Moscow can be fun and exciting. You can have your lifetime experience and really enjoy staying here. You can discover for yourself delicious Georgian cuisine, thousand years old monasteries that you can randomly ran into in some area near Moscow, warmth of a Russian who turned into your friend. Lots of my foreign friends who came once in Moscow keep coming more and more.
However for some it may become a real challenge.
No one can get a guarantee from making mistakes and be sure you’ll make yours as well. Let’s just focus on trying not to make too critical mistakes. Here are a few main ones.
First rule: Don’t criticize their government
Pushkin said (my rough translation): «I hate the guts of Russian government, but I hate even more when a foreigner shares my feelings». Two centuries later nothing changed. Russians still do not love their government too much, but get really offensive when a foreigner say something bad about it.
Second rule: Learn at least a few phrases in Russian
Do you want to see how these brutal faces that looks like they never smiled even in childhood becomes totally excited? Learn «Nalivay», «Za vashe zdorovye». «Ura», «Krasavica» to totally rock any party night. People will appreciate that you are trying to learn the language and forgive you a lot.
Third rule: Try to find who you know here or get to know someone quickly
Knowing someone local will save tones of your nerves, money and efforts. Moscow is just becoming a little bit friendlier to travel around for a english speaking person, not mentioning anyone who don’t. If you just follow recommendations of international guides or concierge services be prepare to pay twice, visit quite ridiculous restaurants and bars and be targeted by various money-hungry people.
Do you remember the rule of 6 hand shacks? I bet there are much less between you and some nice person living in Moscow. Often they will be glad to show you the city, practice English and just hangout with some foreigner. It’s much nicer to hang out with some nice and smart Russian then hold your smartphone and read about everything on the screen
Fourth rule: Rent your place either through AirBnB or through Homeapp
Coming for a week or two? Use AirBnB. There are couple dozens apartments right next to the center of the city with nice design and landlords used to accommodate foreigners.
Coming for more than a month? Use Homeapp.ru. It’s the largest database of real apartments (without fakes, duplicate listings, outdated posts, etc.) It’s fully translated in English and they have very own brokers who work in just one neighborhood and know a lot about it, i.e. real current prices on apartments with such design in this exact area. Big plus — they do not differentiate locals or expats in terms of price (most agencies do it big time!). Fee is fixed at 30 thousand rubles (like 350 usd?)
Fifth rule: In any situation — relax and enjoy
This probably applies to life overall as well. If at 4 am in the morning you found yourself drinking some vodka somewhere on the roof or at someones patio, don’t panic. Enjoy and have fun. Most probably it will end up in a good way.