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A PhD Moving to Kraków, Poland! Salary, housing, spendings, nightlife, English knowledge.


Einsiedler 1 | 3
18 Jun 2016 #1
Hi everyone,

I recently got an offer for a PhD position in Krakow and the fact that I really don't know much about this city and Poland in general brought me here, seeking for your help. This PhD is a great opportunity but I'd like to know a little bit more about Krakow before taking a final decision.

First of all, what is city like? I've heard many great things about its cultural aspects and nightlife but I'd like to hear more from someone actually living there.

Can you easily walk or bike to go anywhere you want? What's the general atmosphere like? Do people speak a little English? I'm going to try to learn the basics of Polish but it might take me few months before the waiter understands that I want a beer ahah!

I'm also a fierce hiker and I was wondering if there were any great wild areas out of the city to go on long treks or just enjoy nature.

Regarding the housing, I believe my salary will be around 3000 pln, which I believe isn't much (I was thinking about giving private French lessons to make extra money. Is that something people look for?). Is that enough to rent a single bedroom apartment and have a decent life? Do you recommend any specific area where I could start looking at?

Finally, how much money would I need for groceries, utilities and all these monthly spending?

Thank you for all the answers you will be willing to give me :)
terri 1 | 1,665
18 Jun 2016 #2
1. If the salary 3K is gross, it is NOT enough to have a 'decent' life. What exactly is 'decent' to you. To me, somewhere dry with a roof, hot water and warmth in winter is sufficient...but to you?

2. Most business people and students speak English or other languages - no problems there.
3. You can supplement your income by giving private lessons. (Search on gumtree to find out the current rates going). However, bear in mind that the market is saturated with others seeking a limited number of clients.

4. Prices for groceries...piece of string, some shop at Biedronka, some at supermarkets, some in local shops/markets...your choice depends on how much money you have.

5. Learning Polish will be a challenge, but you can pick up basics in a few days.
6. Search the forum for other minutiae details, such as what to do, where to go. You will enjoy it.
jon357 69 | 18,345
18 Jun 2016 #3
Is that enough to rent a single bedroom apartment and have a decent life

Not nearly enough.

Presumably that's after tax, however you would struggle after paying the rent on a room, never mind an apartment.
OP Einsiedler 1 | 3
18 Jun 2016 #4
If the salary 3K is gross, it is NOT enough to have a 'decent' life. What exactly is 'decent' to you.

I believe it is a NET income. What I mean by decent is renting a small apartment of my own including all utilities, being able to pay for food/public transportation, and go out at least once a week. I'll be very busy with work so I am not very demanding on that last point.

However, bear in mind that the market is saturated with others seeking a limited number of clients.

Being from Paris, I know the struggle but you hopefully I can manage that.

Learning Polish will be a challenge, but you can pick up basics in a few days

Ahah I know that. Just trying to read the player's names of the National football team is challenging! Too many consonants in a row!

Thank you for your responses guys, I appreciate!
Paulina 12 | 2,229
18 Jun 2016 #5
First of all, what is city like? I've heard many great things about its cultural aspects and nightlife but I'd like to hear more from someone actually living there.

I don't live there so unfortunately I probably won't be of much help and to be honest I'm not sure if there are any people living in Kraków on this forum. The foreigners who write here usually live in cities like Warsaw, Wrocław, Poznań from what I've noticed and they usually don't like Kraków (or at least that's my impression) because it's a more conservative city, I guess, so I'm not sure if they're going to give you objective opinions :P ;)

The only disadvantage about living in Kraków that comes to my mind and that was mentioned on this forum is the pollution since the city is placed in a hollow and people there use coal to warm their homes or sth. The smog can be especially bad during winter apparently.

Maybe it would be better not to live in the city center but further away - maybe that would help, I don't know.

Can you easily walk or bike to go anywhere you want?

Not sure what you mean by walking anywhere you want ;) There are sidewalks there, so, yeah :D ;)) If you mean whether everything is in the walking distance it probably depends where you would live. Kraków is a city of 326,85 km² according to Wikipedia. As for biking - you can ride in the street or on biking paths probably like everywhere in Poland but I'm not sure how many biking paths are there.

