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What to bring, ship, pack for our move to Warsaw


Chipmunk 12 | 61  
31 Aug 2009 /  #1
I've been trying to stay active and lurk but time, the free type, escapes me.

I'm coming from "BFE" Africa, but I am an American. Can I expect similar quality for items at the stores as I would in America? How are the prices? We will be living on the USD so I am not sure how the recent exchange rate of about 2.89 Zloty will be a comfort or pain.

I plan on doing a majority of the winter clothes shopping prior to arriving. I'm just trying to get a better idea of what comforts I may find myself without. I've spent roughly 18 months here in Africa and outside perishables I do not shop on the local economy. Warsaw will be a huge shock for me, a welcome shocked.

Thanks!
Jay24 12 | 64  
31 Aug 2009 /  #2
Hi Chipmunk

In a city like Warsaw I think you will find pretty much everything that you could want. Not sure about the current exchange rate though.

Maybe if you could say what comforts you couldn't live without then members of the forum might be able to guide you as to how available these things are in Poland.

Good luck with the move.
OP Chipmunk 12 | 61  
31 Aug 2009 /  #3
I've found there are more comfort items that I ever thought I had.

Book stores? Like B&N type where you can stroll in, pick up a coffee and browse and if you find a 'must have', purchase.

Those crunchy hippie coffee shops? (I'm from Seattle so maybe that's not an American thing)

One stop grocery shopping?

REAL pizza?
Mexican food?
Pickles? Preferably dill?
Hamburgers? It has a game taste to it here, not Cow!
Milk? I am tired of Long Life Milk!!!!

How does the cheese fare for any American expats?
What about pepperoni and salami?

Oh how about olives, green or black that are sliced and canned (maybe what is called tinned?)

Toys?? My son doesn't even know what a toy store is. And what can be found on local shelves here are imported from China, crap, and you pay twice what you'd pay for a decent quality brand back in the states. He's never even been down a "toy aisle".

Kids clothes?

Ice cream?
Soda flavors besides Cream Soda and Coke? Like how about a Dr. Pepper or ROOT BEER?

Guinness?

On the line of home goods, I know there is an Ikea. Is that the general quality of what things are there for things like kitchen ware etc? What about linens and the quality of clothes? Are they cheap and thin and knock offs or a mixture of all that and high end too?

Shoes? I need a variety outside dollar store quality, please!

And the night life? Any good bars (pubs)? Preferable a nice Irish pub or two? Not that I really have a clue what that may be like. I'm going off what an American Irish pub would be like. What about dance clubs?

Hmm I have a laundry list of things running through my head. This should suffice for the time being! :)

Thank you!
delphiandomine 85 | 18,254  
31 Aug 2009 /  #4
Everything you can find in an average American city, you can find in Warsaw.
Harry  
31 Aug 2009 /  #5
Of all of the things on your list, the only one missing is the bookshop with coffee is not available here (there is a place which matches your specification, but it only has a very small English language section). I'm not sure about the sliced olives (because I don't eat olives) but there certainly is a good selection of the things at the hypermarkets.

Where are you planning to get your winter clothing from? I'd recommend the LL Bean catalogue.
OP Chipmunk 12 | 61  
1 Sep 2009 /  #6
Thank you!

This comes as a huge relief. After 16 months here in Africa I am in need of something a little, no I fib, a LOT easier. It's a pain relying on shipping everything in and the wait that comes with it!

We're going back to the states for 2-3 weeks prior to Warsaw, so I planned on doing a lot of the winter clothes shopping there. While I am from a colder part of the country, the snow fall is minimal and so I'm not quite sure what to expect in that department. I hear it differs year to year. So I suppose I plan for the worst and hope for something light!

We'll be in Warsaw for two winters! If need can I find decent winter clothing locally as well?
delphiandomine 85 | 18,254  
2 Sep 2009 /  #7
the only one missing is the bookshop with coffee

Doesn't Empik do basically that? At least in the Stary Browar one in Poznan, the English language section isn't too bad and there's a cafe section...but I may have misunderstood this.

