Or, Part II of Moscow’s Cost of Living (go here for Part I – The Cost of Going Out).
Grocery prices in Moscow vary widely from one store to the next. In the area where I live there is only relatively large supermarket – Azbuka Vkusa (Alphabet of Taste), well-known for its sky-high prices and several incidents of selling expired produce. That’s why Azbuka stores are located almost exclusively in the Center. Needless to say, I do not shop there. Instead, on most weekends I head out to a much more reasonable Auchan – a French retailer that’s become popular in Russia over the last decade. There are 16 Auchan megastores in Moscow alone. There’s also a Pyatyorochka – a small “neighborhood” grocer, like a Gristedes in New York – next to my office, where I occasionally pop in for fresh kefir (fermented milk drink) before heading home.
Below is a selection of what I could call my family’s staple foods, acquired on last weekend’s shopping trip to Auchan (prices in rubles and USD, at $1=RR33; if you want to convert to Euros, it was at €1=RR45; roughly 2.2 lbs to a kilo, and so forth):Milk, 1 liter – RR44 / $1.35 Chicken legs, raw, price per kilo – RR161.35 / $4.88 Apple juice, Russian, 2 liters, – RR68.05 / $ Bud (beer), 0.5 liter (16 oz) can – RR46.35 / $1.40 Sparkling water, Russian, 1.5 liters – RR22.42 / $0.68 Gourmet liver pate, price per kilo – RR521.55 / $15.80 Eggs, a package of 10 – RR52.65 / $1.60 Cucumbers, price per kilo – RR83.06 / $2.52 Cherry tomatoes, prepackaged, price per quart – RR102.95 / $3.12 Bananas, price per kilo – RR37.40 / $1.13 Herring, marinated, 150-gram package – RR46.05 / $1.40 Cheese ‘Rossiyskiy’ (like a less buttery Havarti), price per kilo, 50% off – RR323.95 / $9.80 Baguette (fresh and crusty) – RR9.90 / $0.30 Clementines, prepackaged, price per kilo – RR84.95 / $2.57
Other Russian staples that were not on this tab:Kefir (a fermented milk drink that is a Russian staple), RR46 / $1.40 per liter Smoked sausage (like salami) – RR350-900 ($11-27) per kilo Smoked salmon, unsliced and prepackaged in 300 gram pieces – RR289.30 / $8.75 (or RR 964 / $30 per kilo) Vodka (because of course you want to know), starting at RR200 / $6 for a 0.5 liter bottle Imported wine (France, Spain, Italy) – starting at RR200 / $6 per 0.75 liter bottle Grains (especially popular for porridge) are pretty cheap, but I cannot think of a reference price at the moment.
These numbers are comparable to what I would find at a Nash (Ours) – another popular grocery chain, and re a little bit lower than at Pyatorochka. At Azbuka Vkusa most of these items would be priced 20-100% higher, with some, like the bread, costing up to three times as much. Ditto for small corner stores (creatively named Produkty, or Groceries), at least in the center, where they take advantage of limited shopping options.
In the summer Muscovites prefer to buy their fruit, vegetables, berries and herbs at rynki, or farmers’ markets. Most of the produce at a rynok is actually not local, but shipped from Russia’s southern regions or the Near Abroad, but it still tastes better than most store-bought options. Some highly seasonal goodies though – like forest strawberries, gooseberries, wild porcini mushrooms – are best bought from little grandmas at informal open-air stalls by the Metro.
Other assorted staying-in expenditures in Moscow:
Rent – most apartments are rented out furnished. A spacious studio in the Center goes for RR50,000 / $1500 a month, not including utilities (those vary like crazy based on the neighborhood and building set-up, but heat and water are almost always included); go toward the end of a metro line, and that price will drop down to RR30,000 / $900. A two-bedroom apartment (a ‘three-room’, in Russian parlance) in the Center rents out for about RR100,000 / $3,000. It is almost guaranteed to be in an older building, most likely pre-war.
Internet, because what are you going to do without it if you’re staying in? – RR3600 / $110 to buy a multi-user router, then RR 800 / $24 per month for high-speed internet. For a single user I recommend a wireless Yota service, which plugs into a USB port. Annual subscription, which is the cheapest option by far, costs RR10,000 / $300.
Anything I missed? Please let me know if there’s a particular Moscow expenditure you’re curious about.