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© Sputnik / Vitalii Belousov

Russia: Moscow is still among world’s cheapest cities for luxury


Are you filthy rich but still looking for bang for your buck? Well then, Moscow might just be the place for you. A new study shows the Russian capital is one of the most affordable cities for the world’s wealthiest consumers.

Commissioned by Switzerland’s Julius Baer Bank, the study which focuses on luxury goods and high-end living placed Moscow as the sixth cheapest among 28 global locations surveyed. It compared consumer behavior and the price of goods and services for the well-heeled, such as a BMW 7 series, a Diorama lambskin bag, and a night in a 5-star hotel suite.

Russia’s luxury market is valued at around $5.4 billion and has been expanding year-on-year, thanks to the emergence of a post-Soviet moneyed elite. Not to mention an aspirant middle class also partial to the occasional indulgence. Visitors to the city can’t help but notice drivers sitting in luxury Mercedes cars waiting to pick up couples clad in expensive Tom Ford suits and Dolce & Gabbana dresses, while high-fashion department stores are full of the children of the 1990s nouveau riche, many of whom have recently come of age.

Of course, Russia is also one of the developed world’s most unequal societies, another consequence of the chaotic transition from state communism to capitalism. In 2018, Moscow’s Higher School of Economics and the state-owned VEB Bank disclosed that the wealthiest three percent of Russians owned 89 percent of all financial assets.

Julius Baer’s study revealed that it’s happy days for the well-off as expenses in Moscow are lower than average in almost all categories, with two being the cheapest of all – the price of a Steinway and Sons piano, and the cost of laser eye surgery. Bills in Moscow were also discovered to be relatively affordable for various cosmetic procedures, such as Botox. Only Istanbul was found to be cheaper.

Other “bargain” services for Muscovites include flying business class and fine dining, while the prices of whiskey and accommodation were discovered to be among the most competitive in Europe.

But, it’s not all good news for Moscow’s super-rich; Russia’s capital was determined to be one of the most expensive cities in the world for premium wine, jewelry, and ladies’ high-heels.

Top of the costly cities list was Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tokyo, with Johannesburg and Mumbai being the cheapest. Moscow was found to be the third most affordable in Europe – behind only Barcelona and Frankfurt.

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