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Advice on Moving to Zakopane

22 Jan 2015 #1
Dear forum,

I'm seeking advice on a move to Zakopane. I'll be honest!! I recently lost my job in the UK in a really rough way, nothing to do with my performance just saying the wrong thing in front of the wrong person at a Christmas function. I've been really down last few weeks over Christmas & new year & realise how really my job was my life, I'm very lonely without it, seem to have few real friends about, with that my family are very dysfunctional & i dont have a particular relationship with any member of them.

I have lived abroad before, in Krakow among other places in Europe & enjoyed it. I'm now looking at leaving the UK again & a complete fresh start. An American friend of mine is in a similar position as me & we're looking at doing this move together.

We're both in our 30's, single guys have enjoyed sports in the past, i have some savings that would see us through a few months, could anyone advise on a relocation to Zakopane??

Neither of us speak more than a few words in Polish, the attraction is being in the mountains, snowboarding & almost a 're-evaluation of life & priorities trip!!

Beyond this few month idea, would it be realistic to consider a full time relocation to Zakopane? If i had enough money to cover rent indefinitely would there be options for bar work / low skilled work to put food on the table & pay for the ski passes and beers? Also are people generally English speakers as in Krakow or would communication be difficult? I'm pretty much dead cert on the relocation as i like the idea of cheap winter sports, the healthy environment of the mountains and i like polish people and culture. Would it be easy enough to make friends with locals too, not speaking the language, certainly at first?

Would really appreciate anyone's input to help me know what to expect...

Many thanks.
22 Jan 2015 #2
Zakopane isn't really a ski resort and I think it's highly unlikely you would find work of any kind there. Mountain towns tend to be unemployment black spots whatever the country due to the geography.
OP Guest
22 Jan 2015 #3
Thanks for your post weeg, if not the most positive of replies!! When you say its not a ski resort its still a base for wintersports, you mean that it takes some travelling to make it to the lifts?

To simplify my question, provided the finances were in place & i'd organised ok accomodation do you think it would be a place we'd be able to stay, snowboard and enjoy for couple of months as foreigners? This time of year i'm finding is not a fun time to be unemployed in the uk & zakopane seems a credible affordable destination to dust off the winter blues, enjoy another culture & get involved in some winter sports - would you agree with me?
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,854
22 Jan 2015 #4
I think there are 'ski resort' aspects to Zakopane, perhaps weeg meant that there is more to it than just that?
Whatever your plans, you really should learn some Polish - it is not like some other European countries where you can get away with not knowing the language. If you know some German that might help too.
OP Guest
22 Jan 2015 #5
Thanks for your reply, i know a few words, basic sentences from living in krakow for 6 months. My excuse for not knowing more is that whenever i attempted to speak Polish the locals would switch into english & an english conversation would follow. I expect this to be less so in Zakopane. My american friend speaks some german. I'm happy to get Polish lessons too once I arrive.

I'm pretty dead cert on doing this, I enjoyed krakow a lot & would move there tomorrow, i just prefer the healthier lifestyle option of zakopane & would like to get my snowboarding skills back to a reasonable standard with a view to taking an instructor course. This place seems to tick a number of boxes, it's just good to know from a sounding board perspective whether my idea seems like a reasonably good one. Thanks
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,854
22 Jan 2015 #6
I think it sounds like a great idea - go for it! and as you already know some phrases and have spent time there, you will be fine!
OP Guest
22 Jan 2015 #7
Thanks for your encouragement! I'm looking forward to giving it my best, just attempting to sort out those final loose ends here in the UK & looking forward to landing in Zakopane with my american mate & a car full of luggage, ready to take on the slopes!!! - and the occasional beer. Any others pointers or advice appreciated, plus looking for a 2 bed apartment to rent, budget around 2k zloty per month for a quality place. If anybody can help with this too please feel free to contact me.
DominicB - | 2,707
22 Jan 2015 #8
This place seems to tick a number of boxes, it's just good to know from a sounding board perspective whether my idea seems like a reasonably good one.

Well, there are a couple of obvious boxes that it isn't ticking, namely:

1) There is practically zero chance that you sill be able to earn money in Zakopane. Like Weeg said, the supply of cheap unskilled labor outstrips the demand by several orders of magnitude, and wages in the hospitality/gastronomy branch are very low, probably too low to pay for ski tickets and beer. There is a good reason why so many Poles go to work in the UK, and not the other way around. No matter how you cut it, the UK is a veritable bed of roses career-wise compared to Poland.

