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Business in Poland and Polish reality, How are you doing in Poland?

Luke84 7 | 114
10 Feb 2016 #1
Hello Everybody,

I didn't know if this will be under life or under work

I never mentioned before on this forum about my "Polish venture", this is (or maybe was) more for my wife so she can do something while she is in home. Long story short - my father in law is a bus driver and he have registered company, I was asking around on what is the best option to invest some money in Poland, I wanted to buy a small flat to rent however we decided to be more aggressive on risk and we purchased a.... bus - yes that is right, small bus for 30 people, which is fairly new (for a bus of course - 10 years old), with aircon, DVD, 2x TV, etc etc...

We spent in region of 100k PLN for a bus and monthly we need to pay for things like ZUS, accountant (this is cheap to be fair), insurance cost about 5K PLN per year, and there is some tax for transport which is 2K per year, of course this vehicle wasn't 100% perfect as previous owners just used it 100% and didn't invested anything so we had to swallow all of these costs to make it nice - that was an extra 30K PLN, anyway after this expense we had a working vehicle, some advertising, etc etc

Now to the point... I really don't understand on how people make money in Poland - simply cannot understand that.

PRICE Our price is 2.50PLN/1km if you take it for minimum of 150km and during one day! This price is super cheap anyway (others quote min 3.50PLN, we are able to offer lower rates as this is family business so father in law is our driver, fuel consumption is pretty low, perhaps because it's not so old and engine is not massive - it is around 17l/100km), of course weddings cost a bit more as driver usually need to go there and stay overnight

CUSTOMER Our customers are usually schools, travel agencies, wedding & funeral clients, small companies or individuals who wants to go skiing for a weekend etc. Price is very good anyway.

ADVERTISING This is covered nicely through Google, Facebook, local newspapers, wife even visited all schools/travel agencies/churches in the region of 20km so we have done all there.

Now I'm not sure what is wrong but something clearly must be wrong - there is not a lot of phone calls, and there is occasional moaning about the price, today someone called about the wedding transport for 30people, and he thought that he will pay 150PLN for that (30km each way), so he thought that we will put the fuel which will cost around 45PLN, driver will have to take 150PLN (this is two days), and we need to pay viatoll which would be around 10PLN, so costs are 205PLN.

I have no idea on how people are making legit business in Poland. We have that since November and I know season didn't started yet but I'm already thinking of ceasing that company, there is also other stuff going through my mind at the moment. I just cannot see that country as a place when you can live and work normally! I didn't expected to have a lot from this business. I wanted a net pay (which would be for my wife) in the region of tiny Polish wage so let say 1800PLN per month! Monthly expenses towards that business are in region of 2400PLN (that cover ZUS, accountant, transport tax, car maintenance, insurance) so we need to make 4200 in average per month to be worth keeping it...

Anyone of you doing some business in Poland? How successful is it? Am I wrong thinking this country sucks? People behavior is really strange here, they expect everyone to do them a favour and they hope to pay minimum for anything but if you need someone from Pole, they want to become a one time millionaire - doesn't matter if it is a tradesman, insurance man, builder, car painter, etc - they all want maximum from you!

I'm now in a stage of thinking if this is a country I want to stay in. I'm 32, my wife is 31, we have one child (1.5year) and I just cannot see a feature in that country... I also worry that child will grow up observing all of these unhappy people who are moaning about life every day...

How are you doing?
delphiandomine 86 | 17920
10 Feb 2016 #2
Okay, first things first - and I know something about this line of business as I know a guy that owns such a company.

Our customers are usually schools

As far as I can tell you, most small local companies have regular school runs that pay for the bus during the day. Your profit is in the 'extra' runs during the day - so you need to be more aggressive with this. You should look at organising camps during winter holidays (when schools are closed) as well as during summer. The course is a piece of cake - - and this gives you the full right to organise trips registered with the local Kuratorium.

That takes care of the holiday downtime, so you then need to move into other organised trips. Weekend ski trips to Slovakian ski resorts are always a good idea, but it depends on where you're actually located. Wedding transport is a waste of time - it ties down the bus in the middle of the day when it can be used for more productive purposes. Get into organising trips through schools on Saturdays to popular attractions - if you can take care of all the bureaucracy, tickets and so on, they're more likely to cooperate.

That still leaves the problem of the bus in the evenings. I don't know if it's the same where you are, but in Wielkopolska, there are several huge clubs in small villages. Get something organised like this - a party bus going to one such club, with pickups on the way. Organise it properly - you should have a party host, free shots and so on. That can be on Friday and Saturday nights - so you've now got the bus running from Friday afternoon straight through to Sunday morning almost constantly.

I don't know anything about regular passenger transport, but you might find that the bus can at least provide a small income by operating in this way between school runs. Check it out - it might be a way to keep the wheels turning.

Moving on, if you can't pick up a school contract, get yourself involved in organising church trips if you're in a rural area. Organise pilgrimages to places such as Medjugorje - for instance, the bus could leave Sunday morning and arrive back on Friday afternoon in time for the weekend. Medjugorje is about a 16-18 hour run allowing for breaks, so you could leave Sunday midday, arrive Monday morning, spend till Thursday there and take the pilgrims back after dinner on Thursday, arriving back Friday afternoon and in time for your weekend plans.

