With the exception of the lucky few who secure housing in the exclusive and rare townhouse developments in the city, the single most critical housing decision every expatriate must face is whether to choose an apartment in the city, or a single family home in the suburbs. What do you do – sacrifice space and privacy for a convenient, centrally-located apartment? Or, face a long commute on congested roads in exchange for the square footage and comforts of a single family home in the suburbs?
This decision should not be taken lightly. Factors to consider are your budget, your family situation, and the location of your primary workplace. If at all possible, come to Moscow and spend some time in temporary accommodations before you decide.
It is advisable to test your commute from any potential housing – or at least ask your real estate agent or potential neighbors. All roads are not created equal. While the northern and western areas of Moscow, and the suburbs and towns in these directions are considered more prestigious, congestion is lower (although still no picnic) coming in from the south and east. Keep in mind that a quick 25-minute drive at 3 p.m. can turn into a grueling three hours during rush hour.
Once you’ve made that most important decision, it’s important to keep an open mind and explore a variety of areas. Every region of Moscow has something special to offer. If you’re staying close to the center, the best fit for you will depend on your personal preferences – do you want the be right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Moscow street and nightlife? Or would you prefer to be on a quieter street with easy access to relaxing parks and greens? Would you rather be close to an international school, outside of the Garden Ring? It is all readily available in Moscow.
If you’ve opted for the greater privacy and space out-of-town compounds offer, you should explore the various features and amenities offered by different compounds. An agent specializing in services to expatriates will be able to easily point you in the direction of a compound that provides the easiest access to your workplace, the most important facilities – a golf course, perhaps? – and an opportunity to secure a space within your time frame.