Postcard from… Moscow

Considering that I am the most notorious expat in Moscow, there’s probably no one better to convey the experience of living in Moscow than I. In short: it’s the kind of place you end up notorious in without doing a thing to merit it.

Postcard from... MoscowConsidering that I am the most notorious expat in Moscow, there’s probably no one better to convey the experience of living in Moscow than I. In short: it’s the kind of place you end up notorious in without doing a thing to merit it.

A senior associate in finance, I moved to Moscow on a two-year contract with an English law firm and with a little bit of trepidation. Russia remains mysterious to westerners and I really had no idea what to expect. When I first arrived, I was quite frightened by it all. The alphabet was different, the customs foreign, the reputation dodgy. But I quickly became quite at ease here and just as quickly fell in love with the place.

The Russians don’t make you feel at home right away, but after a little while, and once they get to know you, they make you feel like you were born here. One of the best feelings in the world is the first time you make a Russian laugh.

It’s as much a myth that the Muscovites are gruff as that New Yorkers are. We are both just pressed for time because there is so much to do in our hip and happening cities. Moscow reminds me a lot of New York City – but New York City as it existed in the 1970s and 1980s, when you had to have that little extra something to happily survive.

We still call NYC the city that never sleeps, but if you ask me, it’s Moscow.
Here, you could buy sneakers, groceries or Coco Chanel at 3am if you wanted to. As far as I can tell, nightclubs never close and I’ve often found myself still drinking champagne and dancing at 10am on a Sunday. So, if it’s a nightlife you are looking for, Moscow is definitely the place to be. And, if you’re a man, you will truly appreciate dancing the night away with Russian women, as their beauty is unsurpassed on this planet.

Working in Russia is a bit of a challenge. For example, there are allegedly secret laws from the USSR that are still in force (which you deal with by excluding them from your opinions!), but it’s so exciting that it is almost indescribable. Working with multi-talented Russian lawyers, it is great fun to put together workable transactions and successfully achieve your client’s goals. There is nothing cookie-cutter about a deal in Russia and, actually, that is a nice change from transactions in the west.

Something exciting happens every day in Moscow: whether at work, in your personal life or both. You need to be a bit of an adrenaline junkie to live here, but if you are, I promise you, in Russia, you’ll never come down.

And you might end up famous. If I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned that in Moscow everything’s possible.

Deidre Dare is a former associate at Allen & Overy’s Moscow office.