From your location, you're near Katowice - which means there's a massive amount of untapped potential there. The Friday/Saturday night runs to clubs in places such as Kraków should go down very well if you organise it correctly!
OP Luke84 7 | 114
10 Feb 2016 #3
Thank you Delphiandomine, I do appreciate your response on that.

Exactly there is another factor as you said such as very long summer holidays, in Poland kids have time off from late June till 1st of September! Very interesting course, my wife has some free time available so I'm sure she would be very keen to take that course, also we are thinking about accountant course too, this seems to be OK to have even for own purpose. My only worry is that I work hard for my money, I had house in UK which was paid off within first 7 years, selling it and moving to Poland was a heart breaking decision for me but I did that for my other half, also I knew that I would be able to work from home plus life in Poland should be cheaper than in UK, well we have house with no mortgage here, it's not fantastic but it is just OK for our needs... I'm apparently in good location - Chrzanow - this is placed just between Krakow and Katowizce, also it's close to Oswiecim (Aushwitz) so I could imagine it should be loads of interest...

Today we had an opportunity to take a contract with local school who is organizing some sport-trips for matches etc, wife get back to me with that list and I was shocked on how someone can even propose anything like that. They have a budget of 5000PLN, and there is 46 trips which needs to be done, some of them are short like 15km, but longest is 500km, average was 90-250km. Total number of km is 5115, so it's easy to calculate that they want to spend almost 0.98PLN per km, also taking into account number of trips - 46 - we will have 108.70PLN per each trip. Now costs - petrol for all 5115km would be around 3.5K, there would be another expenses like viatoll but this will depends on where you actually go so I'm not gonna focus on these, driver will also need some money but where is the money, suddenly from 5K we have 1.5K and driver need to be paid! that is then 32.60PLN per trip! This is not possible to make at all, I have no idea who come up with the budget of 5K but they said it's absolute minimum. Wife couldn't understand my negative reaction to that. There is another thing to say, some of these scheduled trips are happening on the same day, not often but there is few with 2-3 similar trips at the same day, that would mean that you need to have second and third bus with drivers or ideally you need another company who can do that for you. Taking into account lowest prices you will ADD money to do this job. My question here is - is that done so someone naive can take a job, sign a contract and lose money on it? People are really that stupid? Doesn't matter on how you would calculate that this is not possible to make a penny/groszy on it at all...

Do you know on how to sort out a school contract? This was the only one which was mentioned and they gave us a week to think about that, I expect them to never call us again if we refuse that offer (joke not an offer)...

I'm not quite sure about moving to international transport, I think it is too risky at given moment, we just have one bus, and taking it abroad we may actually lose on it, it is 10years old, I can understand someone who take brand new bus on leasing etc - they can just go over the Europe - no problem. But this one would be too risky and pricey, in case something will fail...

Yeah with that night runs - I have adverts on google, facebook,,, from November we did only one trip like that and looks like people called us as someone else failed so they had to find a bus...

I don't really know on what to do. We bought the bus for cash, I know that even selling such a vehicle in Poland it would be a massive problem as I've been told that people in Poland don't buy cars for cash, they usually buy with leasing or on loan.... And when they do they feel that they have loads of budget available so they can afford pretty new vehicles...

I'm stuck with it really...

Any other ideas on what can be done with it, how this can be used?
delphiandomine 86 | 17920
10 Feb 2016 #4
Exactly there is another factor as you said such as very long summer holidays, in Poland kids have time off from late June till 1st of September!

Well, speaking from personal experience - one huge advantage of organising such trips as the director of the trip is that you can bring a child along. I've got the course as well, and it's pretty much a given that anyone working as a director of summer camps will take their own kids, though the teachers on such camps will do the actual caring. It should be possible with the right amount of effort to put together a programme for the bus in the summer months and keep it moving constantly.

My question here is - is that done so someone naive can take a job, sign a contract and lose money on it?

It's normal to try and lowball here, but don't fall for it. It's just the way they do business - you'll see the same nonsense with people offering ridiculously low rates that they can't possibly manage. I remember setting up one project for a webdesign a few years ago, and the lowest offer was easily 50% lower than I budgeted for. What made it amusing was that I structured the contract in such a way that they only got paid after each milestone, so when they realised halfway through that it was costing them a lot more than they expected, I still had a half finished project for a very low price. I think on the whole thing, I ended up paying around 30% less than expected, which wasn't bad for what it was.

For a two day bus trip with some small viatoll costs (not much, in the region of 30-40zł) for 400-500km, including overnight stay - I'm paying between 1600zł-2000zł brutto here in Poznań. That's normally leaving at 4-5am and returning at around 9-10pm the next night, with some small trips at the destination. The highest I've paid was 2400zł, but that was on the very high side and was a last minute thing.

so it's easy to calculate that they want to spend almost 0.98PLN per km

No chance. Fuel has gone down, but you can't bet on it staying at this price.

Try these links to get an idea of what others are charging.

It's probably worth pointing out that if it's for such a contract, they're looking for a company with an old wreck of a bus that will simply get kids from point A to point B - they won't be looking for something newer and in very good condition.

Do you know on how to sort out a school contract?

