Move to Moscow?

(43 Posts)
BioSuisse Tue 12-Aug-14 13:00:34

DH has been offered a job in Moscow. I don't want to say who it is with, just it is within ths financial/commodities sector.

I don't know what to do. The company is Russian. I am very uncertain about whether we should accept.

DH wants the job, it is very very good.

DH is mixed race but does not look it. He appears to be white, especially as he keeps his hair short. He put ethnic origin White European on his job application. DCs are 5 and 2. DC2 really does look mixed race. As she grows up people are starting to notice and ask questions and comment (always nice comments but i am white and everyone assumes DH is white so some friends are surprised at DC2's afro hair, darker skin and facial features).

So two things concern me

1: is it a good time to move to Russia, what with what is going on politically?
2: i am concerned about encountering racism, what with DC2 appearing more mixed race than white as she grows older. Am i worrying unnecessarily?

DH has only been to Moscow once for an interview. We have never been. DC1 is starting school in less than two weeks so no time for us to visit before we make a decision.

1) for me, tgere will never be a good time for Moscow. Am scarred of the randm violence and arbitrary administration. But i feel like that too about the US. Then again as expats, we all know that when a great opportunity arises then you have to do whats best for tge family and pack up!
The current situation will not change anything to your day ti day life.
I worked extensively with Russian and caspia/central Asian colleagues. There is definitely a mindset and ways of conducting business. Am sure tgat being in the type

Of business he is, he should already know.
Its important he already knows how to function in that environment.

Also, have heard dodgy dealings about being promised an expat style package and finding out its not. Also happens often in the ME at the moment. Setting up home in Moscow, You need support from the company. You will a good relationship with HR to ensure parting at the end of contract is smoth ( dealing with deposits, handover, shipping etc etc......).

2) i havent experienced it first hand, but yes its a possibility.
That said i really do mot think your dd will suffer from it. She wont be mixing much with local families no?
You have a school lined up?

Gooseysgirl Wed 13-Aug-14 06:59:45

Sorry I've no first hand experience but I've a friend who has worked there as a nanny for the last few years and says corruption is rife.. and it's fecking FREEZING cold in winter!!!

BioSuisse Wed 13-Aug-14 07:11:45

We're in the foothills of the Alps and usually have snow on the ground for 5 months of the year. That said it is never too cold, the coldest it got a few years ago was -27. I think there is a wind chill in Moscow that makes it seem very cold.

We have not been offered anything other than the job. That said it is well paid and all the finer details are negotiable. Right now they are looking for our yes to proceed and then they will sort out those finer details.

Oh gosh, really don't know what to do. DH thinks we need a decision by tomorrow.

Keep bumping, there are definitely a few mners in Moscow or who just left

DoctorTwo Wed 13-Aug-14 07:45:25

If you're on the Twitters follow Thabang Motsei and ask her what it's like living in Moscow as a person of colour. She seems to enjoy it, judging from the documentary strand 'News Team', which followed various RT journalists through the early parts of this year.

BioSuisse Wed 13-Aug-14 13:27:58

Not on Twitter but maybe i should join, thanks for the suggestion.

DoctorTwo Thu 14-Aug-14 06:47:44

Thabi on Twitter. Good luck with the move if you decide to go.

mateysmum Thu 14-Aug-14 07:11:47

It's about 6 years since we left Moscow, but I don't suppose things have changed that much, so I will try and help.

Firstly, if you are only being offered the job and no expat package you need to be wary. Rentals in Moscow are a ridiculous price for anything better than old soviet style accommodation. $250 000 dollars a year is not unusual.

Unless you live in central Moscow, you may well need a driver. DH drove himself, I didn't.The traffic is worse than anything you will ever have experienced and the police stop and fine you for no reason in particular. They and all other institutions are endemically corrupt.

You will need some sort of private healthcare provision.

You will need to pay for private schooling for your eldest. International schools are thin on the ground, expensive and can involve a long commute as they tend to be out of the city centre.

You can buy anything you need in Moscow, but many supermarkets made me weep. There is Stockmann's, a scandinavian supermarket, but again that is expensive.

Russian society is not easy to break into. Once you know Russians they are wonderful people, but on a day to day basis Russian society can be quite oppressive for foreigners. You will need to work to meet other expat mums through school or the British Women's Club.

You will want to make regular trips out of Russia, especially in the winter. You need to cost this too. The weather is bearable as the built environment and cars etc are all geared up to deal with this. Nobody ever switches off their heating in winter and cars are built to deal with temps of -40c.

You will need to learn at least some Russian.

For people of colour, life can be trickier. You just need to be careful. Having said that I have an Indian friend who has lived in Moscow for 20years without problems, but the Korean companies forbade their employees from using the metro for personal safety reasons.

I'm not saying don't go, but I don't think this is a decision you should make in a rush before you have investigated housing, schools etc. DH worked for his long term employer whilst we were there, so we still had all the same T's & C's, - not sure how it would be working for a Russian company. The culture is very different.

Moscow is not an easy place to live. I was glad when we left and went back to Dubai, but I do know people who loved it.

Good Luck

mateysmum Thu 14-Aug-14 07:16:08

DH who knows much more than I do about working in Russia, says "don't go "- with a Russian employer, no expat package and the current security situation - not advisable.

DepressedMom Thu 14-Aug-14 07:25:58

DS is friends with a boy with a Russian mother. His father worked in Russia for years as an expat but has turned down all work there over the last year.

MerlinsUnderpants Thu 14-Aug-14 07:39:42

Whilst I love Moscow and loved living there I would not even consider it with no schooling/housing/healthcare provided. As Mateysmum says housing and schooling is very expensive and a minefield to navigate in your own. Driving in Russia is a danger sport, I would not do it. You may find the package is not so generous when you look at the cost of living.

