Serfs in Russia were divided into two groups: agricultural and domestic, or 'house' serfs, just as in America slaves could be 'field slaves' or 'house slaves'. House serfs were, generally speaking, more highly skilled than their counterparts, and were more likely to be literate, with some knowledge of French. They lived on the estates of their masters, close to hand, unlike the agricultural serfs, who would live in nearby villages.
For more on the life of serfs in Russia, try Life Under Russian Serfdom: The Memoirs of Savva Dmitrievich Purlevskii, one of few extant serf memoirs. See also the bookmark to Page 60, "the thousand rubles I paid for Taras".