Usually these things are done by tender through the local gmina - look for (name of gmina) BIP on Google and you should find these things.

Essentially, I think you'd be best to move into operating the bus as part of a package. Get the nightclub runs sorted out - say Friday night to Kraków through Trzebinia/Krzeszkowice and Saturday night to Katowice through Oświęcim/Pszczyna/Tychy/Mikółow and do a deal with a good club so that they'll pay you something for bringing customers straight to them. Organise Saturday daytime trips for kids to Katowice/Kraków picking up in small towns along the way (get in touch with schools to promote it), and perhaps get involved with churches so that you can organise Sunday trips to important places of worship in the region. Trips to Jasna Góra should always work, for instance.

I would suggest that if school runs prove problematic, the best bet will be to bite the bullet and operate a passenger service. There's a lot of places that aren't very well connected in Poland - for instance, you could try operating a service from Chrzanów to that huge shopping centre in Gliwice (I've forgotten the name...) - it would be a straight run along the A4, so it shouldn't be too hard on the bus.
OP Luke84 7 | 114
10 Feb 2016 #5
Thank you again for such a detailed response,

With organising trips, I believe you are right but there is a long way to actually starting doing them successfully, as a newbie I don't expect to see much interest but it's definitely worth research as the course itself is cheap as chips!

With that web design project, this is what I do for living, well actually more advanced than that, more into programming stage, I'm again under shock, that would mean if you have a task/job which needs to be done you will consider yourself lucky if that project will be done with one tradesman but more likely 2+ why they are doing that? I would hate it, I would personally hate finishing/fixing started by someone job... I would probably even not go for it.

That is a shame that I'm not in Poznan as we could do some business together, my expectations as you see are not huge, all I'm hoping for is to cover all business expenses+ my wife can have a wage, then I will be happy... I don't even think in terms of taking all invested money from it, it's a tool to make money and I'm not greedy, just feeling absolutely shattered when I read proposals like the one I have mentioned, that is beyond the measure.

Thank you for the link, I was basically thinking of charging 2.50zl/km based on minimum 150km and during one day trip, of course if that will consume more time like waiting overnight etc I will charge extra for drivers time + 20-30% for me, which I believe is fair.

500km both ways, so 250km each way trip including overnight stay I would happily charge 1300-1350pln, so you have an idea on how aggressive my prices are...

Another shock- they are kids so safety is important, I'm as a parent, I will never let my daughter to drive inside some wreck, safety is very important, things like insurance, tyres, checks, oil must be always done... Again this is my attitude I brought from UK to Poland and even if this sounds right it is not right in terms of Polish market...

You have an excellent idea about these night clubs, I will act on it tomorrow, will email them first to see if there is any response, another thing I have noticed in Poland is that Polish people are not great in terms of emailing...

I need to look about the trips with stopping at bus stops, I know you then need to pay monthly for each bus stop, Chrzanow charge you 1500PLN per one per month, which is very expensive...

I have contacted schools, funeral places, travel agents and churches, had some interest from schools perhaps as alternative/spare contact, it looks promising to have something from local tourist agency but there is no response from churches at all, I think they are not interested or they have their own people for that, again we are newbies on that market.

Good idea about shopping centre, but people have loads to choose from, There is new gallery called Galena in Jaworzno, Silesia in Katowitze and two big ones in Kraków so I don't think there would be any traffic going to Gliwice...

On another matter, how long do you live in Poland for? Which country have you moved from? Great to see someone so helpful here, I really like these forum, personally thanked the admin for creating it. So many of us here! We need to keep together!
polishinvestor 1 | 361
10 Feb 2016 #6
What you are experiencing is a similar shock to most people that come from the UK, especially if its a small rural village. Its a different way of life where things move slow and there is no concept of time is money.

Anyway I used to own a small auto repair in a small town and we did a fair few of these vans. The owners were just interested in keeping the buses running, nothing at all about safety. All for as cheap as possible. As regards fuel you will find a lot of owners buy stolen fuel at a discount. For example take any haulage firm that runs a number of lorries. The drivers will regularly siphon off a few canisters of fuel from each vehicle each week. They know how much fuel the vehicles use and they know how much they can siphon off and all the drivers are in on it. Often the owners know about this but dont react harshly since they want to keep hold of their more reliable drivers. This fuel is then sold on for a 1zl per litre less than the prices at the petrol stations. Very often its drivers of these small vans and buses that buy the stolen fuel. So thats one way they have a head start on you. A second, where there are a few buses involved, you will find the drivers are moonlighting, being employed legally elsewhere, but taking sickies and days off to drive buses and so happy to be paid a few bob cash in hand. Thirdly, you didnt mention this, but quite profitable is doing the bustops between various towns, you need to apply for a licence from the gmina to do that. You charge about 2-5zl per person for a 5-15km run. Here the cheat is that these guys run their buses a couple of minutes before the official ones (via the timetable) and collect up the people at the bus stops without having a licence to do so and of course meaning the legally run buses end up with less clients. Of course the owners of the legit firms dont appreciate this behaviour and I heard of one incident where they surrounded one of such buses and dragged the driver out and gave him a good hiding. Middle of the day centre of town. The good news is the urzad celny has started to take an interest in such activity and buses are starting to get impounded and large fines handed out. But do look into running their bus routes, the gmina would welcome a well run service Im sure.
OP Luke84 7 | 114
10 Feb 2016 #7
thanks for that Polishinvestor,