We'll be in Warsaw for two winters! If need can I find decent winter clothing locally as well?

Where do you think the Poles get their winter clothing from?

Those crunchy hippie coffee shops? (I'm from Seattle so maybe that's not an American thing)

Sure. Poland has cafes everywhere, catering to your every need or desire.

One stop grocery shopping?

Of course. Poznan has something like 12 large supermarkets and countless small ones - and I imagine Warsaw to have significantly more. Again, they can cater for your every need, from bargain basement quality right through to high end.

REAL pizza?

You can't move for pizzerias in Poland.

Mexican food?

No idea about takeaway/restaurants in Warsaw, but it's easy to pick up the ingredients to make it yourself.

Hamburgers? It has a game taste to it here, not Cow!

Is 100% beef enough for you?

Milk? I am tired of Long Life Milk!!!!

Of course.

How does the cheese fare for any American expats?

You'll be spoilt for choice.

What about pepperoni and salami?

Likewise. You'll be spoilt for choice.

Oh how about olives, green or black that are sliced and canned (maybe what is called tinned?)

Olives are cheap and plentiful, though you'll probably have to do the slicing yourself.

Toys?? My son doesn't even know what a toy store is..

Exactly the same as you'd expect from the States, except possibly with the exception of no Toys R Us. Countless small shops catering for toys, along with a decent selection in supermarkets.

Kids clothes?

Poland isn't Africa. You can find clothes at countless tiny stores along with all the usual retailers that you'd expect.

Ice cream?

More choice than you can shake a stick at.

Soda flavors besides Cream Soda and Coke? Like how about a Dr. Pepper or ROOT BEER?

Sensible people in Poland drink real fruit juice which is cheaper than soft drinks. I've seen both Dr. Pepper and Root Beer - at a price.

Guinness?

Freely available, at an extortionate price designed to lure in ex-pats.

Is that the general quality of what things are there for things like kitchen ware etc?

Poland is a developed country. Whatever you want, you can get. If you want ridiculously priced furniture, it's there to take. If you want cheap nasty Tanie Meble, it's there too.

Shoes? I need a variety outside dollar store quality, please!

What do you think high flying Warsaw businesmen are wearing?

And the night life? Any good bars (pubs)? Preferable a nice Irish pub or two?

Irish bars exist for one reason in the world - to fleece the tourist and the expat. You'd be far better off going to the bars that locals go to - as they'll certainly be more like Irish bars than any Irish bar itself.

Dance clubs? Of course, Warsaw is a major European capital!

I'm sorry to be narky, but Poland is no different to Western Europe and indeed America when it comes to what's available. There may be small differences, but really, the world isn't so small anymore.
OP Chipmunk 12 | 61  
2 Sep 2009 /  #8
Interesting enough. Your first post summarized quite well for me. Although I do appreciate your follow up. Cheers!
BLS 65 | 188  
2 Sep 2009 /  #9
I would suggest packing large bottles of rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide if you have the room - both are expensive in Poland but incredibly cheap in America.

Some spices are difficult to find here - fennel, for instance...and I can't find onion powder anywhere...

And one thing I am struggling mightily to find in Poland - those corn-on-the-cob boats that hold an ear of corn plus all the butter that drips off it. A small thing, granted, but I miss 'em!
delphiandomine 85 | 18,254  
2 Sep 2009 /  #10
I would suggest packing large bottles of rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide if you have the room - both are expensive in Poland but incredibly cheap in America.

Aha, this is definitely good advice. I'd also recommend buying electronics in the US - Polish prices are on the high side due to the instability of the Zloty, even compared to the UK.
ShelleyS 14 | 2,893  
2 Sep 2009 /  #11
I can't find onion powder anywhere...

Why on earth anyone would want onion powder is beyond me! But they do have those nasty onion cubes that would work well as a substitute (if you like that kind of thing).

This thread has given me a laugh, what do people from outside of Europe think Poland is?

even compared to the UK.

Electrical items are dirt cheap in the UK these days, you can pick up a microwave for £20 or an MP3 player for £10.
mvefa 5 | 591  
2 Sep 2009 /  #12
It's a pain relying on shipping everything in and the wait that comes with it!

