View Full Version : To be or not to be ?

08-03-2004, 03:29
Hello Guys!
I do need an advise from you, experienced expats !
Here is my story: I 'm a German, married Russian girl. We met in England (worked together) and 10 months later we got married in Russia. Couple of month later we went to U.S. to work for 1.5 year. Here comes the point. 1.5 year is over and time to make a decision what we actually gonna do. And here is a problem. She wants us to live in Moscow in spite of our earlier agreement to live in Germany once we've done with our contract in US. On one hand I don't mind on the other hand come questions: what it is like to live there ? how difficult to find a job ? (I'm a chef), would I be able to make friends without speaking Russian? and so on ...
Just tell me, guys , do you think it's worth going there or I just have to put my foot down and make her forget about the whole idea.


08-03-2004, 10:36
As a chef, if you are good, the money and perks can be great, some chefs here earn anything from $8,000 to $35,000 per month, it is rumored some earn more...

Choice between here and Germany, in my opinion, no contest, this place is de best....

Not speaking Russian isn't a major problem, you could still get a job, and on a social level, the expat communitiy is probably closer now than it has ever been...

08-03-2004, 12:32
i am a chef here in Russia (previously in Moscow).
While what MM says is true, it would be very unrealistic of you to think you could come to Moscow without an introduction and get that kind of money. Those salaries are few and far between and are getting scarce as more and more foriegn chefs come here, driving up competition.
I will send you a PM with some info and contacts.
Best of luck

08-03-2004, 12:36
You are very right Trebor, I didn't want to give the wrong impression, I suppose it is like any biz really, there are the lucky guys who get great pay, then the rest of us who have to work for normal dosh.

It is still a great place to live, and I think Trebor maybe be able to help you search for a good position

08-03-2004, 12:40
MM, Trebor are u guys serious?? $35 k a months?? Damn, i picked the wrong profession!!

Moscow is a great place but don't forget the air pollution

08-03-2004, 12:41
MM, "then the rest of us"? well, I think u r doing better that the rest of us

08-03-2004, 12:52
Originally posted by Jet Li
MM, "then the rest of us"? well, I think u r doing better that the rest of us

I wouldn't know about that, today is a holiday, I have a broken toe, I got a newborn child and I am working.....hmmm, money isn't always a key issue :)

But I am going on Hols in May somewhere hot with me girl and me boy :)

Re the salary thing for chefs, i will qualify that a bit...

Some of the places I have dined in are very posh, not really my style but clients take me, and on chatting to the owners they often say one of their biggest investments (besides property) is the chef, they come across as almost proud to pay sums in excess of $20,000 per month, wierd heh? I think Trebor is far better qualified to talk about this industry than I.

Going back to the original message, I think a regular salary for a chef in a half decent place could be between $2,000 - $6,000 per month.

08-03-2004, 14:03
I disagree; I think he should settle in Germany.
Apart from the usual and ever increasing hassle with registration etc, money IS everything in this town and if you haven't got it you are no-one. Fact. I'm talking about the male species and particularly those who have families really but even as a woman here it's very tough sometimes and I'm still far from being out of the woods here. It's a lonely, aggressive and polluted city; they're not exactly delirious about foreigners and this guy's wife should let him take her where the standard of living for them would be best.

08-03-2004, 14:10
Wow, Stef, I am sorry you feel this way, can only speak from my side :(

I personally don't consider a person who is on a 'low' income here to be happy or unhappy because of their income, more to the way they enjoy themselves, make the most of things I suppose.

A great example of this is the boozers, and more recently the Ghost/DPG mob who go out often together and seem to have a good time, this creates friendships that previoulsy would not have happend, my life is better here and part of that is due to the friends I have found from this site....

I hope your situation gets better Stef and you become a little happier here

08-03-2004, 14:37
Stef, it is the 8th of march!! what is this mood?? Just relax, fly away from ur troubles, life can be hard everywhere. Of course, there are bad sides to the life in Moscow, but don't let it cloud ur day!!!! U do love russian language and russians, right?? U can speak it every day, besides u always have a chance to leave, many people don't have it

Moscowmail, boozers can make u an alchogolic, it will surely make me one

08-03-2004, 14:45
There is one thing to watch out for if you are looking for work as a chef or anything else connected to the restaurant and club sector - and that is SLEAZEBALLS! Said species seems to proliferate in the club and restaurant sector here - places open up and close very quickly (bad plans, the spoiled brat kid of some official who is behind the whole thing gets bored, clubs and restaurants set up as money laundries, you name it), and the bosses go on to the next (intended?) failure, whereas the chefs, managers etc get screwed over.

