Housing construction in new residential districts is far ahead of social and cultural infrastructure development. As a result, many people are living in urban neighbourhoods without museums, theatres, restaurants or parks and with few schools and healthcare centres. This means residents have to travel to the city centre to access such facilities, which has negative implications for their everyday routines, social engagement and overall satisfaction with their living environment.
Russian small towns risk being depleted of young people, as 75% of school leavers are planning to migrate to Russia’s regional centres, particularly Moscow and St. Petersburg in search of a better life. Big cities offer better educational and career opportunities, and just 4% of school leavers intend to stay in their hometown.
Contrary to popular myth, Muscovites are not eager to move from suburban districts to the city centre. In fact, most people living in areas between the Moscow Ring Road and the Third Ring are quite attached to their residential neighbourhoods and tend to perceive the city's historic centre as a location for recreation and entertainment rather than work and everyday life.
In their own neighbourhoods, residents appreciate the well-developed infrastructure, including the availability of schools, healthcare facilities and kindergartens, and convenient transportation, Muscovites are also attracted by a relatively less expensive life away from the city centre, including the proximity of farmers' markets offering food at affordable prices.
The prospects of better employment and higher living standards are key, but they are not the only factors which attract young people. In making the decision to move to another city, university graduates usually consider at least three other factors: the city's cultural atmosphere, presence of friends and acquaintances, and overall comfort, including security and tolerance.
In contrast to some other capitals, such as Paris, downtown Moscow is relatively depopulated while the suburbs are overcrowded.Reducing this imbalance could make the Russian capital more comfortable for living. According to experts, Moscow needs to attract more residents to its centre, improve the infrastructure in residential districts, add nice-looking low-rise neighbourhoods to its monotonous high-rise suburbs, and develop creative clusters with a high concentration of workplaces in former industrial areas to diversify the traffic flow.