Finding an Apartment

Finding an apartment in Moscow is not as easy as you may think. Although there is definitely not a shortage of apartments in the city, finding one of a reasonable price and quality can be tough. This is mainly due to the fact that the vast majority of advertisements are in Russian. Below we will go over the process of finding an apartment and signing a lease, including suggestions for places to look for advertisements and the general information you will need to make a good choice.

Prices for Apartments and Room Rental

It may surprise you to find that the rental price in Moscow is quite high. It is very hard to give general price information, as there are so many factors at play, but the following monthly prices are a rough guideline:

Inside the Garden Ring:

  • Room Rental – 20-30 000RUB
  • 1-2 Bedroom Apartment – 70-100 000RUB
  • 3-4 Bedroom Apartment – 150 000RUB +

Inside the Outer Ring:

  • Room Rental – under 20 000RUB
  • 1-2 Bedroom Apartment – 40-60 000RUB
  • 3-4 Bedroom Apartment – 100-150 000RUB

As you can see, even a room isn’t that cheap to rent in Moscow. You need to be sure you go into the process fully aware of your options, so you can choose a great apartment.

What to Look For

The quality of apartments in Moscow is highly variable and unless you are looking at the most expensive properties, you will probably have to compromise on something.

First of all, you need to consider the external features of the building. Many buildings in Moscow are communist remnants and look really shabby. This can also include the internal common areas, where you might find old elevators and retro tiles and paint. A notable exception are the medium density apartments inside the garden ring built during Stalin’s reign. These ‘Stalin Apartments’ feature high ceilings and a high level of craftsmanship, even if they do not always look perfect from the outside.  The nicest ‘business class’ buildings are made of brick and have lovely communal areas, gated parking and guards.

Even though some buildings may look shabby, that does not mean that the apartments inside are also run down. Quite often, you will walk from a very dire looking entrance hallway into a modern and well appointed apartment. In fact, going for a nice apartment in a less than ideal building can be a great way to get a bargain.

Attention to detail is often lacking in Russian apartments, so when inspecting apartments, look at the small details in the kitchen, bathroom fittings and walls. If you are going to be annoyed by gaps between kitchen cupboards and poorly laid wallpaper, then you better aim for the higher end of town!

Furnishings are often included in apartment rentals in Moscow, but the quality of them can be really poor. Always make it clear when inspecting an apartment what you want removed if you do sign the lease. You can even negotiate for new items of furniture to be purchased if you plan on signing a long term lease.

Leases, Deposits and Agent Fees

In general, you will sign a lease for 11-12 months, although landlords are generally quite flexible in this regard. On signing a lease you will usually pay the first month of rent upfront, as well as a security deposit and an agents fee. In cheaper apartments or when renting a room, the deposit will generally be equal to a months rent. With the more expensive apartments, the deposit amount is negotiable.

Unlike other countries, this process will almost always be done through an agent – dealing directly with a landlord is rare. The agent earns a fee when you sign the lease and quite often this is paid by you. This fee varies considerably. For the cheaper apartments which are in high demand, the fee can be quite high, up to 50% of monthly rent. The harder to rent apartments lower the fee (or the owners wear the cost) in order to attract renters. Fees on these apartments can be from 30% all the way down to nothing.

Utilities are very cheap in Moscow and can often be included in the rental price, as landlords like keeping the bills in their own name. Rent is paid in monthly installments and often this will be paid in cash, although some landlords also opt for bank deposits.

Where to Look

1. Avito

Avito is the largest and most reliable website for finding rental listings in Moscow. As you will see, it is 100% in Russian. You can successfully navigate the site using the translate option on your browser, although you will likely need a Russian speaker to organise inspections.

2. Facebook

There are an umber of Facebook pages set up for advertising rentals in Moscow. some of the notable ones are:

Moscow Rent – A real estate agents page, advertisements in English.

Moscow Rentals for Expats – English language page focusing on higher end apartments.

Moscow Rent – another estate agent page, featuring apartments for a range of budgets.

Moscow Expats Housing – An independent group where anyone can offer apartments and rooms. This is the best place to look if you want a room in a share house.

The above is just a very general overview of the housing situation in Moscow. Hopefully, if you are coming to Moscow for work, you will have some assistance in finding an apartment. If you can not rely on the help of locals, then tread carefully and do not rush into anything.

If you think there is some information that we should add to our page on finding an apartment in Moscow, then please contact us.

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