Before heading to Russia to teach English, here’s what you should know

1. Introduction

2. Making a living in Russia

2.1. Finding a job teaching English in Russia

2.2. Teaching opportunities

2.3. Well-established and reputable English language centres

3. Cost of living

3.1. Accommodation

3.2. Utilities

3.3. Central zones of the city

3.4. Phone plans

3.5. Grocery shopping expenses

3.6. Public transportation

3.7. Gyms

3.8. Entertainment

4. Salary / earnings

5. Be prepared

6. Making friends

7. Health insurance

1. Introduction

Russia is on many a traveller’s bucket list – and for good reason too. The vast country, which straddles the boundaries of both Europe and Asia, possesses an alluring mystique for lovers of the arts, history buffs and hardy backpackers alike. With its heady mixture of colourful Baroque architecture, spectacular art collections, fascinating weather conditions and a string of prestigious cultural and national achievements in the realms of literature, ballet and spacefaring, Russia is a highly desirable location for teaching English abroad.

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2. Making a living in Russia

2.1. Finding a job teaching English in Russia

The two most popular websites for job hunting are Hh.ru and Superjob.ru. You can search for jobs teaching English in Russia. If you don’t speak Russian, be sure to use Google Chrome’s built-in webpage translator, download the Google Chrome Google Translate extension, or select ‘Site’ at the top left-hand corner on Yandex online translator, in order to translate a web page.

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2.2. Teaching opportunities

Some typical places in which to teach are:

Private companies and governmental organisations

The most lucrative gigs are those in private companies and governmental organisations, teaching adult employees English. Typically, this would be in early in the morning before the working day officially begins, or during lunch breaks.

Schools (official academic institutions)

The greatest perk of teaching at a school is having a fixed working schedule in one location. Private schools offer higher wages than Russian public schools, which are limited in financial resources.

Private tutoring

Though English is taught from first grade in Russia, the vast majority of Russians rarely, if ever, interact with native speakers, so they will simply be thrilled to practise their English with you through conversation classes. You can advertise both in-person and online lessons at Avito.ru, a popular classified advertisement site just like Craigslist and Gumtree, for advertising private tutoring.

In Saint Petersburg, locals will pay local English teachers up to 1000 rubles for an hour. Therefore, a native speaker of English can expect to command up to 1500 rubles for an hour of private tuition. Try to secure a commitment in the form of discounts for packages (e.g. 6 lessons paid upfront). Advance payments will ensure stability in your clientele, ensuring only the most determined learners sign up to your services.

Au-pairing

Teaching English to a child or the children of Russians with a bit more disposable income can be a great way to subsidise your living costs, without the stress of managing a classroom full of kids or marking heaps of homework. It is not unheard of for wealthy families to offer 4000 to 6000 rubles per month for an au pair. However, don’t expect to sit at a table all day sipping tea – you’ll be expected to work for every penny!

2.3. Well-established and reputable English language centres

Linden & Denz

Note: if you know of any other reputable English teaching centres, please recommend them below as this article will be updated on an ongoing basis.

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3. Cost of living

3.1. Accommodation

Accommodation is highly unlikely to be a part of your package, therefore you’ll need to consider this cost when you decide to accept a salaried, full-time position, or consider how many teaching hours you’ll need to commit to each day. However, there is no harm in requesting assistance from your employer to find suitable accommodation if you will be travelling to Russia to work for a specific school, or organisation.

Big cities such as Moscow and Saint Petersburg, cater to both those seeking a studio apartment and those happy to rent a room in a shared apartment ,or house. A good site to search for accommodation is Cian.ru. Unsurprisingly, rental costs rise the closer you are to the city centre and metro stations.

In Saint Petersburg, at the lower end of the price range you can expect to pay around 15,000 to 50,000 rubles for a studio flat or a room for somewhere around twenty minutes away from the city centre. If you see offers such as 10,000 rubles or less – beware. This price is very low, even by local standards, and the place will probably be very old, with water supply issues or infestations of some sort. Paying 15,000 rubles for a studio is not uncommon, but expect the metro to be around half an hour away from the city centre, if not more.

Expect to make a deposit of up to three months in advance in order to secure accommodation in big cities such as Moscow and Saint Petersburg in Russia. These costs do not include any security deposit landlords may charge, but may include any real estate agency’s search fee. You’ll get the best deals if you manage to liaise directly with the landlord of a property.

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3.2. Utilities

In both Moscow and Saint Petersburg , utility costs range from 6000 to 12,300 rubles on average, depending on your location and the size of the property.

