Things to Consider Before Moving to Russia
If you are coming over with an organization/company, you’ll probably have some level of support but it will still be necessary to do your own research. Moving to Russia is much harder your own with no built-in support system supporting you either here or there. In either case, you want to start by contacting the expat community and may want to go more in-depth to finding a sponsor or hiring a consultant to help get you started and on your feet when you first arrive.
Find out about what electrical appliances you’ll need that aren’t provided for in your housing and decide if you can bring yours or if you need to buy them here. Even with adapters, you may want to just go ahead and plan appliances into your budget. I brought a hairdryer over from the U.S. and somehow caught my hair on fire even with the adapter. I suggest that you buy all major appliances here including a hairdryer and straightener. If you’re operating on a low-budget, ask the local market group on Facebook if anyone has something they can sell.
Russia uses 220 volts and the U. S. uses 110 volts. Many appliances support both, so if you see a range of 110-240 volts, your devices are compatible and you’re set to go. If it says just 110 volts, then you won’t be able to use it.
If you’ve already found an apartment, you’ll need to find out what furniture will be provided and what you would want to bring with you. If you’re renting an apartment with furniture already provided, be sure to ask for all of the unwanted furniture to be moved out before you move in. Many landlords won’t agree to move out furniture after you have already moved in.
If you need household or childcare, you may want to go ahead and ask for recommendations from other expats and put together a list of potential candidates.
Think about what items you can’t live without and find out if they exist here such as foods, personal hygiene items, medicine and children’s supplies.
You can find contact solution and many brands of contacts (in vending machines even!), Oreos and peanut butter, almond butter and the likes. There are some stores here that sell gluten-free and some sugar-free products as well. Sadly there are no Reese’s! There isn’t a version of Mucinex (although some weaker options can be found) and Sudafed is illegal. There is also no rubbing alcohol.
Find out more about getting and sending packages and what sites you can order from.
In Russia, I advise you not to order any phones or any kind of technology. Incoming mail quite often gets open and taken upon arrival in Russia and you may be sent an empty box if anything at all. Additionally, I advise you to be careful ordering from Amazon as an individual. If you are ordering through a business, it seems to work a bit better but again there is a problem with theft as it enters the country.
Do you know what the locals wear and what kind of clothing you will need for the climate and weather conditions here?
Keep in mind that in most buildings the government controls the heat and it is often quite warm inside. Layering is the key! Pack multi-functional clothing such as tank tops, cardigans, sweaters, pullovers, jackets, leggings and dresses that you can layer for either summer or winter. If you don’t live in a cold climate, buy your winter gear here unless it will be winter when you arrive in which case you should come with something warm.
If you’re coming over as a teacher, ask the expat community about the company you are planning to work for. If you’re coming over with a spouse who wants to work or as a student who many need supplemental income, find out in advance what if any opportunities exist.
Learn more about the school system, what schools and programs are available. Once you find a program or school, find out what paperwork you need and if you can or should register early.
Go ahead and discover what clubs and other social events go on in the community as well as hobbies so you can go ahead and get involved and start integrating once you arrive. After you find out what’s available and what you might want to try, that’ll help you know what else to pack or budget for.
While the process of moving may be daunting and overwhelming, Russia is such a cool place to live. There’s a lot to see and do. Even after 6 years here, I still haven’t run out of things to do! Follow SAFS on Facebook to see for yourself.