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A move to Poland - where to live? What city would you recommend?

Frasier 1 | 3
9 Sep 2016 #1
I am considering a move to poland for a while. I have investments & once i have covered expenses back home (uk) i will have approx 6000 zloty per month net so work isn't an immediate priority.

I'm 30, single male enjoy dining out, drinks out generally a bit of vibrancy. In respect of my budget & expecations what city would you recommend in poland? I'm happy to rent a room in shared accomodation to keep my expenses down.

It's looks like wroclaw is slightly more expensive than krakow from numbeo, krakow a larger city plus i would think more english speakers (i dont speak polish). I think Warsaw is out of the question really, its a city to work from my experience. What would Lodz be like for a non native?

I'm looking for an experience & am probably leaning towards krakow but if anyone has any out of the box suggestions that would be worth considering?

Thanks for reading & hope to hear...
DominicB - | 2,709
9 Sep 2016 #2
How about avoiding the big, and expensive, cities and settling down in a small, but attractive, town where your money will go A LOT further? If I were to retire in Poland, I would pick Cieszyn over someplace like Warsaw or Kraków, or even Wrocław, where I lived eight years. Plus, it's a short walk to the Czech border and it is one of the few places in Poland where Catholicism is the minority religion. Lots of cultural events, and more than enough English speakers to make life easier until you pick up enough Polish and/or Czech. And the food is incredible on both the Polish and Czech sides.

Or Łowicz, where you are close enough to Warsaw and even Poznan that you could easily spend the day in either city and return home to your much cheaper apartment. There are plenty of other pleasant and attractive small towns in Poland, many with easy access to the larger attractive cities.

That makes a whole lot more sense than trying to save on accommodation by sharing an apartment.

If I had to pick one of the bigger cities. I would pick Wrocław hands down. Warsaw is overrated, Kraków is nice to visit, but I wouldn't like to live there. Gdańsk, Poznan and Toruń would be OK, too. If you want an experience, you might want to try Lublin. It's vastly underrated.

Łódź is a $hithole. as is Katowice and environs. Unless you're seriously into grime and grunge, avoid at all costs.
majkel - | 64
9 Sep 2016 #3
I agree with what DominicB said.
It seems that you are looking for rich social and cultural life, and you only get that in big city. Also you are suggesting you will want to work on some point, that also suggests bigger city.

Wrocław would also be my number one choice. Poznań distant second. Łódź is a nono, Kraków is great city but too much polution and too many tourists. Warsaw has no appeal to me.

Wrocław is also quite close to mountains (hello skiing!), Kraków is close to mountains also.

If you were looking for nature I'd definitely go for a place in the mountains though :)
DominicB - | 2,709
9 Sep 2016 #4
For nature, mountains and skiing, as well as a comfortable place to live, it would be hard to beat Szlarska Poręba. Lots of offbeat, educated and creative people. Also, a short hike to the Czech Republic, specifically, Špindlerův Mlýn,
majkel - | 64
9 Sep 2016 #5
I love Szklarska Poręba! Lolobrygida FTW. Harrachov is also nearby.

Anyway, it's not really a place for "culture" or "partying".
DominicB - | 2,709
9 Sep 2016 #6
I love Szklarska Poręba!

It's hard not to love. But it is not "party central", for sure. Extremely literate population though, for such a small town.
OP Frasier 1 | 3
9 Sep 2016 #7
Thanks so much for your contibutions people it's very much appreciated.

DominicB you kind of hit the nail on the head. I know the major cities in Poland & they are easier to research & find stats online but smaller towns are practically unkown to me but are most definitely still on the cards.

I think Szklarska Poręba is a little too small really with a population of 10k. Cieszyn is looking interesting still being smallish towards 40k.

Couple of questions - would the price differencial between for example Krakow & Cieszyn be really demonstrable? I mean could i for example rent a 2 bedroom flat there instead of shared accomodation within my budget & what sort of price could i expect to pay for a 2 bed place in Cieszyn?

Are meals out for example going to much cheaper than krakow? How much could i expect to pay for a hearty traditional polish meal? I do intend to eat out regularly. I understand its close to the czech border & i have found czech to be more expensive than poland does that element factor at all?