Reading that text was like reading some crime story from early 20's :) stealing petrol, how this would benefit me to pay someone less money for petrol and not getting any invoice/receipt? I need them to claim all my expenses... Also cash to hand it's I suppose ok if they don't run for the whole week/month... But again I will make sure that all is written on paper. This Polish attitude is really strange to me and reading about that is all new... We had stories about gangsters back in UK, take Carlton Leach from Essex story... But that was ages ago... I actually never heard a story of someone being kicked out from his own car and beaten up, that is ugly... I'm a bit speechless now... I will give myself time till next spring to see what else will happen in Poland and if there is any chance for little business here, if not I will be preparing for a big move, I'm missing UK so much, I used to complaint about it some time ago but I don't think that I will just get by in Poland. Don't get me wrong, country looks really nice, so many places to ride on your bike, huge garden, nice big house, cheap running costs( I earn UK money) but certainly I have a problem with people here, I'm here since June last year - I don't have a single friend, going to shops can be a challenge so I'm trying to go every other couple of weeks and just buy loads, usually my wife is dealing with it, I'm not leaving house currently, planning to go out once it will be warm, get a bike out... If possible I would love to avoid selling up here to buy again in UK, my wife wouldn't like it, she has parents here and she is very close with them, for her Poland is a home, for me feels like long awkward holidays. I also prefer to be with family... So not sure how my story will pants out. Ideally I want this business to move on, so wife can be independent (this is what she wants and she made it very clear but I cannot imagine her going to work for some rubbish money, she will do OK at home looking after this bus business and child)

Not sure about me as at this stage I cannot see myself as a "happy Englishman in Poland"
polishinvestor 1 | 361
11 Feb 2016 #8
Thats life in Polish small town backwaters. Its the people in these places that are the biggest law flouters and tax dodgers. You really have your work cut out try to compete with them. You can do so but generally then there is not much money to be made. This is why backwaters have stayed backwaters and why the bigger cities have prospered. At the end of the day you have to look at the income people have as it limits what they can then spend. There are some things in such villages you can do if you must stick to something local where you are. Such as renting key space to those providing key amenities. It might be the only bank in the village, or post office, or the single branded mini market in town, but these places will sign up on long term contracts and pay a good rent in the region of 7-12%. Or you could look into non-touch car washes. It is far better to go for the nearest large city as there is more choice and you can sell quicker and prices are more likely to go up faster.
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6146
11 Feb 2016 #9
Am I wrong thinking this country sucks?

LOL ! This country sucks in really many ways but let's be honest, 90% of people here barely meet both ends, 10 trillion run away to the UK alone and you thought that... what ? They morons just have no clue, me Englishman will buy 1 bus and everything will be great ? Welcome to the real world. Globally it's much more real than the UK where people have cosy life and apparently many think it's like that everywhere. Actually, in significant parts of this globe, on top of your costs you would have to add "fees" for some local warlord for not shooting the driver.

You either expected too much or do something wrong. If you can't even cover the costs, that's likely the latter. I don't know much about this sector but such small town companies seem to rely mainly on regular routes like bring people from villages to the factory in the morning + take the night shift back home, same in the afternoon and evening and in between of that take school kids to the zoo or local 5th league football club to the match. Not sure how they organize all of that but I'm not the owner of a transport company.
OP Luke84 7 | 114
11 Feb 2016 #10
Hi Grzegorz_,

Really? 90% ? how come it's so bad? I meet few people round here and they all seems to be doing OK, well I don't know their personal circumstances but I could easily place them within middle class bracket, again I'm not a wiser...

That is true, I have purchased one bus, I could go nuts and buy 2,3,10 buses, and then what if one cannot even make for itself, all I wanted was to create some income for my wife, she can then deal with people (emails, phones, meetings), and she can have perhaps that 1800PLN per month, taking what bus need to make I will be happy with 4200PLN per month, that is rubbish return from the investment, old days you could get more out from keeping your money in the bank!!! I reckon that flat in Katowitze or Krakow will make you similar money (not 4200 as this is including all taxes, maintenance, ZUS etc, with flat you will get probably around 1200PLN per month but value of the property will surely go up in next 15-20 year, with bus, you will be lucky if it would be worth 1K in 20 years :) )

Again I don't have huge expectations from life, I do understand that Poland is not like Cayman Islands (old days again), I just wanted my wife to have equivalent income to any crappy job she would pick out in this town. A minimum wage thing, but benefit of it would be mainly working from home so she can spend time with the little one, and she can work for herself, that is it really.

There is possibility that we are doing something wrong, firstly we are not established for 10-20-30 years like others so maybe that is a problem, I have to say we cannot cover the costs and I can perhaps try and see to that till summer, I don't think there is much point on "burning" the money long term... What I observed here in Poland is you need to have some sort of connections who can help you out, again I will try what others suggested and just see on how this will pants out :)
Roger5 1 | 1435
11 Feb 2016 #11
I cannot see myself as a "happy Englishman in Poland"

Where are you originally from, Luke?
OP Luke84 7 | 114
11 Feb 2016 #12
Hi Roger,

I used to live in West Molesey next to Hampton Court back in UK... However before that we were in Sweden and Canada for few years, we have moved to UK when I was 14... My mum is Swedish, dad was born in UK, but his father was Polish and married to English woman, I know this is all complicated but I'm a walking mix!!!


