Save money or break even teaching English in Moscow, Russia?

All the data and costs are valid as of 2017.

How much money can I save teaching English in Moscow, Russia?...

This is one of the top questions on everyone’s mind when are applying for international ESL jobs.

While everyone’s lifestyle and spending habits will differ, hopefully, I can give you an idea of how much money will be in your pocket at the end of every working month.

Base salaries for teaching English in Moscow, Russia can vary school by school. You will find some on the lower end (30,000 – 40,000 rubles per month), but keep in mind that these schools and businesses may not require a TEFL certificate. With a TEFL certificate, a college or university degree, and working experience, you will find better options and are able to achieve a higher salary. This can (will) play a huge factor in what kind of money you will save teaching English in Moscow, Russia.

For your benefit, we will focus on what kind of money you can save while teaching at Smile English:

Base salary for a new teacher at Smile English

70,000 rubles/month with accommodation in a shared flat (with other teachers)

90,000 rubles/month without accommodation

In my experience, it is convenient and less of a hassle if the school provides you with your accommodation. You may choose to take the higher salary and find accommodation on your own, although listings rarely drop below the 20,000 rubles you would be forfeiting. Moscow is generally an expensive city for rent and is increasingly expensive toward the city centre. The further out you move, the cheaper the rent you will find. 

The first month:

After arriving in Moscow, and moving into your new flat, you will likely need to purchase some things to outfit your kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, etc., to your liking. Keep in mind that you are living with other teachers and can split the cost of things that you will be sharing / using together.

Depending on where you are living, you should have access to various supermarkets and stores to purchase these “start-up” items as well as groceries. Some stores are more expensive than others, so don’t be afraid to shop around.

In my experience, larger markets and superstores like Auchan and Ikea are where prices are lower than regular stores. Keep your eyes open though – there are small, family operated stores, where you can buy things for a very reasonable price!

Other start-up costs:


Single ride- 50 rubles

60 rides – 1,570 rubles

With Troika Card

Single ride – 32 rubles

Unlimited 1 month – 2,550 rubles

NOTE – if you are using the metro frequently to see students around Moscow, Smile English will reimburse you for this expense.

Every teacher has a different schedule, and some may ride the metro more than others

When working full-time, 60 rides was enough to get me through each month, however, I have since switched to using a Troika Card and topping it up as I need to (this is cheaper). 


Winter coat, boots, and other accessories can put you out of some money. It is best to be prepared and bring these with you to Russia, as it can be much more expensive to buy over here. AND YES… IT DOES GET COLD IN RUSSIA!


Restaurants vary greatly, but many will be more expensive that what you would expect to pay back home. On the other hand, groceries will be slightly cheaper, so cooking at home is highly recommended. Weekly groceries can cost you anywhere between 1,000 – 2,000 rubles, depending on your diet and where you buy from. Street food such as shawarma and cheburek can be found throughout the city and near metro stations. Familiar fast food is plentiful but generally limited to McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut, and KFC.

Mobile phone

Depends on your plan and what you want to include. Plan to spend on average 600 rubles/month (MTC with unlimited data, 200 min talk, and text).


550 rubles/month, shared between 3 of us teachers. This can be paid for and topped up at terminals in the mall and around the city.

The first month – final considerations…

The first month of living and working in Moscow is different for everyone. I highly recommend that you come prepared, with things like winter boots, coat, personal items, etc., so that you do not have to spend all kinds of extra money when you are here in Moscow.

Each individual will have different needs and start-up costs when moving to Moscow.

Keeping in mind that the school reimburses your flight if you teach a full academic year (9 months), this is an expense that you will need to consider at first.

It depends on the individual… but you may not save very much, or possibly any money at all in your first working month in Moscow, Russia. It will make your transition much easier if you can budget for this in advance.

Once established and working regularly with Smile English, you have a great opportunity to save some money while enjoying yourself in and out of the city!

I am sure you will be looking to see some sights, museums, and various attractions throughout Moscow. Entrance to these attractions can vary, but you can expect to spend at least couple hundred rubles each. Here is a general idea of what to expect…

Activities and leisure

One movie ticket200 to 500 rubles (depending on the day and time you choose to go)

One way ticket to Saint Petersburg – Varies… Depends on the speed of trip, date, time, and how early in advance you book. I went to Saint Petersburg during the Victory Day holiday weekend in May. I booked tickets 3 weeks in advance and spent approximately 1000 rubles each way (good deal).

Nightlife – This is a fantastic way for you to spend half your salary in one night! Moscow has a great nightlife scene, with plenty bars, clubs, restaurants, etc. Some places can be expensive, with overpriced drinks. Choose carefully, don’t go out every night, and you will do fine!

Parks – Moscow is full of parks, and a very green city in the summer time. This is a great way to get out, explore, and enjoy the weather without having to spend money! Check out Gorky Park! 

So can I save money teaching English in Moscow, Russia?…

In my experience and that of my colleagues, it is very reasonable for a teacher at Smile English to save HALF OF THEIR MONTHLY SALARY – 35,000 RUBLES

With relative ease, this can be achieved while having a social life and enjoying your time in Moscow! With budgeting, you should be able to save a lot more!

After accommodation and basic life necessities, we have relatively few expenses while teaching here in Moscow. It is, however, important to consider your respective financial commitments, such as student loan repayment and other bills from your country of origin.

That being said - salary at Smile English is comfortable and provides you with an opportunity to make money while teaching English abroad!