1703 marks the beginning of St. Petersburg proper, when Peter the Great regained dominance of Russia, and embarked on building his imperial city. St. Petersburg’s subsequent name transformations, from Petrograd to Leningrad and back round again to St. Petersburg, reflect a modern era fraught with massive political shifts. Today, St. Petersburg’s past still speaks as clearly as ever in the form of vast squares, quiet canals, and bold castles. While Piter’s five million residents enjoy a rich mosaic of offerings built on both Russian and European influences, the dividing line between the two is never quite clear. As an expatriate, you’ll have a front-row seat in one of the most complex and interesting cities on the Continent.The Neva river can be used as your compass to St. Petersburg. The center of the city rests on a series of islands carved out by the Neva, just as it splits into the Malaya and Bolshaya branches. The major boulevards, such as Nevsky or Kamennoostrovsky, cut across these canals on their way to the river. All the city’s directions seem to start from here.
Vasillyevsky is the largest naturally-formed island, with Petrogradsky, Dekabristov and Krestovsky rounding out the top four. Public parks cover a number of these islands, providing some green balance to the otherwise urban areas.
A network of bridges stitches the city together, across the river, and island-to-island. New residents quickly learn to appreciate just how dependent St. Petersburg is on bridges, particularly in the summer, when they are simultaneously raised at night for ship traffic.
Public transportation is widely available and runs frequently during the day. Once foreigners have become familiar with the large network of buses, trams, taxis, and metros, they find that most city destinations are within two or three transfers of where they are. Traffic is notoriously consistent, so knowing the system –particularly the metro– can end up saving quite a bit of time.
Learning the Russian language will go a long way in forming friendships. Although many young people learn English as a second language, day-to-day life can be a challenge without some investment in the basics. Even if you don’t have the time for classes, it’s wise to at least memorize the alphabet, as this alone can be immensely helpful in navigating the city.
Most expatriates choose to live downtown, not only to take advantage of the green space available on some of the larger islands, but also to minimize their commute to one of the international schools, many of which are found in the city center. Apartments are standard, with the extreme exception of a few stand-alone residences near the embassies.
School placement –a key concern for most any family—should be addressed as far in advance in possible. While the youngest children have a number of top-quality preschools to choose from, high school students looking for an international, secular education in St. Petersburg may find that their options are limited.
A varied choice of private health providers ensures that most expatriates relocating to the city have access to comprehensive health care. The majority of foreigners find, in fact, that the standard of care available at private clinics meets or surpasses their best expectations.
St. Petersburg is often considered the cultural capital of Russia, as it plays host to a vast number of museums, restaurants, theaters, and palaces. …But of course, St. Petersburg is so much more than it’s imperial past. This city of five million is reemerging as a modern, major European destination, but one with a Russian soul, and with all the complexities that that entails.
St. Petersburg can be an unforgettable experience for anyone considering relocation. Its combined European and Russian history leaves expats with a unique perspective of both.
The team of consultants here at Move One looks forward to the opportunity to introduce you to St. Petersburg and sharing with you all that this wonderful city has to offer.
Need any information on what to do, where to eat, and where to go out on your expat adventure in St. Petersbrug? In Your Pocket guides are great resources to get you started in your new home.
St. Petersburg’s official English-language portal! Here you’ll find a wide variety of information about the city, its life, the events happening here and the various goods and services available to you.
WayToRussia.Net is an information resource about Russia and travel services directory where the most up-to-date information about Russia is provided.
Whether it be relocations, immigration, moving or pet transportation, Move One’s InMotion blog is a savvy source of info for expats on the move.
Local and national news in English updated daily.
Safety and Securuity
On the whole Saint Petersburg is considered a safe city. However, like any major city in the world, it can experience the usual petty crime. Crimes against expatriates are not unheard of, so it is worth doubling up on common sense and paying close attention to your surroundings. F
For more information and advice about personal security, visit your respective country’s website:
Saint Petersburg isn’t known for its warm weather especially with about 120 days of snow a year, but it does experiences all 4 seasons. Being located near the Baltic Sea the air flow causes short hot summers and long cold winters. The warmest months are July and August with average temperatures about 22 °C. January and February are the coldest months with temperatures on average going as low as – 13°C. The average annual temperature is +5.4 °C (42 °F). The River Neva that runs through the city often freezes in winter months thawing out only in April.
Find a temperature chart for average weather conditions here.
Click here for a list of public holidays in Russia.