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Retirement for Expats in Russia

Author: Jason Zhou
Submitted: April 2014

Russia, although a beautiful country full of history and rich culture, is not a popular retirement destination. This may be due to the weather, with average winter temperatures between -50℃ and 5℃ it certainly isn’t what most people think of when they dream of retiring abroad. Although you may find warmer climates in the south of Russia.

When deciding where to retire some points to be considered are family and friends, peaceful and quiet environment, climate, local costs including house prices and daily expenses, local services such as access to health services and transportation. Retirement homes or villages may also be considered.

Russia does not have a retirement visa and resident permits are hard to obtain. If you would like to retire to Russia the earlier you start to plan the better. It can take between 6 months to a year to get a temporary resident visa, even if your spouse is a Russian citizen. It can then take years to obtain a permanent resident permit; this may vary depending on the officer dealing with your case or your individual circumstances.

You may choose to apply for a working visa and work for a sufficient period of time to obtain a permanent visa before retiring in Russia. Again this is very time consuming and may lead to an indefinite period of work. 

Russia’s major cities have high living costs and low living standards which is worth considering when planning your retirement. It has been known for expatriates to be charged higher prices on purchases so it is suggested to build a social network as soon as possible. This will make life a lot easier not only when shopping but with learning about the Russian lifestyle.

Health care is another major consideration. Unfortunately, Russia does not provide free social security services to expatriates unless they hold resident permits and meet certain requirements. Pensions are not accessible to expatriates unless you have paid contributions to a certain level. You should consider buying private insurance before moving to Russia.

Russia has strict foreign exchange control. If you are living on a foreign pension income, you need to make sure your pension payments can be transferred freely to your Russian bank account.

Note that an individual is considered a resident if they spend more than 183 days in Russia in a calendar year. Residents are liable to pay tax on their worldwide incomes such as capital gains, interests and royalties at a flat rate of 13%

Most people would like to keep the living standard they had before retirement. However, as stated in 2013 research by HSBC, the UK retirement lasts on average about 19 years and financial problems are likely to emerge after seven years. It is recommended to have a detailed financial plan for retirement as early as possible.



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