20 December 2012, 16:00

US citizens moving to Russia - interview

US citizens moving to Russia - interview

There are about 6.32 million American citizens living abroad, of those about 30,000 chose Russia, according to the Association of Americans Resident Overseas. Over the past 20 years, expatriate communities in Russia, mainly in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg, have been growing substantially. Americans move to Russia for many reasons: education, employment or discovery of a new culture. Some want a Russian experience and some a new home. Let’s discuss with Marina Morozova, Senior Relocation Consultant and Project manager, from relocation company ‘Intermark relocation Moscow’ the first steps needed to settle down overseas.

How many American clients do you have per year?

I have a lot of clients from the US but at Intermark Relocation, we work with many different nationalities, as we help all expats to find a home in Russia.

As a minimum, I have one client from the US every month. So each year the average number ranges from about 12 to 20 clients. The number can vary depending on particular companies. I assist them with finding homes.

Most of our US clients come from oil and legal enterprises, so the number of new families coming to Russia depends on how these companies expand in the Russian market.

What is your typical American client like?

As I said earlier, typical American clients are normally from oil or legal companies. Most are married with children, as for the average age, it is between 45 and 50 years old.

There are usually US specialists, who come to Russia for a career, a social package and good salary. In the meantime, I know that many people are excited to come here and are very surprised that there are a lot of things to discover and experience.

The average term for an expat in Russia is 3 years, and I know many cases when clients stay for longer periods or have come back to Russia for another job.

What’s the biggest concern your US clients have about relocating to Russia?

Due to the lack of space in Moscow our clients need more room, especially to store different items, like bicycles, some furniture, etc. This simple thing, that people are used to in their home country, sometimes becomes the biggest problem to solve in Moscow.

Another concern is finding a good property in terms of the layout and style people are used to. This is the other side of the coin in the Russian real estate market. One of the concerns for those who bring pets is how to look after them in a big city like Moscow.

What are your clients’ reactions like once they first arrive in Russia?

This is one of my favourite questions to ask people who come to Moscow for the first time! Their reactions and emotions are always different, but the most popular answer is that Moscow is a very big city! Emotions could be different as for some people Moscow is a challenge, for others it could be too busy but in most cases the reactions are positive.

For example, one day when I met a US client for the first time, he said “Wow! It is a huge city and it looks like there is a lot of diversity here! ” For sure reactions could be different depending on the time of day a client first experiences Moscow traffic. If it is during rush hour, everyone comments on the number of cars. And I think that is one of the biggest issues in big cities, like Moscow. However, when clients travel by metro the reaction is more about speed and how nice it is to be able to get to any part of Moscow!

How big of an issue is bureaucracy in Russia for US citizens who decide to live here for an extended period of time?

I am glad that clients themselves do not normally face lot of bureaucracy issues themselves because the companies they are hired by deal with that.

What are the easiest things for your clients to get adjusted to? Why?

I noticed that US citizens can adjust easily to Russian culture and traditions. I understand that we have different mentalities on the one hand. But at the same time, there are a lot of similarities between Americans and Russians. From what I notice, US clients are very open and curious about Russian culture, history and many other subjects.

What advice can you give to Americans who are thinking about living in Russia?

One of the main challenges for an expat moving to Russia is the Russian language; about a quarter start lessons and give up. I understand that Russian is a difficult language but I would strongly recommend learning at least the basics and it will give you a lot of freedom! I would recommend to start learning Russian even before travelling to Moscow. You will find a lot of native speakers you can practice with.

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