What's the general atmosphere like?

History, culture, art, atmospheric cafés (sorry, I have a soft spot for cafés lol) - that's what Kraków is mainly for me. But I was there as a tourist years ago, so I can't really say what it's like now. There are lots of students there since it has the oldest university in Poland. British stag party goers can be a nuisance, apparently, but I don't know how much really of a problem they are.

Some general characteristic:
krakow-info/lifestyl.htm

Do people speak a little English?

It's a touristy city with some foreign students too I imagine so I would think people speak some English there. Mainly younger generations probably though and maybe more educated people.

I'm also a fierce hiker and I was wondering if there were any great wild areas out of the city to go on long treks or just enjoy nature.

Considering Kraków is placed here:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krak%C3%B3w-Cz%C4%99stochowa_Upland

...I'm guessing that there are quite a few and Kraków is not far from the mountains in the South of Poland.

Maybe those links will give you some idea:

tripadvisor.com/Guide-g274772-k652-Krakow_Lesser_Poland_Province_Southern_Poland.html
krakow-info/nationalparks.htm
outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/3129/destination-for-half-day-hike-near-krak%C3%B3w-poland-in-late- autumn-early-winter
mapmyhike.com/pl/krakow-lesser-poland-voivodeship
ojcow.pl/wycieczki/kulig.htm
ojcow.pl/wycieczki/rodzinne/wycieczki_rodzinne.htm
ojcow.pl/wycieczki/wycieczki_piesze.htm

It's a normal salary, for a regular Pole rather good even. According to numbeo.com Average Monthly Disposable Salary (Net After Tax) in Kraków is 3,118.65 pln.

But you're from a Western country and I don't know to what kind of standard of living you're accustomed to. I suspect the Westerners from this forum will tell you that it's not enough, that you will have no life here so better wait for their opinions ;)

(I was thinking about giving private French lessons to make extra money. Is that something people look for?)

I think that if you don't know Polish it could be a problem, but I don't really know. There was one French woman here who, I think, is giving French private lessons in Warsaw but she's lived in Poland for a long time and probably knows Polish.

Is that enough to rent a single bedroom apartment and have a decent life?

It depends what "decent life" means for someone :)

Finally, how much money would I need for groceries, utilities and all these monthly spending?

numbeo/cost-of-living/city_result.jsp?country=Poland&city=Krakow+(Cracow)

If you don't need to wear necessarly the brand clothes and shoes you can easily buy cheaper ones, of course.

Single bedroom apartment is "kawalerka" in Polish. So you can google: "kawalerka do wynajęcia Kraków".

Here are some results so you can check the prices of rent (the closer to the city centre - the more expensive, it's cheaper in the suburbs, payments/utilities aren't often included in the price, I think):

gumtree.pl/s-krakow/kawalerka+do+wynajecia/v1l3200208q0p1
morizon.pl/do-wynajecia/mieszkania/kawalerki/krakow/?gclid=CLTkzILvsM0CFecucgodhCkKdA

Btw, in case you decide to take that job in Kraków - I know someone who has a Ph.D. in astronomy with specialization in astrophysics (I checked your profile - is that your field?) and also loves nature, biking and hiking (although he's an older guy). He's an associate professor at Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center in Warsaw but visits Polish mountains in the South too, so if you ever need a soulmate :) or sth maybe I could contact him for you - he's a lovely, kind person and easy to make friends with :)
Bagguley
19 Jun 2016 #6
Hiya,

Im English and dont live in Poland, but my wife is Polish and we spend time over there often.

First of all, what is city like?

The citys fabulous but expensive by Polish standards! Using English wont be a problem but basic polish isn't (too) difficult - Just avoid thinking about declination!