Why not trying the local products? that's the fun of living abroad!!
OP Chipmunk 12 | 61  
2 Sep 2009 /  #13
This thread has given me a laugh, what do people from outside of Europe think Poland is?

As I originally posted, I'm looking for those comfort items. I don't expect nor would I want Poland to be like America. That said those comfort items or those similar to such are a nice treat when you're home sick.

I've never traveled within or even through any European Country. So I have no idea how it compares to the rest of Europe or even America. In addition to that being here in Africa for the past 18 months (in a capital city at that), I have reservations about another overseas post. I have not left this continent since arrival so my perception is probably skewed by that. My husband is usually assigned to the hardship posts so it's a treat and an exciting one at that, to be able to goto Warsaw. In addition to what is available here lacks in quality. You over pay for poorly made items and once again since my experience is only those of what I have personally had I am not aware of what can be said for Polish goods and those they import. I don't know the difference between what one could find in UK versus Warsaw. I'm going off the experiences at hand.

I wanted to make sure that while we are back in the states I gather the items I will want (miss) for the next 18 months and ship them on over.

I'm glad you have found such humor in my posts. From the outsider looking in, a new country, any country is something new and different. If I knew the answers I'd assume forums such as this would have no point. I do however appreciate the helpful advice and information.

Why not trying the local products? that's the fun of living abroad!

Absolutely!
mvefa 5 | 591  
2 Sep 2009 /  #14
Absolutely!

Gotta say, your answer is quite right, sometimes you cannot find quality stuff once abroad. But the ship in thing i tried it once, but its too much hasle, so i had to make do with whatever was at hand.

I must admit im jealous :D i miss that flexibility i used to have before, of going to a country for some time, the on, to the next one..loved it back then... but oh well my 9-5 job does not allow me that anymore, pity, i miss the exilariating feeling of the new and unknown.

Good luck with it!!
OP Chipmunk 12 | 61  
2 Sep 2009 /  #15
It is a lot of fun! I never thought we'd be living abroad. I've always wanted to visit but to live... well that is just icing on the cake! :0) Now, if I can only tackle the Polish language!! I'm sure I'll learn through my son. They say youngsters are sponges!
mvefa 5 | 591  
2 Sep 2009 /  #16
They say youngsters are sponges!

I've heard that as well! the kids of my boss when i was doing an internship in China, learned chinese in less than a year. Me? after 8 months i could only say Nihao haha ...im not very brilliant in asian languages.

Any expat period is just great...if was not settle with a house and relationship i would do it again...but oh well...
aphrodisiac 11 | 2,444  
2 Sep 2009 /  #17
well, if you are a coffee drinker then a coffee equipment would be useful, plus some coffee beans if you are from Seattle and are used to that kind of coffee culture:). French press can be bought in Ikea I think.

Electronics are expensive in Poland (including computers), so if you can bring them in, you will not waste time shopping in Poland.
Winter clothes: get some good outfitter's clothing for casual wear(they are expensive and of a poorer quality then the American ones), but Polish people dress up a little more then Americans, so bring some fancy stuff too.

Bring all your spices you are used to because it takes time to locate what you are looking for in a new country and you might not find eg onion powder in Poland:). Spices in Poland are usually sold in small quantities, so you might consider bringing some from the US.

As for bookstores, your choice would be limited due to the language but I am sure Empik can provide with some stuff.

Now, if I can only tackle the Polish language!!

if you have time, take some lessons in Warsaw - it is a difficult language and good luck in your move:)
bring some adaptors for electronics.
Harry  
2 Sep 2009 /  #18
French press can be bought in Ikea I think.

Coffee presses can be bought in loads of places. I got one in Carefour. And there are a good number of shops that sell excellent coffee beans.

As for bookstores, your choice would be limited due to the language but I am sure Empik can provide with some stuff.

