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I want to live and work in Poland in 3 years. I'm from Québec, Canada.

annemarieg 2 | 3
5 Jan 2017 #1
Hi everyone,
I really want to go live in Poland in a few years. I mean, really. I know and like the music, cinema, food and recipes, culture, the people... I know about the history, geography etc. I began to learn the language by myself, but I pretty sure I need to take 3 or 4 "serious" university or private courses to be good enough. In fact, just learning the language would be a motivation to move there. I am aware of the difficulty of the language though. I speak French, English and I learned basic German at school. Unfortunately, here, in Québec (francophone province of Canada), polish courses are uncommon in universities (that's why I took German lessons instead!). I graduated with a master's degree in theoretical physics and took a few computer science courses afterwards. So my plans are basically to get a job in scientific programming or as an analyst for 1-2-3 years here in Canada, in a big city where I can learn polish by taking courses. Is there any chances for me after this experience to get a job and live in Poland? What you people think of that? I am 26 years old, am I going to be too old at 28-29-30 to move? Are foreigners welcomed in general? Thanks! I hope nice people will give me some advices :)
blank sooter
5 Jan 2017 #2
what country are you from?
blank s
5 Jan 2017 #4
from canada will be easier for him to come to Poland and get his working papers or student visa to stay for cpl of years and experience the country and the continent.still better a north american then a english teachers brit who should be deported.
ExpatInPoland - | 1
5 Jan 2017 #5
I have a similar background: PhD in Engineering/Statistics/Physics, some programming experience.

I would recommend to get a job back in Canada especially with a company that has remote workers. Establish yourself for a couple of years, and then convince them to let you work remotely. SF or NYC software engineer entry level, you would make around $100-120,000/year. In Toronto, probably around $80-100,000. At current exchange, $100,000 ~> 421,000 zl (35,000 zl/ month). Which will give you a fairly comfortable living.

Programming jobs here in Poland are paid ridiculously low. From my experience looking for jobs here, I got offers in the 15-20,000 zl neighborhood. While the salaries seem to be increasing a significant amount of time before they reach the level of big tech cities.
OP annemarieg 2 | 3
6 Jan 2017 #6
Thanks everyone. I am from Canada, and I'm a girl, not an "him" :)

@blank s
You mean it would be easier to get work visa since I'm from Canada and not another english-speaking country? With the Brexit I guess there will be eventually less British people in Poland...and maybe more places for north america foreigners who knows...

I know about the low salaries. From what I looked online, I can expect to get around 6000 to 10k PLN net a month as a junior developer or analyst with 2-3 years of experience. It's not a lot in CAD dollars. Considering that the cost of life is lower in Poland, even in the biggest cities (rents in Warsaw are way cheaper than in Toronto, I compared...), I think you can live very well there with those salaries if you stay in the country and do not travel abroad too often. Am I right? By the way, ExpatInPoland, your offer of 15-20k seems like a great salary in Poland for me!

Unfortunately, companies established in Canada having departments in Poland are rather rare. I may have to apply directly on jobs in Poland (like on
DominicB - | 2,709
6 Jan 2017 #7
A common mistake is to focus on salary and cost of living.

Salary and cost of living are not important in and of themselves. The only number that is important is savings potential, or how much you are able to put in your bank account at the end of the month. That is going to be A LOT lower in Poland than in Canada. So much so, that moving to Poland for more than a year or two will not be at all attractive because of the savings you will be losing out on working in Canada. The opportunity cost is excruciatingly painful, which is why so many Poles are dying to work in richer countries, and practically no professionals from richer countries bother to even consider working in Poland. Once you do the math, you won't find it all that attractive.

I can expect to get around 6000 to 10k PLN net a month as a junior developer or analyst with 2-3 years of experience.

No, you can't expect that. You'd be very lucky to get half that. Those wages are for very experienced developers and project managers, not for juniors. Wages for juniors in Europe in general are disappointingly very low. If this is what you are expecting, you will be sorely disappointed. You won't think that rents in Poland are cheap when you're making that little. The cost of living in Poland is very high compared to local wages. Much higher than in Canada. It's only low if, as Expatinpoland said above, you are being paid western wages by a western company, and that isn't going to happen unless you have abundant experience.