I do enjoy beer too - i'm not too concerned about clubs per say but nice pubs, even very traditional polish style appeal. Would i find enough of these in Cieszyn & how much would the cost of a beer be?

It's unlikely i will have a car with me. Will public transport suffice there if i lived pretty centrally? Quality of life is important to me & i do enjoy hiking & skiing too whilst not something i would be doing everyday. Would there be sufficient transport links to access these areas & does anyone know the distance to these areas & have an idea of the cost of a ski pass locally?

I would go & stay in a b&b for a week before committing to anything to get a feel for the place but having these answers prior would be really helpful.

Lyzko 33 | 8,120
9 Sep 2016 #8

If I were you, I'd invest in a serious Polish language course, either before or shortly after you arrive in Poland:-)
While Warszawa is the capital, from what I've seen briefly (although I've only seen Szczecin in the North, near the German border), Wrocław and Kraków are many times more attractive:-)

As far as selecting a town or city based more or less on the steadily large percentage of English speakers, in my opinion, is a no-win proposition.

But that's only my opinion.

Powodzenia (Good luck!)
Atch 17 | 4,022
9 Sep 2016 #9
I do intend to eat out regularly.

Just be aware that Poles add a tremendous amount of salt when they cook so if you're health conscious.......

2 bedroom flat

Poles don't think in terms of bedrooms. A two bedroom flat is a three room flat in the Polish way of thinking ie three rooms, kitchen and bathroom. So go to any 'nieruchomosci' website and take a look at 'mieszkanie' for rent 'na wynajem' ' and under 'liczba pokoi', put 3. You'll get an idea of costs :) That's a family sized flat in Poland. Single people usually live in a studio (1 pokój) flat.
Lyzko 33 | 8,120
9 Sep 2016 #10
True, Atch!

Yet, that what gives Polish food her flavor. I hear enough political correctness every day, do I have to EAT that way as well?
At least in the kitchen, there should be some sort of equality.
DominicB - | 2,709
9 Sep 2016 #11
Life in Cieszyn would be MUCH cheaper than in the big cities, including rents, which are about half that in the big cities. Food and eating out is much cheaper, too.

It's really two cities in one, or, rather, one city in two, the Polish half, and the Czech half, with a combined population of about 75,000. It's very easy to walk from one to the other, and to get around without a car. Walking will get you everywhere quickly, and a bike will get you around even faster than a car would.

If you like beer, then Cieszyn is your place. Poland does not have a living tradition of beer brewing, and is only starting to experiment with real quality brewing. Most of what is available on the market is commercial swill of no particular character. You would have to look hard to find anything worth drinking. The Czech Republic, on the other hand, is one of the great beer countries of the world, and you can easily find many great beers in Czesky Tesin, as the Czech side of the city is known, quite affordably.

Prices in the Czech Republic are generally lower than in Poland, except for Prague, which is a world of its own.

There is a very nice bed and breakfast right behind the town hall right off the square on Ulica Srebrna 7. Rather decent, and I've stayed there myself. Fantastic location from which to explore both halves of the city.

There are multiple ski areas nearby on both the Polish and Czech sides, and they are easy to get to from Cieszyn. Can't tell you about prices, though, as I don't ski myself. You'll have little trouble meeting locals who do, though
Lyzko 33 | 8,120
9 Sep 2016 #12
If one's a beer lover, and I am, I've been told Żywiec is the best beer in Poland. Foreigners make a pilgrimage to the local brewery, so I've heard!
DominicB - | 2,709
9 Sep 2016 #13
It's a bland, lifeless export pilsner knockoff. As are most polish beers. Not bad, but very far from good. And very far from the best beer available in Poland. It's owned by Heineken. Most of the large breweries in Poland are foreign-owned.
Lyzko 33 | 8,120
9 Sep 2016 #14
Oh, I don't know Dom. Warka mocna is plenty flavorful for my money. Not every beer stacks up to Pilsen Urquell:-)
DominicB - | 2,709
9 Sep 2016 #15
Warka is another mass-produced swill beer produced by Żywiec. Drunk mostly by girls, with raspberry syrup in it, through a straw. Nothing a true beer lover would touch.

