Appartments, dorms and registration

--> So if you're coming to Moscow, you're going to need somewhere to live! If we're talking long term, you have the choice of an apartment or dorm, the pros and cons of which will go into, along with how to get registration.


The good thing about an apartment if you are single is that you can bring girls back there without paying an oxranik (security guard) a bribe. Also, it gives you a feeling of freedom and a different taste of former soviet life, right from paying bills and other adventures. 

In Russian apartments you can normally expect to pay for the phone and maybe electricity (internet you'll most likely have to sort out yourself and pay for as well).

The downside is that an apartment is a lot more expensive and, especially in Moscow, you don't get much bang for your buck. In fact, a one bedroom shithole near the metro will set you back at least 30k rubles (as of 2015). 

Demand is always high in Moscow giving landlords a lot of leverage (they don’t care about references and contracts, just getting their money). You get some real bad landlords and when times are tough economically, rent can jump up and down. I have an article on shitty landlords here - for your reading pleasure.

If you find your apartment via a real estate agent, you can expect to pay a deposit (one month rent), agent’s fee (normally 50-100% of one month rent) and one month rent upfront. 

The best way to find an apartment or roommate, in my opinion, in on,, or I always used and had no problems, also this way you avoid the big financial hit.


If you're studying here, the dorm is most likely where you will be living. There are downsides to the dorm, but there are some unique plus points.

The bad:
You will not be able to bring people back that are not students without paying a bribe - normally a couple of hundred roubles. Sometimes the oxranik may not accept bribes (this is rare, but annoying when it happens).

Russian dorm administration treats you like a child, some are worse than others, but one place I lived in the administrator would conduct inspections and threaten to evict you if your room wasn't clean to her outrageous standards. That bullshit gets old fast, trust me.

The rooms can be hit or miss, below is a picture of my room in the main building of MGU (very nice on the outside) and below that is my room I shared with a Chinese guy in another MGU dorm (DSV). As you can see, the Radisson they were not:

The MGU main building presidential suit
Then DSV (below)

(below, another room in DSV, but a better one)

--> If you are going to study with an MGU program, I recommend DSV or the main building - both have plenty of action going on and plenty of chances to practice your Russian, party and hone your seduction techniques. Whatever you do, don't chose Шабловка. You can't bribe anyone in, there are no Russians there and if you are making any noise after 11 you get told off by administration. Also, you are not allowed out after 12, or you get a warning and, again, threatened with eviction. It's worse than living at home and your Russian wont improve much, but the rooms are quite clean and of a decent standard. 
This was the case when I was there and I doubt things have changed much.

The pros

In the right dorm you can have a great atmosphere, meet some really great people, improve your Russian and party hard, however, the two main pluses are that it will cost a lot less money and you will be provided with registration (one this thing to worry about, right?). 

The stolovaya can also mean you need to cook less. Of course, having to bribe girls back and such is not everyone's cup of tea, but you may get lucky with the oxranik, such as the one pictured below. He was from Moldova and always drunk and sleeping when I got back, thus no bribe. In his other moments of glory he would talk about Moldovan wine and try to hit on the girls from our exchange program. But I digress...

Sleeping like a disgusting alcoholic Moldovan baby...


1) You need registration. You should get registered within 5 working days of arrival by giving your migration card to the place that is registering you. Registration is valid for the length of your visa. If you leave, cross the boarder etc, you need to re-register.

2) If you study, you should be able to get registration for the whole duration of the study visa without leaving. 

3) If you are in a hotel, they will register you.

4) When you buy a work permit, you will get one year registration with it in most cases.

5) As another general rule, after your registration is up, you need to leave the country. You just need to effectively cross the boarder to get a new migration card. You can do this by taking a cheap train ride, for example, to Riga and coming straight back. It's a pain, but sometimes necessary.

6) If you rent an 
apartment, you'll need your landlord to register you. It only costs a couple hundred rubles and can be done at any post office. You fill out some forms, basic stuff, and you're done. 

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