The cost of living in Russia – Moscow vs St Petersburg vs Sochi

Many expats are attracted to Russia by its low cost of living. With a maximum personal income tax rate of 15% for residents (with most paying only 13%), expats can lead an elite lifestyle without needing to spend big bucks.

As the nation’s political and financial center, Moscow is the obvious choice for those relocating to Russia. Although Russians love St Petersburg (for its cultural attractions) and Sochi (for its subtropical climate), these destinations are often overlooked by foreigners.


Moscow is home to a thriving and well-established expat community. As the nation’s capital, it has the highest cost of living of any Russian city. Surveys often cite Moscow as one of the most expensive cities in Europe. However, these surveys generally do not take into account the wages of expats, who often earn significantly more than locals. In reality, the cost of living in Moscow is 59% cheaper than in New York, 47% cheaper than in Paris and 38% cheaper than in Munich. On average, the total monthly costs for a single person living in Moscow are €1400. For a family of four, aim to budget €2400 for monthly expenses.

St Petersburg (or ‘Peter’, as the locals say) is known as the cultural capital of Russia. Although the expat community is smaller than in Moscow, those based in St Petersburg enjoy having access to the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Historic Center, plentiful museums, art galleries, and romantic Venetian-style canals. Total monthly costs for a single person living in St Petersburg come to €1000. Monthly expenses for a family of four will be around €2000.

Sun-lovers should consider subtropical Sochi. Home to the 2014 Winter Olympics, billions of dollars were spent modernising Russia’s resort city. In Sochi, locals like to spend their mornings skiing, and their afternoons bathing in the Black Sea. Those tempted by this outdoors lifestyle should aim to budget €900 on monthly expenses (single person), or €1700 for a family of four.

Cost of Rent

On average, to rent a one bedroom apartment in the city centre costs:
Moscow:               €750/month
St Petersburg:      €500/month
Sochi:                   €400/month

Cost of Utilities

On average, a basic utilities package costs:
Moscow:               €100/month
St Petersburg:      €80/month
Sochi:                   €75/month

Cost of Transport

A monthly transport pass costs:
Moscow:              €27
St Petersburg      €38
Sochi                   €11

Cost of Dining out

On average, a three-course meal for two in a mid-range restaurant costs:
Moscow              €37
St Petersburg     €25
Sochi                  €31


Russia offers low tax rates and a low cost of living. Moscow is a modern, 24-hour metropolis but also cheaper than many other global cities., While St Petersburg and Sochi offer fewer economic opportunities, costs are also lower, enabling you to relax and enjoy the rich culture and natural beauty that these cities have to offer.

No matter what Russian city you choose, we can help you with work and residence permits, business setup, accounting and tax.

So if you would like to find out more about how you could take advantage of Russia’s favourable tax rate and enjoy the expat life, leave us your number and we will inform you of your options.

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