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Getting money out of Russia as an expat – best options to get your money out

Getting money out of Russia as an expat – That will be the topic of today’s article.

Nothing written here should be considered as financial advice, nor a solicitation to invest. 

For any questions, or if you are looking to invest as an expat, you can contact me using this form, or via advice@adamfayed.com 

It is usually better to “kill two birds with one stone” and invest as an expat, rather than send money home to buy shares or a house.


Living in Russia as an expat will certainly be a unique experience. Western influences and traditional Russian values combine to create a special atmosphere.

Russia is a great power known for its national color. Many foreigners who have come from far and near abroad do not get tired of being surprised by the way of life of Russians, their traditions and mentality. What are the pros and cons of living in Russia?

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The Russian Federation is a country that covers a vast territory and is considered the most populated country in Europe. Russians predominate among the population, but Tatars, Ukrainians, Kazakhs, and Chechens also live in the country. Of course, the level and lifestyle in Moscow and St. Petersburg and, for example, in Saratov is much different.

The Russian Federation, spanning 9 different time zones, is the largest country in the world and covers an area almost twice the size of the United States. The approximate population is 142 million.

Russia has a rich history and cultural heritage, which is reflected in its museums, architecture and monuments. The untouched countryside also offers expats the opportunity to enjoy natural wonders such as Lake Baikal and beautiful mountains, deserts, rivers and forests.

Russians are very proud of their rich culture, and while living in Russia, you may be invited to discuss their greatest artists, classical musicians, and authors even in business situations, so brushing up on them beforehand can help you fit in.

Pros of living in Russia

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  • Job. The country was built on the collapse of the Soviet Union and for many years has been trying, using the legacy of the empire, to build its economy, political system, achieve development in the technological field, industry, and culture. Therefore, everyone will find something to do, there are no problems with working in big cities. Of course, things are a little worse in the provinces, because those who strive for prosperity and well-being try to move to big cities. There is always work in the markets, in a courier service, in a restaurant, in an office. That is why every year people come to Russia to work from almost all CIS countries – from Ukraine, Armenia, Moldova and Belarus.
  • Development. Many foreigners say that life in Russia is interesting because you constantly need to try yourself in different areas, while, for example, in the United States, specialists in one field are highly valued. So, there are lawyers specializing in family law, criminal law, administrative law, and so on. In Russia, being a lawyer means being a generalist, you can try yourself in all branches of law. If you are an ordinary manager today, then it is possible that tomorrow you will move to work in another industry and study it. There is no single scenario for success, you need to constantly try yourself in something and develop.
  • Weak business competition. In order to open a business in Russia, you need a lot of money, but still, due to the fact that there is no particular competition, you can build a good business.
  • Russia is a walking country. In every Russian city there is a place to take a walk – parks, squares, forests … To get from point A to point B, in any case, you have to walk a little, and this is good for your health. In addition, Russia is a country with a lot of attractions. For example, in the USA they go very little and spend most of their time in transport.
  • Access to the Internet. In every cafe and snack bar, in the park and square, even in transport, there is free Internet. This is not the case in many Western and European cities.
  • Free education and medicine. Whatever it was, but in Russia there are free kindergartens, where parents only pay for food, and free schools, you can use free libraries. The hospital is obliged to provide free medical care, however, without money, timely and high-quality treatment is not always possible to obtain.
  • Tasty food. In Russia, very tasty products, as they are mainly grown on farms. Unlike the same civilized countries that are dotted with supermarkets, Russians can go to the market and buy homemade milk, cottage cheese, cheese, and all this for little money.

Cons of living in Russia

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There is something to scold the country for, but in many respects this is due to bureaucratic arbitrariness and lawlessness. What are the disadvantages of life in Russia?

  • Poverty. The contrast remains between the very wealthy, who can afford millions of dollars to buy a house on Red Square, and the poor, whose income is barely enough to buy food. There is practically no middle class. Incomes in large cities are large, but in the provinces people literally have to survive, because most often everyone goes to work in the capital.
  • Crime. In Russian cities, a fairly high level of crime remains. Visiting tourists are especially unlucky – they can even snatch a bag from their hands at the station. Due to corruption in law enforcement agencies, criminal cases are often closed, which only worsens the security situation in Russian cities.
  • Corruption and shadow economy. The way of life of many citizens of Russia is such that they have the idea deep in their subconscious that everything can be solved by acquaintance or for money. This helps officials to increase their wealth and impoverish the people. A high percentage of corruption does not allow the country to develop economically.
  • Bad environmental situation. Due to the presence of a large number of industrial facilities, there are cities in Russia with very polluted air. These are Norilsk, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Cherepovets and Asbest. In addition, the situation is aggravated by illegal logging and disposal of radioactive waste.

