How to live in Poland ? (A useful guide)

How to live in Poland? This central European country (or eastern, that depends) with a rich history attracts many people every year for tourism and work, thanks to its many advantages.

Moving to Poland for retirement, to work or as an Erasmus student, to join a Polish man or woman… Here are some good reasons to move to this beautiful and still underestimated place.

In this article, you will find all the useful informations about Poland and Polish people.

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Informations on Poland

krakow

Photographer : Artem Dolmatov

This EU member state has a population of about 38 million. It is the 9th largest economy in Europe and has been growing strongly for some time.

Formerly communist, Poland has managed to become quite open to the world and now has a dynamic economic model.

Its currency is the zloty and the unit is divided into 100 groszy (the grosz corresponds to cents). 1 dollar = approximately 3,90 zl.

In terms of politics, the regime is a parliamentary republic and an indirect democracy. President Andrzej Duda comes from a conservative party, the PiS.

The flag of Poland consists of two horizontal stripes, one white at the top (for purity) and one red at the bottom (for blood shed in the name of the fatherland).

The climate is quite variable. Summers are hot and winters cold (temperatures sometimes drop to minus 15°C). So you’ll have to be well covered up! Spring and autumn are rather mild.

The area is about half the size of France, but the territory has many gems that we will mention.

The telephone code is 0048 or +48.

The number for medical emergencies is 999. For the police, dial 997. For the fire brigade it is 998. If you don’t speak English well, it’s best to dial the European number 112 anyway.

If you are a foreigner and want to settle in Poland permanently, it is advisable to obtain a PESEL number.

Some useful words in Polish:
-Hello: dzień dobry, pronounced “djiègne dobré”
-Hello: tchetcht
-Goodbye: do vidzènia
-S’il vous plaît/de rien : prochè
-Thank you : djiènekouyé
-Yes: tak
-No : niè
-Excuse me: pchèpracham
-Do you speak English? : tche mouvich po aneguièlskou ?

To go further and learn other terms :

Before you immigrate, we advise you to do some sightseeing, visit several places and meet locals to see if the Polish lifestyle would suit you.

Order the excellent book Polish for Dummies from Amazon here.

Polish mentality

Deeply Catholic at heart and scarred by war and Soviet rule, Poland has a generally self-sacrificing and hardworking people.

There is a lot of folklore and Christmas is always special for the Poles. Pope John Paul II is a national pride.

Are Poles friendly? Poland is not a Latin country but a Slavic one and this is reflected in the culture. Don’t be surprised if some Poles are rather cold and reserved with you. Relationships can become warmer over time, especially if you make an effort to speak Polish. Of course, a little vodka or beer and a festive atmosphere tend to make people feel more comfortable. Na zdrowie (cheers)!

Even if the country is quite westernised today, there has been no cultural revolution similar to the US, Britain and France in the 60’s. A fairly traditional mentality persists and Poles can be very conservative on certain social issues, such as abortion.

However, Polish public opinion is not uniform and nowadays many young people are hoping for a change in morals and a change in government.

Football is the national sport, which excites the crowds as in many other places in the world. A football player like Robert Lewandowski is very popular.

As for safety, even if the country is home to sometimes violent hooligan gangs (especially among themselves), Poland is probably one of the safest countries in the world.

Avoid crossing the streets when the pedestrian light is red, or you will be fined! This is what you should not do in Poland, for example.

Gentlemen, when it comes to picking up a Polish woman, it’s pretty much the same as for women in general. However, most of the time, be patient before expecting anything physical! It is common to go on several dates before concluding. As for being in a relationship with a Polish woman, be aware that her need for security is particularly strong, although some project an image of great confidence.

Polish weddings are a great experience, but hang on! Food is plentiful and alcohol (especially vodka) as well. Poles are particularly festive and dance the night away. So if you’re not a party animal, you’ll have to make an effort and keep up out of courtesy! Even with the famous musical genre called Disco Polo, once very popular and now enjoying a revival.

A bit of Polish history to better understand it:

A famous Disco Polo music :

Practical life

The cost of living is about 40% lower than in the US. It is possible to live in Poland with 1000 dollars per month very decently in a big city if you are alone (the average salary is about 800 $). Some people choose to share a flat to limit costs.

There are exchange offices (Kantor) everywhere. When you use your card, remember to pay in zloty currency as this is more advantageous. At least, if your currency is stronger.

The pace of life is quite fast in urban areas. Fortunately, Poland offers many services, including very efficient and fairly cheap transport. However, taxis can sometimes be a little bit expensive. That’s why we recommend using Uber instead.

