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Author Topic: Trepidatiously Moscow Bound....  (Read 549 times)

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Online Jerash

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Trepidatiously Moscow Bound....
« on: November 08, 2016, 08:17:47 AM »
Please feel free to move this if another category might be more appropriate.

I am leaving to Moscow at the end of the year.  I've been sewing up all the loose ends here and closing up an era of my life. 

I am writing because, firstly, I want to share this news and the coming experiences.  And secondly, I know that some of you live or have lived in the FSU and I would appreciate your guidance.  Without a doubt I am excited about the future, but of course also apprehensive and uncertain.  Hence, the title of this thread.

I have been making my plans and getting things in order, but there are still a lot of questions I have.  To be quite honest, I think there are a lot of questions that I don't even know I should have at this point, a bit like Donald Rumsfeld's Known Unknowns, and Unknown Unknowns.  I realize I am jumping into the great unknown.  That's why I'm doing it, but I'd be a great fool if I didn't attempt to reach out to those of you who know a lot about what I can expect.  In so doing, I hope we can also create an up-to-date thread for others who are curious about taking the leap.  Feel free to repost relevant items here from other past threads that relate to this topic.

My background is in social policy, so my options are limited coming to Moscow.  Therefore, I am taking the route of English teaching.  I will be taking a certification course in Moscow through a reputable school and they are going to send me an invitation for a 3 month, single entry work visa.

I don't really know much more beyond that at this point.  I have heard that there are possibilities to work uncontracted through the organization and continue to have the visa support, which is a top priority for me.  I do know that I can sign a contract and have my papers in order this way, along with a number of other perks.  I suppose I am going to figure that all out once I'm on the ground.  I know that the pay is piss poor and I plan to develop a private clientele.  This is where the real money is, although working uncontracted through the school will likely pay more as well (but I suppose the perks would be off the table then).

I have taken Danchik's advice and I want to land with some back up money, so that I don't have to stress out about finances while I am trying to get established.

Right now, a big conundrum I have is what to do about accommodations.  The school will provide accommodations if I like.  They would be shared accommodations and it seems like the accommodation top up on salary if I go find my own is pretty poor.  That being said, I won't want to share accommodations long term (not with a teacher that is), and I'm considering striking out on my own from the get go in this regard.  This is probably my biggest headache right now.

Some other random things that are on my mind right now are:

1) Is it advisable to bring a certain amount of USD into Russia with me?  It would be under the limit, so no problems there.  It would be somewhere between 5,000-10,000USD.  I talked to a money changer, who happens to be Bulgarian and has experience in the region; he said the best thing is to exchange to USD while I am still here and then bring it in in cash and then open up a bank account in Moscow to place it in.  Is this wise?

2) Books (and e-commerce).  I am sure Moscow has good English-language bookstores these days.  That being said, we have good bookstores here too, but they don't often have what I'm looking for and Amazon has been my solution.  How is this going to change in Russia?  How will I get any book I want to read?  I don't know if it sounds trite or something, but I'm serious.  If I have to drop my standards in this regard (I am asking for English books in a Russian speaking country and that's all I mean by "dropping standards"; imagine a Russian speaker ordering books in an English speaking country), that's fine, but it'll help me to know in advance.

3) Gyms.  Moscow has a wide-array of gyms all over the city and I will need a membership.  How much should I expect to pay for a membership?  This is important as my salary is going to be extremely modest to begin, but I am not willing to put off physical well-being until I earn more.  I know there are some chains and I suppose some one offs too. Any recommendations are welcomed.

4) Unknowns.  What the hell is not even on my radar, but should be?  I am going and so things will get sorted out, but what am I completely missing that I should already know about right now?

I am not a complete novice, but I am coming in with rusty, rudimentary Russian (yes, I can read the alphabet), without any connections on the ground other than the school where I will get my certification.

Thanks in advance!

PS: If anyone has any ideas on how I can leave for Czech Republic at the end of November and still get my visa, I am all ears.  The research I have done indicates that I am going to have to apply for the visa in my country of nationality.  Thanks again!

Online Gipsy

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Re: Trepidatiously Moscow Bound....
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2016, 08:33:03 AM »
I would say that Danchik is the best person on this site to answer all of your questions.
Suggest you drop him a pm if he does not respond for a few days, he could be busy...
For books from amazon, you might wish to consider electronic versions where they are available, certainly saves on space and weight...
HTH

Online Danchik

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Re: Trepidatiously Moscow Bound....
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2016, 01:26:20 PM »
Please feel free to move this if another category might be more appropriate.