Life in every country has its advantages and disadvantages, and Russia is no exception. This is a country very rich in natural resources, which can be proud of the development of industry, transport, medicine, education, business and economy. In big cities, you can find good jobs with high earnings, which will help improve the quality of life.

Here you can get a good education. However, do not forget about the provincial cities, where the standard of living for people is much lower. The gap between the rich and the poor is very large, which adversely affects the development of the country as a whole.

Nevertheless, it is worth noting that Russia is rapidly developing, houses, plants and factories are being built, cities are decorated with cultural monuments. Although not everything is perfect in it, but this is a place where you want to live, develop and work.

Russia as a destination for expats

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Russia is a country that has made significant economic progress, and this is reflected in the number of Western companies that are strengthening their presence in the region. Such events brought a large number of emigrants to the country, many of whom settled in the busy cities of Moscow or St. Petersburg.

Life in Russia can be quite challenging. The climate is harsh and many cities have high levels of pollution. There is also a relatively high crime rate and a number of security issues to consider. However, most of the expats who are based there can afford a high standard of living that allows them to live in gated communities with a good level of security. For these expats, the problems associated with Russian bureaucracy and inefficient customer service have a greater impact on their daily lives than the highly publicized security risks.

The facilities available to expats living in Russia’s major cities are very good, and there are many international schools and medical facilities.

How to get your money out of Russia?

Transferring money to friends, relatives in another city or business partners in another country is becoming easier. Banks are developing special applications, and new money transfer companies are opening offices around the world. What is more profitable bank transfer or Western Union?

Transferring money to and from Russia quickly and without problems is easy. But we are working to make it easier for you and offer different options for getting your money out of Russia that definitely can be useful for you.

Money transfers through banks

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Express transfers – You don’t need to open an account for this. Such transfers can only be made by natural persons. The procedure is simplified and designed to send money only within Vietnam.

SWIFT international transfers – Translated, the abbreviation SWIFT means “Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications” and its main purpose is to transfer information and make payments in an international format. This method can be used when sending any amount of money to any country in the world. The main thing is that the recipient bank is connected to the SWIFT system. Here are some pros:

  • Transfers will take from 1 to 3 banking days
  • To transfer funds, both the sender and recipient must have active bank accounts.
  • The sender must have an identity document with him, as well as the details of the recipient

In addition, the purpose of sending money must be indicated without fail. Such transfers are convenient if you urgently need to send money to another country – for example, to pay for tuition.

Transfers from card to card within one payment system (for example, VISA to VISA) – The advantage of this money transfer method is that it is available at any time of the day, even on weekends when banks are closed. For this transfer, you will need access to an ATM or Internet banking. The card can be either a Vietnamese or a foreign bank, it is important that this card belongs to a certain payment system (for example, VISA), and you know the card number, first and last name of the recipient.

In this case, the funds will be received within 3 hours if these are VISA cards of one bank and within a day if these are cards of different banks. But more often than not, the money arrives within minutes. Prices for this type of money transfer may vary, depending on the conditions of the bank.

Transfer by code – Individual bank card holders can transfer money through an ATM or an Internet banking portal. The recipient does not need a bank card; he simply uses the code that the sender tells him, enters it in the appropriate field in the ATM and can withdraw money.

After all these bank-related ways, below you can find some of the best working international money transfer companies that are convenient for sending money to and from Vietnam and will help you transfer money in a few minutes without additional information such as a SWIFT code, requisites, etc.

Other options to get your money out of Russia

Except for banks you can also use a more cost-effective way of getting your money out of somewhere, and these are money transferring companies.

Western Union

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Western Union is one of the oldest, largest and leading money transfer providers in the industry with over 550,000 locations in over 200 countries and territories. Unlike many providers, Western Union offers both domestic and international transfers; the ability to quickly send and receive cash abroad is his specialty.

Customers can also send money online through the Western Union website and mobile app to bank accounts, agent offices and mobile wallets.

But Western Union has a complex pricing structure, and the FAQ is missing instructions for some key customer situations, such as canceling a transfer before delivery.

In addition, the company has failed to protect consumers in the past. He agreed to pay $586 million in a settlement with the Department of Justice and other government agencies in 2017 for failing to prevent electronic fraud on his platform.