That is not to say that there are not some fine players in the industry - it is just that a lot of expat employees have fallen victim to the sleazy operators, and frankly some of the better operators prefer Russian chefs at this point. Unfortunately, save for giving you the names and types of restaurants operated by some reputable chains here, and passing on the names of one or two known sleazeballs via PM, I can't help you too much.

08-03-2004, 15:18
BB, those sleaze balls are in fact the capitalists as they were described by the soviet propaganda :)

08-03-2004, 20:02
I have to disagree with ReturnOfBroadmoor

The restaurant business in Moscow is far more sophisticated than it once was a few years back.

restaurants DON"T generaly open and close here over night. Thats one of the absurdities about it.

Its far more common for it to happen in London than it is here. Why? Because people get involved in the business there for different reasons and without doing their sums and go bust in a few months?

Sounds like Moscow, i hear you say!
But no, not in my experience.

Here, especialy at the middle to top end (and this sector is the only one i can only realy comment on and be seriously be called the restaurant business) the reasons for starting a restaurant, on the whole, are different.

Owners are looking for respectability, their tired of people thinking of them as gangsters, thats passe now and also to massage their over developed egos.

What could be more rewarding than entertaining friends, family, mistresses and business aquaintances in your own place!
Often they have aquired the money to invest in a restaurant dubiously or quite often have earnt large sums in industries that are definately "unsexy" Like the guy i know who is part owner in a very well know Moscow restaurant who owns a cleaning business.
Now, instead of telling people he sells toilet brushes he can boast partnership in one of the most successful establishments in town.

And to return to my first point. The crazy thing is they don't care if they loose money. The venture is bankrolled from other income.
i do agree however with ReturnOfBroadmoor other point about money laundering and the doddgy nature of the club world here in Moscow

Money laundering is a big problem here but not one that suffers from the "here today gone tomorrow" syndrome for obvious reasons


08-03-2004, 20:44
trebor, can u communicate with those guys easily? I have some not very good experiences with those people, they can be well-dressed but still essentially be the red-necks

08-03-2004, 20:50
Jet Li
i wasn't trying to portray these people as easy to communicate with but your unlikely to be staring down the barrell of a gun, as before.
That's gotta be progress!

08-03-2004, 21:18
Well, yes, but some of them are still grotesc looking. I am saying it b/c my own school mate is one of those red-necks. Actually, he has no neck, drives Lincoln Navigator, shows his money around. The funny thing is that i know he is not making more than $200k per year, so it is not like he is an oligarch or smth.

08-03-2004, 21:31
Jet Li
i used to work for someone like that. He had cauliflower ears too!
But seriously, if your old school chum is not making 200k a year its unlikely he's a serious player in the Moscow restaurant scene.

08-03-2004, 21:58
what do u think about the info that a decent restaurant breaks even on its investment in one year in Moscow (!)??

Ned Kelly
08-03-2004, 23:15

Moscow is an intense place to live and I think it's a place you need to want to be in - if you're here under sufferance it could drive you insane.

Everything Stefania says is true, and Russia seems to be getting nastier and more aggresssive (in my experience, can't speak for anyone else).

Then again, it's an incredibly exciting city and Russia an often bizarre place to be, in that itis sort of European and yet also far removed from the Western world. You come across people and mentalities/characters you won't find anywhere else (and sometimes you wish you hadn't :p )

I suggest you visit and take a look for a couple of weeks.

As to money/not, you do need a lot of money to live here, it is stupidly expensive. Those who live without it, as I did in the early days, did so because they were here for the experience. But if you're living here normally day-to-day you want to be pulling in the bucks.

08-03-2004, 23:16
Jet Li
It's possible, but more often, unlikely.

Firstly, why is it possible?
Because costs are lower when compared to European and American models.
This includes start up costs and daily expenses when compared to revenue (everyone has seen the prices charged by top end restaurants here)
Salaries are lower.
Produce costs less. Even when expensive imported products are considered ie: US steak, sun dried tomatoes etc. These are easily off set by the lower price of local products.
Expensive alterations to accomodate health, hygiene and safety regulations can easily be averted at the start up stage with a "bung" Almost impossible in the west (well, UK anyway)
Building work is often completed by Ukrainian, Azeri workers for a lot less than Russians would charge for the same work and quicker too.
High selling prices can be acheived together with the incredibly lucky situation that Moscow restauranteurs find themselves in, where by the customer has little or no concept of value for money, in fact, if it doesn't cost enough, it can't be good enough!
No tax is paid on profits.
These are but a few.