I'm also a fierce hiker and I was wondering if there were any great wild areas out of the city to go on long treks or just enjoy nature

Mountains everywhere! Google Zakopane to start with. Also I believe theres quite a bit around Bielsko-Biała which isnt too far from Kraków!
OP Einsiedler 1 | 3
20 Jun 2016 #7
Thank you very much Paulina for your very detailed response, it has been extremely heplful :)

By "easily walk/ride", I am trying to figure out if one can go shopping, do groceries, have a drink without necessarily having to take a taxi. I know it mostly depends on where you live but having an idea of the shop/café/malls density wouldn't hurt :)

Decent is very subjective indeed, but if I can save some money at the end of the month, that's great :) the link you gave me about the cost of living is resourceful, thank you!

And thank you for the links, the apartments look quite affordable, that's vey good news!

I am indeed into astrophysics, I will be working at the Institute for Nuclear Physics. I am always looking for people who share the same interests as mine and who are willing to wander in nature :)

Thank you again!!!

Bagguley, thank for the info, I will check that out :)
Paulina 12 | 2,229
20 Jun 2016 #8
Thank you very much Paulina for your very detailed response, it has been extremely heplful :)

You're welcome, I'm glad if I could help at least a bit :)

By "easily walk/ride", I am trying to figure out if one can go shopping, do groceries, have a drink without necessarily having to take a taxi.

I don't know about Kraków but in my city in my osiedle (neighbourhood?) there are three different supermarkets easily in a walking distance: Biedronka (the cheapest, I guess), Lidl (a bit more expensive maybe) and Lewiatan (the most expensive of the three), also one smaller shop but more expensive - you can buy groceries, stuff for cleaning, some cosmetics (and sometimes clothes, shoes and other stuff in Biedronka and Lidl) in all of them. There are also small local shops like a bakery, hairdresser, beauty salon, gym, fishmongers, shoe shops, some second-clothes shop, post office, etc., there's also a cheap diner, pizza place and some thai restaurant (or sth of this kind) - everything in walking distance. It's more or less the same for every bigger neighbourhood in my city, I think. For some better quality food, for cafés, for a drink - I would have to go to the city centre though. For clothes and shoe shopping I would also go to some big shopping gallery in the centre.

Btw, as for clothes and shoes - Western brands are usually more expensive but there are also Polish brands which are usually cheaper and perfectly wearable, in my opinion, so no worries ;)

Also, in Polish cities you can usually get everywhere by bus, unless you would like to do some big supermarket shopping and you don't have a car - then a taxi could be useful.

I know it mostly depends on where you live but having an idea of the shop/café/malls density wouldn't hurt :)

Well, I can't say for Kraków but I think it's true for most Polish cities that probably those big shopping malls with Tescos and all kinds of shops, cinemas and restaurants are either in the city centre or close to it. For quality cafés and shopping the city centre is usually the best too.

In Polish shopping mall is usually called "centrum handlowe" or "galeria handlowa", so you can google "centrum handlowe Kraków", for example:

google.pl/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=centrum%20handlowe%20krak%C3%B3w&rflfq=1&rlha=0&rllag=50057711,19975213,3751&tbm=lcl&tbs=lf:1,lf_ui:2&rlfi=hd:;si

And thank you for the links, the apartments look quite affordable, that's vey good news!

Remember about the utilities/payments though! I think they often aren't included in the rent so you have to check every offer.
I'll translate one for you as an example:
gumtree.pl/a-mieszkania-i-domy-do-wynajecia/krakow/1150-za-wszystko-kawalerka-w-centrum/1001683486240910494285809

1150 PLN FOR EVERYTHING ^ ^ STUDIO FLAT IN THE CITY CENTRE!

size 25 m2

Murowana street

A flat in a very good localisation, around Nowy Kleparz, near Kamienna street.
Quick ride to the city centre, two bus stops to Galeria Krakowska (shopping mall), bus and tram stops nearby. Good connections for UJ, AGH, UR, PK, UP (universities).

Consists of: one big, spacious room, separate kitchen and bathroom. Fully equipped and furnished.