With Western Union, money can be received in more than 125 currencies and in several ways (sending and receiving options vary by country): in cash from an agent or through an ATM, to a bank account or to a mobile wallet.

Money is often available within minutes of being sent. You can pay by money transfer in cash, debit or credit card or from your bank account. For some countries there are also bill payment services.

Money transfer limits vary depending on which service you choose and your transfer history, as well as the location of the sender and recipient, payment and payout methods.

Western Union is currently embarking on a massive digital expansion to increase the number of countries that provide digital money transfer services, such as sending money to or from a bank account, mobile wallet, or through the Western Union app.

They are also expanding the number of countries in which you can use their mobile app. Digital opportunities are already widespread in the US, Canada, most of Europe, Australia and New Zealand, but they are rapidly expanding their digital reach in Latin America, Asia and the Middle East.

More recently, they have expanded their digital presence in several countries including Mexico, Brazil, Jamaica and Panama in Latin America and the Caribbean; Singapore and Malaysia in Asia; and Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman in the Middle East.

Western Union allows millions of people to send money to family members for basic living expenses, education, healthcare, or starting a business. Western Union also serves businesses through its Western Union Business Solutions division.


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MoneyGram is one of the largest and oldest money transfer companies in the world. This very well trained service has a huge number of offices scattered around the world and all sorts of presences in at least 200 different countries.

The company offers a wide range of services, such as sending and receiving cash, as well as the possibility of receiving money at points of sale.

Despite being used by a lot of people around the world, MoneyGram also seems to attract quite a few detractors and negative reviews.

However, anyone who wants fast money transfers, especially during the coronavirus, should find it worth looking into. Competitor products include WorldRemit, Azimo, Venmo, Western Union, PayPal, and Zelle.

The MoneyGram online service allows you to send and receive money in over 20 countries through the MoneyGram mobile app using a debit card, credit card, or bank account (US and Canada only).

In some countries, your money transfer may be credited to the recipient’s bank account, mobile wallet, or prepaid card; or even cash delivered directly to the recipient’s home!

MoneyGram’s extensive network of dealerships and its availability both online and offline make it a very convenient service to meet the needs of most people.

Its size and long track record also ensure that your money is safe when it is in MoneyGram’s hands.

However, the disadvantage of the MoneyGram service is that transferring cash abroad can be expensive, especially for some countries, since MoneyGram often charges higher fees and lower exchange rates than those offered by specialized online providers.

A quick guide to remember when making money transfers

Compare the values ​​with other services you are considering to make an informed decision on which service to use. Here are some of the rates for the following money transfer service providers:

Banks – 3% -7%

PayPal – 6% -8%

Other international money transfer companies – 0.5% -1.8% (depending on the amount and currency)

The 0.845% rate offers low fees compared to others and is very competitive. Please note, however, that this proportion will vary depending on a number of variables, so we recommend that you think carefully before making a transfer, and also use one of the companies listed above.

How to compare transfer companies when transferring money from Russia?

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Of course you want to consider costs. But other factors can influence your choice, let’s look at them:

  • Exchange rates. Almost all providers distort exchange rates to make a profit. Compare the rate you offer with the average market rate – the rate that banks and money transfer companies use when trading among themselves – and find the lowest margin between them.
  • Transfer fee. Find out if the provider charges a flat fee or a percentage of your transfer. If you are sending a large amount, ask if you qualify for a free transfer.
  • Payment and delivery options. Some transfer companies allow you to pay by credit card online, over the phone or through the app. Others offer cash and pickup locations. Also ask how your recipient can receive your funds: bank account, cash withdrawal, mobile wallet, etc.
  • Transmission speed. If you need to get it done quickly, companies like Western Union and MoneyGram make it easy to get cash quickly, often in minutes. If you have more time, you’ll get better rates and fees from an independent provider.
  • Transfer limits. Your best option may depend on how much you want to send. For large transfers, choose the best exchange rate, especially since providers encourage large transfers by offering low fees. For smaller amounts, take into account the commission you will pay on top of the exchange rate.
  • Flexible transfer options. Ask if you can schedule payments in advance or protect your transfer from market fluctuations with a limit order or forward contract.
  • Support. Most companies offer customer service via online chat, phone, in person, or email. Make sure help is available if you need it.

It is possible to get your money out of Russia, but it is getting more and more difficult. It is best to carefully consider each option and send smaller amounts gradually so as not to go beyond the rules. Also note that with the current situation which is happening in Russia, additional restrictions may apply.

Pained by financial indecision? Want to invest with Adam?

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Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 381.8 million answers views on Quora.com and a widely sold book on Amazon


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