I am leaving to Moscow at the end of the year.  I've been sewing up all the loose ends here and closing up an era of my life. 

I am writing because, firstly, I want to share this news and the coming experiences.  And secondly, I know that some of you live or have lived in the FSU and I would appreciate your guidance.  Without a doubt I am excited about the future, but of course also apprehensive and uncertain.  Hence, the title of this thread.

I have been making my plans and getting things in order, but there are still a lot of questions I have.  To be quite honest, I think there are a lot of questions that I don't even know I should have at this point, a bit like Donald Rumsfeld's Known Unknowns, and Unknown Unknowns.  I realize I am jumping into the great unknown.  That's why I'm doing it, but I'd be a great fool if I didn't attempt to reach out to those of you who know a lot about what I can expect.  In so doing, I hope we can also create an up-to-date thread for others who are curious about taking the leap.  Feel free to repost relevant items here from other past threads that relate to this topic.

My background is in social policy, so my options are limited coming to Moscow.  Therefore, I am taking the route of English teaching.  I will be taking a certification course in Moscow through a reputable school and they are going to send me an invitation for a 3 month, single entry work visa.
So far, so good.

I don't really know much more beyond that at this point.  I have heard that there are possibilities to work uncontracted through the organization and continue to have the visa support, which is a top priority for me.  I do know that I can sign a contract and have my papers in order this way, along with a number of other perks.  I suppose I am going to figure that all out once I'm on the ground.  I know that the pay is piss poor and I plan to develop a private clientele.  This is where the real money is, although working uncontracted through the school will likely pay more as well (but I suppose the perks would be off the table then).
Is it Language Link? And yes, you can work independantly aside from your contracted duties if the organization allows.

As far as perks, I wouldn't count too much on any perks.

I have taken Danchik's advice and I want to land with some back up money, so that I don't have to stress out about finances while I am trying to get established.

Right now, a big conundrum I have is what to do about accommodations.  The school will provide accommodations if I like.  They would be shared accommodations and it seems like the accommodation top up on salary if I go find my own is pretty poor.  That being said, I won't want to share accommodations long term (not with a teacher that is), and I'm considering striking out on my own from the get go in this regard.  This is probably my biggest headache right now.
This is the best site to find an apartment to rent in Moscow. The second link I set up for you for a 2-rm flat between 35-60000 rubles, but you can take it from there if you want to downsize to a studio or 1-rm flat. Click the links for your desired specs (с фото means with photo, so push there, and не важно is doesn't matter or not important). You can figure the rest. Obviously, the closer to the center, the more expensive.

http://www.cian.ru

http://www.cian.ru/nd/search/?currency=2&deal_type=rent&engine_version=2&maxprice=60000&minprice=35000&offer_type=flat&region=1&room1=1&room2=1&type=4

You can scroll down and chose the areas that interest you.

Some other random things that are on my mind right now are:

1) Is it advisable to bring a certain amount of USD into Russia with me?  It would be under the limit, so no problems there.  It would be somewhere between 5,000-10,000USD.  I talked to a money changer, who happens to be Bulgarian and has experience in the region; he said the best thing is to exchange to USD while I am still here and then bring it in in cash and then open up a bank account in Moscow to place it in.  Is this wise?
I would set up an online bank account in the States and work from there. Not sure what will happen in the future, but as of now, FACTA is in full effect and opening a bank account in Russia is more trouble than it's worth.

I handle all my business online from the States, and pay for things here in rubles.

I would also wait to exchange money after you arrive with due respect to the Bulgarian guy.

If I were you, I would bring enough to live on until you start earning some rubles. I even stopped using a debit card many years ago as it cost me $12 in fees every time I used it and that was even taking just $50 out at any time. Haven't had a debit card in almost 12 years. Maybe you can set it up with a no fee debit card if it's more comfortable.


2) Books (and e-commerce).  I am sure Moscow has good English-language bookstores these days.  That being said, we have good bookstores here too, but they don't often have what I'm looking for and Amazon has been my solution.  How is this going to change in Russia?  How will I get any book I want to read?  I don't know if it sounds trite or something, but I'm serious.  If I have to drop my standards in this regard (I am asking for English books in a Russian speaking country and that's all I mean by "dropping standards"; imagine a Russian speaker ordering books in an English speaking country), that's fine, but it'll help me to know in advance.
Amazon delivers to Moscow. I have also used a company called Better World Books which delivers as well.