The "American Bookstore" chain are far far better than Empik.
delphiandomine 85 | 18,254  
2 Sep 2009 /  #19
They're a chain? I went into their shop in Galeria Krakowska and was impressed by the range, and completely agree that they're vastly superior to Empik in terms of range. Prices are decent too - I found some really good history books for half the price of Amazon.co.uk.
Harry  
2 Sep 2009 /  #20
They're a chain?

Yep. They have six outlets in Warsaw.
jonni 16 | 2,485  
2 Sep 2009 /  #21
I'd also recommend buying electronics in the US - Polish prices are on the high side due to the instability of the Zloty, even compared to the UK

I would agree with that, but remember that the voltage here is 240 not 110, so use an adaptor (from any Radio Shack or similar). If not your equipment will fry.

Delphiandomine's post is correct - anything you need can easily be found. There are a few big shopping Malls in Warsaw and plenty of big supermarkets. The Best Mall in Sadyba is especially good, and since a lot of the US and Canada embassy personnel live quite near, you'll find most things you want are there.

There are also a few grungy coffee shops here. Plenty of good bars here, but the restaurants (at least from a British point of view) are often disappointing. A few good ones though.

One thing you'll like is a shop called 'Kuchnie Świata' (Cuisines of the world) in a few of the Malls (best one, I think, in Złoty Taras). They have a US/Canada section (and some Mexican food), with quite a few products you'll know.

Oh, and The American Bookstore's branch on Koszykowa (just west of pl. Konstitucji) hace a bargain section with selected books at 10zl.
delphiandomine 85 | 18,254  
2 Sep 2009 /  #22
One thing you'll like is a shop called 'Kuchnie Świata'

No. No. Keep away from Kuchnia Swiat and look elsewhere. Many supermarkets are now stocking many of the same things as there, for half or even quarter of the price.
cjj - | 281  
2 Sep 2009 /  #23
random thoughts - we moved to Gdansk from Vancouver.

Our North American microwave works on a stepdown transformer - but the frequency is different (unchanged by the tranformer) so the clock and power etc are a little crazy.

The washing machine ... well, it was a German one imported to Canada so has a North American motor: we had to get a special transformer for that as the 110 was coming across differently than expected pins.

I still can't find cornstarch (what the Brits call cornflour) - the locals use potato flour which creates a totally different effect. I give up.

There is still a lot of MSG in foods / spices here. Obviously not if you get the basic spice, but anything that is a 'mix', it does not harm to check the skladniki list.

Toys. Over-priced imho. The selection and price have improved somewhat in the 8 years we've been here, but there is still a lot of cr8p - stuff that would probably not hit the shelves in the US/UK. The small toys are the devil as you often have to ask for each item you want to look at (while being sternly observed by the bored assistant). I miss Toys'R'Us. The super/hypermarkets are pushing through some choice though.

Brown sugar has appeared (in the 'Real' chain, at least) in the past 8 years, and I've just managed to source treacle (molasses) and golden syrup - in a "Kuchnie Świata" that someone mentioned earlier.

Bookstores I miss the most - the ability to wander in on a whim, or even to pick up a child's book ... I was in Empik in Gdynia yesterday and had to forage for the foreign language bookshelf.

Films are obviously dubbed for kids, but at least the ones for adults are subtitled.

Fresh milk - pasteurized, homoginized is slowly coming in. However, I've stopped buying it at my one-stop supermarket as some dorks down the supply chain haven't twigged on that it needs constant refrigeration ...

cheese is European :) If you want Cheddar, Red Leicester, etc you will find it hiding for its life in between the gruyere and the boiled goats cheese.

I miss Esquires ... (and my big-squishy-sofa-with-magazine-and-coffee fix)
delphiandomine 85 | 18,254  
2 Sep 2009 /  #24
I still can't find cornstarch (what the Brits call cornflour)

Mąka kukurydziana can be found in supermarkets quite easily - just look in the 'healthy' or 'organic' sections of supermarkets. Or in those kind of shops full stop.

Brown sugar has appeared (in the 'Real' chain, at least) in the past 8 years

Brown sugar is pretty common these days, I've never had a struggle with it.

Toys. Over-priced imho.

