Tips for Russians Working Abroad

18 Jul 2017

The current expat exodus from Moscow is well-known, yet the subject of Russians leaving Russia has received little attention from the media. Our recent survey shows that over half would consider a move abroad for a better job.
Many multinationals in Russia are considering using the current downturn to send their prized local employees to other destinations when there is a shortage of work locally. However, before packing your suitcase, there are several points worth bearing in mind:
1. Life in Western Europe is expensive. You will give almost half of your salary up in income tax, and about half of what's left will go on rent. Public transport and utilities cost peanuts in Russia compared with what Westerners are used to paying, and now might be a good time to quit smoking!
2. In Russia, work is generally considered a place where you go, whereas work in Europe is something that you actually do. Arriving late is almost unheard of while chatting over cups of tea in the kitchen is uncommon and many corporations ban non work-related websites such as social networks.
3. Unless you are working on a Russia desk or on a CIS-focused project, your colleagues are likely to know little about Russia apart from what they have gained from the international media, and this is unlikely to be positive. They are even less likely to have ever visited Russia and may have little desire to do so — it's nothing personal. Russia doesn't feature highly on foreigners' bucket lists, at least for now.
4. Moscow may feel like a cosmopolitan city (and compared to most other Russian cities, it is) but feels almost homogenous if you move to Singapore, Paris, New York or Dubai, which are truly cosmopolitan. While it is rare for you to be judged on your origins, on the flip side don't expect much more than occasional, mild curiosity as to where you come from and how your life is back home.
5. Competition is fierce in more established markets. You might be in the top 10 experts in Russia but in any Western country you will be just one of thousands. It's hard enough to differentiate yourself if you have worked in a particular country for your entire career, yet is even tougher for those recently arrived.
6. Regardless of how good your English is, you are unlikely to receive any compliments on your linguistic skills; it would be expected to be fluent. In the same way as Russians expect Armenians, Uzbeks or Moldovans to speak Russian, the same is the case with anyone speaking English outside of the CIS region.
Please do not take any of this as a sign that you should stay put — quite the opposite! If you do take the plunge, make the most of it; have a great time and you'll come back richer (at least in terms of experience, if not in actual cash)!

Written in collaboration with Antal Russia/Luc Jones. For more information:


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