From the snowflakes that fall on Moscow’s Red Square to the rows of Soviet housing blocks, from the gorgeous Metro station interiors to the ugly rings of traffic-clogged roads — the city’s contrasts are particularly sharp. The capital is a city of romance and revolution, and living here means a deep immersion in the mysteries of the Russian soul.
What is it known for?
Twenty years after the 1991 coup that ended the Soviet Union, Russia’s
democratic process is still a work in progress. The protests that erupted
across Moscow in December 2011 over Vladimir Putin’s campaign to be the president
of Russia — after he had previously held that position for two four-year terms
that ended in 2008 -- showed that a new generation of Russians expect a more
transparent political system. Although Putin was re-elected on 4 March 2012, the
protests from last winter created a level of civic activism and engagement previously
unseen in Moscow.
The city is
also bursting with creative energy, from the reopening of the Bolshoi Theatre after a six-year
renovation to the Garage Center for
Contemporary Culture, an art-scene monster paid for and created by Dasha
Zhukova and her boyfriend, the oligarch Roman Abramovich, who are part of the
new Russian elite. Abramovich, the ninth richest person in the world, is also
funding the renovation and rebuilding of Gorky Park, Moscow’s famous recreation
spot, and sponsors local theatre troupes performing in London.
home to the most billionaires in the world (79 of them), most of whom made
their fortune out of the privatization of Russia’s immense natural resources,
such as oil, natural gas and minerals, and it is one of the world’s most
expensive cities for expats. But Moscow’s rich past, mingled with a sense of
optimism about its future, makes it attractive to an international clientele.
Where do you want to live?
“The most popular areas both with buyers and tenants are undoubtedly those
situated in the city centre, inside the Garden Ring [road] or very close to it,”
said Oksana Kobzareva, public relations
director for the Intermark Savills estate agents. The area near Tverskaya
Street, the main shopping street of Moscow, is especially sought after by young
professionals because of its nightlife, cafes, restaurants and theatres.
neighbourhoods that lie inside the Garden Ring are Arbat-Kropotkinskaya, home to the Pushkin State Museum of
Fine Arts and many foreign embassies, as well as Patriarch Ponds and Chystye Prudy (which means clean pond) where
there is ice skating in winter. Traffic in Moscow is notoriously bad, so
choosing where to live is very important in conjunction with where you work. “The majority of businesses are situated in the city
centre,” Kobzareva said. “But even if the office is located on the outskirts
or out of town, it is much easier to drive or take public transport there from
the centre than driving in from the outer suburbs.”
a few areas farther out are very popular with expats. Pokrovsky Hills is a planned
community 13km northwest of Moscow’s centre, near the Anglo American School. Rosinka International Residential Complex
is a similar type of community, in the Krasnogorsk area, home to the British
As in all big cities, many locals try to spend weekends out of town.
Many of them own dachas, or country
houses, in little towns close to the city, such as Peredelkino. In summer, there are nearby forests to fish and hunt, and in winter,
there is cross-country and downhill skiing in nearby resorts, such as the Volen Sports Park off
the Dmitrovskoe Highway. The Moscow to St
Petersburg Railway is a high-speed train that, when operating at its
fastest speed of 250km per hour, does the trip in three and a half hours.
Sheremetyevo International Airport,
about 20 miles from the city centre, has international and domestic flights,
including to cities such as Sochi, which is hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics. Flights
to London are less than four hours and it is more than seven hours to Beijing.
Rents fell in 2009 when many ex-pats left during the economic crisis, but in
2010 many began to return. Now, average-sized apartments rent for about 102,000
rubles a month, and a townhouse for a family can cost between 440,000 and 875,000
rubles a month. Rents are increasing due to a lack of inventory, especially in
the city centre.
“The most common purchase
price range is 5,800,000 to 14,616,000 rubles,” Kobzareva
said. “But [apartments] can go for as high as 40,385,000
to 73,000,000 rubles.” It is important to research the developer’s reputation
and choose one who is well known in the market. And you will not find your dream
house or cottage within city limits. “Another Moscow particularity is that
within the city, residents can only purchase an apartment,” Kobzareva
said. “Families who would like to have their own
house can find it only out of town.”
The Moscow Times:
English-language newspaper covering news, politics, business, city blogs
Element: magazine covering the city’s
entertainment, restaurants and nightspots
Passport Magazine: culture, current
events and lifestyle publication for ex-pats