PAYMENTS: 1000PLN + utilities (water, electricity - around 150PLN)

Telephone number: 517-144-101
Offer number: 123

the Institute for Nuclear Physics

Well, that sounds like... rocket science :D ;))
Btw, the institute is in a part of Kraków that is called Bronowice Wielkie, a former village near Kraków:
pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bronowice_Wielkie
It's in the city district called IV Prądnik Biały:
pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dzielnica_IV_Pr%C4%85dnik_Bia%C5%82y

I see that the institute is on Radzikowskiego street and here you have one flat on this street for example (1450 PLN):
/a-mieszkania-i-domy-do-wynajecia/krakow/radzikowskiego-++-kawalerka-++++-wysoki-std/1001683478640910964863209

High standard flat, new building, address: Radzikowskiego 100. Flat is situated on the fifth floor in a building with elevator. Consists of one room and an open kitchen.

Flat is 36m2.

Fully furnished big room with a sofa (that can be.. um... you know... spread out?), chest of drawers, shelves. A big built-in wardrobe in the hallway. Big balcony. Equipment: washing machine, refrigerator, dishwasher, cooker with an oven.

A flat is situated in a gated housing estate.

PAYMENTS: 1450PLN + 300PLN (rent) + electricity

Telephone number: 517-144-101

A cheaper one in the same street (there's an English translation on the page):
/a-mieszkania-i-domy-do-wynajecia/krakow/okazja-bronowice-wysoki-standard-ciche-strzezone-balkon-mpec/1001683091230910963594509

You can have a look at the flat on Youtube:
youtube.com/watch?v=_JWR2mKpGLM

Estate agent is Kamil Kowalewski and it looks like he knows English.
Phone number: +48 570 347 111
Atch 16 | 3,415
20 Jun 2016 #9
Hi Einsiedler.

Is that enough to rent a single bedroom apartment

I would say that's a big fat 'no',if you mean an apartment with a living room and separate bedroom. In Poland apartments are not described in terms of the number of bedrooms but the number of rooms overall so in local terms you're talking about a two room apartment. Paying for a bedroom that sits empty most of the day and is only used for sleeping is an unknown concept amongst the locals! People who earn 3,000 a month would be living in a studio apartment or perhaps even in shared accommodation.

In addition to the rent you will most probably be required to pay the 'czynsz'. This is the monthly service charge that all residents/owners pay on their apartment. It covers refuse collection and standing charge for water though if you have a meter, the meter will be read a couple of times a year and you'll have the water bill to pay. However it can be spread out over the year and paid per month. The czynsz might cover the central heating and gas supply if there is one. In the older buildings the heating is often a communal system where it's switched on in October and runs till April. You're charged a standard rate for it through the czynsz regardless of how much you use. If the flat has a self contained central heating system, you'll pay that as a separate utility. Electricity is separate too. You'll have to organise your internet, that's not too expensive. I pay 60PLN per month for unlimited. I don't have a tv or landline phone so I don't know what those charges are. If you have internet you can use Skype for your calls and that will save you money.

t's a normal salary, for a regular Pole

I suspect the Westerners from this forum will tell you that it's not enough,

Got it in one Paulina! Well look it's like this. Someone from western Europe, from an average background, will not be accustomed to the adjustments you have to make in order to live on that kind of salary. Locals have a thousand ways of saving money on small purchases that are literally bred into them almost from the cradle and they don't even stop to think about it. But the OP will have to learn that.

Here's a few examples. When you're on that kind of money, be prepared to go the bakery just before closing time and you'll get bread at half price. If you have a Bazar or Targowisko near you (kind of open air market) you can sometimes pick up bargains in fresh produce on a Saturday afternoon if it's about to go off and they want to get rid of it. This is particularly true of seasonal fruits and veg. Investigate all the shops in your neighbourhood and find out which ones have the lowest prices for each item. Poles on 3,000 a month don't go to one supermarket and fill up their trolley. They go to a number of different shops. They might buy bread at a particular bakery, frozen veg in Lidl, eggs in Biedronka. They will not pay even a few grosze more than they have to for anything. Many people buy clothes in secondhand shops where you can buy garments by the kilo for a fixed price. Or they buy from stalls in the Bazars. Also they don't eat out, buy takeaways or a sandwich for lunch. Even in the office where my husband works, people bring a packed lunch or yesterday's leftovers. You don't grab a cappucino on the way to work, you bring a flask. You don't jump into a taxi if it's raining or you have heavy shopping. For Poles on that kind of salary everything is a considered purchase. For Westerners, even the most thrifty and sensible of us are accustomed to impulse buys or a bit of spur of the moment self-indulgence.

