Guest poster and adventuress Amanda Steele has been living and teaching in Moscow since November. Here are some savvy money tips she’s learned!
Moscow is expensive. Period. But, don’t let that little known fact get in your way. It has a lot to offer. With a little street sense, your roubles will go a long way!
Did you know McDonald’s was invented in Russia? Actually no, but that’s the running myth. Don’t ever over look a McDonald’s in Moscow because they are golden (pardon the pun). McDonald’s has free and clean washrooms. Sadly, more often than not, you pay your 20 roubles to use a washroom and you’re left dealing with a stinky hole in the ground. McDonald’s to the rescue! The key to using the free Wi-Fi without being harassed is to look like you’re eating. A friend of mine entered McDonald’s, collected some random trash off of tables, and then sat in the restaurant for an hour surfing the web. McDonald’s of Russia is nothing like the ones you find in North America. They are well-kept dining experiences.
2. Collect those Flyers!
I spent my first six months in Moscow turning my nose up at people trying to hand me flyers on the street. Finally, my roommate asked me why I wasn’t taking advantage of the great deals. Unlike the street flyers I found in North America or Britain, these flyers actually offered deals- no 10% off your second latte ridiculousness. Always grab a flyer from someone standing outside one of Moscow’s coffee chains (Шоколадница or Кофе Хауз) because they give away two-for-one coffees and sandwiches.
3. Count your Roubles!
Russia is not and I repeat not a plastic society! You will be expected to pay in cash for everything. If you’re paying by credit card then chances are you’re paying for some inflated foreigner benefits. When exchanging money, ensure that you receive small banknotes. You’re expected to pay in cash and to give exact change. If you try to buy a can of cola with a 1,000 rouble note you might be out of luck. It’s wiser to count out your money in coins then risk having to purchase extra items to make the cashier happy.
4. Watch what you eat!
When dining, keep a menu with you. More often than not, the menu will have photos to help you identify your meal. When you receive the bill, review the items on it. Not every restaurant is out to rip you off but it does happen. Some restaurants take advantage of foreigners who can’t read Russian and add extra hoping you won’t notice. Quickly scan your bill for any extra items and compare any unknowns to the menu.
5. Service with a Smile!
Tipping your waiter is still customary in Moscow but you don’t need to go all out. Handing over only 10% is normal and expected. You’re not going to get an overwhelming ‘thank-you’ if you leave 25% nor will you be accosted if you leave 10%. Don’t worry about it.
July features a series of posts on being smart with your money while travelling. Pop by previous posts:
- 5 details to sort out before you leave
- 5 tips if you are travelling to England
- A reliable way to save $$$ on accommodation, without sacrificing comfort
- Get your tax money back from foreign countries
- Some overlooked expenses of weekend getaways
Photo Credit: Neil1877