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Long-term living and working in Poland

19 Jun 2017 /  #1

I've been to Poland before for tourism. I really liked it. So it made me wonder about actually living there.

Long story short, I found a job in Krakow so I'm going to give it a chance. I'm 25 from the US, and was in between jobs at home so I figured I had nothing to lose.

Naturally I'm thinking long term, even if it's not ideal to look too far ahead. But I'm definitely thinking about spending at least a few years in Poland. Potentially more who knows. As far as living goes, I've only heard great things. This compliments the impression I had of Poland when I spent a few weeks there a year ago.

Work is also on my mind because it also provides for a living. My starting salary will be 8000zl gross, or just over 5000zl net after deductions. As I understand this is a good salary for a first job in Poland and I should be grateful. Thinking long term however, is it realistic to expect generous raises? For instance, after a few years could I be making 10,000zl+ gross? Is it like the US at least to an extent in terms of raises?

The reason I ask is because if I think long term, at some point I'd have to think about being able to provide for a family. Not to mention being able to save money each month and plan for the future independently too. On that note, is it realistic for me to be able to save $500 (give or take) each month on this salary? I'm expecting to pay about 2500zl for an apartment when all is said and done.

No further questions. Thanks, I'm glad to have found this community. Hopefully my questions helps others as well.
19 Jun 2017 /  #2
Only your employer is able to say whether he will give you any raise in your salary.
Think of Poland in this way: remember when you met a woman and fell in love and it was all wonderful and exciting and after a year or two you didn't feel the same and after 5 years you separated....this is what it will be like in Poland.

Our of your 5K you will have to rent a flat, eat, clothe yourself, pay bills. Your bills gas, electricity, taxes, phone, internet, travel costs could come to another 500 pln per month.

It is o.k. salary for a single person, but not so good for a family. There are of course people who survive on much less, but they have family connections, speak the language, know where to go for bargains. They know how to deal with officialdom. You will find everything strange and after 5 years you will think to yourself - what do I do now?

Wish you all the best though, I worked in Poland for 2 years and thought that everyone was always angry and nervy- after 2 years I behaved exactly like them.It was too much for me.
OP jovgov  
19 Jun 2017 /  #3
Hey, thanks for your reply.

About raises, it's still way too early for me to discuss anything like this with my employer. What's normal, though? Worst case, is it possible to jump to another position with another company for a pay raise after some experience? I have a friend in Krakow who told me this is common.

Honestly, I feel the same about the US. Things are good here, that's true. Generally speaking. But I could really use a change of pace. And financially speaking, the US is great if you're aiming for riches or love being a consumer... I like being a consumer, but not that much. And I'm fine with not being rich, though financially comfortable is a necessity of course.

Thanks for the best wishes. I wonder how I'd feel in a few years if I integrated myself into the culture. I'm aware that the grass is always greener, which could definitely be relevant then.
20 Jun 2017 /  #4
You need 10 grand a month in your pocket if you live are work in any of the big cities and like to live your life. By that I don't mean meals at exclusive restaurants every night, I just mean local sight seeing trips at the weekend, an extended holiday once a year, not looking at prices when buying food at the supermarket, paying for a nice flat (rent/mortgage). Doing all that will leave you a little aside each month, but not much. I know many people will say natives have to get by on much less, but many have been brought up on low incomes and have been taught how to get the most for their zloty. As a foreigner, maybe don't expect to always overpay, just don't expect to get any bargains.
OP jovgov  
20 Jun 2017 /  #5
10k gross or net? If it's net we're talking about a salary in the 98th percentile. I think that provides the ability to live extremely well anywhere :)
21 Jun 2017 /  #6
The reason I ask is because if I think long term, at some point I'd have to think about being able to provide for a family.

That's why Poland is not an attractive location for Americans to work in. Wages are low, the cost of living is rather high relative to wages, and that makes saving money extremely difficult. Your savings potential in the US will be several times higher than it would be in Poland.

8000 PLN gross is about $24,000 bucks a year. That's less than burger flippers make in some states in the US.

That's about 5000 PLN net a month. 2000 to 2500 PLN for housing, all inclusive including rent, administration fees and all utilities except internet/telephone/TV.

Food and sundry household expenses will set you back between 1000 to 2000 PLN a month: more if you eat or snack out a lot, and less if you cook all meals at home from the simplest and cheapest Polish ingredients.

One thing that everyone forgets is to deduct the cost of relocating to and from Poland from the wages you earn there. That includes airfare and all other traveling expenses, shipping, visas and residency permits.

Then there is clothing and other occasional purchases. And entertainment, recreation and travel.

