Living in the centre of Moscow and being only a half-hour walk from the office means that invariably you will live in an apartment. There are older, pre-revolutionary apartment blocks, Stalin-era properties, 1970's ministerial blocks and brand new apartments to choose from. Many apartments are being renovated and you may want to make sure you visit on several occasions to check the current position at the property as noise and other disturbances can be a problem.
If you are happy to undertake a longer commute to work – or if you have children - one of the several large compounds inside and outside the Moscow Ring Road (MKAD) may be more suitable. Bear in mind however that a 30 minute journey on a sunny day can turn into anything from 45 minutes to 2 hours in bad weather - or when there are accidents. These areas are also not as practical for families with children at the French schools, which are located in the centre of Moscow.
We have listed below some of the areas where houses - as opposed to apartments - may be available but we would stress the word ‘may' here. There is a shortage of expatriate housing in Moscow. Russians have not traditionally built houses for everyday city living (although many have been used to dachas (a country house) of different standards and sizes for use at the weekend). In recent years the expatriate community has grown in Moscow. At the same time Russian expendable income has grown and the result is that there has been a substantial increase in rents, together with more pressure on both apartment and, in particular, houses available. It is necessary to emphasize that if you have set your heart on living in a particular type or size of house this may not be affordable and, even if it is affordable, it simply may not be available.
There are several Estate Agents working with expats. Apartments and houses are advertised on their website with photos so you can browse before departure. Two commonly used ones are www.intermark.ru and www.delight.ru . However be aware that much of what is shown may not actually be available as it is just put (or kept) there to attract new customers.
Expat apartments are in the central city area close to work, restaurants, theatres and shops. The central city has no divisions between residential and business use of areas but apartments are generally quiet due to triple glazing of windows and exterior doors to balconies. Quiet leafy courtyards and small parks and lanes can be found behind most central buildings. There is a bus from the central city to take students to the Anglo-American school on the outskirts but many mid-city dwellers find it more convenient to hire a driver to take their teens to school in their own car.
Number of rooms: In Russia residential properties are categorised according to the total number of rooms. For example, a 3-room apartment has a living room and two other rooms to use as bedrooms or study. Kitchen and bathroom are not counted as separate rooms.
Floor area: Is usually indicated in square metres (10.7 sq. feet = 1 sq metre) and the area may be given in total sq. metres (all rooms plus hallways and toilet) or total room meters (all rooms including the kitchen). The ground floor is called First floor in Russia.
New vs. old buildings
New buildings generally have secure parking underneath and may have extra sports facilities and better phone and Internet lines for high-speed modems. They can be between 6 and 20 floors high. Old buildings are classed as Stalin era or pre-revolution. With higher ceiling height and sense of space, they range from 5 to 8 floors. Many have been renovated to a high standard and are in pleasant historic neighbourhoods.
Patriarshy Ponds, Arbat- Prechistenka are pleasant areas and are also the most convenient areas to the SEPSR offices at Novinsky Bulvar. There are also attractive historic areas of the city inside the Garden ring and Boulevard ring around the Kremlin.
Other popular areas are Tverskaya, Ostozhenka and Smolenskaya and Chistye Prudy.
Some buildings have a fence and gate with security guard whom you must advise when visitors are expected. Others have a concierge inside the front door who meets visitors when they enter and ushers them to the correct lift. Intercom systems are common both outside the front door and outside the apartment door and may include a video camera. Some older buildings have a code lock outside with a digit combination you give to your visitor.
Don't judge an apartment by the appearance of the common areas or exterior of the building. Entrances and lifts can be decrepit due to the fact that these areas are owned by the state and have to wait on a ballot system to be refurbished unless the apartment owners agree together to fund this cost. Inside the apartment it may be magnificent.
A gated community 13 km northwest of the Kremlin, near the intersection of Volokolamskoye Shosse and Leningradskoye Shosse. It is adjacent to the Anglo-American school.
There is a complimentary bus service from here, to both Sokol and Tushkinskaya metro stations. From here to the city using this service takes around 45 minutes. When using taxis to Pokrovsky Hills, or any other expat compounds for that matter, be prepared for the fact that drivers may not know where these areas are. It is worth having your address with directions printed on a card.
Pokrovsky Hills contains approximately 200 town homes, with one or two-car garages. The houses are bright and airy, with open planning. Amenities include: convenience store, community centre, child activity centre, Europen Medical Centre (EMC) branch, playground and beautiful landscaping. Also there are shared gym facilities with the Anglo-American school (AAS). The compound has a secured direct access to the AAS campus.