I don't see much difference between Poland and the UK to be honest, except with the lack of Toys R Us (which is probably a good thing, they treat their staff dreadfully). Everything you'd actually want to buy a child is here at least - just that there's no one stop shop.

I was in Empik in Gdynia yesterday and had to forage for the foreign language bookshelf.

Empik is hit or miss, but the aforementioned American Bookstore is excellent. But to be honest, with Poland not being particularly well known for its foreign language skills, the selection in Empik isn't too bad. Omnibus in Poznan isn't too bad either, though I'm not sure if they're part of a chain or not.
scottie1113 7 | 898  
3 Sep 2009 /  #25
Cornstarch still eludes me, but I'll try looking again. Brown sugar is available in BOMI Krevetka in Gdansk and I'm sure elsewhere.

I've been in Gdansk for two years (from San Diego although I went to U Dub) and I have yet to find a decent pizza. Mexican food is terrible here so I just cook my own at home. What passes for a burrito in El Paso in Gdansk comes with cabbage on the side. I know we're in Poland but that's just wrong.

Maybe things are better in Warsaw.

Don't get me wrong. I love this place but some things I just can't find.
cjj - | 281  
3 Sep 2009 /  #26
Mąka kukurydziana can be found in supermarkets quite easily

Maka kukurydziana can indeed be found everywhere. In my experience the direct name translation doesn't provide a product with the properties I'm looking for.

Brown sugar is pretty common these days

As I said - in the past 8 years.

Toys

I'm comparing with Vancouver. One-stop shopping removes a lot of hassle.

------------

Marmalade. Marks&Spencer have a small food hall in Warsaw and stock both sweet and bitter marmalades.

Tumble driers - they've appeared, and are a more useful size than the average UK ones - but I can't find anti-static sheets (I brought a supply from the UK instead)

Family Packs. I haven't had much luck with this. Things still seem to be packaged for single use events. For example, if you want to make custard, the pouch does for half a litre of milk ... Not life-threatening but curiously irritating.
jonni 16 | 2,485  
3 Sep 2009 /  #27
Mąka kukurydziana

Usually next to the flour, and called 'Skrobia Kukurydziana'.

As for Kuchnie Świata, they have a lot of things that the supermarkets won't ever stock, like soft drinks and processed foods from the US.

If you live near a Piotr i Paweł, thry have very good Cheddar (from a farm not a factory) and MiniEuropa have plenty of 'western' products, albeit at a price.
frd 7 | 1,399  
3 Sep 2009 /  #28
I've been in Gdansk for two years

You should definitely check "Anker" pizza in Gdynia. Near municipal buildings..
OP Chipmunk 12 | 61  
3 Sep 2009 /  #29
Thank you all very much! This is helpful.

Scottie!!!! We just left San Diego before moving to Africa! What part of San Diego? . Ohhhhh how I miss the beach. Although the weather here is much like San Diego so that I don't miss yet! I can't stand to be land locked though and look forward to the option to drive to a coast line while in Warsaw!!!

Cornstarch would be nice to have since like Scottie I currently make our own pizza as well. I had to stop using my pizza stone because I couldn't figure out a way to make it not stick to the stone, which I normally do with cornstarch!

I have to admit, the one stop shopping is the luxury I miss. But it sounds like for the most part with some tweaking I can get what we need. It's definitely going to be light years ahead of what we're experiencing here! :)

Do they have sour cream? Here they have greek yogurt and it's similar but not quite it.

Is it true, there is a TGIF's?

As far as the language courses I was going to take one or what not through the Embassy. Any other suggestions?

Oh and a Malls, not just one but plural... YAY!!!! Even if just to window shop and walk around. We did a lot of that back in the States. Go for lunch and just walk the mall with the kiddo.
Jay24 12 | 64  
3 Sep 2009 /  #30
Is it true, there is a TGIF's?

There is one on Aleja Jana Pawła II Street. There is also a Hard Rock Cafe at Zlote Tarasy which is a big mall by the main train station, see below

zlotetarasy.pl/en

Do they have sour cream?

I found some the other week in a Tesco Hypermarket in Krakow so I'm sure you can get it in Warsaw too.

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