Hello, my dear friends. My stay in Russia is slowly coming to the end, unfortunately. I have less than a week here and I know that this time will fly very quick. I decided to make this post in contrast to many other things people say about living in Russia. Obviously, there are many drawbacks of living here, like in any other country. Disclaimer: this is my personal opinion and it mainly concerns living in my area (Tatarstan).
1. Cheap cost of living. If you don’t end up in Moscow or St. Petersburg, you will be pleasantly surprised by the prices for food, accommodation and transport. When you avoid ‘tourist traps’ and go where the locals go, you will likely spend 2-3 times less than in Germany. If you don’t speak Russian, just find English-speaking friends in Russia, they will most likely help you out 🙂
2. Fresh, good quality food. Go to the local markets or even better find a small stall with farmers’ goods. These guys bring super fresh food with minimum of packaging. It normally costs little and tastes really different from European products. Just make sure you actually boil milk before drinking as it is mostly raw.
3. Family values. Russians love their families, if you have kids they will always give them some sweet presents. There are many playgrounds, most of cafes in big cities have a playroom or at least little table with toys. You will still struggle with a buggy and there might be some rude people (see my previous posts😄). But generally people are very friendly towards people with kids.
4. Easy payment systems. Google Pay, contactless payments, instant notifications about your payments on your phone, transferring the money directly to the shop owner’s mobile phone. All of these payment methods can be found even in the smallest market stall, it seems that Russia started following Chinese model (reminds me of Alipay). Germany is only beginning modernising its payment methods and even in Berlin not all the big shops offer you contactless payment alternatives.
5. Relatively cheap and fast mobile Internet. You can get a simcard and enjoy unlimited Internet (mostly very fast) for several Euros per month. Just don’t forget to cancel the plan (tariff), when you leave.
6. Great customer service and little waiting time. In Germany when you move in and want to connect a router or e.g. there are some maintenance works to be done in your apartment, be prepared to wait a couple of weeks until your appointment. In Russia you just need to make a phone call or go to the shop/office. Since Russians have very low spending ability, whenever someone actually wants to pay for service, they react immediately and go fix everything even on the same day.
There is also a very special type of Russian guy: a handyman, someone who can fix even the stuff that is actually pretty much ruined. He will do it quickly, very cheap and in a reliable way. In Germany you will probably be told: ‘Just buy a new device”. Russians would say: “No problem, I will fix it for you”.
There are many other things: lower taxes, more freedom for business and freelancers, open shops on Sundays, friendly and very hospitable people. These days many foreigners actually move to Russia, even to small cities. But mostly because their wives/husbands come from Russia. If you are just planning to visit Russia as a tourist, come in summer, it is really nice there. In winter it is probably not that exciting, unfortunately. And not always as cold as you might expect 😄.