Just to add, I was born in UK and then we traveled a lot, dad was an engineer working on oil projects, so we were everywhere!
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6146
12 Feb 2016 #13
A minimum wage thing, but benefit of it would be mainly working from home so she can spend time with the little one, and she can work for hersel

OK so indeed these are not huge expectations... but perhaps this is a problem... I could be wrong but it seems you were thinking like "It doesn't have to bring any big profits so I will just buy a bus and it will be going on somehow" and although it would be likely easier to run this kind of business in the uk, I think that generally business in "traditional" sectors of the economy like transport, retail, catering etc. is based on low margins hence it require careful planning and effort to make any profits out of it.

Like I said, I don't know this sector too well, so no need for fake "mentoring" but generally there's really many "przewóz osób" small companies in Poland and they are somehow making "some" money. Usually they combine regular routes with 1 time orders, often have some sort of specializations, for instance there are many companies in western Poland that focus on transporting people to Germany (work, shopping etc.) and seem to have at least like 4-6 vehicles, often the smaller ones like Crafter, Sprinter etc.
polishinvestor 1 | 361
13 Feb 2016 #14
The problems he has written about wont be solved by adding more buses. He says he has low prices but he cannot make it work. More overheads are not going to make him more profitable. Its the quality of the work taken that matters. And sometimes in certain situations a certain business does not pay. The trick is to be able to coldly assess and make the correct decision to walk away in such a case. In business you stick to what you know and what you can make work. Some people I heard of in this industry are buying new Porsches, cash not leased, but I also know that they arent fully compliant with all laws. In any case they concentrate on, as you have stated, "business clients" put very loosely ferrying people to and from Germany. Can be very lucrative as its a repeat business, generally a person travels every 2 months if caring for the elderly in Germany. And there are likely more people travelling to Germany on such work than the total number of Poles in the UK.

Butf you know property and are comfortable with it, there are many opportunities to earn 8-10% yields and capital growth in the long term if you buy wisely. People in Poland have a habit of trying to convince you how best to spend or invest your money, usually with an underlying interest of their own. Again, one should stick to what one understands. One of Warren Buffetts oldest lines but worth heading.
13 Feb 2016 #15
Whenever you want to setup a business you must "do your homework ", determine if the business plan is profitable. Quite obviously a transport business in the Polish countryside is marginal at best.

Someone should have warned you about it, don't assume that it must a viable business just because otherwise people are doing it.

I would sell the bus and invest the money else where. You can earn over 6% in an ISA with property based bonds, for instance.
polishinvestor 1 | 361
13 Feb 2016 #16
Yes its often very difficult to replicate success in a small village. Sometimes people just arent interested but quite often would take advantage of various services/offerings but they just dont have the free funds. Unless you really know the lay of the land and the workings of a Polish village its best to stick to larger cities and more traditional investments.
OP Luke84 7 | 114
13 Feb 2016 #17
Hi Grzegorz_

I can see the same problem, most of businesses in Poland are established already, our local competition not only have more expensive prices but they also have old buses, usually they use up to 25 seater VANs (converted Merc Sprinter etc), we have a problem bus with aircon, 32 seater, TV, DVD, etc, so if I would be end user I wouldn't even think of using that service... I was talking to our accountant, he said that business is still fresh and we should give it a go for a year so then we can always sell it if that would not work... I don't want to go outside the Poland, this would be too risky, insurance is not cheap anyway and in case of any failure on the road (if in Poland) I cannot see a problem of sorting out replacement so people are not waiting, also to recover the bus here is easier. Once I go to Germany, this can go to thousands of euros in terms on recovery, replacement, etc...

Hello Polishinvestor,

That is absolutely true, I could buy a number of buses but simply there is no point, I rather keep adding them once I see that there is enough interest in this field. Quality of work I must say is really high as well, everything is done properly so safety is number one. That is true, I meet few people who are in that sort of industry and they are doing OK for themselves, they usually have this as a family source of income, so me thinking: all cost + 1800 per month it should be justified.

In terms of investments, I'm pretty safe at the moment in terms of my income but of course we need to think about the future, we are not alone, we have a baby and I want all the best for her. Private school in UK + some extra tuitions etc would cost me £30K per year, in Poland education is much much cheaper, I'm not so sure about quality/level of that education but I guess we can always have some private tuitions etc.

My other plan would be to purchase a flat (up to 7 years old) in Poland, or old house, and rent it, once our little one will be 20years old she can decide on what she wants to do with it. She can then sell it or keep renting it. Other idea is purchasing a house back in UK (this of course would be with a mortgage), plan for wife is to make some courses: accountancy which seems always in fashion and another one we are considering is INSURANCE BROKER, this seems to be a fantastic job role, of cousre both you can easily manage from home and this is what we really want...