This is a compound of log houses right next to Pokrovsky Hills. In general houses are more expensive than at Pokrovsky Hills. It seems that available housing here is in short supply and in general you are unlikely to be offered this by an agent. Success has been achieved by some by contacting Chaika direct.
In the north-western region of Moscow, bordered on two sides by a national park and federal forest reserve in an ecologically clean zone less than 20 kilometers (12 miles) from downtown Moscow and 25 kilometers (15 miles) from Sheremetevo International Airport. At peak commuter hours the travel time to the centre of Moscow is about 1.5 hours and around 45 minutes to the Anglo-American school.
It has a sports centre comprising 13,500 square meters (145,000 square feet). This facility is more than just a swim and tennis centre. There is a 25-meter heated indoor pool, world-class tennis courts, squash courts and weight room. Kids and their parents can enjoy international level instruction in ballet, gymnastics, karate, judo, yoga, aerobics, swimming, tennis and other sports and activities. The European Medical Centre has a branche and is open during weekdays. Also there is a combination of other services including therapeutic massage, solarium, beautician, restaurant, playroom for children, Internet cafe, bowling alley and meeting room.
Here you will also find a British International School (2yrs/11yrs)
A number of housing compounds are located on this forested island in the Moscow River. There are bus links to the Metro and the journey to the centre at the time of writing takes about 25 – 45 minutes on a good day. The Anglo-American and British International Schools are about 25/45 minutes away respectively. The International School of Moscow is 15 to 25 minutes away.
Syetun is one of the oldest townhouse complexes, situated next to Victory Park in the west of Moscow. Houses are 180-250square meters and are renovated to western standards. This area is home to a large number of embassy officials, being close to some of the embassies now located away from the very centre of Moscow. As a result, security is tight. Unfortunately the area does not benefit from close Metro links. It is also situated near to several large roads and does not have forests associated with other non-central Moscow locations .
An apartment compound opposite Syetun.
Moscow Country Club
An attractive location and luxury houses but a long drive in rush hour traffic.
NOTE: These are the areas traditionally occupied by expats living in Moscow but the list is not exhaustive and we would advise you to try to obtain a copy of the Residential Property magazine when you commence your search. If you want to live in a house or an apartment out of the centre of the city you may have to do some serious searching and pressure your agent to work hard on your behalf as well. Those living outside the centre do so for the fresh air and open spaces but if you are uncertain about long commuting times we would advise you to try the journey in the rush hour before committing yourself and be aware that in bad snow and April/May (when the cars stored all winter come back on the road), this time might increase substantially. Nevertheless the attraction of having cross-country skiing on your doorstep may well outweigh these disadvantages !
Please note that there is a very high demand for school places at all levels in Moscow at the present time. Therefore you should discuss your needs with Shell's Human Resources department at the earliest stage. You should also put your child's name down for his/her nursery/school as soon as you know you may be coming to Moscow.
As far as local options are concerned, it is now fairly unusual for Russians to use institutional childcare (‘yasley') for toddlers and babies unless parents have a very low income – as these tend to be associated with the Soviet era. Instead, Russians will leave their small children and babies with babushkas (grannies) or other ladies who help them. Similarly expats usually have nannies (a‘niyaniya') to look after small children. Students prepared to babysit are not common outside the large Western compounds. There is a great deal to do in Moscow both during the day and in the evenings and having a reliable nanny will allow you to make the most of what the city has to offer.
In general household help in Russia is not ‘live-in' as few apartments and houses provide extra room for such purposes and most employees have their own families and children to take care of. If you do take on a nanny, you will have to consider such factors as whether or not to share – the advantage of the reduced cost of doing so can end up being outweighed by the disadvantage of finding that your nanny is not available as you are hoping to attend the same event as her other employer. Like other household helps in Russia you may find that your nanny is in fact highly trained – as an engineer or teacher – but do not expect them to be able to speak fluent English and if they do be aware that foreign language skills come at an extra price.
Nannies are also common amongst expats because nurseries for children younger than 3 years of age are virtually non-existent in Moscow. By this we mean the type of nursery that will take either a baby full-time whilst you go back to work/or your nappy-wearing 2 year old for a couple of mornings a week to get them used to being away from Mummy and vice versa!
To view the places that offer this type of childcare, please download our Inside Guide.
