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Living in Moscow is Cheaper than you Think

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This post first appeared on Russia Insider

A prevailing myth is that Moscow is one of the world’s most expensive cities. 

The reality is different.

<figcaption>The Moscow metro.  By far the best in the world.  Tickets cost $1.  New York and London seem downright primitive by comparison. </figcaption>
The Moscow metro. By far the best in the world. Tickets cost $1. New York and London seem downright primitive by comparison.

Moscow regularly tops rankings for expensive cities.  However these rankings use luxury items to determine the benchmark price, which hardly seems appropriate since relatively few people regularly shop for luxuries.  On more appropriate comparisons Moscow prices do not come out as bad as advertised.

Even before the ruble's 20% devaluation over the last months, this was the case.  Now even more so.

If one starts with housing, then compared to some western cities Moscow is cheaper. 

Away from the centre the cost of an apartment in Moscow comes in at around $2,500 per square meter.  This is significantly cheaper than London.  New York apartments are 63% more expensive; apartments in Paris and Tokyo are respectively 34% and 19% more expensive.  Rent for a room in a shared apartment costs around 18,000 roubles ($460) - much lower than in London.

For utilities, the average cost in Moscow is around $120-160 a month for a family.  This is approximately 40% less than in London. 

The cost in Moscow of food and drink is determined heavily by country of origin.  Imported high-end food and drink products may be much more expensive than in other world cities.  However local products cost roughly the same or are cheaper. Food and drink sold at discount stores just outside Moscow is cheaper still.

Moscow has a rich variety of restaurants. The price variation is greater than in New York or London.  The cost of fine dining in Moscow is higher than in London.  However cheaper dining at convenience restaurants is lower.

In general food in Moscow is 68% cheaper than in Toronto and 42% cheaper than in Dubai. 

Theatres, galleries and museums in Moscow are subsidised and often publicly owned or run making ticket prices lower than in many European cities.

Entertainment and leisure is also generally cheaper in Moscow. Bars and night clubs usually do not charge entrance fees.  Entertainment in Moscow is 34% cheaper than in New York and 56% cheaper than in San Francisco.

Travel costs are also relatively cheap.  Taxis are generally cheaper than in other capitals, largely due to lax laws that enable drivers to transform their cars into cabs for a cheaper fare. The fast and highly-developed Moscow metro is a low-cost, efficient way to travel around the city with a fare of around $1 per ride.

Moscow is not as expensive as the Western media would have you think. 

The key is to live like the locals do.


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