Finding a Rental Property in Russia

How to go about finding a house or apartment to rent in Russia...

Rentals are handled by real estate agencies or directly by landlords. Large employers are very likely to offer accommodation to foreign employees. In which case, before moving in, make sure it is a secure place to live and meets all requirements.

Russian speakers can use online listings sites, forums and newspaper classifieds to find accommodation without recourse to an agency. This may allow the negotiation of lower rates and shorter rental terms. It is not unusual to find a flat via word-of-mouth, asking friends and colleagues for help. Expat forums may be useful places to try for non-Russian-speakers.

Real Estate Agents

If an employer is not arranging or helping to find accommodation, it is recommended to use a real estate agent (rieltorskoe agentstvo, ??????????? ?????????; rieltor, ???????).

If an agent is involved, the minimum lease term is likely to be six months with a deposit payable in advance. The agent is also likely to ask for a fee to secure a flat, which is usually a small amount known as ‘caution money’. This is to make sure another viewer cannot choose the same apartment. An additional service charge is also payable and may be particularly high with private realtors.

Note: Tenants may wish to check the status of the real estate agency. Many big Russian cities operate special databases that list official agencies.

Online Information

For Russian speakers or those with a Russian-speaking friend or colleague willing to help with the language, the websites below are good places to search for rental accommodation in Moscow, St Petersburg and other Russian regions. Both Cian and Sdamsam are ideal for subletting property or finding a temporary tenant, as both portals allow the posting of adverts.

  • Gdeetotdom (in Russian)
  • Cian (in Russian)
  • Sdamsam (in Russian)
  • Kvartirant is a listings site for flats to rent in Moscow, either through agencies or directly from the landlord, and includes an interactive Moscow Metro map with all listings linked to the nearest metro station (in Russian)
  • Slando is one of Russia’s leading online message boards, and the section on property rental allows searching for a flat for rent based on the type of building, the living space, the kitchen area, the number of rooms and the floor. Available types to rent include hourly, daily, long-term rents and direct leases.
  • The Moscow Times Real Estate section does not have property listings for rent or sale, but publishes analyses of changes in the Russian property market, information on individual residential areas and property types: Click here

Factors to Consider when Choosing Accommodation

When looking for a new home, it is good practice to have an idea of:

  • the type of accommodation desired
  • the minimum and maximum rent available per month
  • the minimum facilities required
  • requirements in the local area

Before making the final choice, it is important to make an assessment of all requirements such as those listed below:

  • how long would it take to commute to work and what kind of transport is available
  • how congested is the area, or the approaches to it, at rush hour and are there any alternative routes in case of emergencies/traffic jams
  • what facilities are in the area for healthcare, leisure, sport and childcare, and how far from the house
  • what shopping facilities are available for food, household and other items
  • heating arrangements for water (see below)

Central Heating and Hot Water

Before renting, it is important to check the arrangements for central heating and hot water. If a house or flat has central heating, there is normally no boiler (boiler / ??????) or water heater (vodonagrevatel / ???????????????). Central heating is usually supplied by a provider of centrally heated water near the house. If this is the case, there will be cold and hot taps and a water mixer (smesitel / ?????????).

Many older houses (built before the 1990s) are equipped with central heating where the temperature cannot be controlled. In recent years however, it has been possible to change this to regulated heating. Extra heaters, if needed, can be bought easily for as little as R.1200.

Heating is usually turned off between April and October, or as soon as temperature has been above or below a certain mark for eight consecutive days.

Hot water is supplied at all times, except when any work is carried out and during planned checks and maintenance works in the months between May and August. During the last few years in Moscow, hot water has been turned off for up to 15 consecutive days. In this period Muscovites tend to boil water and mix it with cold water for washing.

Further Information