/ What does an american citizen need to do to live in Poland with his Polish citizen wife?
As an American citizen who came here with my wife two years ago I can tell you some of what we went through.
You might want to bring original birth certificate and marriage certificate, but you will want to get apostiles of them.
In California that means getting the documents authenticated by the California Secretary of State:
not sure who would handle it in other states.
You need to register the translated marriage certificate apostile at the Urząd Stanu Cywilnego in the area where you will live.
As soon as you get settled go to the Urząd Województwo and apply for residence (Karta Pobytu). You will need proof of income and I think proof of health coverage but my wife says no about the health coverage.
You will need lots of new passport style photos, passports, IDs, copies of everything including stamps in the passports (4 to be safe).
Copy everything many times, never let the originals stray to far and get everything in English translated by a certified translator. (Tłumacz Przysięgły)
Get everything done in the US that you can (apostiles, etc) but probably best to get translatins done in Poland.
Anyway, that's a partial list. Respond or PM if I can help in any way.
should I consider using an attorney to handle this move or would that be a waste of money?
My wife just reminded me to tell you not to waste your money on an attorney.
350 zł for karta pobytu
We can't agree on what we paid for translations. sorry
Wife says figure on 600 - 800 zł for the whole process up to the point you get your first "Green Card". We were married 10 years when we came here so don't remember if you have to be married 3 years or 5 years before you can apply for permanent status.
Also, don't waste much time at the Polish consulate.