The population of St. Petersburg, the second-largest city in Russia and a center of culture and history, is dropping as more citizens decide to leave for a variety of reasons. According to official figures, the city saw a 2.5% decline in population between 2021 and 2023, or about 100,000 fewer inhabitants. The following are some of the main causes of the migration out of St. Petersburg:
High Cost of Living
One of the priciest cities in Russia is St. Petersburg, with high prices for housing, utilities, food, and travel. In the city center, the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment is approximately 40,000 rubles ($540), which is more than the average monthly earnings of 37,000 rubles ($500). Many people struggle to pay for basic requirements, which forces them to make expenditure reductions or take on additional jobs.
Poor Quality of Life
The city is well-known for its harsh weather, smog, and congested roads. The climate is characterized by long winters with temperatures frequently below -10 C (14 F) and a constant layer of snow. High levels of pollution, dust, and pollutants from industry and cars are a threat to the quality of the air. The roads in St. Petersburg are usually congested, which causes accidents and traffic bottlenecks. The outdated and erratic buses, trams, and metro trains that make up the public transit network are insufficient.
Political and Social Unrest
Growing discontent with government actions and policies has led to political and social protests centering around St. Petersburg in recent years. The city has experienced several protests and demonstrations addressing problems such as corruption, electoral fraud, human rights violations, and the invasion of Crimea. Some of these protests have developed into violence, resulting in conflicts between protestors and the police, along with arrests, injuries, and deaths. Many locals want to go away from the chaos because they feel frightened, repressed, or alienated.
Where are St. Petersburg residents moving to?
Based on statistics from Google searches, the most popular locations for St. Petersburg locals thinking about moving are:
Moscow: Compared to St. Petersburg, Moscow, the capital and largest city of Russia, offers more options for employment, education, and entertainment. It has a modern, multicultural feel with a wide variety of nightlife, architecture, and cultures. In Russia, Moscow is the most sought-after location for internal migration, with an estimated 200,000 individuals from other areas visiting in 2023.
Helsinki: For St. Petersburg residents looking to relocate overseas, Helsinki, the capital and largest city of Finland, provides a close-by and practical choice. There is a direct train line that connects the two cities, which are only roughly 300 kilometers (186 miles) apart. Helsinki is renowned for its robust social assistance system, high level of living, safety, cleanliness, and welcoming, accepting environment. It occupies the 9th position in the 2023 Global Liveability Index as one of the most livable cities worldwide.
Berlin: Residents of St. Petersburg who want to live in a more advanced and creative environment often travel to Berlin, the capital and largest city of Germany. Berlin is distinguished for its rich history, culture, and art scene, as well as its dynamic and varied climate. It also acts as a center of innovation and entrepreneurship, with a strong startup ecosystem and encouraging community. Berlin is one of the most appealing cities for foreigners, coming in at number four on the 2023 Expat City Ranking.
Many residents are moving away from St. Petersburg in search of better opportunities elsewhere. People look for alternatives because of the city’s problems, which include excessive costs, poor quality of life, and social turmoil. However, the city has advantages that could draw in new citizens and tourists, such as its charm, beauty, and history. The future of the city depends on its capacity to overcome these obstacles and realize its full potential.
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