 150 and 400 rubles (about 2.00 to 5.50 EUR). The trip to the airport or the suburbs can be a bit more expensive: Here you have to calculate with 1,000 – 2,000 rubles (about 13.70 – 27.40 EUR).
Alternatively you can rent a car. From 2,000 rubles (about 27.40 EUR) you can rent a car for one day. If you want to be more luxurious, the prices for more expensive models are up to 35,000 rubles (about 479 EUR) a day.
Another transport possibility for people who want to spend their life in Moscow is buying a car which is of course even more expensive: Below 100,000 rubles (about 1,370 EUR) you won’t get anything out of buying a car in Russia. Of course, there are no upper limits to the prices. Here also the fuel costs come to you. These must be calculated monthly with 5,000 to 15,000 rubles (about 68 – 205 EUR) – of course depending on how long the routes are.
Which is anyway for your purse as well as for your body clearly better, is to use the bicycle as means of transport by Moscow. If you are considering this possibility and want to know more about it, here is the link to a partner blog, where I have already published an informative text about this topic.
0 – 3,000 rubles (about 42 EUR) a month for good health care
In Russia, the health care system is divided into a state-owned and a private one. All Russian citizens are covered by health insurance – whether they work or not. And they are convinced that health insurance is for free, but this is not entirely correct. First of all, it is true: Nobody in Russia has to (and can!!!) do without the state insurance cover, because even those who do not work get the insurance completely for free. However, employees are deducted a small percentage of their gross salary for health insurance: The employer transfers 5.1 percent to the insurance fund. Thus the state health insurance is not completely free for working Russians, but it gives the impression that it is. This state insurance cover includes outpatient care as well as primary care or specialised facilities and spas. With such insurance, many treatments in state polyclinics and hospitals are already free of charge. However, certain medications and expensive dental treatments are excluded and must either be paid in full or at least at a reduced rate. This is one reason why many Russians either finance the treatment themselves or choose private health insurance. The prices vary from insurance to insurance as well as from the desired services and vary between about 11,000 rubles (about 150 EUR) for private dental insurance and up to 250,000 rubles (about 3,400 EUR) a year for a full treatment in private clinics. However, an average of around 3,000 rubles (about 42 EUR) a month can be expected to be covered by good private health care. Especially worth mentioning: Many Russian employees are lucky enough to work for a company that covers the costs of such private supplementary insurance.
3,200 – 6,000 rubles (about 44 – 82 EUR) per week for food
Whether large, small, vegetarian or organic markets – in the Russian capital there is a supermarket on every corner. Food from all countries is easy to find, but imported products are of course more expensive than the Russian ones. But the Russian product range also offers a wide selection of different fruits and vegetables as well as fish and meat – but at affordable prices. Depending on where you buy these products, supermarkets offer certain products at different price categories. Auchan, Pyaterochka and DIXY are the most popular in the cheapest category, while Magnolia and Prekrestok are rather average in price and Azbuka Vkusa and Globus Gourmet are the most expensive.
A kilogram of potatoes or onions in Moscow costs about 35 rubles (about 48 cents), depending on the supermarket. In comparison, tomatoes cost an average of 145 rubles (about 1.99 EUR) per kilogram and domestic cheese in particular about 555 rubles (about 7.60 EUR). I like to buy meat on the market, because there the selection is bigger and fresher. About my visit on the Danilovsky market I wrote a post on our blog, in which I present my purchase to you.
But if you feel like eating out and having a good time in one of the many restaurants in Moscow, this is possible on average for about 800 to 1,500 rubles (about 11 – 21 EUR) per person, if you decide on a main course and a drink. Of course, this is also much more expensive: In the luxurious restaurants in Moscow, a dinner can quickly start from 3,000 rubles ( about 41 EUR) and there are no upper limits. A saving tip: Many restaurants in Moscow offer the so-called “business lunch”, which you can order at noon for 200 – 500 rubles (about 2.70 – 6.80 EUR) and which consists of a menu put together by the restaurant.
100 – 7,000 rubles (about 1.40 – 95.90 EUR) for an entertainment offer
In Moscow, the cinema is a popular, but affordable entertainment option: the ticket for an evening performance can be purchased for 300 – 400 rubles (around 4.10 – 5.50 EUR) and in the morning they are even significantly cheaper. A performance in the morning can already be enjoyed for 100 rubles (about 1.40 EUR), while a performance at the weekend is the most expensive with up to 700 rubles (about 9.60 EUR).
If you don’t feel like going to the movies and would rather sip some tasty drinks, you can join a pub crawl in Moscow. Of course, the prices vary a lot between the different bars, but on average you can enjoy a cocktail, a glass of white wine or a beer for 300 – 400 rubles (about 4.10 – 5.50 EUR). Usually there is no entrance fee to Moscow clubs and bars, but caution is advised here: Some bouncers charge admission to guests who they consider to be tourists. Prices can start at 500 rubles (about 6.80 EUR) and rise significantly.
Those who neither want to watch a film nor are in a party mood can of course still do a lot because life in Moscow is varied. Whether music, theatre or circus – there are many possibilities in Moscow. If you want to save money, you should book your tickets in advance. They can already be purchased here for around 1,000 rubles (about 13.70 EUR). However, the prices are rather higher on average. If, for example, you want to visit the concert of a well-known band, you have to expect ticket prices between 3,000 and 4,000 rubles (about 41.10 – 54.80 EUR). A visit to the circus costs between 2,000 and 4,000 rubles (about 27.40 – 54.80 EUR) and for a ticket to the Bolshoi Theatre you can dig deeper into your pocket: Prices between 5,000 and 7,000 rubles (about 68.50 – 95.90 EUR) are to be expected here.