The easiest way to save on accommodation during your visit in Russia is to rent an apartment or room directly from the owner without intermediaries and agents. The main advantage is that there is no commission involved. Also, having a kitchen at your disposal means you can save money on food by eating in instead of at cafes and restaurants. However, if you do decide to take this route, we recommend that you to pay careful attention to the following:
- Make sure that the apartment is leased by the real owner
Don’t trust suspiciously favorable ads – if the rent is half of what other apartments are going for, chances are pretty high that you’re dealing with a fraudster. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
The most common scheme at the moment is to lease the same apartment to several residents using counterfeit property documents (the state registration certificate which shows ownership of, or right to the apartment, and a false passport (the person isn’t an owner if he/she tries to close the deal with an invalid passport, claims his/her passport is lost, or tries to use someone else’s passport).
- Find out as much as you can about the owner of the apartment. Look for comments from previous tenants on the Internet or ask your Russian friends (if possible) to visit the apartment. Ask for as much information as you need – including photos – and confirm everything in advance.
Many property owners in Moscow and St. Petersburg (in order justify higher rates), embellish the ads a little, especially when it comes to location in relation to the city center and the existence of comfortable sleeping areas. Google search the address and map out the exact distance to the nearest subway station, stadiums and the city center yourself to avoid any unpleasant surprises later.
Request photos of all rooms, pay attention to the neighborhood, and ideally, if you have the opportunity, ask your Russian-speaking friends to visit the apartment and to look at it in person. That way you will know that the apartment matches the description and that there are no unpleasant surprises (like unpleasant smells or noisy neighbors).
You can download a mobile app with the map of the Moscow subway in English here: Yandex Metro LLC
- Pay special attention to all financial arrangements and record them in a bilingual contract.
Terms of payment may differ from case to case. Some owners demand the signing of a contract or rent agreement before arrival. Apartments and rooms in most cases should be paid at once. If you cancel your booking, you won’t be refunded. Now that the demand for apartments over the period June-July 2018 is very high, owners will want a guarantee that you will definitely arrive and won’t disappear at the last minute, having found a better offer.
The owner can also request a security deposit in case of breakages and damage to property. A full inventory of all furniture, fixtures, and appliances within the apartments including the cost should be in the contract. Exchange contact information and make sure that you agree on refund terms and amounts.
In defense of many owners, football fans have a terrible reputation. They are notorious for having loud, seemingly endless drug and alcohol fuelled parties. They have been known to smoke indoors and ruin relationships with neighbors for years to come. Therefore, your task is to convince the owner that you are good guys and that you will behave decently and politely. With you, there will be no problems at all (calls to police, scandals, and other trouble). If you are convincing enough, you might even be able to reduce the sum of the security deposit and to get help and support from the owners if it suddenly becomes necessary during your stay in Russia.
Also, make sure that utility payments (electricity and water) are already included in the price of the apartment and there are no other hidden costs.
- Discuss important issues with the owner in advance, including arrival time and transfer of keys.
There is Wi-Fi in all public places and buildings throughout Russia. In most cases, it is free. Also, there is a free open connection in the Moscow subway, practically all cafes, restaurants, and shops. Be sure that the owner has included Wi-Fi in the offer, that it has been paid to date, and that he/she leaves you the password.
Make sure to also confirm the following:
- is the apartment is smoking or non-smoking?
- do they allow other guests to stay overnight?
- is the apartment child-friendly?
- is there a bathtub/shower, balcony, sleeping linen, an air conditioner and any other facilities you may need?
Ask the owner about the nearest shops, sights, food delivery services (ordering in may be more economical than visiting restaurants), and other interesting places in this area.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions and to specify all information that seems important to you beforehand.
- Before going out for a walk, make a note of your new Russian address and take it with you. Write it both in English and Russian. It will help you to ask locals for help if you get lost or if your phone battery has died.
Download Google maps to your phone and pin your location. This will enable you to remember your Russian address so you can get home on foot or by taxi with ease – even after a noisy party and cheerful celebration of the victory of your favorite team 😉
We hope you enjoy the article! We’ll be happy to hear your feedback and see your comments!
Na zdorovie, vodka, babushka and welcome to Russia!
PS If you have russian friends ask them to check the reliability of your renter (apartment owner) with passport data and apartment address. It is possible to place an official request (only in Russian) with the Federal Registration Service to know the owners details and to download a list of invalid and stolen passports on the official web-portal of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to make a double-check:
https://rosreestr.ru/wps/portal/p/cc_present/EGRN_1 (250 rub (around 4 USD) for statement with owner’s surname)