Where to live in Moscow: an expatriate’s guide: part 1

Finding the right property, in the right location, is a crucial part of any successful relocation. For those moving to an unfamiliar city, deciding where to live can be difficult and confusing. Here, Moscow-based Intermark Relocation gives Relocate readers the inside track on the areas of the city that are most popular with expatriates, and the facilities they offer.

A scene of Moscow
One of the major issues facing expatriates coming to Moscow is the price of rental properties. Next to Tokyo, Moscow is the world’s most expensive city, and it is principally the cost of rent that makes it number two on the list.Tenants’ options may be limited in terms of their budget, but principally they can decide to live:
  • In the city centre (apartments only), close to all the infrastructure and leisure activities Moscow has to offer
  • Further outside the city, in a residential compound (for example, Pokrovsky Hills, Rosinka, and others), where they are more likely to find a house and green spaces for their children to play in
Many expatriates opt for a combination of these options: they live in an apartment, but in one of the areas close to international schools and parks, such as Sokol, Krylatskoe or Leninsky Prospect.The areas described here are those preferred by expatriates in Moscow. They are quite clearly defined. In a nutshell, they are the centre of Moscow, inside the Garden Ring (Arbat-Kropotkinskaya, Patriarshy Ponds, Tverskaya, Tsvetnoy Boulevard, Chisty Ponds, Zamoskvorechie) and around it to the south and west (Frunzenskaya, Krasnopresnenskaya), as well as the whole western part of the city, from the south to the north (Leninsky Prospect, Kutuzovsky Prospect, Krylatskaya area, Leningradsky Prospect area).The eastern part of the city (Kashirskoe and Varshavskoe Highway, Novogireevo, Izmaylovo, Yaroslavskoe Highway) is, in general, not popular with expatriates, and very few of them choose to live there, mainly because most of the buildings there are Soviet panel structures with small apartments.

Popular residential areas in Central Moscow


The Arbat-Kropotkinskaya area lies west of the Kremlin, and is one of the most popular residential areas of Moscow.It offers international schools and kindergardens, including Petit Cref (ages 2–7), and a reasonable commute to the International School of Moscow.We recommend you consider this area if:
  • You are looking for a downtown location close to everything Moscow has to offer
  • You are a family with children looking for a quiet place downtown
The Old Arbat is a true symbol of old Moscow. It is part street theatre and part art market, with plenty of souvenir shops, in which you can buy anything from fur hats to matrioshka dolls. Despite often being crowded, this street is very charming, with lots of noteworthy buildings and sculptures, as well as numerous cafés and bars, including the Hard Rock Café and Starbucks.The New Arbat is now the main artery heading westwards out of Moscow. It is lined with shops and restaurants.The area between the Old Arbat and Prechistenka takes us back to the unique world of quiet lanes, where each house is steeped in the atmosphere of old Moscow. This is one of the best areas to consider if you are moving to Moscow with a family and want to be downtown; the lanes are very quiet, and there are a number of playgrounds and the international kindergarden Petit Cref.There is a good selection of pre-revolutionary, Stalin and ministerial buildings, as well as probably the largest number of modern buildings with underground parking in the centre.At the same time, this area is one of the most vibrant and has everything Moscow can offer (restaurants, shops, and clubs). For the buzz of city life, choose Stary and Novy Arbat streets.The area between Prechistenskaya Embankment and Ostozhenka stands a bit apart from the rest of the area and is known as Golden Mile, because of its very expensive residential properties in buildings of modern design. Suffice to say that 70 per cent of Moscow’s most expensive apartments for rent or sale are located here.

Most popular residential buildings in the area

  • M. Molchanovka 8, the ‘Lion House’ – Opposite the Belgian Embassy, a pre-revolutionary building completely reconstructed behind the original façade and roof
  • Romanov Lane No. 5 – Loved by expatriates for its security, proximity to Old Arbat, and huge apartments by Moscow standards (up to 350 square metres)
  • Grubber House (Novy Arbat 29) – One of the first modern buildings in Moscow, located next to the UK embassy. Gated
  • Opera House, on Ostozhenka 25 – A modern building that got its name for housing the school of famous opera singer Galina Vishnevskaya. Other facilities include the Doctor Loder fitness centre. Gated, with underground parking
  • Fillipovsky 8 – One of the first and most popular modern buildings in the area

The expat view

“I enjoy living here because it is very central and I can happily walk around the neighbourhood and the centre of Moscow," says Claire Ansell, whose children are ten and 12. "It is also near to the metro, so I can get to other parts of Moscow with ease.“I speak enough basic Russian to confidently navigate around the metro system, and being forced to speak Russian on a daily basis will help me improve my language skills. We live in a relatively affluent area of the city, so I feel safe on the streets – as safe as in any other large city.”As well as professional consultants, we have, as part of the Intermark team, the Friends of Intermark – expatriates who help our clients to choose the most suitable area in which to live, and give practical advice based on their own experience. This, we feel, is a great advantage to clients, especially those from overseas.
Read more:
For information about Intermark Relocation and its services, go to www.intermarkrelocation.ru

Related Articles