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Moving to Russia

Moving to Russia is not an easy task — not only must expats choose their future hometown, they must also negotiate the complicated visa regulations. Our InterNations guide can help you navigate these obstacles!
The iconic Red Square has come to be the representative image of Russia.

At a Glance:

  • Russia’s economy has greatly diversified in the last few decades, and there are now several attractive industries for expats looking to work in the country.
  • Acquiring a work visa is complicated and needs to be started well in advance of your arrival in Russia — however, the process is much easier if you are eligible to be a Highly Qualified Specialist.
  • Spending more than 183 days a year in Russia means you will be taxed as a resident i.e. at a rate of 13%.


Moving to Russia is often synonymous with relocation to Moscow or St Petersburg in the minds of many expats-to-be. But don’t reduce the biggest country in the world, with its rich culture and history, to just its two largest cities. There are many more places in Russia that attract expats. We have compiled a short selection below.

Moscow — The Russian Capital

Naturally, Moscow is an expat hotspot, thanks to its status as the political, economic and cultural center of Russia. Check out our guide to moving to Moscow for more in-depth information on the nation’s capital. The city’s importance and appeal for expats is hard to beat.

Saint Petersburg — Explore the Treasures of the City

St Petersburg, Russia’s westernmost metropolis, is also popular among expats. Abbreviated to “Piter” by its inhabitants, the city has a lot to offer — not just its employment prospects, but also a lively cultural life and beautiful architecture. The history is also worth exploring, as the city was Russia’s former capital and the seat of the Tsars for hundreds of years.

St Petersburg is one of the most important centers for trade, research, and industry in all of Russia, and comes a close second after Moscow in importance for expats, despite the former having less than half of the capital’s population (five million compared to over twelve million). The city’s main industries include oil and gas production, aerospace engineering, and shipbuilding, as well as various other types of technology production. The city is home to many offices and headquarters of major national and international companies, as well as a large international port, leading it to be described as the “marine capital of Russia”.

The city also hosts the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, an economic business conference attracting professionals and executives from all over the world. St Petersburg also has excellent transport links, with highways and rail routes connecting it to the rest of Russia, and Pulkovo Airport offers flights around the globe. Its status as an international and financial hub makes Russia’s “gate to Europe” an intriguing option for expats.

Yekaterinburg — The City at the Imaginary Border

Of course, moving to Russia doesn’t mean you have to settle in the two main Western metropolises above, and the country has much more to offer. Yekaterinburg is located on the border between Europe and Asia, in the Ural region, which has resulted in a fascinating blend of Siberian and Uralian culture. Historically, the city was founded in the 18th century in order to connect the two continents and was known as the “window to Asia”. It also became the mining capital of Russia, a reputation that persists today. 

Due to the Ural Mountains’ rich variety of natural resources, particularly minerals and ores, the machinery and metal industry in the city is booming and offers many employment opportunities for experienced expats, especially in the Yekaterinburg-City business park, a large industrial park completed in 2015.

Novosibirsk — Russia’s Heartland

Most people think of Siberia as a frozen wasteland, but the region has much more to offer than that. Siberia’s wealth of natural resources and large industrial output means that venturing into Russia’s central region can be a beneficial career step for many expats. Novosibirsk, the third-largest city in Russia, is the perfect destination for this, with an impressive industrial sector dealing with aviation, metal working, and nuclear energy, among others.

Located in southwestern Siberia and over three thousand kilometers from Moscow, Novosibirsk is a relatively new city, founded in the late 19th century for workers constructing the Trans-Siberian Railway. It is also a major center for scientific research, with more than a hundred scientific institutions in the city, and the renowned academic town of Akademgorodok located just outside.

Despite having a population of only 1.5 million (which is significantly less than that of Moscow and Saint Petersburg), Novosibirsk still has extensive transportation links and its own international airport: Tolmachevo Airport offers flights all over the country and to many destinations in Europe and Asia.

Nizhny Novgorod — Perfect for IT Jobs

Expats using their time in Russia to further their computing career should take a closer look at Nizhny Novgorod. Historically the trade capital of Russia, this ancient city is located in the west of the country and is only 400 kilometres from Moscow. Russia’s fifth-largest city is one of the nation’s hotspots for producing software and hardware. In 2015, the Ankudinovka IT Park opened, providing more opportunity for employment in the technology sector in the city.

It also has a flourishing engineering industry specializing in transportation, especially automobiles. The Gorky Automobile Plant (GAZ) is a major automobile manufacturer located in Nizhny Novgorod. The city will soon become even more attractive for working expats, as it has recently been designated one of the “industrial clusters” of the Russian Federation, which means the automotive industry will benefit from more investment.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Jonathan Brown

"InterNations is the ideal networking site for me. I use it for private as well as for business contacts here in St.Petersburg. Great!"

Noemi Roussel

"What I really like about InterNations is the international mix of people. I got to know there who became very good friends ."

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