I also buy books when I travel back to the States, and ask my students whom travel to America to bring certain, easy to carry things as a favor; as they do with me when I'm there.

3) Gyms.  Moscow has a wide-array of gyms all over the city and I will need a membership.  How much should I expect to pay for a membership?  This is important as my salary is going to be extremely modest to begin, but I am not willing to put off physical well-being until I earn more.  I know there are some chains and I suppose some one offs too. Any recommendations are welcomed.
Gyms are all over the place depending on your needs and budget. I joined a gym 1 day after I moved into my first apartment. Finding a good gym will be the least of your troubles.

4) Unknowns.  What the hell is not even on my radar, but should be?  I am going and so things will get sorted out, but what am I completely missing that I should already know about right now?
Other than anything that might happen to you living in another city, not much. Moscow is a first class city and you can get and do what you want as you can in any other big city in the world.

If you can be a little more specific, maybe I can be of more help. One thing I would recommend is to find a trusted local to befriend. He/she will be worth their weight in gold.


I am not a complete novice, but I am coming in with rusty, rudimentary Russian (yes, I can read the alphabet), without any connections on the ground other than the school where I will get my certification.
So only half an idiot? :P

Seriiously, I was so excited to be here that every day was an adventure for me. My best advice is to stay positive and embrace the cultural differences. Remember, things that are easy in America can be much more difficult to deal with here (why a local friend is invaluable), but roll with it. Anything you need, or need to have done, can be handled in one way or another.

I would also suggest you start to look at things from a backward point of view. No, I don't mean dumb or old fashion; I mean in reverse. Many things here are better understood using a reverse approach in thinking.

PS: If anyone has any ideas on how I can leave for Czech Republic at the end of November and still get my visa, I am all ears.  The research I have done indicates that I am going to have to apply for the visa in my country of nationality.  Thanks again!
As long as you have an invitation you can get your visa in another country. Keep in mind, if you're applying for a work visa, the initial one has to be done in your home country.

Good luck man, you're in for a wild ride.
When it is dark enough, men see the stars.


Offline Manny

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Re: Trepidatiously Moscow Bound....
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2016, 06:14:15 PM »
Quote from: Dan
I would also wait to exchange money after you arrive.

I agree, and be sure to bring new or as new notes. Russian banks make a long and tedious performance of checking the condition of each one. Any damage or tears or writing will render them worth less or not exchanged.
Gordon Gekko: "The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA."

Online Jerash

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Re: Trepidatiously Moscow Bound....
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2016, 09:32:48 PM »

Is it Language Link? And yes, you can work independantly aside from your contracted duties if the organization allows.

As far as perks, I wouldn't count too much on any perks.

It's BKC and I've been accepted into their CELTA course beginning in mid-January.  I thought that I had read in a few places that an alternative to being contracted to the school was to be un-contracted but still receiving the necessary work visa support through them.  Perhaps I have misunderstood this?

"Perks" is probably too strong a word.  What I was referring to are some of the advertised benefits of being under contract, including partial reimbursement of the CELTA tuition fees and flight to Russia, payment of taxes, medical coverage, metro pass, etc.

This is the best site to find an apartment to rent in Moscow. The second link I set up for you for a 2-rm flat between 35-60000 rubles, but you can take it from there if you want to downsize to a studio or 1-rm flat. Click the links for your desired specs (с фото means with photo, so push there, and не важно is doesn't matter or not important). You can figure the rest. Obviously, the closer to the center, the more expensive.

http://www.cian.ru

http://www.cian.ru/nd/search/?currency=2&deal_type=rent&engine_version=2&maxprice=60000&minprice=35000&offer_type=flat&region=1&room1=1&room2=1&type=4

You can scroll down and chose the areas that interest you.

Thanks for this Danchik.  I'll have a look. 

I was a little bit miffed the other day to learn that the housing supplement they are offering is 12,000RU/mth if I secure my own accommodation.  Previously when researching schools over there, I had seen figures in the neighbourhood of 19,000RU/mth.

I would set up an online bank account in the States and work from there. Not sure what will happen in the future, but as of now, FACTA is in full effect and opening a bank account in Russia is more trouble than it's worth.