That I agree with, best you can do is invest in what you know the best, this is what I'm doing for myself and I'm ok now but I cannot imagine myself in that sort of business in 10-20-30 years, I'm 32 this year and programming is great but I reckon all I do now, kids would be able to do when they would be 12-18 years old in school :)

So perhaps take from it till you can... and hence why I'm so desperate to take on new ventures as even if I would not have massive profits, we would be able to live from it...

Hi Pweeg,

I agree with you, in this particular example that was mainly my father in law, who have some contacts and know the business as he is in it for ages. He said it is very profitable but we need to be patient. I don't really agree and I'm afraid I don't want to argue with inlaws as this can cause even more issues. Anyway he works for us, and he is paid per each job so that way we know he is helping as much as he can.

I have some money invested back in UK but there is no way of making 6%, unless I'm missing something... Question with that business would be on when to stop, sell it let say September or wait till next year?
polishinvestor 1 | 361
13 Feb 2016 #18
I hope its not the case but I often find Poles look out for number one. Certainly I experienced this with some members of the family here in Poland. To stay diplomatic thats all that I'll say of this matter.

Personally Im putting together a portfolio of small commercial properties for my daughters, something that they will be able to continue to rent out themselves. The rest Im switching out as and when I feel is the correct time to do, but the small commercial will remain while they continue to exhibit solid fundamentals for the future.

As for your current predicament, only you can and should decide whether its time to call time on your venture. I have experienced small village small business for a couple of years a few years ago. I had some spare time on my hands and wanted to get them dirty so to speak, do something a bit more physical to make sure the health is where it should be. The venture ended up being marginally profitable but ended up taking up most of the week rather than the one or two days that I had originally planned. Waste of time? I did learn a new trade but could the time spent doing it could possibly have been spent more profitably (financial or otherwise) elsewhere? Possibly.

If you do decide to make the jump into property, there really are many avenues you can explore, all offering solid yields and a good chance of capital gain. Stuff on otodom and agency websites in often massively overpriced, but the good news is the differnce between the list price and selling price averages about 25% across Poland, so dont be afraid to lowball. In fact you must, its often the only way to get a good deal. Im not really one to champion private/retail buy to let as I think commerical returns are better and more predictable, but if you buy a few cheap flats or town house, bring them/it up to standard, then it can achieve a solid yield. If you are willing to wait a bit for capital gains, buying in peripheral cities, where prices havent rebound from post crisis levels, means you should be seeing above country average capital gains in 10 years. The downside risks are that they may (but not always; I have stuff on a 8-9% yield almost untouched for 10 years) require more active management on your part compared to large city offerings, but it may be something preferential if you are looking for something close to where you live. At the end of the day property is a common sense business and if you have some of that common sense, you can be an active investor in your business, rather than passive as is currently the case with the bus business.
OP Luke84 7 | 114
13 Feb 2016 #19
Yes that is true, anyhow this wasn't strictly my idea, this was a family member idea (father in law) who has some experience, some contacts, free time and actually is in not any urge for money. So I thought this is perfect opportunity, he was able to catch few jobs which are adhoc I would say, they are some schools calling, there is some stuff already reserved. This month itself should pay for itself and make some small profit, at the moment(since November) after paying everything we were able to gain 800zlots! I know this sounds like a joke to anyone who read this right now but it's still winter and this business is in rather sleep mode, anyhow I will be patient and I will give it a time till September to see if it will fail or maybe it will be ok... We will see... I must say that Polish market is not so easy, back in UK I was able to be involved in many different businesses and whatever I did everything brought me back a nice profit, only down side was that I had to put my own time into that and I had to watch it constantly otherwise everything was dramatically going down. These days I'm so busy with my projects now so I would rather be happy with small return but at the same time this would be a nice task for my wife who thinking about going to find a job, I personally think it's a nonsense, we have little daughter and even if I work at home I don't have much time to look after little one during the day, so taking extra person in to look after little one, house etc would probably cost as much or even more than she is going to earn somewhere in town, other thing is time, she will be stuck for at least 8hours per day, and will need to travel to/from work which is also time and money... Because of it our lifestyle will change dramatically. I like it the way it is that is why I rather find a solution so she can feel needed and she can work at home. I hope all of it make sense. Yes commercial property is not a bad idea, where are you investing? Poland (town/village) or UK/Europe? It has crossed my mind to purchase a holiday house let say in Mallorca( I have some friends there so it should be straight forward to find a deal), I know again this is also risky, but it's a property so the value will certainly go up. Can rent it as a holiday house to Poles or anyone else, I think all Europeans will be very picky in terms of holidays and I expect them to avoid all Muslim countries (this is natural trend) so they will go to places like Cuba, Dominican Republic etc or Europe: Croatia, Spain, Portugal... I think this could be a nice idea but before I will do anything I will need to sit tight and write down all cons and pros... We are more likely talking about 200-300K euros so ideally I would not put that sort of budget into any danger...