2) There is little you could possibly do in Zakopane to improve your qualifications so that you could start a new career in Poland or back home. The only thing that springs to mind is learning Polish, and unless you have other salable skills, education and experience, that isn't worth all that much on the Polish job market. Can you really afford to pi$$ away your savings on what you have described as an extended unproductive vacation?

3) Learning Polish to a level where it is salable on the job market will take you many years of hard work. It's a daunting exercise, and very frustrating. It's not a "plug and play" language like English, and saying even the simplest things requires considerable grammatical knowledge and practice.

4) What do you do when the cash runs dry? That's going to happen sooner than later if you are practicing winter sports all the time and spending your time in bars.

5) If alcohol or other substances contributed to your saying the wrong thing to the wrong person at that Christmas party, then you have a very serious drinking/drug problem indeed, and should get help for that as soon as possible. That will be a million times easier in the UK than in Poland.

6) If you can't make it in the UK, then chances are exceedingly remote that you will make it in Poland, especially without the extensive network of family and friends that Poles rely on to survive.

My advice is to stay in the UK where it is MUCH easier for you to build up your qualifications and embark on a new career with MUCH higher lifetime earnings and lifetime savings capacity. There are plenty of opportunities for further education or reschooling, none of which will be available to you in Poland, either in the short term or the long term. You don't have to take a trip to Zakopane to reevaluate your life priorities. What about finding work in the oil fields of Scotland or Norway. Wages are FAR higher than anything you'll ever earn in Poland, the relative cost of living is lower, and savings capacity is FAR higher.

Sorry, I don't think your plan is a viable option, and there are certainly many other options available to you within the UK. If you really want to emigrate, pick a country where you stand a realistic chance of finding gainful employment. That pretty much rules out Poland.
22 Jan 2015 #9
he wasn't talking about 'emigrating' he was talking about spending a couple of months at a ski resort.
Once again dominic you just sound bitter and negative.
DominicB - | 2,707
22 Jan 2015 #10
Read his question again.
22 Jan 2015 #11
he said he was thinking of going over for a 'a few months' and see how it goes.....
I remember I met a negative old lady like you down in Crete

Yes she had moved down there and bought a house and yet if she met anyone else who had done the same she would be realy arsey and rude to them and tell them that they couldn't possibly understand the Cretan accent etc

Another silly old woman
Monitor 14 | 1,817
22 Jan 2015 #12
You can find something in Zakopane for 2000zł:

Random ski-pass in Zakopane costs 80zł per day.,osrodek,1088,skipassy.html

Minimum salary is around 1200zł per day and knowledge and Polish is a must (Russian, German and English useful too).

DominicB tells you right that if you want to live somewhere near mountains, and not just spend money, then move to Scotland, Norway, Austria, Switzerland or even where I am currently - Munich (train to Garmisch-Partenkirchen goes in 1h:22m). Job market and earning potential are way better than in Zakopane and with the salary you can easily afford going every weekend skiing.

And in Poland if somebody is lost like you then is escaping to Bieszczady, not Zakopane :)
OP Guest
22 Jan 2015 #13
I appreciate all comments, dominics rather negative agreed, but still appreciated!! Well the reason for zakopane over more western type resorts is i have a fund that will provide a consistant income of about £500 per month. I'm quite burnt out with working in financial services & i'm looking at a change of scenery for a while, maybe 2 months maybe 2 years. I'm 31 so its not game over yet, I like Poland from my experience living there & always seem to have pretty good rapport with the polish wherever i meet them. I have very little in actual savings, approx £1500 but this would be enough to pay a deposit and first months rent as well as easing in money, ski passes whatever else. I also have a car i will be bringing. With £500 in each & every month if i could get do some part time work to top within say 3 months of being there my view is i could survive ok, i dont have any commitments to pay back home, children or a mortgage. I'm not looking for a career move I'm looking for a career break & reasonably simple but realistic life. Bear in mind i have lived in poland before so £500 per i would think would be survivable on, with a view to supplementing it is with reasonable time. More input please, much appreciated... :)
22 Jan 2015 #14
Zakopane is not much of a ski resort, on piste that is. However it may offer more if you are an off piste boarder who is willing to walk.

