Common misconceptions and clichés about life in Russia

Hello everyone,

Old clichés die hard, as the saying goes... and living in Russia can generate lots of misconceptions in the eyes of the people.

What are the most common misconceptions about the expat lifestyle in Russia?

What are the most common clichés about life in Russia in general?

Did you have a biased view of the country before moving there? What is you view now?

Thanks in advance,


I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that Russia is unsafe.  But surprisingly, in major cities, there are no bad neighborhoods (!).  I wrote in more detail about that phenomenon here:

Russia is a safe place if you want to make it safe.
I have visited a couple of times and I found the areas I visited full of nice people.
Actually, there is no really perfectly safe place on this planet.


I've spent many years in Russia and traveled to more than 20 cities across it. In general, I've always felt safe. Particularly where I live (Moscow) I can go anywhere at any hour and not really worry.

That said, it isn't 100% safe. Certain ethnic groups need to be careful. Also, I have seen people beaten, stabbed, and shot. I have seen people snorting things and sticking needles in their arms. I've had friends that have been mugged. I've had friends that have been badly injured due to random events. But all of this can be true pretty much everywhere. In general, I agree that Russia is safe.

Another misconception is that there are bears on the streets. The "sightings" are usually just babushki in fur coats!

There's the idea of Russia being a bit of a third-world country. When I moved back here after twenty years in the States, I was pleasantly surprised to find super-fast wifi on the underground trains, and half a dozen fast, safe and cheap taxi apps before Uber became a thing. Those weren't conveniences that I had in NYC, nor do I find them in cities like Paris or London, where I travel regularly. Restaurants and bars stay open till the morning, police have given me plenty of polite, helpful directions and people will apologize (and put out a cig) when you ask them to not smoke at a bus stop.

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