Some people think that Moscow is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in. I guess it depends on your life style as to whether or not Moscow is an expensive city. I kind of got a kick out of a post I read on Dave’s ESL Café that said that any apartment in Moscow under $500.00 per month is a dump and not worth living in. Yea right, if you want to live like a Daddy Warbucks in a fancy apartment. I have a very nice apartment, small but comfortable, three rooms, a kitchen, bathroom, bed/living room, cable TV with 60 plus channels, many of which are US and British channels, unlimited cable Internet access, telephone, completely furnished on the edge of Moscow right next to a very nice park and woods. Of course since I live on the edge of Moscow, it takes longer to get to classes, but also the rent is a lot lower, especially if you have a Russian friend who can act as a go between so that the landlord thinks they are renting to another Russian. I live within walking distance of the bus, tram stops and close to a nice and large 24 hour grocery store. Many nice apartments can be rented here very reasonable if you know what you are doing. Of course if you want to live close to the center of Moscow, so you can walk to your school and all your classes, then be prepared to pay big bucks, but you can live on the edges of Moscow in a very good apartment for a very reasonable price. If you use your brains you can find a very good apartment on the edges of Moscow for $150 or $200 per month. Moscow is a very big city, no matter where you live; it will take time to get to classes, especially if you teach at different places. That is a fact you have to accept no matter where you live here, it will take time to come and go here in Moscow.
Mentioning apartments remind me, there is a time during the spring or summer where the hot water is cut off for about three weeks in order for the hot water pipes to be checked and repaired. This is pretty much the norm for all parts of Moscow. There is nothing like getting up at five am to get ready for an 8:00 am class and having to take a shower in cold water, it really can wake you up fast. This is an aggravation in itself for a lot of people that you have to take into consideration about living here.
Restaurants And Food
There are restaurants of every type here in Moscow, even many American restaurants such as McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Domino’s Pizza, TGIF, Louisiana Steak House, Old West Barbeque, American Bar and Grill and others. The grocery stores are pretty well stocked, one of my favorite’s Seven Continuants is open 24 hours per day, and is large and well stocked with every thing, even some things you will not find in a US grocery store. Sandwiches are not very popular here, so if you like sandwiches, you’ll have to make your own. One thing I miss from home is chilidogs, I wish I could find a good chilidog here, but they have not made it here yet. I also miss Subway sandwiches, but sandwiches are not popular here, so I have to make my own from cold cuts I buy at the grocery store. Most foods are very inexpensive here, only a few imported foods are expensive like some cheeses, beers, wines, liquors from outside of Russia. The most expensive Russian food I have seen here is black caviar, very very expensive, but also very very good. Some sea foods are expensive, but over all most foods are not expensive. I have even cooked a few American meals for my Russian co-teachers and students, chili, barbequed chicken and ribs, coleslaw, beef stew, and I am going to cook Southern Style chicken and dumplings the next time. It helps the students and co-teachers see a little of the life in the US South. I learned to cook along time ago; I had to if I wanted to eat good being away from home all the time. I heard from one of my students today that there now is a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant here, I will have to go and see because I love KFC.
I also love the farmer’s markets here, but you do have to be careful when shopping in them, especially when buying meats and dairy products. Also in the larger farmer’s markets that are crowded, you do have to be careful of pickpockets. But the different shops in the farmer’s markets reminds me of how shopping in the 1800’s and early 1900’s must have been, especially the butcher shops, reminds me of the butcher shops in Kentucky when I would visit my grandmother when I was a little boy. To see the meats being cut, and hanging in the shops and display cases reminds me so much of the old country stores in the US when I was little.
A few Russian dishes I really like a lot, squid salad, crab meat salad are two of my favorite Russian dishes. A lot like chicken salad, but instead of chicken you use chopped boiled squid or crab meat, a very tasty salad. I also like dried squid, very tasty and good with beer. I never ate squid before I came to Russia. I also like a soft salty type of cheese that is made here, very tasty to me. Russians like to eat small pies that look something like the apple pies you get at McDonalds, except the Russian pies are different types, apple, cherry, chocolate, pork, beef, vegetable, and what not, very popular among Russians as a fast food. Chicken is very popular here also and one of the best Russian chicken restaurants is called Roastic’s. Very good fried chicken, almost as good as the Colonel’s. Another good Russian food is called, “meat on a stick.” Some like a shish kebab cooked outside on grills. I also developed a fondness for pickled garlic, very good, and the dill pickles are very good, especially the homemade ones.
Russian beer is something else, if you like beer, you’ll love Russian beer. My favorite is called, “Siberian Crown” a very smooth beer without the bitter aftertaste. I generally like the stronger beers the best and also the ales. I was able to even to get hard apple cider here that was very good also. There are several Russian beers that are very good.
Excerpted and updated from "The Good And Bad Sides Of Living And Working In Russia: Survival In Russia" in Escape From America Magazine, Issue 64.