Its is comparativly cheap to live there and if you have a regular income from investments then I'd say go for it.
Wroclaw Boy
22 Jan 2015 #15
You can find something in Zakopane for 2000zł

I bet (at those prices) they're miles from the nearest ski lift. Zakopane is not a ski resort, its a city in the mountains which has a few lifts, extremely limited in comparison to some of the big Alps resorts. Straight up, straight down kind of deal, no real network of lifts that keep you up and about on the mountain. Its the same as on the Slovakian side of the Tatras. Ive done a few of those resorts and honestly prefer Spinlderuv Mlyn in the Czech Republic.

If i went to Zakopane in the winter i wouldn't even bother taking my snowboard.

However it may offer more if you are an off piste boarder who is willing to walk.

Only above the treeline, difficult to access and hard to get back up, also if you get caught in an avalanche forget about rescue.
OP Guest
22 Jan 2015 #16
Thanks for more input, really appreciated, Wroclaw boy again Czech more expensive plus i prefer the idea of Poland anyway. Would you only take your snowboard to Zakopane in the summer then? ;)

Weeg, cheers i'm willing to walk!! Do me good!

I've also recovered my prized mono-ski from the stables today. Must be 10 years old with a few cosmetic prop scratches but still in good shape. Is there anywhere its possible to water-ski/wake-board (behind a boat ideally rather than cable) in or around Zakopane or a 2 hours drive away (thinking summer?) Its finished, sadly in English lake district since they put the speed limit on windermere hence the lack of use of the old ski - any help would again be much appreciated :)
Jane D 1 | 9
23 Jan 2015 #17
You are very brave Guest.
Monitor 14 | 1,817
23 Jan 2015 #18
I bet (at those prices) they're miles from the nearest ski lift.

Mentioned ski resort Harenda is only 3.5km from Zakopane center, and some of the advertised apartments in airndb are just next to Harenda. Not even 2 mils away :)

although it seems to be tiny:

there are other which you can check:
30 Jan 2015 #19

I moved to Zakopane nearly a year and a half ago after living in London for 10 years. My partner is from here so a much easier move for me. I can understand some Polish but can't really speak it very well.

To be honest with you, people here speak much less English than in Krakow and you'll have a pretty tough time with only English, so really get yourself to learn as much Polish as you can. I doubt if you'd be able to find work in bars or hotels as you'd have to speak Polish. There are however many possibilities for English guides or drivers.

I can help you find cheap accomodation around here as we run a small travel and accomodation agency and know many places that you can rent for longterm.

The people here are very friendly but it will be hard to make friends at first.

I am learning to ski and snowboard and the slopes around here is perfect for that. Kasprowy wierch is a bit more advanced but I know that for very good skiers it's a bit boring and not enough of a challenge.

Hope this helps.
Msg me if you need help with accomodation.
HelenaWojtczak 28 | 177
31 Jan 2015 #20
Wow I am astonished that after Dominic gave such a lot of time and effort in giving such excellent, down to earth, realistic advice, his friendly concerns for another person's welfare should be dismissed as merely "negative"!

I've made some huge mistakes in my life, and I wish I'd had someone like Dominic to point out the pitfalls, and warn me about the Realities of Life.

All I had around me were people who said "Dare to do it!" and "Go for it!" and as a result I did and it all went horribly wrong.

And no, those "positive people" weren't there to pick up the pieces!!!
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,854
31 Jan 2015 #21
yes helena but if you spend a bit of time on this forum you will see that dominic is unfailingly negative about anyones plans.
and he would obviously not be there to 'pick up the pieces' why would he.
how silly.
Although i agree it is good to point out downsides, he takes it too far.
DominicB - | 2,707
31 Jan 2015 #22
Thanks, Helena. I also don't understand what they mean by "negative", either, because I always give positive advice. It may not be the advice they want to hear, and it usually excludes moving to Poland for naive reasons, so they must think there is something "negative" about that.

I lived for twelve years in Poland myself, so I know the pleasures and the pitfalls very well. The "Go for it" cheerleaders often don't, and I suspect that some of them would take perverse pleasure in seeing silly dreamers come to Poland and get burned.
HelenaWojtczak 28 | 177
31 Jan 2015 #23
When we announce that we are going to do something big or risky, and we ask others for their opinions/thoughts, we are going to get two kinds of replies ~ those who say "do it" and those that say "don't do it". This is good, for it gives both sides.

It is then up to the person who asked the question to read BOTH SIDES of the argument and weigh it up for themselves.

Why would you want to stop that person hearing both sides?

