The Moscow expat Life Story

Kim Waddoup, publisher, Moscow expat Life

As a long-term expat in Moscow, I had often fostered the idea of a publication that would unite the entire expat community in Moscow. In the early days there were several publications in English but these gradually closed.
I remember the way that the project started quite well. I had previously talked with John Harrison about starting a new publishing project, but it wasn’t the right time then. A few years later, on the last day last day of a winter vacation in Thailand, I was determined to sit by the pool despite the rain! I had picked up a copy of Bangkok’s excellent expat magazine, aptly named, Big Chilli. A thick, professional full colour magazine that covered all aspects of the very diverse expat community in Bangkok.
On the flight back to Moscow (not an easy one +32C in Thailand and -18C in Moscow) an idea was starting to take shape. Two days later I heard of the demise of Passport Magazine and so an idea became reality. I teamed up with John and found that he was thinking along exactly the same lines. Together we created the concept of a professional, 96 page, full colour magazine that would reach all corners of our multi-cultural expat community. We would stay clear of politics and religion and concentrate on the theme of ‘Working and Living in Moscow.’ And so Moscow expat Life was born!

So with each of our issues we have striven to introduce our readers to many of the varied personalities living and working in Moscow, provided support to as many charitable events and organisations that we can and to provide practical information to help all our daily lives. It is easy to be negative about one’s adopted city and whilst, like many of you, I still have some niggling opinions, I do feel that it is a great honour to live in Moscow and experience first-hand how this great city is changing around us. Those of you that were he in the 1990’s will know what I am talking about It’s been quite a ride so far! Our editorial meetings are lively and highly creative with amazing ideas bouncing off the walls. There is a lot more to come.

In our short history, we have created the Moscow Good Food Club, which continues to be one of the leading culinary clubs in Moscow and also the Moscow Business Networking Club bringing together 100 top executives for face-to-face contact.

Now with our 17th issue and entering our 5th year, I guess that we are well established and here to stay! None of this would have been possible without the support of our many contributors whose articles and opinions adorn our pages. There is a vast background of experience within this group of talented people so please do contact them if you require advice or support.

We will continue to do what we do best and produce our comprehensive, quarterly issues and if you have any suggestions, these are always welcome. I have to say, thanks John for keeping us on a straight track.

I must also say thank you to my great team. I would also like to thank Colin Hastings, Publisher of the Big Chilli in Bangkok for his initial inspiration.

Thank you also to our Advertisers without whom none of this would have been possible. We appreciate your trust and hope that you continue to enjoy the results and benefits of advertising with us.

What the future holds for us we cannot know, but if we can, we will print it in Moscow expat Life!

John Harrison, editor, Moscow expat Life

It is difficult to believe that five years have gone by since Kim and I met and discussed the possibility of starting a magazine for expatriates. Kim produced lots of financial plans and predictions, most of which were forgotten about as we watched Russia head inexorably into a period of isolation. At one stage we said to each other that we started the magazine at exactly the wrong time. And yet the need for such a magazine was evident. Amazingly, and thanks to a very large degree to Kim, this project has survived, and not just survived. On the editorial front, which is ‘what I do,’ being let to actually do that more or less without conditions, apart from one called common sense, is a freedom I cherish greatly, and one that I have not always enjoyed in previous editing posts. This project, unlike many that I have been involved with, relies completely on advertising for money, but also on the goodwill and community spirit of the writers whose words grace these pages. They are not being paid, we have no editorial budget. This whole operation is run on goodwill and the need to communicate. If the magazine is interesting to read, it is because there are writers here who care enough about this community of people called expatriates to sacrifice their time and energy for the common good. I take my hat off to all of them, and of course I thank all of our advertisers who make it possible to print and distribute this product. THANK YOU everybody! Long may we all survive!

Simon Green

Many congratulations Moscow expat Life magazine on your 5th birthday. I myself am proud to have been associated with this upmarket journal and am fortunate to be able to write regularly for it. It has the reputation as being the Rolls Royce of magazines with its glossy appearance and quality writing. There’s something there for everyone as a wide spectrum of issues about Moscow life are covered, and I appreciate the fact that the magazine is prepared to ‘stick its neck out’ and be controversial when it is necessary to protect expatriates’ rights.

If I was to be hyper-critical, I would venture to say it appeals to the upmarket professionals in Moscow, and maybe if there were some more down to earth articles about everyday life here appealing to ‘the man in the street,’ that would appeal to a broader spectrum of reader. Also my clients, who love the magazine, have sometimes asked me why there aren’t more Russian writers. It’s a valid point as I see in the weekly Moscow Times there are some high quality restaurant reviews written in English by a couple of Russians, as well as some other articles.

All in all, I’m honoured to be associated with this success story, and here’s to the next 5 years!

Elena Kubantseva, PR Chair, International Women’s Club

We are pleased to know that the famous magazine Moscow expat Life, has completed its fifth year. I am writing this letter to you to congratulate you on this achievement. This level has been reached by your hard work, talent and determined effort! We would also like to congratulate your team.

It been said there are about 1 million foreigners in Moscow, however there are only a few mass media companies focused on the international community in this beautiful city. I must say it is not so easy to unite people and help them to integrate in their country of destination. You have done a great job! The International Women’s Club of Moscow is extremely proud of being your partner in this international community and we wish you good luck, fruitful work, success, professional development and the promotion of new ideas. We expect that our cooperation will help you to open new opportunities for more subscription.

Wendy Soucy, AWO President. Happy Birthday!