3.3. Central zones of the city

Moscow

Moscow, home to 68 museums, 103 theatres, 132 cinemas and 24 concert halls, has much to offer both guests and long-term residents alike. Forget not that Moscow has its very own theme park, Dream Island . Red Square is one of the most central locations of historical value and is close to Lenin’s Mausoleum , the Kremlin Palace , Saint Basil’s Cathedral , the upscale GUM department store , the State Historical Museum and the Iberian Gate and Chapel . For a spot of window shopping, head to Tretyakovsky Proyezd , a short street filled with boutiques and luxury stores. Presnensky District is also centrally-located and is home to Patriarshy Ponds , the Moscow Zoo and Moscow’s financial district (still under construction as of January 2021). Gorky Park, nearby the Moskva River, is a huge recreational zone, with a 15,000 square metre ice rink and many ponds.

Saint Petersburg

Vasilyevsky Island is a central and bustling zone of the city, with its many learning facilities, such as the Imperial Academy of Sciences , Saint Petersburg State University , the Military Academy of Supplies and Logistics , the Naval Cadet Corps and the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration . It also has some museums such as the Kunstkamera .

Nevsky Prospect – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – is another key location, being as it is the main street of Saint Petersburg. You’ll find the Stroganov Palace , Kazan Cathedral , the Bookhouse , many 18th-century churches, the Russian National Library , the Alexandrinsky Theatre and the Anichkov Bridge here.

3.4. Phone plans

There are no contract phone plans in Russia. A plan with adequate minutes for local calls and a sufficient data allowance around 4GB+), will cost you around 450 to 600 rubles monthly. Some major phone companies are Beeline, Megafon, MTS and Yota. Lesser offerings plans can be found from 99 rubles and 250 rubles is a good ball park figure for those who need more data heavy plans. You may find some companies offering unlimited use of data on messaging services, so that even if you can’t use the internet, apps like Viber and Whatsapp will continue to work.

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3.5. Grocery shopping expenses

Ашан (Auchan) is a French supermarket chain which offers the cheapest produce in Saint Petersburg of all the large supermarket chains. There are two of three mega stores in Saint Petersburg and you can purchase all manner of things, from food to notebooks, stationery and bikes. Think of it as Russia’s Walmart.

Лента (Lenta) is a mid-range supermarket and prices do not differ much from those at Ашан.

ВкусВилл (VkusVill) sells organic products free of chemicals, so expect to pay a higher price for awkwardly-shaped naturally-reared fruit and vegetables and freshly squeezed milk. However, the store is considered very expensive by local standards and food expires more quickly due to the focus on perishable products free of chemicals such as preservatives and sourcing from small-scale manufacturers.

Азбука вкуса (Azbuka Vkusa – that is, Alphabet of Taste) is where you can purchase beloved products from back home, international goods and high-quality organic products. Think big brands such as Dr Pepper, or rare cheeses and meats. Naturally, these products will come at a high price, due to higher importation costs and reduced local demand.

🤔 Curious to know how much locals spend per person on average?

I asked Redditors to share their monthly grocery expenses – check out the Reddit responses below, predominantly from locals:

3.6. Public transportation

The transport infrastructure in Moscow and Saint Petersburg is well-developed.

Moscow

A ticket for a single trip costs 60 rubles as of January 2021. The cheapest way to travel on the metro system if you are staying a while, is to purchase a Troika smartcard, requiring a refundable deposit of 50 rubles. This will bring the cost of a single journey on the metro system, down to 35 rubles. In switching to surface transit, you’ll incur an additional cost of 19 rubles on your card. City residents and visitors can also purchase a Unified Travelcard – a red-coloured paper ticket – at a cost of 55 rubles per journey, or 5,000 rubles for unlimited travel within a period of 90 days. A blue paper ticket permitting surface transit called TAT, is also available at a cost of 1,040 rubles for 30 days (added to the plastic Troika card).

Once you have worked out your work commitments and travel requirements, you’ll be able to determine which transport package is best for your needs. Note that living outside of If you live outside of the Moscow Ring Road (MKAD) will result in additional transport costs.

You can learn more about the transport system and packages available in Moscow, on the official English-language page here.

Saint Petersburg

You can pay for a metro token, at a cost of 55 rubles per trip, or buy a plastic card for 60 rubles. Securing a metro card (known as Подорожник – podorodzjnik) allows you to benefit from cheaper transport and use both the metro and bus in Saint Petersburg. For instance, the first four journeys with this card would be priced at 44 rubles and this price would gradually decrease. You can simply top up your account with as much money as you need, making payments with either a bank card, or cash, in the metro itself. There is no zoning system in Saint Petersburg.

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3.7. Gyms

Moscow

On average, a one-session visit costs between 500 and 1500 rubles in Moscow. Note that many gyms offer differing peak and off-peak prices. A monthly subscription costs anywhere from 1,000 to 30,000 rubles, depending on the location. For the most committed gym bunnies amongst us, you can find budget independent gyms from 4,000 to 10,000 rubles per year, such as Svyatogor. However, the quality will match the price. Russians with a bit more disposable income, tend to opt for chain gyms such as AlexFitness, FitnessHouse , OlympFitness and Sport Life. These will cost between 10,000 to 20,000 rubles annually for their cheapest packages. Premium options will range from 30,000 rubles a year at the lower end, to 100,000 rubles a year at the upper end, for instance Onegin, X-Fit and WorldClass chain. Finally, there are luxury options available from 100,000 to 500,000 rubles a year, e.g., WorldClass Жуковка .