There are cheap chain stores like C&A but very often the prices are comparable to Western Europe. If you're earning 3,000PLN a month, that's not even 800 euros so..........I recently bought a pair of Reebok trainers and they cost 300PLN. There was a pair of Nike that I also liked but I simply wasn't prepared to pay 500PLN for them. It's often cheaper when you live in Poland, to buy online from Ebay or Amazon but with shoes I don't risk it because of fitting issues. But you can see that if you're earning 3,000 you won't be buying Nike very often.

if I can save some money at the end of the month,

Do PHD students generally expect to be able to save?? I've never known any who managed it! Anyone I've known who was doing a PHD always had some part time job and was usually only able to manage because they had a partner working full time or parents who were in a position to help them out.

I took a quick look at the link to apartments provided by Paulina. I see there's a couple of studio flats to rent for 750 plus czynsz of between 200 and 300. So just over 1,000. They specify that the czynsz is for water and refuse so you have your other utilities on top. Best to budget for 1,300. Then you have your transport costs which shouldn't be too bad, a little over a hundred or so, leaving you 1,600 for food and everything else. To be honest Einsiedler life would be a bit of a misery on that amount but if you get some students for French it would be ok.

PAYMENTS: 1450PLN + 300PLN (rent) + electricity

1,750 plus electricity on a salary of 3,000PLN - I think not! I presume you're just using that as an example of the range of prices because the OP simply couldn't afford that. He'd have to gather nuts and berries to live off in the winter at that rate!

PAYMENTS: 1000PLN + utilities (water, electricity - around 150PLN)

I would be wary of that wording. It's very vague. I've heard tales of people renting in such circumstances whre the utilities are in the landlord's name and who ended up being charged considerably more for the utilities than their landlord had intimated.
Paulina 12 | 2,229
20 Jun 2016 #10
I would say that's a big fat 'no',if you mean an apartment with a living room and separate bedroom.

Ah, yes, I thought that by a single bedroom apartment he meant a studio flat (?) - "kawalerka" (bachelor apartment) is a studio flat, which means it consists of one room only.

Well, maybe except for that last offer I've linked to - the bedroom looks kind of separate it seems.

Atch, yes, I've just given some random examples of flats and to show that utilities aren't often included in the price of rent, I don't have the time to look for the best offers for him, I'm affraid he'll have to look for himself and weigh all the advantages and disadvantages and whether he can afford it etc.

And yes, it's always better to be weary of every offer and check everything well, make sure how much you will really have to pay in the end :)
Atch 16 | 3,415
20 Jun 2016 #11
I've just given some random examples of flats

Paulina you're what we'd call in Ireland 'a lovely girl', going to all that trouble looking things up for the OP :) You can still qualify as a 'girl' in Ireland up to your mid-fifties:D
OP Einsiedler 1 | 3
21 Jun 2016 #12
Wow Paulina, thank you for all these informations... again ! When I started this thread, I really didn't expect people to be that helpful ^^ If I end up in Krakow and you happen to be in the neighbourhood, remind me to get you a drink or something :D

A studio is actually more like something I am looking for. I am going live there alone for four years, I don't need a huge place. I just don't want a shared apartment, my work will demand too much concentration to live with somebody else. It actually turns out that the net salary will be 2500 pln but will go up to 4500 pln in 2017. I might have to pick nuts and berries on my first winter ahah !