I could not agree with you more on properties, I know in general this is the safest bet but on other token I would love to build something that my wife can start and maybe in future my daughter can continue, I'm not saying she must continue but at least she would have this as an option... My career should be safe for another 10years, then who knows, I'm constantly learning and improving my skills but I can see the shadow of future growing every day/week/month... As I mentioned before kids would be able to do everything what I'm doing when they will be 15-18years old, I'm sure some of them can do it now!
polishinvestor 1 | 361
14 Feb 2016 #20
Myself and my family from the UK invest in the dolnyslask region. We have properties in Jelenia Gora, Dzierzoniow and Wroclaw. We currently have a mixture of town houses and commercial property. Good locations thats a given and if talking individual units, then smaller ones which are easier to maintain and rent regularly (by that I mean you can sign a 5 year contract once but can you do it again in the future) with solid local footfall. We did have new flats for sale but have sold almost all of them last year, however its not an area we will be pursuing again in the near future as I think its one of the weaker areas of the property market here. You can diversify away from commercial if you need to by renting flats to private sector. I certainly wouldnt consider buying a property that I couldnt visit within a couple of hours drive but Im no expert on the Spainish market and it may be viable to hire an agency to take care of the week to week requirements concerning your property.

Spending 500-800k (maybe 60-100m2) on a small commercial should see a monthly rent of between four to six thousand zloty on average. Often it will be in a new build with low operating costs. Generally the tenant is responsible for the media, you need to pay the council tax which is about 23zl/metre per year for business property across Poland (so about 2300zl/yr for a 100m unit). Insurance will be your other cost, count about a couple of grand per million invested. After this is the service charge for upkeep of the building the unit is part of and paid by the owner of each unit. This varies and you need to check that there are not unfavourable water or heating rates priced into this charge as this will make it less appealing to the tenant and lower your return.
OP Luke84 7 | 114
14 Feb 2016 #21
Oh wow, I'm impressed, didn't know that investment of around 500k can bring you around 4K, I thought there is much smaller return, we have a flat already, this is a tiny (less than 40m2) flat based in Grodzisk Mazowiecki, my wife used to live there when she was studying and before she moved to UK (this was also before we purchased house we are in at the moment) property is about 20years old, in very good condition, we pay insurance on it, tax from income and we are renting it through agency, we got about 600PLN per month from that, property is worth around 150K... So returns around 4K would be fantastic. In regards to Spanish market, I mentioned before I have some friends there, the idea is to write down a proposal for them so they can look after it for me, I'm hoping to draft an agreement so that way I know that they will be happy with what they got and also we will have some small return, idea is to buy a house and convert it the way that building has two entries, one is used solely for us so we can go there on hols and second one will be for tenants. I think idea is fantastic but it does need more research as this would be probably about 800-1m PLN investment and I need to see if I can look at the same return as you mentioned when dealing with commercial. For example I can buy a house back in UK (places like Kingston on Thames or Surbiton), there areas are popular within students, again have someone to look after it, and from 250-300k GBP investment I can get around 2.5-3k GBP return, this also sounds great, but with that kind of investment I would need to take a mortgage as there is always something to do with the house. I'm now very much interested in commercial property but I have no experience or knowledge about that sort of market here. What sort of businesses renting that sort of property?what will happen if they got bankrupt?
polishinvestor 1 | 361
14 Feb 2016 #22
Outside the big cities retail/private rental yields tend to be a little lower since there are less people working, earning less and so less competition for living space. You can make it work in the best locations but you have to select your tenants well, as lower job security and pay means greater risk of non payment.

As for commercial, you can also look at peripheral cities where you can get more space for your money, but you are less likely to find strong national or multinational tenants, which is what I always look for. You will have a contract length of 5 to 10 years, often with the option to extend for another 5 or 10 years. Chains such as Zabka and Freshmarket are larger companies with multi million backing and there is little chance of them disappearing. You can also look at post office and telecoms/utilities companies, anything that is large. There are a lot of units coming up for sale where banks have rented the space. They tend too to have long term contracts but prices are quite elevated as locations are always great and in the next few years I expect a lot of the banks are going to drastically reduce their number of branches, we may even get one or two going bust. So I would stay away from units with banks in them unless the location is great and the price acceptable, since you need to be able to re rent the unit in the future at a good yield.
OP Luke84 7 | 114
14 Feb 2016 #23
Hi Polishinvestor,

That is true, my biggest worry on the property market is dealing with people who are non-payers, this of course can happen even in biggest cities, perhaps the percentage is lower. This is perfect, I would love to have a contract for 5-10 years, at least you are not dealing with troubles every year. Can you really find a good commercial property for around half a mil? That would be ideal, and taking into account you have a long term contract you don't need it to be within let say 30miles... Off topic may I ask you what is your hobby? I'm trying to find something which I can do and enjoy every moment I'm here, close by there is a golf course but winter is not ideal for it, same with cycling, I will be buying new bikes this spring and probably will travel around on the bikes...
polishinvestor 1 | 361
14 Feb 2016 #24
You can buy units starting from a couple of hundred but these are going to be very small and probably not best locations and unlikely to draw a chain willing to sign up for a long term contract. 500 to 1 million + vat gives you more choice. has a mix of properties across Poland and as far as an exercise in comparing price/size/yield/contract length its quite good to give you an idea of what to expect. You best bet would then be to approach local estate agents and tell them what you are looking for as commercials mostly tend to be sold through agents.