Saint Petersburg

Fitness house is most popular gym in Saint Petersburg and a subscription costs as little as 17,000 rubles a year. However, gym subscriptions can reach heights of 45,000 rubles. Check out A Fitness for example, where gym members can pay around 4,000 rubles per month.

3.8. Entertainment

Moscow

Drinking and dining out

Prices for half a litre of beer can range from 100 rubles in a dive bar , to 500 rubles in tourist hotspots. A glass of wine can range from 100 rubles in a less popular district, to 500 rubles in the city centre. A can of a fizzy drink (Sprite, Coke etc) in a shop can be up to 60 rubles, but in a restaurant prices may run as high as 200 rubles. Food bills can run between 400 and 700 rubles for one person.

Event and cultural attraction tickets

Tickets to the world-famous Bolshoi theatre can be purchased online direct from the theatre here (the creation of a user account has been required since August 2020). Tickets for shows can be anywhere from 1,000 rubles to 40,000 rubles and tickets are released three to four months in advance of a show, so secure your tickets as early as possible for the best prices. Besides the official theatres, you can make ticket purchases for concerts, shows and events on Afisha.Yandex (at the bottom of the page, switch the language flag from Russian to English), Parter (an English-language page), Kassir (this is a Russian-language site, so use Google Chrome to automatically translate the page to English), Red Kassa (Russian-language iPhone app). Tickets are sold a little more than their original price, but they consolidate the many performances taking place and showcase them in a single place.

Museum tickets can range from 150 rubles to 700 rubles, typically depending on popularity and/or prestige.

Saint Petersburg

Drinking and dining out

Half a litre of beer in a dive bar starts at about 90 rubles, compared to up to 400 rubles in a fancier, central location. A glass of wine can range from 100 rubles in a less popular district, to 300 rubles in the city centre. A can of a fizzy drink (Sprite, Coke etc) in a shop is generally around 50 rubles, but in a restaurant, expect prices between 100 and 150 rubles. Food bills can run between 400 and 700 rubles for one person. For an example of a mid-range place, check out the menu of the popular bar Ivan & Maria in Saint Petersburg.

Event and cultural attraction tickets

A museum ticket at the prestigious Hermitage museum (the Winter Palace) costs about 500 rubles. There are museums are all over the city. For example the Kunstkamera, the New Museum, the Mikhailovsky Palace (the Summer Palace) and the remarkable Peterhof museum, the latter of which can be reached by both ship and bus.

Theatre tickets for musicals run from 450 to 5,000 rubles depending on the seat selected and show in question. Comedy theatres such as the Nikolay Akimov Comedy Theatre , offer tickets for around 1000 rubles. An opera house ticket from a place such as the Saint Petersburg Opera House is anywhere from 400 to 1,500 rubles. There is also the world-renowned Mariinsky Theatre offering both opera and ballet shows, where tickets can be secured for between 3,000 and 50,000 rubles on the Russian website, though there is an English ticket page here.

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4. Salary / earnings

Whilst some companies do everything according to the books tax-wise, others will find ways to cheat the system and pay you in cash in order to reduce their administrative and tax burdens. Yet others will offer you a mixture of the above, declaring a portion of your salary to the tax authorities and leaving the remainder to be paid in cash.

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5. Be prepared

Some things that employers may require of you are:

– A medical check-up – this is standard procedure when working with children.

– To sort out your visa independently – you will need the assistance of a Russian speaker as the documentation will be in Russian. Feel free to contact us here for assistance with this process.

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6. Making friends

It is possible to befriend locals, but Russians can be more reserved in public when they don’t know you personally. You’ll find it easier to integrate into Russian society if you join language exchange and meet-up groups for expats, which may be frequented by locals keen to engage with foreigners. If you strike up a friendship with a Russian, you can be sure to receive invites to places and meet their Russian friends. Check out the variety of groups for expats in Moscow at WeHeart.Moscow and in Saint Petersburg, over at Meetup.com.

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7. Health insurance

Although Russia provides basic, national healthcare for all legal residents (including Expats) – funded by salary deductions – foreigners are also recommended to take out additional voluntary healthcare insurance as the national healthcare system may not be up to the standards you would expect in your home country, depending on the services available to you in your place of residence. In addition, you are more likely to encounter language barriers and appointment or treatment delays, with negative repercussions for your health and the suitability of the service you can expect to receive. Check out the Expatica guide here for more information on healthcare plans for expats in Russia.

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