Sorry, but, with few exceptions, Poland is not at all an attractive job market for educated people from Canada. And will not be one of those exceptions for quite some time. In any case, much longer than you are currently projecting.

Why, by the way, are you interested in Poland, specifically? And not willing to stay in Canada?
OP annemarieg 2 | 3
6 Jan 2017 #8
Hi DominicB
You're right, my mistake, let's say it's the salary for a senior developer. I saw a job offer with 6000PLN a month, but it was in an financial institution as a data scientist. It's a different thing... In fact, I want to work a few years in Canada to get rid of any university debts easily (because as in USA, it's difficult these days to study during 6 years for free in Canada) and also to get some valuable experience. I might get a job soon in the financial department of an energy company as an analyst or in risk management. After that experience (3 or more years) I guess it will be easier to live in another country. I do NOT want to go there for money, not at all. Of course, staying in America all my life would be way more financially advantageous for me.

In Canada, right now, I am living in a small and old apartment, without car, and I'm fine with this. I'm not expecting to get something more fancy in Poland at all. And just to mention, I'm single and without child, so my only expenses are for myself. I looked for apartments in Poland (Wrocław), on polish websites, and well, like here, there's luxury apartments, and some others, small and cheap.

Why Poland and not staying in Canada? I have a very strong interest for this country and culture, and I want to live somewhere else in the world during my life. Canada is comfortable, so much that it gets boring. People can be a bit boring too sometimes... I want to learn another language. Not similar to French (not from Latin). I tried Russian, but I prefer Polish. Maybe I'm a bit crazy and I will change my mind in a few years. I don't know. But for sure I will take Polish courses in Canada :)

I read some threads on Polish forums already, and it's really confusing. For some people it seems to be a very depressing, uninteresting, and poor country, for some others it's mostly the opposite... Seriously, it's difficult to conclude something based on those discussions. Why so many different opinions about this country?
DominicB - | 2,709
6 Jan 2017 #9

The reason for the difference in opinions is easy to explain. Poland is a great country to live in IF, and only IF, you have plenty of cash. That means, you are earning enough or have enough savings or other income to have no financial worries. For example, as Expatinpoland said above, if you are earning western wages. Then you can take advantage of all that the nice cities in Poland have to offer.

If not, then Poland is a gray and miserable place. It is a comfortless place to live if you have to struggle. And the struggle is a lot harder than in richer countries like Canada. Opportunities are fewer, and competition is cutthroat.

You might say that that is the same all over the world, but it is much easier to be (relatively) poor and struggling in a richer country like Canada than a poorer country like Poland. There are a lot more opportunities to improve yourself and your lot.

Another group of people who find Poland a miserable place is those who came here expecting to strike it rich, and found out that things aren't so easy. They are bitter that their plans failed and that they lost money and valuable time. In other words, their unreasonable expectations were not fulfilled, and they were not prepared for the reality of living in a highly competitive environment. (See where I'm going with this????).

I'm an American Microbiologist that spent twelve fantastic years in Poland. I had a great time. I moved there when I was 42 because my lifetime savings goals had already been met, and I had two patents that were bringing in quite a comfortable income. When I went shopping, I never had to compare prices or penny-pinch. I had enough to be very generous, supporting students I "adopted" and helping them get into and through university in Poland and abroad. I collaborated with Polish biologists to get their work published and to apply for grants. And I helped a Polish drug company get its research program up and running. I goofed around with whatever caught my interest, much like what I guess you would like to do.

I think that your reason for going to Poland is basically sound and worthy. I think you can have a wonderful time in Poland, too, and do a lot of interesting things. However, you have some basic assumptions wrong, especially about the time-frame. I think it's great that you want to learn the language, too. But again, you have some faulty ideas about that, too. Studying a language in a university setting is basically a waste of time. I learned two languages completely on my own, including Polish.

