If your company rents an apartment for you, you will most likely not be involved in the leasing process at all, or only peripherally. If you are renting an apartment on your own, it is advisable to involve a real estate agent in the rental process to ensure the legality of the lease and a mutually beneficial agreement.
When entering a rental agreement, the lease, and an addendum inventory list, are typically the only documents required. Your landlord may also wish to see your passport to confirm your identity. You should, however, insist on seeing the documents that confirm your landlord’s identity, and verify that he or she is authorized to rent out the apartment. This can be complex due to Russian residency ownership laws – that’s where the agent comes in very handy.
Finding good-quality, reasonably-priced apartments in Moscow can be a challenge and due to the competitiveness of the market, you may want to move quickly when you find the perfect place. Once you have found a suitable apartment, the process is usually straightforward. In most cases the landlord will be more than willing to accept an offer immediately, however, you may wish to negotiate on price or conditions by instructing your agent who will then contact the landlord (or commonly his/her agent). If you reach an agreement your agent will organize the necessary paperwork and all that is left to do negotiate a date to move in.
A lease specifies:
- Time period – typically two years, but one to five years are possible
- Cost – the base rate and inflationary increases may be written into the agreement
- Security deposits – usually one month’s rent
- Conditions for return of security deposit – if not specified, the deposit will likely not be returned
- Utilities covered by the landlord – typically water, association/public dues, gas, and local phone (may also include electricity, or none of these)
- Utilities covered by the tenant – typically electricity, long-distance phone calls, cable TV, and Internet (but may include association/public dues, gas, water, and local phone)
- Terms for early termination – usually two months’ rent
- Other terms and obligations
- The furnishings, appliances, and electronics provided – the list should be detailed and inclusive
In general, prices are high in the center and decrease as you move out towards the MKAD highway. Prices are lower for apartments that are far away from metro stations. The type of remodeling also affects the price.
Outside of the MKAD, prices drop dramatically for accommodations comparable to what you might find in the city; however, most expatriates who choose to live outside the MKAD opt for townhouses or single-family homes, which are more expensive.
- 4-room (3-bedroom) apartment in city centre: 130,000 RUR (basic remodel) – 320,000+ RUR (luxury)
- 5-room (4-bedroom) townhouse 10 km outside of MKAD highway: 230,000 RUR – 500,000+ RUR
- 2-room (1-bedroom) apartment on the outer edge of Moscow: 20,000 RUR (Soviet-style) – 60,000 RUR (nice remodel, newer building)
The following two agencies provide online listings of properties, in English, which you can use to verify the latest rates. Please note that agencies with English-language resources do not generally work with low-budget accommodations. If you are searching for an apartment for 50,000 RUR or less, you should make use of Russian-speaking colleagues to assist you in determining the latest rates.
Good to Know
Annual increases in rent are limited by law to the official rate of inflation as announced by the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation.
Heating in the majority of apartments and houses in Moscow is centralized and is switched on in October and off in May. The exact dates depend on the weather. In many apartments, you cannot regulate temperature when it is on. If this is important to you, check the radiator and inquire about it specifically. You should also ensure you have an auxiliary electrical heater in the home for cold snaps in late spring and early autumn, when the central heating may not be on.
Hot water is also centralized in the majority of the houses and apartment buildings. It is switched off every year for 2-3 weeks in the summer for maintenance on the piping system. Because of this, apartments need to be equipped with a boiler. Before accepting the apartment, ask the landlord to show you where the boiler is located and be sure to check the boiler’s connections. For example, it may be connected to only one of two bathrooms and not connected to the kitchen at all. Make sure also that the boiler is in the furniture/equipment list.