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Finding driver

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Finding a Driver

 

We are very grateful for this article to Barbara Spier and her book “Living in Moscow”

As already mentioned, most expatriates do not drive in Moscow. Instead, they make use of a company or private driver and/or use public transportation.

In some cases your employer will provide you with a company driver. Employers providing drivers to their expatriate employees normally only provide one driver per family, which may be a bit difficult if several family members need him at the same time (e.g., to take the working spouse to the office, the children to school, and the non-employed spouse to a meeting or to the grocery store). Other employers might provide two drivers, or they may provide a driver whenever one is needed. Yet others provide no drivers at all.

 

Check on the car and driver policy with your employer before you move here. This is especially important if you plan to live in one of Moscow’s residential compounds (such as Rosinka, Pokrovsky Hills, Chaika, or the Moscow Country Club) or in a house or dacha outside of Moscow (e.g., in Barvikha, Zhukovka, Peredelkino, etc.). You will have very limited or no direct access to public transportation, and no matter how beautiful and safe these compounds are, it is very difficult to get into town (and back) from these places without private transportation. Unless you want to drive yourself, you will need a car and driver for such elementary tasks as getting the kids to and from school (with the exception of Pokrovsky Hills, which is located right next to the Anglo-American School), doing the weekly grocery shopping, taking part in Moscow’s cultural life, attending women’s clubs meetings, etc. In case you will not be provided with driver by your employer, you have several options:

 

  • Hire a full-time driver with his own car
  • Hire a full-time driver who will be driving your car
  • Hire a part-time driver with his own car / your own car
  • Pay for a taxi whenever you need one

 

Obviously the first option, i.e., a full-time driver with his own car, is the most expensive one. Salaries will depend on the kind of car the driver has; whether he speaks English; his work experience and knowledge of Moscow and surroundings; and the number of days per week/hours per day you will need him. Depending on your requirements, a full-time driver with his own car can cost anywhere from Rubles10000 – 12000  per week (gas is not included in this and you will most likely have to pay your driver’s gas bills).


A full-time driver who will drive your car (a company car, for exampled), will cost from Eur 1000  per month. In this case you (or your company) will have to provide your driver with a Power of Attorney for the car. You must also inform your insurance company of the fact that another person besides you will be driving your car. If you live far from a metro station and/or need your driver early in the morning or late in the evening, you will most likely have to let him take your car home – otherwise he will have difficulty getting to/from your home. If you live in the center or near a metro station, the driver can use the metro/public transportation to get to and from your house. You may, however, have to reimburse him for his public transportation expenses.


Part-time drivers with their own car are more difficult to find. Most people are looking for full-time positions with an acceptable salary, and a part-time driver will find it very difficult to find other jobs to take on for those days/hours where you do not need him. Finding a part-time driver to drive your own car will be close to impossible.

English-speaking drivers exist, but they are highly sought after and will ask for more money. Many expatriates happily employ drivers who speak no English. They usually find a way to communicate.

An alternative is to make use of a taxi company whenever you need a car. You must, however, make sure that you call them ahead of time to order a car for a particular date and time. While taxi services are still relatively cheap by Western standards, the sums can pile up fast. You will have to pay anywhere from US$ 12.50 to US$ 20 per hour. When using a taxi company, do not expect English-speaking drivers.

To find a reliable driver, ask your employer, colleagues, and friends for recommendations. It is preferable to hire a driver who has worked for other expatriate families and has letters of recommendation from previous employers. Recommendations for available drivers are also regularly published in Fun Stuff News.

Note that some expatriate families have female drivers and are very happy with them. While female drivers can be difficult to find, some parents feel that they are more qualified to take care of children, particularly girls. Thanks to Tonda Zimmerman for this useful suggestion!

 

Shortlist two or three drivers and invite them for an interview. Make sure that their salary expectations are compatible with your budget. If you do not speak Russian and the potential drivers don’t speak English, ask a Russian-speaking colleague or friend to help you with the interview. Look at the driver’s credentials and recommendations from his previous employer(s). Ask him to tell you about his previous jobs. If possible, verify the information. Explain what you expect from the driver in terms of workload – do you just need him to drive the kids to and from school, or will you have a busy social schedule requiring lots of overtime and evening or weekend work? Also discuss vacation arrangements.

 

If the driver will be driving your car, tell him what his responsibilities will be. They may include getting gas, keeping the car clean, getting the car serviced when necessary, changing tires, and going through the ordeal of the yearly (for cars that are over five years old) or bi-annual (for cars that are less than five years old) technical inspection routine. If you want your driver to assist with other tasks, such as doing the grocery shopping, paying bills, or taking care of your pets when you travel, you should mention this during the interview.


If you are looking for a driver who will drive his own car, have a good look at the car. Make sure that the car has rear seat belts – many Russian cars do not have any. Also make sure that the seat belts are in good working order. Discuss who will pay for gas (most likely, this will be you).

Private drivers are either paid in US dollars, EURO or Russian Rubles. Some prefer to be paid at the end of each month, while others may prefer to be paid 50% of their salary twice a month, or 25% one a week. If you are happy with your driver, you should also pay him a cash bonus once or twice a year (particularly for New Year’s). Small gifts from trips abroad will also be much appreciated.

If you have a pet, especially a dog, make sure your driver is comfortable with your four-legged friend. He may occasionally have to feed and/or walk your dog, take it to the vet, etc. If the driver has his own car, ask him whether he is willing to transport your pet in his car. If a potential driver is afraid of or does not like pets, or has an allergy, he will not be the best choice for you.

Finally, you should go on a test drive with each potential driver.

Most expatriates are very happy with their drivers, and most drivers will go out of their way to keep their employers happy. Professional drivers are usually very reliable and punctual and hardly ever miss a day of work. Most are always ready to lend a hand and help with non-driving tasks, such as fixing things around the house or paying your bills. You may find that your driver quickly becomes a member of your extended family and may wonder how you ever lived without him.

 

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