If you want tips about seriously learning Polish, feel free to contact me, and I'll be glad to help. Just hover you cursor over my name above and click on the little envelope to send a message. If you have problems, let me know and I'll awns you a message first. I think you have to have a account here for a little while before you can send personal messages. I don't know the exact rules.

In any case, whatever you do, do not go to Poland with unrealistic expectations or with rose colored glasses on. And good luck with your studies.
WhirlwindTobias - | 88
6 Jan 2017 #10
Poland is a great country to live in IF, and only IF, you have plenty of cash

It all depends on what kind of lifestyle you expect to live. When people talk about cost of living being upwards of 4k PLN upwards I imagine they're buying inordinate amounts of beer, eating out at restaurants daily, living in a modernised apartment that looks like it belongs in New York and injecting technology into their once humble abode.

I live on 2k-3K PLN a month and I've never been happier.

Perhaps I'm wrong but it sounds like annemarie is looking for a humble life herself.

I concur you shouldn't take Polish courses in Canada. Immersion trumps teaching if you have the determination for it and have the right friends to practice with. You'd be better off securing work here and experiencing Poland yourself for a year or two rather than wait a few years, in case it doesn't work out for you and you have to uproot yourself again at an even older age.
6 Jan 2017 #11
Maybe you should travel in Poland and live there one month at least.
OP annemarieg 2 | 3
6 Jan 2017 #12

I understand what you mean, concerning people with too high expectations (and high salaries expectations). My plan is to applied for jobs when I will be more qualified (not fresh out of University, like now), not to earn money in Canada and go spending it in Poland. I hope it's a realistic plan.

As for my time-scale, I do not want to wait in my late thirties and it's not possible for me to move before 2 or 3 years, for financial reasons. In my domain of expertise, in big Canadian cities, we have competition from educated people coming from USA, China, Australia...I feel that we have some very strong competition here too.


You're right, I expect to have a modest life. No luxury rents or restaurants... I looked for rents online, for fun, and from what I saw you can get something nice and clean in the city for around 2000PLN. Of course, it's really small compared to apartments we are used to in Canada, but it's not a problem for me. At the same time, I do not want to go there to struggle financially...

I do not want to go to Poland without a basic understanding of Polish. I heard that Poles, especially the older or non-educated ones, do not always know English very well and I think it might be difficult for me to integrate myself as a foreigner. Of course, I believe that moving there is almost the only way to fully learn Polish, unless you have Polish relatives, which I don't.

I am considering your opinions that taking university courses is not the best way to learn, and self-learning may be more efficient if I'm motivated and serious enough.


I will do before moving for sure!
7 Jan 2017 #13
Since you've spent over 12 yrs in Poland and not a native, your inputs are very helpful.. Though offbeat, but related to the salary thing, I've queries. I'm looking for relocating to poland (Krakow) and have been offered a salary around 20-25k PLN gross per month. I wanted to know couple of things..

- would 20k PLN/month is good salary for a couple and kid
- In case I move there I'm planning to enroll my kid to english school (I read polish is used in govt schools for teaching)

- how is the tax structure. In one forum I read about ZUS but couldn't get much clarity around it. on 20k PLN how much would be left after taxes deducted by employer, ZUS, etc.

I'd appreciate your (or anyone else) advice on this matter. thanks
DominicB - | 2,709
7 Jan 2017 #14

20K gross a month will give you about 14K net a month, maybe a little more because you have dependents. At the beginning of the year, you will get more in your monthly paycheck, but that will decrease over the course of the year as you go up into higher tax brackets.

14k a month is more than enough for a couple and school age child. Your biggest expense will probably school tuition for the child. That can be very expensive at a good private English medium school, about 5000 PLN a month in Warsaw, and I expect the same in Kraków, as well. Unfortunately, I don't know anything about the school situation there, but if it's like Warsaw or Wrocław, there are good international schools, which are rather expensive, and then there are lower quality schools that pretend to be international schools. You have to be careful and ask around so that you get the best for your child. Best to ask colleagues for advice.

