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London vs Kraków - considering a move


Misfit 2 | 3
10 May 2015  #1
Hello if you have moved from London to Kraków I would love to hear from you. What were the biggest drawbacks/unexpected bonuses?
I know it's presumptuous to make this post but the most entertaining threads returned by a search of this forum for "London" were an enquiry about working in a strip club and a story about a man chopping his own sausage!

I've lived in (and left) Sydney, Zürich, Berlin, Vienna and London.

As far as I can see, Kraków is:
- bike friendly
- more pleasant to look at (low rise buildings, pretty centre, delightful river)
- clean
- uncrowded
- slightly less polluted
- largely graffiti free
- offering more job opportunities for me (paradoxically, since investment banks are near-sourcing here like crazy and the London IT contacting market is mainly awash with dull regulatory reporting work)

- offering 4 city centre flats for the price of a single london flat in zone 2

but
- the language is very challenging for native English speakers
- there is a 6 month winter (but I like the cold & skiing)
- bureaucracy is rampant
- a decent steak is hard to find / lobster is unthinkable
- plush gyms are overpriced
- filtered milk isn't available
- a PLN salary would make foreign holidays / buying foreign made electronics & clothes rather expensive

Having lived in several countries I find that local salaries and costs move in line, so I find the financial case is largely irrelevant
weeg
10 May 2015  #2
I did.

There are places to get good steak at London prices.

Its a pleasant city to live in, walkable.

The polution at times is one of the worst in EU.

There is plenty of grafitti.

Winter is 3 months and mainly dry and windless. Not bad really as spring and autumn are better
DominicB - | 2,678
11 May 2015  #3
Having lived in several countries I find that local salaries and costs move in line, so I find the financial case is largely irrelevant

Big mistake. That only works for comparing first-world countries like the ones you mentioned, and breaks down when you compare poorer countries like Poland. You'll find that the cost of living in Poland relative to wages is much higher than in Western Europe.

The thing that is going to hurt the most is how little in terms of absolute dollars you will be able to put away at the end of the month. Your absolute savings potential will be a small fraction of what it would be in the West. If there is going to be a deal breaker, it is precisely that.

the language is very challenging for native English speakers

Unless you are planning to live there for ten or more years, at least, forget about learning the language. It's not a plug and play language like English where students can use what they learn very quickly. The grammar is perverse, so saying even the simplest things requires abundant mental gymnastics.You would probably leave before you could string simple sentences together. And the language is not very portable. Same goes for Czech or Hungarian.
OP Misfit 2 | 3
27 May 2015  #4
Two week update:

Pro
- Trams and buses run through the night (albeit just hourly in certain cases)
- Filtered milk is available in the giant Carrefour and the 24 hour Tesco (look for Zimne Mleko)
- There is a 24 hour mega Tesco
- Meat lovers can get a fast fix at Polish weigh and pay buffets in the train station/Krakow Galeria
- Buying travel tickets on the tram requires coins but the central stops take credit cards

Cons
- Hailing a taxi on the street is asking to be ripped off. Uber on the other hand requires no cash and no grasp of the Polish language. Double win!

- As DominicB mentioned, the cost of living for expats is very high compared to local salaries. One recruitment agent told me her Polish candidates beg her for London jobs. A local also told me that the cost of living is high for her too and one of her sisters prefers waitressing in Devon

- Train station ticket offices require workers to be dour old hags who don't speak English. Use the ticket machines instead
- A train ticket from Krakow to Warsaw is much more expensive than you might expect
- The recruitment process involves them asking you what yoiur salary expectation is, then telling you 60 thousand zloty a month is unreasonable. I don't understand why this play this pointless charade (unless they are trying to scam people who do no research).
Harry
27 May 2015  #5
lobster is unthinkable

Not at all. Carrefour certainly used to sell live lobsters, although I'm not sure if they still do (I've not been there on a Friday for years). I'm told that Makro also have live lobster. But they aren't cheap: expect to pay over 100zl a lobster.

Now that I look, Frisco have them too:
frisco.pl/pid,10071/n,frisco-fish-homar-kanadyjski---swiezy-%28600g-800g%29/stn,product
inkrakow 1 | 98
28 May 2015  #6
My answers your questions:

As far as I can see, Kraków is:
- bike friendly - not quite, but getting there.
- more pleasant to look at (low rise buildings, pretty centre, delightful river) - erm, have you been to Ruczaj? Or any of the suburbs?
- clean - only the centre
- uncrowded - not the centre
- slightly less polluted - absolutely not true, we have Europe's 3rd worst air quality, with levels exceeding the legal limits by factors of 10x in the winter. Many people develop breathing problems on moving here.

- largely graffiti free - true, but what graffiti we do have can be seriously racist
- offering more job opportunities for me (paradoxically, since investment banks are near-sourcing here like crazy and the London IT contacting market is mainly awash with dull regulatory reporting work) - only if you're prepared to work in the outsourcing industry

- offering 4 city centre flats for the price of a single london flat in zone 2 - maybe, but at salaries that are a fraction of that in London and without the possibility of getting a mortgage.

but
- the language is very challenging for native English speakers - yes, but it's increasingly easy to get by in English
- there is a 6 month winter (but I like the cold & skiing) - true and it gets dark earlier than in the UK
- bureaucracy is rampant - true, but getting better
- a decent steak is hard to find / lobster is unthinkable - not true (steak - Ed Red, Pimiento...)
- plush gyms are overpriced - I pay £20 a month for a perfectly adequate standard, with a corporate account, it's less.
- filtered milk isn't available - it is, but it's still not widely available and easiest to order online.
- a PLN salary would make foreign holidays / buying foreign made electronics & clothes rather expensive - depends, some living costs are lower here
OP Misfit 2 | 3
28 May 2015  #7
only if you're prepared to work in the outsourcing industry

What's a better paid alternative for non-Polish speakers?
DominicB - | 2,678
29 May 2015  #8
Unless you have some highly in demand and exotic IT or accounting skills and experience, there are no "better paid alternatives" for non-Polish speakers in Poland. There are only some less lousily paid jobs, especially in outsource centers, where the primary consideration is keeping wages as low as possible. There is a good reason why so many Poles leave Poland in search of better paying work in the West and not the other way around. Like I said above, the thing that will hurt you the most is your savings potential in absolute dollars. It will be MUCH lower in Poland than in the UK.


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