Tag Archives: moscow visa

The Realities of Expat Living in Moscow 2016

Let’s break down some metrics:

I live in a 2-room flat less than a 10-minute car ride to the city center (Prospect Mira for those of you who know the area).

It’s Western renovated and ran about $1330 (40k rubles) before the ruble devalued. Concurrently, most apartments in Moscow have either kept the same rental price, or have actually decreased in price in order to find tenants.

So, while someone’s income has decreased because of the exchange rate in dollar terms, so has relative housing cost; over $8k a year in my case (roughly $675 a month). That 40k includes gas, electricity, landline, cableTV/internet, trash, water and my Tajik Concierge. Great guy, and very helpful.

If I were to go back and live in a comparable flat in Los Angeles, the same cost would double, minimum.

I would also have to buy a car, so we’d be talking conservatively about another $600 for car payments, gas, insurance and maintenance for an average $20K ride. My transportation costs average about $150 a month (metro, taxis, g/f’s car, etc.).

The next biggest expense is of course food. I spend at most 1000 rubles a day. I really can’t see spending more than this, and 1000 could probably be chopped in half if push comes to shove. But for the sake of argument, let’s double it to 2000 and use this for reference.

Housing, utilities cable and WiFi internet – 40000

Transportation – 10000. Remember I’m an expat and don’t need a car here.

Food – 60000, and believe me that is an ambitious sum, more like 30-40000 at most, but again for the sake of reference. We’ll use 60k to include entertainment such as eating out, movies, theatre, etc., and a daily 300 ruble Starbuck mocha that I could easily do without, etc. This factors in a 35% rise in food costs during the devaluation period.

Restaurants/cafes prices have only increased about 5-10% during this time; closer to 5% all things considered.

Pretty much covers about everything and we’re looking at 106,000 rubles.

Now I understand that it would be nice if you could still stash away about $3k a month, but times they do change. And if you were someone who hasn’t saved for a rainy day (time), then that’s on you.

Nevertheless, that leaves us with 94000 rubles and that is still close to $1500; not bad all things considered.

If you think that things will not improve, or that your time back in the States will be better, I say don’t let the customs agent kick you in the ass on your way out. And good luck with those American women.

All I know is, given the situation, there’s no way I’m heading back, and really, why would I? Simply put, I have a wonderful life here, despite all the oppression I [don’t] feel from Putin.

Contrary to popular belief, life is good here. And it’s especially good if you’re lucky enough to be making 200k rubles a month. 98% of the working population in Moscow would love to make that kind of money. And if you’re one of the very fortunate expats to be making 200k a month or more, then count your blessings. Continue reading

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Russia Should Abolish Visas for the EU, America and the Developed World. Top Russian Official Agrees.

If Western sanctions against Russia are to continue, Russia is in a unique position to take advantage of the situation by relaxing visa rules and welcoming tourists.

Right now, you can get almost twice as many roubles for your money as you could a year ago. This makes Russia cheaper to visit than it ever was.

However, the current onerous requirements and unnecessary bureaucracy to obtain a visa to Russia has been holding Russian tourism back for many years. The current visa system is inconsistent, inconvenient, and puts many people off travelling to Russia. Visa registration once in-country, differs across Russia and can also prove cumbersome and problematical.

Oleg Safonov, head of Rosturism, the Russian Federal Tourism Agency agrees. He proposes to scrap the lot.

Safonov’s latest proposals, as reported on Interfax, include electronic visas, visas on arrival and simplification of the registration process. Travellers to Russia will very much welcome the moves, if implemented. Russia is a little late to the party with this; they should have done it years ago.

Russia already allows visa-free entry to citizens of some countries. But they are not the countries that significant tourism revenue is derived from. Rosturism recently announced that the number of foreign tourists coming to Russia grew in 2015 by 16.5 percent. Chinese tourists account for most of that growth to date. Russia now has an eye on increasing tourism from the rest of the world.

Readers of this site will be aware of the constant hysterical warmongering and hyperbole that Western politicians and their cohorts in the pliant mainstream media churn out day after day. One of the best ways to counter this misinformation war waged by the West is to allow people to easily visit Russia and see what it is like for themselves.

And who doesn’t want a selfie on Red Square?

Only when more people begin to visit Russia will the skewed perception of Russia abroad change. Visitors will see that much of what they read and hear in their local media is patently false and concocted for purely political reasons.

Relaxing visa restrictions means easy travel, especially for Europeans who are only a budget flight away. Over time, more contact between Europeans and Russians will improve political relations. It is hard for politicians to sell us lies about places we have actually been to. Western media will then find it harder to recycle the ludicrous US State Department propaganda we see daily in our newspapers now.

If Russia is to develop the tourism industry it tells us it wants, things need to change faster. Instead of occasionally tinkering around the edges of the visa system to allow for sporting events and cruise arrivals to specified ports with a host of conditions, it is time Russia’s visa system had root and branch reform.

Tourist visas could easily be issued on arrival; fingerprints could be taken at the same time. Invitations and registration need to be scrapped altogether. They are relics of the Cold War and serve little practical purpose today. An online visa waiver system, similar to what the US uses would work far better. Oleg Safonov from Rosturism gets this.

If Russia is going to have wider appeal to tourists, the visa system needs urgent radical reform. It will be impossible for destinations such as Sochi and Crimea to become popular with nearby Europeans if obstacles in the form of the current visa system remain in place.

The time for Russia to act is now. The rouble is currently good value for foreigners. Let people come and spend their money in Russia. Continue reading

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Russia Considering Overdue Changes to the Current Visa System

Russia Considering Overdue Changes to the Current Visa System Oleg Safonov, the head of Russia’s Federal Tourism Agency, has proposed simplifying the visa regime for foreign tourists coming to Russia. The current onerous requirements and unnecessary bureaucracy in place to obtain … Continue reading

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