Moscow – world’s most expensive city

Kremlin FireworksIf you’re an expatriate worker, the most expensive city in the world to live in is… Moscow.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the numbers:

  • A luxury 2-bedroom appartment will set you back a mere $4,071
  • Brand new CDs don’t come off the back of a lorry if you’re an expat – expect to pay $25
  • New York Times? A bargain at $6.41

Which all rather begs the question… just why is Moscow so attractive to expats?

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18 Responses

  1. Tim Newman says:

    A luxury 2-bedroom appartment will set you back a mere $4,071

    Hah! In Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk that would get you a very well refurbished Soviet-style apartment with unreliable water and electricity, a communal entrance which stinks to high heaven, and a lift which stops working at 10pm.

  2. Andy says:

    I suspect the researchers’ noses were too dainty for them to visit Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk…

  3. TGP says:

    Which all rather begs the questionÂ… just why is Moscow so attractive to expats?

    Seriously, you actually need to ask? One word and it begins with “D”

  4. “Hah! In Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk that would get you a very well refurbished Soviet-style apartment with unreliable water and electricity, a communal entrance which stinks to high heaven, and a lift which stops working at 10pm.”


    What’s the pupulation difference between the two?

    On the matter of the world’s most expensive cities, which cities with an over 5 miilion population are more expensive than Moscow?

  5. Pardon the misspell.

  6. Red Exile says:

    Moscow isn’t the least bit *attractive* to expats: lucrative, yes, but hardly *attractive*.

    With the exception of that merry band of Russophiles who either have fmaily connections or, thorugh glad-happenstance, learned Russian young at University and always yearned to be here (the *hobbyists*) the rest of us are here for the same reason our Western emoloyers are. Sent here chasing profits.

    If the money ever fell flat, we’d all leave again.

    Moscow property is so wildly expensive – quite beyond its quality or supply/demand issues – because the price-pace is set by new-build. This year about 30% of the ‘retail’ price of a new build apartment covers the bribes paid the get the building built and permissioned. That’s up from about 25% in 2005, my developer friends tell me, and a mere 10-15% in backhanders at the start of this century…

    In Moscow, white retail price for anything includes all the mark-up to cover the bribes; hence the mad, mad ‘white’ prices. It totally shews the international price comparisons.

  7. Red Exile says:

    Awful spelling, sorry. “skews” the international comparison.

  8. Some frank obeservations which are often lacking elsewhere.

  9. ReluctantMuscovite says:

    Correction: CD’s go generally for 100rubles. You have to know where to look if you want a ‘legal’ CD/DVD.

    A decent apartment (2 bedrooms)can be had for about 30,000 – 45,000 rubles, depending on region.

    That study is rubbish.

  10. ReluctantMuscovite says:

    You can live quite easily in Moscow for about 400 rubles a day (not including rent and extras, such as shoes and clothing).

    don’t know what people are complaining about. Yes, it’s pricier then some American cities… but, heck, it’s a megapolis.

  11. I’m in agreement on the “D” word.

  12. Sara says:

    The truly wonderful thing about any Russian metropolis, at least the ones in the West, is that they’re as expensive or as cheap as you make them. Why should Moscow be an exception?

  13. Richard says:

    There is a huge variance in the cost of living in Moscow, so at others have commented, you can live as cheaply or as expensively as you want. The difference is much more marked than in comparabale cities.

    Also, remember a majority of Moscowvites don’t pay a mortgage or rent, and energy and telephone bills are still relatively cheap (though for how Long?).

  14. Tim Newman says:

    You can also take the Metro in Moscow for next to nothing.

  15. Fanya says:

    Agreed: it’s as expensive as you make it — and as Richard pointed out, for those Russians lucky enough to have hand-me-down apartments, also quite lucrative (property taxes, electricity, water, and certain foodstuffs are much cheaper). Perhaps that’s why more than one gypsy-cab driver has actually laughed upon hearing my salary… which makes me think I ought to get a kopeika and spend my evenings driving around. I always joke how I’m putting my landlord’s kids through college (I pay about $1000/mo for my renovated but not luxury dvushka, two-mins-from-Krasnye-Vorota dvushka).

  16. formerly living in St. Petersburg says:

    The study is nonsense.

    St. Petersburg (where I was living 2 months ago) was ranked higher than New York (where I’m living now).

    I had a room in a 2 bedroom apartment in the center of St. Petersburg (Mahavaya Ulitsa) for $320 US a month. My neighbors told me a I was being ripped off and it should be cheaper. A room in Manhatten is $1200.00 a month, Brooklyn is arond $900.00 a month.

    I could get a meal at a cafe in downtown St. Petersburg for under $5.00 US. Manhatten a comperabel meal will cost me $10.00.

    The study is seriously flawed. Think about it the average salery is under $1000 a month. The average person can’t afford the prices quoted in the study. Whoever was doing the study needs to learn Russian, so he or she isn’t getting cheated all the tim.

  17. one more thing says:

    While I was getting lunch ($3.50 falafal + $3.00 fruit drink), I relized I didn’t metion entertainment expenses.

    IN NYC, a beer in a bar costs $6. A beer in a nice lounge (where there are pretty girls) is about $8. At a nice nightclub, it’s $10-$15. Plus an entrance of $20-70 (if you don’t know someone).

    Assuming you avoid the crummy expat places in St. Petersburg (e.g., Datcha, Rosie, and Konushny Dvor) the cost of a beer in a nice bar is $1.50-2.00. An upscale (way upscale — Buddha bar) lounge costs about $5-7. A nightclub costa about $10-20 entrance and from $1.50-$6.00 for a beer. Also, you get about twice the fun out of the money spent in Russia (assuming you’re not at an ex-patty place). The girls are prettier and the clubs/bars have a better vibe.

    Oh yeah, taxis cost about $4-12 in St. Petersburg. $12 is about 3 blocks in NYC.

    The trick is to avoid places that cater to ex-pats and go places nice Russians go. Likewise, when trying to find real estate have a local make the call or be prepared to argue with the owner. Never use a real estate broker unless you absolutely have to. They routinely charge foreigners 2 to 3X the local price.

    Anyway, have to get back to my job (overflow legal $40 per hour, $60 per hour overtime, 50-60 hours per week), so that I can save some money and get back to Russia.

  1. June 18, 2007

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