Studying in Poland is often a great experience. Historically, one of the first universities to open in Europe was Polish (Jagiellonian) and knowledge is traditionally important in this nation.

Unfortunately, Poland has pollution problems and the air quality in the major urban areas is quite poor, especially during the winter season. This is due to the high use of coal.

Poland has opened up to capitalism and accepts foreign capital. Therefore, investing in this developing country is very interesting, whether your investment is in real estate or business in general.

Working in Poland

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Moving to Poland in 2022 is a big decision. Even if the country is not very expensive compared to some parts of Western Europe, you still need to be able to afford it.

You should know that you can work in Poland without speaking Polish. You must at least be fluent in English (minimum level B1) and companies are looking for French/Spanish/German etc. speakers especially in the IT and web sectors.

Apart from covid, Poland enjoys strong growth and generous European subsidies for its development. There is no shortage of job opportunities if you know how to look! If you are a skilled immigrant and are looking for a change of scenery, don’t hesitate.

EU nationals do not need a visa to do so. However, if you are planning to stay for the long term, registration in your voivodeship and the creation of a Polish bank account are highly recommended as formalities.

If you are looking for a job, visit this site to find out where to look for job vacancies. Alternatively, feel free to post on Facebook. Headhunters regularly visit the pages of French-speaking expats in Poland.

Of course, there is not only salaried work and it is possible to create a company with an attractive tax system.

Accommodation in Poland

poland

Finding accommodation – especially abroad – can be a real obstacle course. This is why patience and method are required.

Whether it is an apartment or a house, it is possible to rent or buy in Poland, or even to live in a shared apartment.

In a large city, a 70 square meter apartment close to the center costs about 2600 zloty fees included (about 660 dollars per month in total). Of course, some people will consider sharing an apartment.

A good thing is that the apartments are usually already furnished. Note that a good studio apartment rents for about 1,800 zloty per month, including charges, or 460 euros. Sometimes you can even find a good deal if you look hard enough.

Try these sites to help you in your search (some require an online translator):

Gratka.pl

Gumtree.pl

For all real estate matters, the French Estate Poland agency is present in Krakow to help you. They offer the same services as a regular agency, plus rental assistance to help you in your first steps in Poland.

Health in Poland

health

If you are a European citizen, the European Health Insurance Card can facilitate access to health care in foreign hospitals and even reimbursement. Of course, you will sometimes have to fill out forms or pay for part of the care if your situation is not urgent.

Poland has very good general practitioners and specialists. As for the pharmacies, they have all the necessary medicines. However, you can consult our health articles to help you stay in shape all year round.

Note that no vaccinations are required to enter Poland. However, it is sometimes necessary to adapt, as we recently saw with the PCR or antigenic negative test of less than 48 hours.

Going out in Poland poland

There is no lack of activities in Poland. Whether in the city or in the countryside, it has many assets. Churches, museums, parks… Each monument has something to tell you and everyone will find something to do.

Places of interest include of course several major cities that are not to be missed. Let’s mention :

– Warsaw, the capital with its reconstructed old town but also the Soviet architecture
– Krakow and its Rynek Glówny (market place). It was even the European capital of gastronomy 2019! Don’t miss the Energylandia amusement park located in Zator, which is not very far away.
– Gdansk and Sopot (port cities on the Baltic Sea)
– Lublin and Poznan for their authenticity
– Wroclaw (pronounced “vrlotswouaf”) which has a lot of charm
-Zakopane, a small and pleasant tourist town at the foot of the Tatra Mountains, where you can go for a nice hike

Let’s not forget the lake Śniardwy. There are also beautiful forests and many other lakes. Some will choose to go to the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp.

What to eat in Poland? Polish culinary specialties are numerous and varied. The typical dishes of their gastronomy are :

-Pierogi. These are ravioli that can be filled with meat, potatoes, cottage cheese, spinach and even fruit
-Bigos. It is a meat stew with fermented white cabbage and tomato, often accompanied by rye bread and potatoes
-Bagel: this bread is said to have been invented by Ashkenazi Jews in Krakow. Don’t hesitate to try it, especially in the Kazimierz district of the same city
Borscht: a beetroot-based soup often accompanied by meat, cabbage and potatoes
-Ogórki kiszone: these are pickled cucumbers that are very popular in this country
-Oscypek: this is a PDO mountain cheese, smoked and made from sheep’s milk

Don’t hesitate to ask about the best restaurants and bars in your area. You will often have access to many choices of beers and vodkas! Also try krówki, a delicious caramel.

There you have it, we just have to wish you a good adventure and you will soon be able to say “I have moved to Poland”!

Video about living in Poland

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