Coincidentally, Żywiec's best product, it's porter, is brewed in Cieszyn. And Żywiec is licensed to brew Pilsner Urquell for the Polish market, although their product is nowhere near as good as the Czech original.
Lyzko 33 | 8,120
9 Sep 2016 #16
I see from your strong opinions regarding beer that neither the Poles NOR the Czechs stack up to the Germans in that regard?
DominicB - | 2,709
9 Sep 2016 #17
The Polish brewing industry is in it's infancy. It practically did not exist until the 1990s, having been wiped out by WWII. Poland has no tradition of beer drinking. It's a newbie on the beer market, and consumer tastes are still in the formation stage, still dominated by mass produced swill. Fortunately, the microbrew/craft brew movement is starting to take off. But it's going to take time and investment before Poland resembles anything like a traditional beer drinking country.

Quite different from the Czech Republic, where many great beers are produced, many rivaling or surpassing those produced in Germany. It ranks up there with Belgium at the top of the beer hierarchy.

The difference between Poland and the Czech Republic, beer wise, is night and day.
Lyzko 33 | 8,120
10 Sep 2016 #18
An interesting observation!

And yet breweries have existed in Poland, as elsewhere, since at least the 17th century, correct?
Perhaps you're saying that Poland doesn't have the experience in technological mass production of some of her more industrially savvy neighbors.
DominicB - | 2,709
10 Sep 2016 #19
yet breweries have existed in Poland, as elsewhere, since at least the 17th century, correct?

Not really. Poland's breweries were wiped out during WWII, and what little survived was nationalized by the communists, with very limited production capacity of poor quality product. The brewing industry wasn't resurrected until the early 1990's, when the state owned breweries were privatized under foreign ownership. The beers produced were at first cheap knock-offs of commercial mass-produced light lagers like Heineken and Carlsberg, both of which companies still own a huge stake in the Polish brewing industry. Heineken owns the Żywiec group, and Carlsberg owns Okocim.

So no, there is no continuous beer drinking or brewing tradition in Poland. Anything you read that suggests otherwise is just marketing BS.

The situation in Poland is similar to that in the US, where the brewing industry was destroyed by Prohibition, WWII and, worst of all, the commercial mergers of the 1950s and 1960s. By the mid 1970s, only commercial swill was available, produced by a handful of large brewing concerns. It was not until the late seventies and early eighties that real brewing started up again with the like of Anchor Steam and Samuel Adams, quickly followed by a creative micro and craft beer renaissance. Poland is at the start of this process.

In the States, it was servicemen returning from Germany that initially drove demand. In Poland, it is workers and visitors returning to Poland from Germany and the UK, and other Western beer countries. Both were disappointed upon returning home to find that the local product was far inferior to what they sampled abroad.

There are about one hundred breweries in Poland right now, with most having been founded in the last five to seven years. Some of them produce fine beers, though they are hard to come by and have yet to become established and gain a reputation.
Lyzko 33 | 8,120
10 Sep 2016 #20
Apparently the histories commonly "consumed" have been guilty of peddling half truths, eh?
DominicB - | 2,709
10 Sep 2016 #21
Yes, the marketing is deceptive. By the way, I did part of my graduate studies as a microbiologist working at Carlsberg in Denmark.
Lyzko 33 | 8,120
10 Sep 2016 #22
Then you are in fact trilingual, English, Polish, and Danish:-)

My experience with Polish beers exceeds that of Danish beer, except of course for Carlsberg and Ceres.
DominicB - | 2,709
10 Sep 2016 #23
Then you are in fact trilingual, English, Polish, and Danish:-)

And German.

No, Polish beer is well behind Danish beer. And the Carlsberg you know is just a decent mass-produced light lager. They produce much better beers, but they are hard, if not impossible, to get outside of Denmark.

We're talking a bit past each other here. I'm talking about real genuine beers, and you are talking about mass produced swill. I'm talking Delmonico, and you're talking McDonalds. You live in NYC, so get out there and try some really good American and foreign craft beers and develop your palate. Life is too short to waste on the likes of Coors and Warka.
OP Frasier 1 | 3
10 Sep 2016 #24
Great thanks people & thanks particularly DominicB.

Cieszyn looks like a lovely town & Czesky Tesin too. I like the idea of a border town with what looks like a fascinating history where it's possible to experience both Czech & Polish culutures & cuisines. Also its a reasonable distance from Krakow which is good particularly for flights home & Prague is very accessable too.