I'm not sure if I'm following you and I'm wondering if it has to do with confusion about my nationality?  From what I understand, FATCA applies to US Citizens, whereas I'm Canadian.  I'm coming from Canada and currently have Canadian Dollars.  What the money changer had recommended me was to NOT go to Russia with Canadian cash, but to change it to USD first, and then enter Russia with USD cash.

From what I gleaned off of their website, it looks like the school will open an account in my name in order to deposit my pay there.

My question was more directed at whether or not I should bring some cash USD over with me to Russia. Is it safe to do so (I'm assuming yes) and what should I do with it once I arrive?
 
I handle all my business online from the States, and pay for things here in rubles.

I would also wait to exchange money after you arrive with due respect to the Bulgarian guy.

If I were you, I would bring enough to live on until you start earning some rubles. I even stopped using a debit card many years ago as it cost me $12 in fees every time I used it and that was even taking just $50 out at any time. Haven't had a debit card in almost 12 years. Maybe you can set it up with a no fee debit card if it's more comfortable.

I think I'm missing something here - you only have a US account, but no debit card?  How would you access your money then?


Gyms are all over the place depending on your needs and budget. I joined a gym 1 day after I moved into my first apartment. Finding a good gym will be the least of your troubles.

This is good to know.  I read a blog post on Crazy Russians and an Englishman, where he provided an excellent and hilarious overview of fitness options in Moscow.  I would quote, but it is not letting me copy text.  Unfortunately, the information is from March 2013 so a little dated, specifically the price points.  In category 8, he listed the so-called "Mid-priced Gym" - essentially a clean place with all the standard cardio and weight machines, free weights, an assortment of group classes, MAYBE a pool and/or sauna, and attended by both men and women; in short the type of establishment that would appeal to the average gym goer.  Here in Canada, such a gym is going to run you about 40-50CAD/mth (~1,800-2,350RU).  Would that be about comparable to what I can expect in Moscow price wise?

4) Unknowns.  What the hell is not even on my radar, but should be?  I am going and so things will get sorted out, but what am I completely missing that I should already know about right now?


Other than anything that might happen to you living in another city, not much. Moscow is a first class city and you can get and do what you want as you can in any other big city in the world.

If you can be a little more specific, maybe I can be of more help. One thing I would recommend is to find a trusted local to befriend. He/she will be worth their weight in gold.

I'll post here as more specific questions arise.  Agree with you completely about finding a trusted local.

I am not a complete novice, but I am coming in with rusty, rudimentary Russian (yes, I can read the alphabet), without any connections on the ground other than the school where I will get my certification.


Quote
So only half an idiot? :P

Hopefully not a half-idiot,  :chuckle: although I'm more than that at the moment when it comes to my Russian-speaking abilities, which is what I was referring to.  I'm up for the challenge and I tend to succeed at whatever challenge I set for myself or am confronted with.  I know that some days are going to be harder than others, but I'm fully optimistic that this will be a very positive experience.  Otherwise, I wouldn't do it.

Quote
Seriiously, I was so excited to be here that every day was an adventure for me. My best advice is to stay positive and embrace the cultural differences. Remember, things that are easy in America can be much more difficult to deal with here (why a local friend is invaluable), but roll with it. Anything you need, or need to have done, can be handled in one way or another.

I would also suggest you start to look at things from a backward point of view. No, I don't mean dumb or old fashion; I mean in reverse. Many things here are better understood using a reverse approach in thinking.

Haha, I find this very intriguing.  Can you elaborate or provide an example of what you mean by "using a reverse approach in thinking."  I would like to understand this better. It sounds very refreshing.

Quote
As long as you have an invitation you can get your visa in another country. Keep in mind, if you're applying for a work visa, the initial one has to be done in your home country.

Thanks, I've been trying to figure the ins-and-outs of visas these past few days.  Good to know that it is the work visa that needs to be done from my own country.  I should be alright then.

Quote
Good luck man, you're in for a wild ride.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!  A wild ride is what I'm up for.  :)  The same old, same old has gotten, well...old.  tiphat

Online Jerash

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Re: Trepidatiously Moscow Bound....
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2016, 09:36:19 PM »
Quote from: Dan
I would also wait to exchange money after you arrive.

I agree, and be sure to bring new or as new notes. Russian banks make a long and tedious performance of checking the condition of each one. Any damage or tears or writing will render them worth less or not exchanged.