Your going to have trouble saving anything more than a very modest rainy day fund. Serious saving is out of the question.

10k gross or net? If it's net we're talking about a salary in the 98th percentile.

That is completely irrelevant to you. You are not in that demographic sample, never will be, and have zero in common with it.
21 Jun 2017 /  #7
How marketable are you in the US? The only reason you shouldn't at least try to live here is if there's any chance that should you dislike Poland, you have issues re-acquiring a job back home.

Also I'd visit here more, especially in Winter. One vacation isn't going to cut it, I travelled here 4 times before I made the move, 2 weeks apiece and in all seasons.

It's been almost 2 years since I moved and I'm still happy, and I live on 3-4k gross.

Terri is right about the general attitude by the way, but I like the fact that most people keep to themselves.
21 Jun 2017 /  #8
For instance, after a few years could I be making 10,000zl+ gross?

Depends on what kind of work you do. If you're in IT then yes you could. However as to 'generous raises' that's a different matter. I don't know about America but in the UK and Ireland it's pretty standard to get a payrise after your first year and then regular reviews of your salary. You can certainly get payrises in Poland but they don't come that easily. You may well have to demand one and be prepared to move on if you don't get it. Polish business culture is not about getting the best staff, rewarding them for being good at their job and encouraging them to remain with the company. It's about getting staff as cheaply as possible.

another position with another company for a pay raise

I have a friend in Krakow who told me this is common.

And the reasons above ,amongst others, are why it's common! There is quite a high turnover of staff in Polish companies. The stats would make your hair stand up on the back of your neck. However, without fluency in the language you may find it a bit harder to change jobs so easily.

Just be aware that Poland is indeed a lovely place to visit but like anywhere, living and working there is very different. In the workplace it's a much more hierarchical culture than the US which you may find difficult to adjust to. The main thing is that you're only 25 but be careful. Don't go into extended working holiday mode and find that after five years your career has gone nowhere, you have no savings and you're trotting back across the pond with nothing to show for your European odyssey. Have a definite plan about what you want to do over the next few years and set some goals. Imagine your thirtieth birthday, you want to be quaffing champagne, not extinguishing the birthday cake candles with your tears :)) Good luck with it anyway, hope everything works out for you.
OP jovgov  
21 Jun 2017 /  #9
Thanks for the responses everyone. I'll add a bit more information, also including my overall mindset on this move.

In terms of work in the US, I have only a little experience in my field. I've had a chance to build upon this in Poland. Of course I could also be doing this in the US, but I figure if there's a time for me to give living in Europe a try, it's now and not later.

The winter doesn't scare me because I'm used to the cold in the northeast. I actually don't mind it as it makes me appreciate the spring through fall that much more.

The way I see it, I ought to at least give it a try for a year or two. Reassess at that point in time, whether I come back to the US or not.

I'm hoping to be able to save at least 1500zl a month, which comes out to $400. Is this doable on a 5000 net salary? My estimate is 2500zl apartment expenses and an average of 1000zl for everything else. I'm not a big drinker and I cook the majority of my meals. Would this be a realistic estimate?

If I'm able to save at least this amount per month I figure I'll have at least something to show at the end of my stay if it proves temporary.
21 Jun 2017 /  #10
Jovgov take a look at these old threads, if you didn't see them already, to get a better idea of expenses. They're only a year old so still relevant:

I don't think you could save 1500 out of 5000 but you could give it a try I suppose. A grand is more realistic and even then it would be a bit grim I think plus you're not thinking of things like when you need to buy clothes or shoes. For anything of reasonable quality you will pay western European prices. As Dominic said cost of living in proportion to salary is high in Poland.
21 Jun 2017 /  #11
10k gross or net? If it's net we're talking about a salary in the 98th percentile.

I think the top 1% earn about 15 grand net, don't quote me on that and I think that's from statistics from 15/16. But around that ball park.

Live as you please and you will be surprised how much you spend and how little you will be able to save. I was talking about 10 grand net btw. Give or take depending where you live. A little hick village where there is nothing to do you will struggle to spend much money at all, but living on a grand a month means shopping at the cheapest outlets will probably nothing in the way of luxuries. But consider Wroclaw or Warsaw and you can blow thousands over a long weekend activities and sightseeing alone. There are really so many things that you can and want to do here and like in the West its going to cost you money.
21 Jun 2017 /  #12
Thinking long term however, is it realistic to expect generous raises?

businesses may have to raise pays because Poland is already facing a deficit of workforce and it is quite realistic that in the near future hundreds of tousands of Ukrainians who currently live and work in Poland will move west

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