Moscow, with 12 million inhabitants, is the largest city in Europe. While still dominated by Soviet and pre-Soviet buildings, it has been developing fast over the last ten years with a lot of new residential construction. Within the city boundaries, this expansion is predominantly apartment buildings. The living spaces range in size. The bulk of apartments are relatively small. However, some can be quite large, especially from the pre-revolutionary era, and may even be on two floors within an apartment building. There are a limited number of older villas and rare town house developments, such as Pokrovskiy Hills. Predominately, single family homes are to be found in residential compounds outside the city boundaries.
Despite an explosion in development, housing is still a scarce commodity in Moscow proper. Particularly affordable options can be tough to find, but even those searching for luxury accommodations may face limited choices. In response, prices skyrocketed, prompting the saying: “If you’re 100,000 short of the sum to buy an apartment, put half your salary in savings for a year – after that, you’ll be 150,000 short.”
However, now that the worldwide financial crisis has hit even Moscow, prices for apartments have stopped going up. They’ve even been falling slightly in places. In response to the same circumstances, high-end accommodations are becoming more readily available than in the past.
While generally more costly than an apartment in the city, single family home compounds and townhouse developments in the suburbs and small towns surrounding Moscow provide space and privacy, in exchange for a longer commute. These homes were highly sought after before the crisis, and the majority of international compounds still have long waiting lists. But with recent weakening demand, availability and affordability are rising here as well.
In short, expatriates should still plan to spend some time looking for the perfect home-away-from-home (unless your company takes this burden off your shoulders), and in most cases plan to spend more than they did in their hometown for comparable accommodations. However, you can take comfort in the knowledge that this is a good time to uncover, with a little patience and digging, very comfortable options and good bargains.