Thanks Manny, I'll pay special attention to this.  I once got tracked down in a Cuban town by a bank employee after they discovered that I had exchanged a Canadian polymer bank note that had received a little bit of scotch tape surgery!

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Re: Trepidatiously Moscow Bound....
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2016, 01:47:26 AM »
Not just tears and writing. Worn bills are sometimes not accepted.  So if the surface of the bill is fading away (or has many creases), they will also reject it.  As said earlier, try to get new or near new condition bills.

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Re: Trepidatiously Moscow Bound....
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2016, 09:28:24 AM »
Good luck!
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Re: Trepidatiously Moscow Bound....
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2016, 12:05:28 PM »
Here in the civilised world we have these things called credit cards and their handy cousin the debit card.

We use these things to access money from marvellous machines called Automated Teller Machines or (ATMs). In this part of the world they are often called 'bancomats' or bankavtomat'. We put our credit or debit card into the machine and it dispenses the local currency.

There's no need to be traveling with more cash than is needed for immediate use while en-route, but even aircraft run by civilised world operators take credit cards these days. On arrival at one's destination one simply looks for the nearest ATM and withdraws money.

I am sure that on my previous trips to North America I have seen primitive versions of both credit cards and ATMs and I know that North American credit cards are interchangeable with those found in civilisation.

Bear in mind that carrying cash has risks and costs. Carrying credit and debit cards is much less risky and, assuming one has the wit to find an appropriate card, cost is negligible. For example, I have cards that have no cost associated with their use for purchases worldwide and that offer a better rate than one is likely to be able to find in any retail level bureau de change. Withdrawing cash might have a cost but if done sensibly and not for tiny amounts the cost is negligible compared to the cost/risk of carrying cash and then exchanging it when at one's destination. (Traveler's tip - if you want cash without paying commissions and fees head to a casino and do the transaction there. Withdrawing cash for use in a casino is usually treated as a purchase by the casino and the bank and is thus much less expensive than using an ATM or bureau de change)

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Re: Trepidatiously Moscow Bound....
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2016, 01:54:39 PM »
Here I have a Dankort, i.e. Debit card, everywhere has a wee contactless machine on the counter or bar, even the mobile pølservogn (sausage wagons). Buy, touch, collect, eat!!
O pointy birds, o pointy pointy, Anoint my head, anointy-nointy.

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Re: Trepidatiously Moscow Bound....
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2016, 01:58:53 PM »
Also if u want cash here at the ATM you can have DKK, SEK, NOK, or Euro, as the Danish kronor is tied to the Euro, dunno about the others. All places take any of those currencies in my experience so far. Think u can get Finnish currency too but forgot what that is
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Re: Trepidatiously Moscow Bound....
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2016, 02:12:32 PM »
Ste, so the ATM actually stocks loads of different currencies?

They used to do that in Russia so that folks who depend for life upon dollars (prostitutes, taxi drivers etc) could survive.

Finnish currency is called the Euro.

"For what else is the life of man but a kind of play in which men in various costumes perform until the director motions them offstage?" -Erasmus

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Re: Trepidatiously Moscow Bound....
« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2016, 02:20:09 PM »
Ste, so the ATM actually stocks loads of different currencies?

They used to do that in Russia so that folks who depend for life upon dollars (prostitutes, taxi drivers etc) could survive.

Finnish currency is called the Euro.

They must do but then again, I only use them infrequently, fair to say the Scandinavians have been in a relationship pre EU!

I though FI might be Euro, couldn't be arsed checking, this Finnish guy at work bangs on about Finnish Marks, that made me doubt myself..

Random shop on the station...

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Re: Trepidatiously Moscow Bound....
« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2016, 02:24:52 PM »
That's not a typical shop though is it? That's in a tourist thoroughfare with lots of travelers with foreign paper in their pockets. I bet the rate on JPY and sterling is eye watering!

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Re: Trepidatiously Moscow Bound....
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2016, 02:29:22 PM »
That's not a typical shop though is it? That's in a tourist thoroughfare with lots of travelers with foreign paper in their pockets. I bet the rate on JPY and sterling is eye watering!

7-11, there are lots of them, I'll ask around.

BTW the 7-11 in the Central Station in the pic closes at 20:30....
O pointy birds, o pointy pointy, Anoint my head, anointy-nointy.