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any MNers in Moscow?

(12 Posts)
jkklpu Thu 03-Sep-09 21:12:41

Going for a week with 4 and 2yos in 10 days' time. And moving there in the Spring. So interested in good travel tips as well as advice on schools, accommodation locations, anything else, really.

[Sorry, mistakenly posted this in Travel section before I realised this topic existed]

Louise2004 Sun 06-Sep-09 09:23:39

Moscow is a fun and happening place to live and there's plenty going on for families too, from expat groups to some great children's venues. Try:

www.childreninmoscow.ru - for family- and children-related information
www.livinginmoscow.ru - for all general Moscow information and to subscribe to Barbara Spier's "Fun Stuff" mailing, as well as order a copy of her excellent relocation book
www.bwcmoscow.co.uk - the British Women's Club
www.iwcmoscow.ru - the International Women's Club
www.awomoscow.org - the American Women's Organization
www.redtape.ru and www.expat.ru - expat sites with forum sections

The main issue of where to live depends on where you/your dh will be working and where your children will be going to school, as the traffic is terrible for commuting. The main international schools are the English International School (to the East), Anglo-American School, International School (to the West) and British International School. If you like going out and seeing/doing things and you don't mind pollution then it's probably better to live in the centre. If you don't mind living in a compound community out of town then you've got Pokrovsky Hills, Rosinka and Serebryanny Bor as the main out-of-town complexes.

Rental prices (and costs overall) are generally high in Moscow although there's more room for negotiation now that the crisis is here, so you should be able to significantly bring down any asking price (some landlords are very greedy and stubborn, though!). Your company or relocation agent should be able to provide you with more information and possibly negotiate on your behalf. Barbara Spier works for Allied Pickfords and her relocation book, Living in Moscow, is considered by many expats to be a lifesaver; the new edition is due out this month so you should try to get your hands on a copy.

Joining the expat clubs and going along to their open coffee mornings will help you settle in. The BWC has an active Family Network and the IWC runs a children's group. There are some privately-run groups listed on the Children in Moscow website as well. Going to school/kindergarten will also help both you and your children make friends.

I think that's about everything in a nutshell!

Chaotica Sun 06-Sep-09 09:35:44

Don't live there any more but my advice would be learn Russian, avoid expats. (And, have fun.)

But that's just me (and the handful of foreigners I hung out with), and may not be possible for you if this is a corporate move. (You are much less likely to be ripped off that way though.) (Second best, live near the centre or on a metro line.)

Louise2004 Sun 06-Sep-09 13:03:03

I agree, you should definitely learn some Russian, even if it's just the ability to read signs and speak a few words on a daily level. Apart from all that's going on in the city, you should also try to get out of Moscow and explore other areas and the rest of the country as much as possible - there's a lot to see and do!

Most people I know have both expat and Russian friends, which is a good balance, and they live in the centre. That would be my preference but I know quite a few families who prefer to live near the schools for convenience and for the sake of less pollution. (I'm more of a city person, though, regardless of children!)

jkklpu Sun 06-Sep-09 20:24:03

Thanks so much to you all for finding the thread. I speak Russian and will be refreshing it before we go, which is a great luxury. Will check out the websites this week. I think some of the schools have pick-up/drop-off bus services, but wouldn't want the kids to be on it for hours each day, so will definitely bear that in mind.

Tbh, I'd be on for a Russian kindergarten for ds2 to get him assimilated and help to maximise the rest of our chances of having non-expat friends. But we'll see how it goes on the recce.

Louise - If you're still there, I might be in touch again ..... smile

Louise2004 Mon 07-Sep-09 06:28:41

If your children already speak Russian, then a Russian kindergarten/school is the way to go - it's also more convenient if you decide to live in the centre as there are plenty of good Russian schools dotted around, without having to drive out of town to the international schools (although most of them do have bus services, which helps). Joining something like the BWC Family Network for their swimming group or events like the Christmas Party will also give them the chance to make expat friends so they have a good mix of language, culture etc.

How come you already speak Russian? (It's great that you already have the language ability - a bonus for any newcomer!) I'll be at the BWC, AWO and IWC meetings and coffee mornings if you're able to make any of these whilst you're over for your recce, so we can meet and talk more then or we can get in touch via email.

jkklpu Mon 07-Sep-09 21:24:13

They don't but working on assumption of cruel-to-be-kind immersion to get them there fast, though probably will bottle it (or dh will veto). Studied Russian at uni years ago and lived for a year with a family in StP. I'm the one who'll be working so have more qualms about dh settling in. Websites of BWC/IWC don't sound as though they give much quarter to travelling male partners, or is this a misconception?

Louise2004 Tue 08-Sep-09 05:25:18

They're young enough at 4 and 2 to learn a new language quickly, I reckon. Somewhere like Sad Sam's kindergarten is good as they're a mixed bunch of children with very friendly and homely teachers. Lots of our friends (mixed Russian/other marriages) have found it to be a smooth introduction before going to a Russian kindergarten and school. Just a thought.

There's not much for husbands, you're right, although the IWC now accept men to join. The BWC organise regular Spouse Evenings and weekend trips for members and their husbands (and, often, children as well depending on the tour). It sounds like you'd be best off living in the centre so it's easier for him to go out and meet with friends as well - might be a bit too quiet and "female" in the out of town compounds!

I have to dash but let me know if you have any other queries/concerns...

Louise2004 Tue 08-Sep-09 14:14:45

I also had another thought: if your dh is into golf, he could join the golf club, which would be a great way for him to make male friends - lots of them play during the week as well as over the weekends.

jkklpu Tue 08-Sep-09 21:49:27

Thanks for being so thoughtful: maybe it would be the place for him to learn. Will have more time to think after we've seen the lie of the land next week. I can't wait.

Take care and thanks again.

Louise2004 Wed 09-Sep-09 06:33:46

...and if he's into football, there's the Expat Football League (I'm not sure if this is the same as the Expat Over-30s League or if they're two different football groups), which would also probably be cheaper than joining a golf club!

Louise2004 Wed 14-Oct-09 07:35:15

I hope your visit went well. I've just heard about a new group run by someone called Justin for stay-at-home dads in Moscow, which might be more interesting for your dh than the expat women's clubs. Here's the link to his notice (at the end of the Expat Clubs section):

www.childreninmoscow.ru/en/?cat=27

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