I used to do a bit of golf in the UK and a fair bit of tennis but that was years ago now. These days the kids give me my exercise and take up my free time since there is just the wife and myself, no family that can be relied upon so we tend to do things together or not at all.
OP Luke84 7 | 114
14 Feb 2016 #25
Excellent, thank you very much for that lead, I will definitely check that. I reckon I have maximum of 10 years which can be used for a good investments. I need to start to spend my time more actively, right now I'm opening a fridge about dozen times per day, I used to play tennis as well while I was back in UK, I must say I was more active then, was socialising quite often as well, here it's only us really, we used to go out to restaurants about 3 times per week but now it's just a pure stress when you go with little one as she doesn't want to sit tight so it's looks like that: wife is seating and eating her meal (or other way round), I'm walking with the little one and then we change, not a great fun, apart of her family we don't have much friends here either. I have loads of friends in UK thought. So you are saying that family keep you busy...

Have you ever tried sites like to make some on side profits?
polishinvestor 1 | 361
14 Feb 2016 #26
Crowdfunding at that level is passive investing. I have no control over my investment and I lose a slice of my return due to the structure of investment. Just the same as an investment fund in the stockmarket, you have no real control over where they are investing. I do invest in shares, but use EFT's and overweight/underweight sectors given my preference or view at the time. Generally when stuff is offered to the private investor or man on the street, it means banks wont touch them. Nobody is going to pass over a free lunch unless its rotten.
OP Luke84 7 | 114
14 Feb 2016 #27
Great, thanks, this I suppose is good to gain a pocket money but it's also with high risk so not to bother spend over 5K on that sort of thing... Back in UK I'm using Cazenove, this is a great company which can manage your private wealth. Again all money I builded up and got from parents back in UK are staying in UK so in Poland I can only play with whatever I made here and whatever is left from selling my house back in UK. At least this is some sort of challenge and hopefully after few years I would be able to show my mum that I was able to achieve something in Poland, she was feeling very negative about me moving to Poland, a good thing was that she accepted my wife but beginning wasn't easy... How many years you live in Poland for? Have you sold up everything back in UK and then moved here? How often you are going back? I refuse the answer you don't miss it at all, unless missing bit is a syndrome which you will get rid off after few years:)
polishinvestor 1 | 361
15 Feb 2016 #28
Im all for investing wisely and if you dont understand the markets then it is better to offer the reins to those that can possibly do a better job, but I prefer to take charge of that myself. Whether by in competence or something more sinister, I just dont trust such institutions to do a better job than me.

I have been in Poland for more than 12 years now, I oversee my familys investment in the country. I manage to get back 2 or 3 times a year. Its trivial things that you take for granted that I would miss most about the UK and society. The wheels turn more slowly in Poland on average and that can be frustrating sometimes (time is money is a foreign concept), but if everything here was the same as back in the UK then certain opportunities wouldnt present themselves.

If you are used to the attractions and benefits of a fast paced life in a big British city like London, the small village life in Poland will be a shock, but it certainly gets a lot more up to pace in the largest Polish cities.
OP Luke84 7 | 114
15 Feb 2016 #29
Hi Polishinvestor,

It does sound like you have a built up portfolio so indeed you can manage this yourself, I was able to invest money in my life but whatever I did it required my presence to be done correctly. Oh 12 years it's such a long time, you can certainly become an expert in that length of time, I'm here from last June (July really!) so I cannot compare it :)

Definitely time is running much slowly here and therefor we should be more healthy here, shall we?
Trust me, in the town/village I'm in there is nothing to do at all hence why I'm thinking of jumping on a bike when the weather improve a bit.

As you can see I'm a newbie here so I need to pick up the knowledge really fast, like with that bus business, was thinking about that last night, I will give it a time till May and then decide, will more likely sell it as piece of metal on the wheels would not gain any value, well it could if it is David Brown car, like friend of mine purchased DB5 for around 40K GBP ages ago, then he spent almost 60K up to date on it, it looks brand new and it's worth around 1M easily! This is another way I was thinking of making some money while in Poland, the labour is quite cheap and people don't value classic cars yet, not at the same level as we do in UK. WHat is your opinion about classic cars/bikes, if you are in that sort of thing?

polishinvestor 1 | 361
15 Feb 2016 #30
I owned a small auto repair service and tyre shop for a few years so I do have some experience here. It was dealing with day to day repairs for modern cars rather than classics, but yes labour can be cheap (some legally registered run and registered businesses can charge as little at 30zl/h labour in a small village and still make a little money on top). Quality of workmanship often can leave a lot to be desired although their own confidence in their own work is sky high! I do hear a lot of people doing work on classics cars transported from Germany. Work is done here in Poland then the cars return to Germany by transporter or under their own steam if able to. A friend of mine did a 60's Mustang last year as well as an early Ford Capri, both from Germany. If you have a keen interest and are able to do a lot of the work yourself, Id say its certainly a rewarding way to spend your spare time. As a business in a smaller town, Id say you have to have a technical understanding of the auto repair business otherwise you have no basis from which to appraise the quality of work done by your staff. The cost side is something you would have to learn quickly as you can very easily overpay for materials, even more so for labour. That all said there is a huge market for auto repair in Poland. The Poles like to import accident damaged cars from abroad and repair them here in Poland where its much cheaper. But, in a small town, your competition will often be a guy working illegally from his own home, often using materials bought cheaply that have been stolen from auto repair and body shops. So earnings might be quite modest.

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