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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia: The Land of Opportunity

Jessica Perera came to Moscow four years ago to work as an au pair. Today she is a tax consultant for Ernst & Young.


Marty Zug was sitting in university classes a year ago. He is now planning to orchestrate the opening of one of Moscow's first Western dry cleaners.


And Cami McCormick, once a radio broadcaster in New Orleans, has made herself into a household name in Moscow.


These three Americans have little in common, other than their peculiar choice to migrate to Moscow to stake out fame and fortune.


As America's recession drags on, the country's young, upwardly-mobile professionals are learning that hard work, perseverance and a solid education no longer guarantee success -- at least not at home. But with all the changes taking place in Russia, the former communist bastion is now a capitalist's dream. For many young Americans, Russia has become the land of opportunity.


"It's like the 1849 gold rush", said Jeffrey Zeiger, 26, owner of Tren-Mos Restaurant, Tren-Mos Bistro and Tren-Mos Bar. "But it's not go West young man or woman, but go East".


Consider McCormick, the driving force behind Moscow's first English language news program on Radio Maximum. McCormick's voice was a known commodity in New Orleans, where she worked at one of the city's most popular top-40 stations. After last year's attempted coup, however, she decided to quit her job, sell her possessions and move to Moscow to become a foreign correspondent.


She spent a few months doing radio spots for The Associated Press and then got the chance to start a radio station from scratch -- something that would have been impossible back home. Within the last eight months, McCormick has become a local celebrity.


"Russians recognize my voice everywhere I go. It makes me feel good", said McCormick, who once made four times her current salary.


Michael Oster, 28, also left a well-paying job for the challenge of Moscow. He volunteered briefly as a consultant, until his bank account dropped to $500 and a search for a new apartment shortly after the attempted coup started him thinking about the real estate market.


"I realized then that this was a new market, and people were less afraid to rent out their apartments", he said.


Within a month of dealing in the real estate market, he had cleared a profit of $1, 000.


Today, Oster & Co. finds commercial space and repairs apartments. Oster said he has 12 employees and earns a six-figure salary.


"It would have been impossible to begin the same type of company without start-up capital", he said of the United States.


Before settling in Moscow nine months ago, Perera, 26, worked for a non-profit Pentagon watchdog agency and as a tour guide in the Soviet Far East. After working briefly as a representative for a trading firm, she was hired by the Moscow office of Ernst & Young.


"As a local hire they don't need to put together an expatriate package, which costs lots of money", she said.


Zug, 22, was hired as a business consultant for Global Development Services within weeks after arriving in Moscow. He graduated from college only six months ago.


"I would have found a job at home, but nothing like this", he said. "In New York, I would have been at the bottom of the totem pole. Not here".


Betsy Heafitz, a 25-year-old Dartmouth graduate who majored in Russian studies, agreed that it is easier to get a better job here.


Heafitz, who works for a trading firm, summed it up best.


"Everything is happening over here", she said. "You can't just let everyone else take the glory".