The American Women’s Organization would like to congratulate Moscow expat Life on 5 years of keeping expats informed about a vast array of activities, articles on different international groups, updates on work with Russian charities, as well as many other interesting topics that help all of us enjoy our experience here in Moscow to the full.
AWO truly appreciates the opportunity to publicize our activities and fundraisers, always presented so well in this well produced publication. Thank you for your support and wishing you many more successful years.

Nova Dudley-Gough, Chair, British Women’s Club

Moving to a new city is always a challenge, but moving to one where the language is so different can be particularly hard. While groups such as the British Women’s Club are a lifeline for newcomers, being able to find an English magazine that not only lists other groups and societies but opens your eyes to the rest of expat life in Moscow is fantastic. It gives its readers a sense of place and history as well as an ear to the ground for events and activities. Happy Birthday Moscow expat Life!

Frank Schauff, CEO of the Association of European Businesses

AEB congratulates Moscow expat Life magazine on its 5th anniversary! It is valuable to the whole foreign community to have its own publication that covers relevant topics. We wish a lot of future interesting issues, new projects and brilliant authors to the magazine!

Nigel Cox

I have known John Harrison, the editor of Moscow expat Life since the mid 1970’s when he was a committed student of the Russian language. Very soon he took himself off to the then Soviet Union. A very brave and adventurous thing to do at that time. Many years later when I too arrived in the former USSR, in the lovely city of Almaty in Kazakhstan, I was pleasantly surprised to learn he was still residing in Moscow. We re-established contact and he told me about the magazine and then offered me the chance to write an article about Kazakhstan. This I did with great pleasure and have submitted further articles since then. I feel very much that John and the magazine are doing a great service helping expats and Russians alike to get the most out of Moscow and helping to build strong friendly ties between cultures.

Richard Hume

Well Done MeL, for a great contribution to the expat community!
I like the historical stuff especially, that you publish in the magazine. Linked to some of the expat community it serves, MeL has a tendency to cater to the upper middle classes, in term of the events and issues it covers e.g. Balls, high-brow get-togethers, etc. Not the kind of bashes that this working class boy would be invited to! Don’t forget, not all MeL ex-pat readers are well-to-do.

Nonetheless, congratulations MeL for a first class job!

Luc Jones

Moscow expat Life burst onto the scene 5 years ago, although at times it feels like only yesterday. Initially it began as just an addition to other glossy publications serving the expatriate market but with the demise of many (AND with The Moscow Times moving to a weekly print run), now stands out as a cut above the rest in more ways than one. It performs an invaluable function both for foreigners living & working in Moscow but also to English-speaking Russians who wish to interact more with the expatriate community. I particularly like the mix of business, travel, individual personalities and cultural issues, combined with specific features on how to navigate your way through Russian bureaucracy. And yes it is possible; whilst maybe not particularly user-friendly, you can get things done here, usually for a fraction of the price of what it would cost you back home. It is also pleasant to read something in English which isn’t totally one-sided (i.e., such as the majority of the international media’s stance on Russia) and can provide insights even to those such as myself who arrived back in the early 1990s.

All in all, Moscow expat Life brilliantly combines the essence of what we all love about living in the big ‘kapusta’ that is Moscow – long may it continue. Here’s to the next 5 years!

Luke Conner

Entertaining, well-produced, novel, excellently edited and distributed but, most importantly, entirely relevant to a relatively large target group, Moscow expat Life has become a core part of the Moscow expat community. Its diverse content, ranging from light-hearted articles about expatriate social life, to the more serious topics facing our community of, for example, a business or legal nature, means that there is something in MEL for everybody. The shareholders, editorial and design team at Moscow expat Life should be congratulated for producing such a professional publication in such a challenging economic environment, and I for one should very much like to put my gratitude on record. Here’s to another five years of success!

Jason Whyte

Moscow expat Life Magazine is the to go to journal that gives you on the pulse, relevant and accurate news advice and recommendation on all things that are happening in Moscow, Russia and the CIS. Whether its Political, economic, cultural, cuisine or travel you can find it all in this complete emporium of knowledge about life in Moscow. Absolute essential reading for all expats new and seasoned, a rich balance, forthright forever challenging but produced by the people who have embedded experience of the territory and the culture.
Many happy returns on your 5th Birthday here’s to another 5 years of entertaining and informative articles.

David Maltby

I’d like to see MEL being around for another 5 years – maybe more. It strikes a great balance of information, interest and community articles. Very well written (if I do say so myself) by all contributors…
I think your headlines need an alternative angle though. Here are some examples from UK newspapers to illustrate what I mean;
Shot Off Woman’s Leg Helps Nicklaus to 66
Enraged Cow Injures Farmer with Axe
Two Soviet Ships Collide, One Dies
Two Sisters Reunited after 18 Years in Checkout Counter
Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
Red Tape Holds Up New Bridge
Deer Kill 17,000
Man Struck by Lightning Faces Battery Charge
New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
Chef Throws His Heart into Helping Feed Needy

Maria Ushakova

I absolutely love MEL. I feel I am privileged to be able to write for this magazine. I will always support everything the two men are doing, Kim and John. They are the guardians of true Friendly Expat Spirit in Moscow! The last ones of such kind!
The magazine is simply a joy to read. Proud to be part of this journey. Many thanks and congratulations on the 5th anniversary, we will survive and overcome any obstacle, because we are together in it! Thanks for bringing us together!

Maria’€™s photo by Ira Rokka