12 Must-Know Moscow Local Habits [Drinking Is a Philosophy]

What is it like to live in the Russian capital? Sure, the answer would depend on an individual, yet some facts are a gospel truth, cornerstones that constitute Moscow local habits. In this article, there just some of them to give you a first-hand impression of what the city really is. Enjoy.


1. You can get virtually anything 24/7

That is quite a sound argument to fall in love in this city. Be it an urgent need to get a new haircut in the middle of the night or an at 6 a.m or you just have to a get bouquet of roses for your significant other at 6 a.m, Moscow got you covered. Anytime and anywhere you can have whatever you want; it is, indeed, a part of Moscow way of life that locals have really got used to.


2. A lot of immigrants

Moscow is culturally diverse and, to some extent, even a melting pot. Although the city has not yet become interculturally sensitive, it attracts thousands of immigrants and foreign students every year.


The majority of them come from Central Asia, Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan to find a job like a street cleaner or a builder. Quite often though, they end up opening a restaurant or, as strange as it may sound, a car-repair service.


Students from India, Africa, China and the countries of South America are very common at Russian universities. The Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN) is especially diverse. Once on its premises, you can feel like you traveled to a different country. Student’s have opened their shops, cafe’s and restaurants and it is indeed one of the best places to try an authentic cuisine or stock-up with exotic ingredients.


3. “Moscow is not rubber”

Locals say so to emphasize the city’s limited capacity. Officially, Moscow’s population is around 20 million people. However, on a daily basis, it can host for up to 40 million people who come to the city from other towns and villages. Many of them spend 2-3 hours every morning to get to the capital because except St. Petersburg and Moscow, job opportunities in other Russian cities are rather poor, so roughly a quarter of the population have to seek their fortune in the big cities.




4. Salary doesn’t catch up with prices

The prices on everything from food to gas increase steadily and in Moscow, they are around 20% higher than in other cities. For instance, 1 liter of gas cost around 46 roubles (0.75$), whereas just a month ago it was 35 roubles (0.25$). And Russia is the world’s one of the leading fuel exporters.


Foreign-produced goods which are USD dependable are the most sensitive to price fluctuations. Their cost had a 2 times increase since the currency exchange rate soared dramatically from 1$=35 roubles in 2014 to 1$=62 roubles in 2018. And it is still unstable. On the other side, for foreigners, it is more a blessing than a serious issue.

Meanwhile, Russian salaries have barely increased, fluctuating at 40-50 thousand roubles (750 – 800$) on average per month.


5. A Muscovite’s wardrobe has everything

A hyper-warm parka, a warm coat, a not so warm jacket, a windbreaker, a waterproof windbreaker. You have to buy all range of clothing because Moscow weather constantly surprises you. There is no typical winter, spring, summer or autumn. Even within one season, say in winter, you can experience disgusting -30C on one day and quite tolerable +3 the next one. Unfortunately, weather app on the phone doesn’t really help.


6. 6$ Gypsy cab is better than UBER

Taxi in Moscow can be expensive, especially at night when the tariffs soar up to 100%. However, for those who dare to hitchhike on Moscow streets, the price can be nothing to compare with official services, although the safety of a gypsy cab is rather questionable. Hitchhiking in Moscow is a double-edged sword, and girls, by no means, should do it.


With that said, many locals still prefer to raise their thumbs to catch a random car. After a night party, it is the only way to get home, because Moscow metro closes at 1 a.m – the time when all the parties just start.


7. It’s normal to commute for an hour or more to get to work each morning

Apparently, Muscovites like to inhale exhaust gases. Despite having a well-developed public transport, many still prefer to commute using their own cars, spending hours to get to work and the same amount of time to get back home. Traffic in Moscow is terrific and it is better to have your car trips scheduled on Sundays when the roads are relatively open and the parking is free. Yet, you probably will be unlucky, if you try to find a free spot in the city center. It is, indeed, quite a tough challenge.


8. Drinking with Russians is a philosophy


Moscow Local Habits

By Nikita Cherkesov / 2018


Drinking in Russia is not about the quantity, but about the quality. It  Traditionally, it is accompanied by long philosophical debates about the essence of life, the universe, world politics, Putin, Trump, women, literature or whatever topic Vodka will lead you to.


Drinking is just an icebreaker. In 1994 Police Academy: Mission to Moscow, Commandant Eric Lassard would quickly acculturate and practically become a member of a Moscow family, sitting at the table and simply chattering about bits and bobs of human essence (without knowing a word in Russian). In the end, it is all about the people you drink with and what you learn from them. To get hammered without beating around the bush, it is probably better to look for a different country.


TIP: Drinking conversations are likely to last hours (if not days), so if you are sure or at least guess you will drink with Russians, there is lifehack to prepare for a heavy toxic effect. Drink a shot of vegetable oil an hour before the party. It is disgusting, but that’s how Russian spies would make drunk their counterparts, staying completely sober.


9. You pay for your birthday

If you decide to celebrate your birthday in Moscow, prepare to pay for all the booze and food you and your friends will order. It gets expensive, but the number of gifts you receive are most likely to compensate for everything. Moreover, it is not uncommon among Russians to give money as a present.


10. Everything happens “from the cunt”

Russians do not really like to plan. There is always room for spontaneity and even though it may bear quite unpleasant consequences, they still stay pretty chilled, because whatever happens, happens “from the cunt”, as they say.


 11. Beauty is a cruel mistress

There is no surprise Russian women are so gorgeous. Every day they wake up before the sun rises to become the best version of themselves. You will have a bad luck if you try to find a flaw in their appearance ( and if you do find it, don’t you dare to even mention it). Their nails, velvety skin, luxuriant hair and every other nicety drive the male population mad.


They sacrifice a lot of time for the sake of their beauty, sometimes doing their makeup while driving. Wearing high-heels on a day-to-day basis is not uncommon either, but “beauty is a cruel mistress” – is what Russian girls are taught in the early childhood.


 12. There is never enough stamps on documents



During her stay in Moscow, an American journalist Julia Ioffe has notably observed that “without the right notarised slip of paper (in Moscow) “you’re a doodie.” ” That is to a very high extent true. The procedural guideline is very strict. Every piece of legal paper should be rubber-stamped sometimes by multiple government institutions, which are scattered all over the city. Bureaucratic procedures could take months to be done. Even getting a sick list from your doctor can be a problem, so it’s better not to be ill in Moscow or have any other problems unless you want to spend half your life waiting for the documents to be issued. 




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