Why is it unlikely?
Because most Russian restaurant owners do not exploit these advantages.
No business plan.
Owners still spend far too much on decor and not enough on staff training and sales & marketing.
Restaurants are still over staffed. i was involved in the opening here of a venue with 120 covers and the proprietor proudly boasted they had over 100 staff!!!!
Sensible, balanced menus. Food costs are not properly analised. Russians are the worlds best counters, all businessess here have armies of bookeepers but most of the figures are either irrelevant, misunderstood or just gather dust.
Expensive and very perishable goods (imported seafood a classic example) are not handled and stored properly. The result is wastage.
Bad management.
Over exuberance by the owners. Huge food and beverage bills put down to entertainment.

There's a quick list for you to think about Jet Li


09-03-2004, 00:15
trebor, thanks for the info

i am not in any way in the restaurant business, but was just playing with the idea, making some inquiries. For example, in Moscow there was four indonesian restaurants that opened up and closed down in the last six years. Some observers, point to a certain conservatizm of the Russian restaurant-goers.

Another thing, u know the restaurant "Chernaya koshka" it is in one of those holdings that has several restaurants they claim to be "up town". The management of the company has entertained an idea of opening up the Russian restaurant in Amsterdam. They figured that the real estate in the restaurants' streets are cheaper in Amsterdam than in Moscow. After talking to them, i realized that they do not really take into account the actual cost of labor and staff, and fiscal burden. I presume that it is b/c they are used to have plenty and cheap in Moscow, plus no taxes are paid, smth that it not easy to do in the West. Admitedly, they import all major food stuff from Holland, not just gourme stuff, but even some of the vegetables (!)

Do u think that there might be a situation when the market is overheated??? I can see that some of the restaurant owners are simply spoiled by how easy it is to make money in Moscow.

09-03-2004, 06:50
In the USA some chefs becomes a celebrities… check out http://www.newyorkmetro.com/restaurants/index.htm

DJ Biscuit
09-03-2004, 12:13
Trebor is right on many points. I know several owners of clubs and restaurants and having a haulage company is less glamourous than a restaurant.

Money laundering is all over HORECA business in Moscow, fact.

MM, I know the salaries of expat chefs in several restaurants, most top end and $35000 a month is ridiculous, if you actaully know this to be a fact then I am fascinated to know who is paying such a sum.. Maybe you are just fantasizing and trying to look knowledgeable again?

But we are all off thread, should this guy come here to live or not? Are there opportunities for German chefs here or not?

What rate of pay would you expect and what is your resume like?

Warning about HORECA here, if you come and work, not exactly legally, there is a strong possibility that you could be left jobless, they could sack you, change the concept, go broke etc and you wont have a leg to stand on, but risk is risk in Germany too I suppose.

09-03-2004, 16:22
DJ Biscuit
i would be interested to know why you mentioned haulage business
reply PM if you like

DJ Biscuit
09-03-2004, 17:06
Check your PM.

09-03-2004, 17:39
I think if it is a reputable business that peole recommend, a good german chef can make a good living in Moscow

10-03-2004, 00:29
Thank you guys !

I found a lot of useful information in your replies. Looks like majority of you are happy there. It is quite amazing so many girls trying to get married and go live in Us, Germany, England Anywhere !!! but Russia. I was the lucky one and married the one who wants to live only in Russia. Firstly I was a bit at a loss but now I think that it is not so bad might be even good. Experience is always good. And I see I'm not alone out there. There are some good news: I just received a job offer and have my telephone interview scheduled on Friday. I keep my fingers crossed.
The thing is I'm not worried about money too much. We don't need much. I just want to have a normal life, nothing beyond. Yes I know what you saying: It depends what to consider “normal”.
So thanks again and I’ll keep you posted

DJ Biscuit
10-03-2004, 00:58
If you have a chance of a job, believe you and your partner will be happy here and look on it as experience, then my advice is go for it, why not.

Good luck with the interview.

10-03-2004, 05:35

"Wo ein Wille ist, da ist auch ein Weg," so come to Moscow and give life here a try. Just remember that once in Moscow, trying to get your wife to move somewhere else will be doubly hard. Und also, "Deutsche Sprache, schwere Sprache," is doubly true for the Russian language, which is harder than German. However, your stay here for however long will be greatly enhanced by learning as much Russian as you can. A foreigner can travel all through Germany and find lots of people who speak English, for example, but what you find here are loads of people who speak Russian and only Russian.

Ned Kelly
10-03-2004, 09:51
good luck. hope everything works out great for you. moscow really is a great experience.