I have been bombarded with a lot of questions about the recent article in CNN about the most expensive city on Earth, Moscow. So here is my another neat contribution to the welfare and well-being of who is now considering to move as an expat to Moscow. Read it well and decide wisely...
1. Housing: So your company isn't subsidizing your housing (which means that you are nowhere in the hierarchy to be seen...and will be remarked as a filthy expat) and you need a flat for your own. Think Moscow map as a geometric entity of concentric three circles with the origin in Red Square. The basic logic is that the more you are distanced from Red Square, the rents seem to decrease; it is also according to basic urban planning that the houses gets newer. A one room flat with a moderate remont (which means a slight upgrade from filthy soviet furniture and plumbing to a more civilized way of living) starts from 750$ and may skyrocket to 3500$. The difference will be the amount of filth and stench in the corridors (never mind, they will always be stinking) and the distance to the metro station. If you go out of the biggest circle and live theoretically out of Moscow, you can find cheaper and newer alternatives but you will be ages away from the Moscow life (which also reduces your daily nuclear intake). So your average rent will be 1000$ for a one or two roomed flat inside Moscow. Be prepared to pay 3 times the rent in an istance; because landlords expect you to pay 2 rents (1 for insurance and 1 for the first month in advance)..and the real estate agents also make a fortune by getting one month's rent for their service.
2. Food: Unless you are planning to be fed from McDonalds and enter the wonderful world of obesity (a good meal in McDonalds costs 180 rubles, 5$, and your cardiac health), you will need to cook and/or eat in a healthier alternative. A well-fed visit to a normal restaurant (like Il Patio,the cheap imitation of an italian eatery) will cost you 500-750 rubles, 20-30$ without alcohol. If you are an avid cook, you will be well-off with good priced supermarkets like Auchan (yes I am advertising!!). Avoid the others, especially Ramstores, overexpensive.
3. Night Life: It is almost impossible to be away from the nightlife in Moscow because it practically continues 24 hours. Moscow has alternatives and millions of venues ranging from uber-pathos (100$ for a tequila shot...and anyway, if you are thinking about the rent, then it is highly probable that you are not chic enough to pass the face control to be allowed in) to more democtratic drinking alleys (80 cents for 0.5l beer). Don't forget that all those places are full and steaming on the weekend...so it depends on your choice. iof you don't drink and prefer to stay in, it is also great (and boring)
4. Transportation: Moscow has wo things that you cannot do with (and do without)...The Metro. You can reach practically everywhere with Metro inside the biggest circle (by the way it is called MKAD) and a 20-ticket card costs 250 rubles, 10$. As your Russian progresses, you can get any Lada and bargain for the price to get you anywhere (I have personally seen a bargain for a ride to St.Peterburg).
So here I will use my engineering background for a quick expense calculation :)
Rent: ~1000$ (one or twoo roomed flat inside MKAD)
Transportation (for one): 600 rubles (25$)
Food (for one): ~250$ (if you eat at home)
Entertainment: ~250$ (for a domestic expats)
so it makes a rough 1600$ basic...you may add costs for clothing (go buy your clothing in Turkey...yes, I am advertising), medicine (it is also cheap)...etc.
So it is up to you to decide if Moscow is really expensive or not?