A basic, no frills two bedroom apartment will cost you about 2500 to 3000 PLN a month: rent, administration fees and utility bills included. Make sure to get it checked out by an OLDER experienced Polish colleague or friend. They will know what to look for. For example, bad windows can cost you a lot of money because it will cost you more to heat your apartment. A small kitchen can also be a major problem. You'll also want to be close to tram stops as well as to your place of work and your child's school. Commuting can be nasty in the winter, especially if you have to wait at multiple tram stops. Beware of apartments that are cheaper than the going rate. They often have MAJOR problems or are inconvenient in terms of public transportation. An OLDER experienced Polish colleague will know. With your pay, you could afford to rent something more comfortable. Rent from AirBnB for the first month or so, and take your time checking out apartments, especially if you plan to spend longer than a year in Poland.

Food and household expenses, public transportation cards, internet and phone will come to about 1500-2000 PLN a month. Less if your wife cooks meals at home from scratch using Polish ingredients. More if you eat out a lot or buy a lot of snacks, lunches and drinks away from home, or if you consume a lot of foreign or convenience foods (this can cost you a lot if your child is a teenager).

Poles eat mostly chicken and pork, with some occasional bland fish and turkey thrown in for variety. Lamb, in particular, is quite expensive, as is beef and seafood. Summer vegetables can be very expensive out of season. There are internet stores that sell foreign ingredients and spices. There are no ethnic neighborhoods with ethnic supermarkets, just a few scattered small shops with a very limited selection of mostly non-perishable food items.

So that is about 9000 to 10000 PLN for basic living expenses and education for a basic lifestyle. A car is not necessary if you choose the location of your apartment well. Public transportation in Kraków is rather good, and serves all parts of the city that are worth visiting.

The rest you can spend on entertainment, travel and occasional expenses like clothing. I'm guessing you are from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh. If that is the case, then entertainment is going to be important to keep your wife from going crazy. While there are a good number of professionals from the subcontinent in Kraków, by far the bulk are single, younger males without families who word a year or two and then leave for home or for greener pastures, so it will be difficult for your wife to find suitable female company, or any company at all if she does not speak English well. Polish lessons would be a good idea if you are staying for more than a couple years, for her, your child and yourself. You have to keep her occupied and satisfied or she may want to return to your home country, either for visits or for good. While you are making a lot by Polish standards, you will find frequent trips to and from your home country rather expensive.

You'll be able to live a comfortable middle class lifestyle without any problems, at least by Polish standards. However, substantial savings are probably not possible because of the expense of educating your child. Savings potential is the main problem with working in Poland, especially for people who have a family with school-age children. Putting your child in a mixed Polish/English medium school is an option if you plan to stay in Poland for several years. That can bring down the cost a bit. Ask your colleagues. It probably doesn't make sense if you are staying only a year or two, though.

Also, if your company is not paying for your relocation fees to and from Poland, then you will also have to deduct that from your monthly paycheck as well. It's often overlooked by people when they decide whether coming to Poland is worth it.
27 Jan 2017 #15

Many thanks for your response. Yes, I'm from India and into banking. I have quoted 25k PLN as gross and expecting to get it but still worried because of the weather and language thing.

My family is vegan and hoping most of the vegetables are easily available.. employer would provide residence for one month and during that time I can look for apartment.. Like you mentioned, through the calculations I can see savings might not be that good as I'll be travelling to India too, and think I'll be able to save more in home country.. Lets see how it turns out.. once again thanks a ton for providing guidance in this regard.
8 Feb 2017 #16

I think you can still land a good job in Poland, depending which field you will go into. Data science is huge right now, wherever you go and with your physics degree you would be a good fit. However, 10,000 + per month seems to be for management positions only, and after 3 years you are not very likely to land one of those.

I live in Canada (NB), but we are planning to move back to Poland in 3 to 5 years, so we might land there around the same time.

Home / Work / I want to live and work in Poland in 3 years. I'm from Québec, Canada.
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