I'd also be concerned that an employer offering no comprehensive package would help you out with the finer details or if anything went wrong.

FeelingIrie Thu 14-Aug-14 08:17:15

A friend of mine lives in Moscow. Her husband had worked a lot out there before they made the full time move and he was also fluent in the language so I am guessing they knew what they were getting into. They've been there several years, my friend likes it but I get the feeling it's not an easy place to live (she is pretty tough), corruption is rife and her DH has had several jobs out there as things seem to change at the drop of a hat in business. She has two kids who attend a state school. They seem happy and clearly being fluent in another language is a great asset. They do say they prefer England though... It helps that they are good at sport, that sort of thing is taken v seriously there.

To get to the nitty gritty. They visited at Xmas. Sat round the table we were taking about a gay couple we know. The children (10 and 8) were horrified. They found the concept of being gay 'disgusting' and couldn't believe people could be openly gay in the UK. It was an eye opener! So we were talking more about it and this led to talking about race too - the children said there were no black children in their school but that there was racism in that children from places like Tajikistan etc were very looked down upon.

Just an anecdote but might give you a flavour perhaps. I understand why you would be worried, it's a big move as culturally very different to the uk.

Good luck with the decision x

FeelingIrie Thu 14-Aug-14 08:19:56

A friend of mine lives in Moscow. Her husband had worked a lot out there before they made the full time move and he was also fluent in the language so I am guessing they knew what they were getting into. They've been there several years, my friend likes it but I get the feeling it's not an easy place to live (she is pretty tough), corruption is rife and her DH has had several jobs out there as things seem to change at the drop of a hat in business. She has two kids who attend a state school. They seem happy and clearly being fluent in another language is a great asset. They do say they prefer England though... It helps that they are good at sport, that sort of thing is taken v seriously there.

To get to the nitty gritty. They visited at Xmas. Sat round the table we were taking about a gay couple we know. The children (10 and 8) were horrified. They found the concept of being gay 'disgusting' and couldn't believe people could be openly gay in the UK. It was an eye opener! So we were talking more about it and this led to talking about race too - the children said there were no black children in their school but that there was racism in that children from places like Tajikistan etc were very looked down upon.

Just an anecdote but might give you a flavour perhaps. I understand why you would be worried, it's a big move as culturally very different to the uk.

Good luck with the decision x

mateysmum Thu 14-Aug-14 13:38:48

Where are you OP. How are you getting on?

BioSuisse Thu 14-Aug-14 13:53:54

We are in Switzerland mateysmum

BioSuisse Thu 14-Aug-14 14:09:11

Sorry, daft response, i think you meant where are we with the decision.

We have until tonight.

They have offered what i think is a good expat package; nice big family house, two cars and drivers, housemaid, schooling, flights home for all once a month. No mention of what that costs just assurances that whatever i want i can have (within reason, i imagine). That isn't making the decision any easier. I am in the no camp and DH is in the yes camp. We are now considering him going it alone and DCs and me staying in Switzerland.

mateysmum Thu 14-Aug-14 14:10:10

Ha,Ha sorry it was a metaphorical "where are you up to"! That'll teach me to make myself clear! grin

Just wondered if you and DH were any nearer a decision and if you had any more questions as you weren't getting many replies.

ShatterResistant Thu 14-Aug-14 14:17:46

Word to the wise: don't let your DH go to Moscow alone. I lived there for 9 years, and I know of NO marriages that survived that arrangement. How should I put this? Corporate culture involves a lot of very male oriented socialising, and Moscow women are beautiful and persuasive. If we had to go back (which I sincerely hope we don't) we would go as a family, or no-one would go at all.

mateysmum Thu 14-Aug-14 14:24:49

Agree with Shatter.

Nobody beats a Russian in a queue, whether that's for a bus or a husband!! There are a lot of glamorous Russian women just longing for a passage to the west and they don't mind who they trample over to get it.

BioSuisse Thu 14-Aug-14 14:26:17

Thanks shatter i thought as much.

BioSuisse Thu 14-Aug-14 14:34:45

I haven't lived in Dubai but DH has, i think he is drawing to the conclusion that Moscow will be rather like Dubai ie. expat lifestyle, not mixing much with locals

mateysmum Thu 14-Aug-14 14:36:54

Ah, now I see you have an expat package, that helps.

Is the house in Rosinka? Rosinka is OK but it is an enclave, way out of the city centre. I used to joke that people went in with their container and didn't come out till they left Russia! That said, it does give you a protected environment with lots of expats and a British school onsite. If it's Petrovsky Hills, that's right next to the American School.

Just make sure you get it all in writing.

If you go, it will be tougher for you than for your DH - isn't it always. You have to be up for it to make it work.

ShatterResistant Thu 14-Aug-14 14:40:04

You're welcome, and sorry. On the race issue, I know a couple of non-white foreigners who live in Moscow, and it seems it can go either way. One has a positive experience, people see him as exotic and interesting, I think because he's Afro-Caribbean rather than someone from the usual ethnic mix typical to Moscow (Tajiks and the rest.) The other, not so much. And children, as we all know, can be very cruel. I think a PP's story of homophobia in children is very enlightening, and I can entirely imagine it happening.

As an ex-Moscow hand, I am now quite down on the place, as you may be able to tell! But the Russians really are a wonderful people, and I made loads of friends for life. But I was young, free, and occasionally single. I wouldn't take my family there if I had a choice, and most of the families I knew there, or those who became families while there, have now relocated. I don't know if I'm being helpful at all now...!

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