Why would you want to remove half of the crucial information the person needs to make such a serious decision?

And why should you expect Dominic to pick up the pieces, when he's the one who warned the person against doing it?

If I want any information about Poland, I'd definitely want to hear what Dominic had to say. I wish I had his email address!

31 Jan 2015 #24
Rozumiemnic is right. Dominic is over negative. For once his estimations are quite often something I can't understand, like suddenly the prices in Poland went up 100 per cent. Plus the conviction that we all should be programers, technicians... We don't need doctors, nurses, techers, actors...

Money are not the highes happiness in life in my dictionary but following your heart and feelings makes you a freak here. Who the hell needs love,right?

Living in Dominic world must be really sad.
TheDevil 1 | 2
31 Jan 2015 #25
I've seen several of DominicB's posts by now, and they all sound pretty much the same:

"go back to university and study engineering/informatics"
"stay home"

You must be fun at parties. There is a difference between offering thoughtful, realistic advice and flat-out telling someone they/their qualifications are useless.
31 Jan 2015 #26
I'd usually be the one saying 'go for it' but I have to agree with a lot of DominicB's advice. The whole tone of the OP's initial post is a bit worrying. It's really not a good idea to run away from your issues or problems. However,if a scenario could be taking a few months' off and running down your savings then returning to the UK, it could be OK. Wages are extremely low in Poland and even lower in the south. Accommodation is more expensive in holiday places as well. I doubt you could put much food on the table on a minimum wage bar job (1200 pln net) in Zakopane plus paying rent. Why don't you work for one of the UK holiday operators on a seasonal basis? It's too late for winter but you can do a summer stint and then transfer to winter. They guarantee food and board, and throw in activities e.g. ski passes. I think you'd be on to a better deal with that than trying to do it yourself in Zakopane.
DominicB - | 2,707
31 Jan 2015 #27
The whole tone of the OP's initial post is a bit worrying. It's really not a good idea to run away from your issues or problems.

Indeed it was. It sounded downright suicidal, career-wise.

"go back to university and study engineering/informatics"

I rarely, if ever, recommend informatics. It's the lowest paid engineering specialty, and even more so as a non-engineering degree, unless you have a second serious degree in a specialty that allows you to stand out on the job market.

My standards are petroleum, geological and biomedical engineering, econometrics and actuarial sciences, all fields with stellar employment opportunities and fantastic lifetime earnings and savings potential.

As for the "stay at home", you overlooked that I recommended Scotland and Norway to the OP, which are both abysmal in Poland except for select few with heavy-duty qualifications and experience that makes them highly desirable on the Polish job market.

Who the hell needs love,right?

"Feelings", "heart" and "love" are great, as long as you have the cold hard cash to pay for it. If not, Poland is an awful place to be. The love runs out quick when the cash does, and so does the fun. As for the countless doofuses from the UK and Ireland who post here saying that they want to be with their Polish girlfriends, thinking that they are going to find a job with zero salable qualifications or experience and even less knowledge of the local language, they have another think coming if they think they can sponge off their "in-laws" for long before they get the proverbial boot. They would be better off investing in hand lotion and tissues. "Love" is a luxury only for those that can afford it, and I have very little patience for hopeless slackers who persist in believing otherwise.

Real life chews up silly dreamers and spits them out, especially in Poland. Parasites are dealt with harshly there.
TheDevil 1 | 2
1 Feb 2015 #28
Guess what, not everybody in Europe studies to become a petroleum engineer. Geology? Are you serious? Biomedical engineering is yet another career field that most people don't consider.

You certainly have a cynical outlook on life, even more so than me (and that's worrying). If all immigrants that arrived in North and South America during the last two centuries had had a similar approach to life as you do, I doubt they would have survived. You seem to prefer a comfort zone and avoid adventures, and come across as a coward. OP's intentions might appear insane and dellusional, but I believe he's got bigger balls than someone like you.

I'd like to know how old you are and what have you achieved in your life so far.
Dougpol1 31 | 2,639
1 Feb 2015 #29
The people here are very friendly .

Wot? Zakopane? Do tell me you are joking? :) Only interested in one thing. I'm glad you enjoy living there. Wild horses.....
Ziemowit 14 | 4,258
1 Feb 2015 #30
Zakopane seems to be fine for the OP idea of a 2-month career break. Two months or so? No problem, just come and check for yourself. But a 2-year career break seems to be too long really. Is the OP not looking for a career change?

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