I agree Czech beer is great & being able to pop across the border for one (or more) is very cool.

I love Austria particularly Vienna & that the square in Cieszyn is sometimes referred to as little Vienna is encouraging. Also that there is a Habsburg former shooting lodge again is a nice attraction. Putting the two towns together will a population of 70k probably makes it quite a busy little place.

I shall be sure to check the place out in the next few months.

2 final questions - i speak only a few words of polish & czech, how would i get along with just english there?

Also - if i found a flat to rent including bills for 2,000 zloty would 4,000 after rents & bills be enough to have a reasonably good standard of living there?

I like the way this thread turned into a beer debate!

Many thanks,
Lyzko 33 | 8,120
10 Sep 2016 #25
As most elsewhere, you could, as you put it, "get along" with English, but the bigger question is, is it really worth it?

If you learned the local lingo at more than a phrasebook level, you'd surely find your stay imcomparably rewarding!

As it is, English is not nearly as widely spoken or understood in the East of Europe in contrast with Western countries, where, it seems, the average citizen's exposed to Basic English with their mother's milk.
Wulkan - | 3,243
10 Sep 2016 #26
If you learned the local lingo at more than a phrasebook level, you'd surely find your stay imcomparably rewarding!

Lyzko, you have been on this site for long years and still your Polish is not even on a phrasebook level so how can you expect this chap to learn it in a months?

Western countries, where, it seems, the average citizen's exposed to Basic English with their mother's milk.

I guess Italians or Spaniards don't drink a tit milk since on average their English is worse than Polish people's
DominicB - | 2,709
11 Sep 2016 #27
It is a cool little town. "Little Vienna" is a bit of stretch, but the Polish old town is quite nice. Ostrava on the Czech side is also close by, and may be more convenient than Kraków for flights home. Prague, Vienna and Bratislava are also within easy traveling distance, and there are lots of cool towns to visit on the Czech side like Olomouc and, a favorite of mine, Novy Jicin, which you absolutely must visit on the night of April 30 for the Burning of the Witch, an ancient festival.

2000 PLN, all inclusive, would get you a mosque. You could house your whole harem there. That's a lot of apartment in Cieszyn, probably 100 square meters. More than you need. And yes, 4000 PLN in Cieszyn could give you a comfortable lifestyle, and go a lot further than in a big city.

You'll meet plenty of English speakers there. There are lots of cultural events on both sides. After you beef up your Polish and Czech, you'll have a great time!
OP Frasier 1 | 3
11 Sep 2016 #28
Wulkan - agreed!

DominicB incredibly grateful for your suggestions as love both Poland & Czech sending you a PM.

Many thanks,
12 Sep 2016 #29
Hi Frasier,
I have lived in Poland for the last 20 years, moved from Toronto. All the time I have lived in Warsaw but since I have a business in Poland that requres travelling, I have visited all sities and towns in Poland, spent time in many of them, dined in hundreds of restaurants, lived in many hotels, etc. I aloso go for tourist attractions to many places in Poland. From my experience I can tell that probably the best cities that I would choose, would be Krakow, Warsaw, Gdansk or Wroclaw. I would not choose a smaller city such as Cieszyn or Łowicz, although they have some nice climate but in smaller towns it is hard to find good restaurants, cafe or othere services. For example, if you get sick and you have to go to a doctor, in smaller town you would not find a quality medical clinic. In bigger city all services are more competitive. In Poland small towns are colled Poland B. Poland A are the big cities where you find more English speaking poeple. In Warsaw, there are areas where most English speaking people live, such as Wilanów area of Konstancin area. Kraków is not so polluted any more (as some people point out) because most of the polluting industry in the city went bankrupt after the collapse of Socialism. Kraków is also considered as the most favourable city to live in Poland becase it has special climate (history), nice people, close proximity to Zakopane (Tatra mountains) the tourist capital of Poland and it has the best basket of services.
Lyzko 33 | 8,120
12 Sep 2016 #30
As far as your English, Wulkan, it hasn't seemed to have improved much either:-)


Probably, Lublin might be a good place as a foreigner to start! They have a famous university, The Catholic University of Lublin, and have numerous international students, I've read:-)

Bratislava has a beautiful Old Town, of which unfortunately, I've only seen photos.
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