I'm new here. I'm from France and have been living in Poland for several years now with my family. I really love most things in Poland, and intend to stay many more years - perhaps forever :)
There is one thing that has had me wonder for some time now. For context, I have a senior role in a large IT company, and my level of earnings make me what you'd call a 'one-percenter', if you compare them with the national income distribution (which feels very strange already, cause I feel comfortable but far from actually rich). My income caters for our family of four, we live in a good but ageing apartment in the city (not Wawa), our kids go to a local public school (free, we go on holidays abroad (e.g. Mediterranean) once a year, have some savings, and we drive a 6 year old Qashqai. I.e. we're living within our means, not above, not below.
Now, what has been puzzling me ever since I arrived in Poland is the displayed amount of wealth in the city. Branded clothes (e.g. Ralph Lauren, Lacoste..), crowds in shopping malls and more than anything, a huge proportion of BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Volvo and other premium cars, all worth hundreds of thousands of zloty. I read the stats which state an average income of 4K / month or so per active person, and less than 100,000 people earning more than PLN 50k a month. Far behind my home country (even though it's declining fast!!) and the rest of Western Europe, yet I haven't ever been used to seeing so many displays of wealth before in my life. In my perception, what the stats say and what I see outside just doesn't match - not ever fifth person in Polish cities can be a highly successful entrepreneur or a company executive.
So, I'm trying to make sense of whether there is more money out there than is reported (shadow economy??), or it's driven by people making different choices (e.g. sacrificing all else to have that dream car), or is it just simply down to loans, leases and consumption credits?
Note: none of the above questions are meant to be judgemental or condescending. I am genuinely curious as I sometimes wonder if I should be showing my status more (as part of integrating in Poland as a foreigner), or if there are things going on around that people take advantage of (e.g. legal loopholes or ways to save / spend less) that I am just not aware of. So any candid insights are welcome :)
It's a bit of all 3 - the grey market economy is shrinking but still significant - maybe 15-20 percent of the total
Leasing is popular as is getting a company car - Polish managers will argue long and hard for a flash car and saying yes is an easy way of making them happy.
As for sacrifices, yes in all emerging economies you will often see people going for outward symbols of wealth first and spending on big ticket items like homes afterwards. They would also spend far less on things like healthcare, food and drink etc than the French would.
I have seen that kind of statistics also,but I feel the same ,its not correct. OK,in Warsaw only just walk around a building and see how many commercials are owned by private owners and cost millions of Zlots and yield over 10/15k a month in rent or more ,and some owners own plenty.I have Armenian,Russian,Polish,Dutch friends who make over 7/800kUS$ a year in business ofcourse.Poland is not as poor as potrayed or ever was.Even a young Polish friend of mine(29 yo) in your IT field is making over 30k a month.Cpl months back I was at a friends place in a development called Bialwa kamienieca(wrong spellings) in Warsaw and the cars I saw in the underground parking lot was amazing,I had never seen so many luxury cars even in NYC.
I see the same in the USA they say people who make over 600k a yr are only 7%,which again I think is wrong also whereas most small businesses make over 150/200k and I think the same is in Poland also.