Local Russian kindergartens
Some long-term non-Shell expats, especially in the area of Serebryanny Bor, have chosen Russian kindergartens for their 3+ age group children. If you choose to do this you will need to speak to people who have also done so to decide whether it is right for your children. Russian kindergartens often run from 8am until 5pm but as long as you are willing to pay for a full day they often will not mind you taking them earlier in the day. Don't hesitate to speak to your Outpost contact if you wish to find out more about this option.
The German, Swedish and Finnish embassies all have kindergartens – generally at their embassies. There are schools for other nationalities in Moscow and some of these have preschools. For a full list we refer you to ‘Living In Moscow'. guide
International School of Moscow
Tel: 7-499 922 4400
Fax: +7-499 922 4400 ext 4
A British School that follows the English National Curriculum, which offers a standarized programme from pre- nursery to year 8.
British International School
Tel: +7 495 987 4486
The school was founded in 1994 and is a member of the European Council of International Schools and of the Nord Anglia Education Group.This is spread over several sites across Moscow and includes a school on the compound at Rosinka and in the Northwest near the metro Voikovskaya (15-40 minutes from Pokrovsky Hills and Serebryanny Bor) as well as several schools in the south, including a Russian Curriculum school. One of their schools offers the IB programme.The school takes children from approximately 3 – 18 years with some of the schools accepting 18 months upwards.
Anglo American School (AAS)
Tel: +7 495 231 4486
Fax: +7 495 321 4476
The Anglo-American School of Moscow founded in 1949, is an independent, coeducational day school, which offers an educational program from Pre-Kindergarten (4years old) through grade 12. The AAS is chartered by the American, Britisch , and Canadian Embassies in Moscow through the aegis of a School Board. Approximately 1300 students representing 65 countries attend classes. The school is fully accredited by the New England Association of schools and colleges, the Council of International schools and the International Baccalaureate Organization.
English School Moscow
Tel: +7 495 301 2104
Fax;+7 495 301 7587
The English International school bases its programme on the English National Curriculum. Which is offered from nursery to year 13. They offer IGCSE and A levels.
Lycee Francais de Moscou Alexandre Dumas
Tel: (+7 495/ 514 1546
Fax: (+7 495) 980 5099
Ecole Maternelle: a patir de 3 ans, ecole elementare: du CP au CM2, College: de la 6eme a la 3eme et Lycee: de la 2nde aux Terminales Es, S.
Deutsche Schule Moskau ‘Fredrich-Josef Haass' German School of Moscow
They offer: Kindergarten, Grundschule,Sekundarstufe I und Sekundarstufe II. The last one does not offer "Abitur but only "Zeugnis der Algemeinen Hochschulreife".
The main primary care providers in Moscow are:
European Medical Centre (EMC) www.emcmos.ru
The EMC has two satellite offices, one in Rosinka and the other in Pokrovsky Hills – which non-residents can use and which can avoid a long trip in the car to the centre of the city where both the medical centres are based.
Satellite offices provide outpatient services only.
• EMC at Rosinka (tel: +7 495 730 3239)
• EMC at Pokrovsky Hills (tel: 8 916 500 0977)
• Please call ahead for appointments
American Clinic"IntermedCenter" www.intac.ru
+7 495 937 57 577
American Medical Centers www.amcenter.ru
+7 495 933 7700
Global Medical Systems www.gmsclinic.ru/envers
+7 495 781 5577
In case of Emergency evacuations Shell Health recommends contacting the
International SOS Alarm Centre www.internationalsos.com/en/Assistance.htm
Gynaecology and Paediatrics
The European Medical Centre and other medical facilities can provide good medical care up to 36 weeks but, after that time, care can be extremely limited and not reassuring. Delivery usually is managed in a state-run hospital (at present there are few private facilities available for birth although some hospitals have ‘commercial' departments) at which point the private clinic ceases to have any control over the situation or involvement in care. Shell Health does not recommend to give birth in Russia but to return to home/base country or to the nearest center of medical excellence. Hospitals tend to be more outdated in their maternity procedures i.e. husbands are generally not welcome at the birth and the hospitals may follow old-fashioned practices such as keeping mother and baby apart after birth. English is not usually spoken, so a translator may be required and the use of ‘birth plans' by the mother-to-be is not commonly accepted. Obviously things are slowly changing here and if you wish to investigate this possibility further we would suggest you contact Outpost and we will try to put you in contact with someone who has given birth here.
It is possible to attend Pre-natal and birth preparation classes – full details of maternity services can be found in Living In Moscow.
Dentists are available in a number of western-style clinics working to international standards in Moscow. More details can be found in the full Inside Guide or the Living in Moscow book.