What do you think life is like, when you’re living in a foreign country? Especially a country as enigmatic as the Russian Federation? I want to give you a little peek into my life here in Moscow, because I’m sure if you don’t live here, you cannot imagine what life’s like here.
First of all, I must say that things have changed a lot since I first came here in January 2007. There have been so many changes that sometimes I’m even a bit nostalgic for the ‘old’ Moscow.
(And if you wonder why I’m here, you can read about it in this post)
It’s a lot more modern now, compared to back then. Public transport has improved dramatically, the centre of the city has many more pedestrian zones for people to enjoy, and Moscow City has blossomed into a business centre any European city would be proud of.
Let’s start with shopping. 11 years ago there were not a lot of opportunities to pay with your bank card in the shops. Now, it’s everywhere. We have the technology – tap and pay, finger-scanning security, you name it, you can pay with it.
There are shops everywhere in Moscow. And a lot of HUGE shopping centres. There’s one right near my flat, called Metropolis. It’s so enormous I still haven’t been through the entire place yet (after living in the neighbourhood for 5 years).
You can buy whatever you want in Moscow (sanctions permitting). And we’re really spoilt with 24 hour shops, including supermarkets, chemists, and even florists. You can get anything you want almost at any time. Except alcohol. That’s restricted and you can’t buy it between 11pm and 8am. Apparently.
All different types of food is available here (except for whatever is sanctioned that we can’t get from Europe). If you can’t find what you want in the supermarket, you can go to a local fresh market, they’re everywhere, and find all kinds of fruit and vegies, as well as herbs, honey and other foods.
Most people in Moscow live in flats. There are almost no houses in Moscow. Some of the buildings we live in are quite rundown, but it’s not the outside that counts. Once you go inside your flat it’s your castle and the outside view can be deceiving. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.
But a lot of flats are quite small and not terribly comfortable for families. On the upside, utilities are cheap compared with European countries.
Public transport has improved out of site in the past 11 years. We have modern buses, trams, trolleybuses, and metro carriages. There are still some older ones in use, but the really old ones are disappearing. And the older ones get a makeover so they look newer. In the trams and trolleybuses in winter the seats are sometimes heated. It’s appreciated, believe me.
The metro is fast and efficient, even if it’s a little crowded at certain times of the day. It beats the buses and other road transport hands down because you’re not going to get caught up in a traffic jam while you’re underground. And it’s beautiful.
In the metro all the signs are in English as well as Russian, and the announcements for the next stations are also in English now, too. I think this was introduced for the World Cup this year, but of course it will stay.
Going out – night life
Cafes, restaurants, bars, clubs are everywhere. All levels of sophistication and price available. And some even open 24 hours. You can have dinner at 3.00am if you really need it. I’ve done it. It’s great.
Coming and going from Moscow to the 3 main airports is a breeze these days. There are trains, called the Aeroexpress, that will take you from the airports to the centre (or vice versa) in no more than 45 minutes for 500 roubles. It’s cheaper than a taxi if you’re only 1 or 2 people, but with 3 or more people it might be cheaper to take a taxi, depending on where in Moscow you want to go.
The weather isn’t as extreme as some people think. Of course it gets cold in winter, but not so cold that you can’t go out and play in the park or take the dog or the kids for a walk. It’s only when it gets colder than minus 15 degrees C that it becomes difficult to stay outside for any length of time (for me, anyway). And it’s not often so cold during the day. Minus 10 degrees C is certainly ‘warm’ enough to walk for a while outside and enjoy the cold, fresh air.
And summer is usually warm enough to pop down to your local park and sunbathe – for a few weeks of summer, at least.
So, that’s about it I think. Life in Moscow in 2018 is wonderful! I couldn’t have imagined that it would be so good to live here when I first arrived here so long ago. Of course, I’m a foreigner, and I don’t have to deal with the general hassles of being a citizen (owning a car and a flat, or finding a job, having a baby etc). Life is good here.