Thank you for all these tips Atch, it will probably take me few years to adjust to the Pole's way of life but I'm sure it will be a fascinating adventure!
Atch 16 | 3,415
21 Jun 2016 #13
It actually turns out that the net salary will be 2500 pln but will go up to 4500 pln in 2017

Hi Einsiedler. Wow, 2,500, that's very little. You'd better start putting a few pennies in you piggybank now if you can afford to, as a bit of a nest egg would be good to fall back on especially if any emergency expenses arise. Also, I don't want to be a negative Nelly but don't assume that they will keep their word about the salary increase. Even if it's in writing in the contract they may not necessarily honour it. Poland can be like that. You might get an increase but it might only be half the amount promised. Your best bet is to try to drum up some business with the French lessons.

Poles love all things French and they think the language is beautiful so if you're a native speaker you've a good chance of finding students. You could possibly even give some kind of grinds to students of French at the university? Also as your subject is science there might be some opportunities there if the students speak good enough English but I'm not sure, the technical vocabulary might be a bit of a problem.

I'm sure it will be a fascinating adventure!

Oh it will, believe me! Anyway, that's the right spirit with which to approach it, good luck with everything:)
Paulina 12 | 2,229
22 Jun 2016 #14
Paulina you're what we'd call in Ireland 'a lovely girl', going to all that trouble looking things up for the OP :)

Thanks, Atch :)

You can still qualify as a 'girl' in Ireland up to your mid-fifties:D

Well then, when I'm in my 50's I'll go to Ireland to feel young again ;D

Wow Paulina, thank you for all these informations... again !

You're welcome, but remember that I don't live in Kraków, so I'm not sure how helpful what I wrote actually is :)

If I end up in Krakow and you happen to be in the neighbourhood, remind me to get you a drink or something :D

Thanks, I'll try to remember about that if I ever visit Kraków again :))

Wow, 2,500, that's very little. You'd better start putting a few pennies in you piggybank now if you can afford to

Yes, I was thinking the same.

Also, I don't want to be a negative Nelly but don't assume that they will keep their word about the salary increase.

I was thinking the same to be honest, it's better to be careful.

Anyway, that's the right spirit with which to approach it

Yes, that looks like a good attitude :)

Btw, Einsiedler, in Poland there's a stereotype probably going back as far as to the partitions of Poland that people in Kraków are stingy so maybe they'll teach you their thrifty ways ;D

Here's an article titled "How much does a life of a student cost? How to survive for 1200 PLN a month?" ;):
dziennikzachodni.pl/artykul/1025633,ile-kosztuje-zycie-studenta-jak-przezyc-za-1200-zl-miesiecznie,id,t.html

Here you have a Polish student asking about the cost of life in Kraków (comments from 2013, I think):
wiadomosci.onet.pl/tablica/ile-kosztuje-studenckie-zycie-w-krakowie,1617,942365,118189384,watek.html

I'll translate one answer for you:

lola:the rest, meaning food, entertainment, clothes - it depends on the quantity but you got to have the minimum of 500 PLN for this :)

Students, if they don't cook themselves or bring food from family home, they often eat in cheap diners called "bar mleczny" where they serve ordinary Polish "home-like meals" for very low prices.

Here you have another article with general info for different cities including Kraków - "What's the cost of living for a student?":

bankier.pl/wiadomosc/Ile-kosztuje-utrzymanie-studenta-2034004.html

For a male student (living in dormitory):

student

For a female student (renting a studio with a friend and eating more healthy food than the male counterpart lol):

female student in Poland

"Suma" is the sum of all the expences - the cost of living - in Kraków it's 858, 50 PLN for a male student living in a dormitory and 1 412 PLN for a female student renting a studio with a friend. The article is from 2009 so it may be more expensive nowadays.

Kraków is apparently one of the more expensive cities in Poland.

A video about preffered districts for expats in Kraków (I haven't watched it but maybe there's something useful there):

youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_772223&feature=iv&src_vid=0VcvGyBKghE&v=vFcA74O6Xd4

Btw, if you find some flat offer that will interest you in particular I could translate it for you (or maybe someone else will if I'm not available).

And, finally, here's a link to an expat community in Kraków, there are French expats among them so I imagine they can be a good source of information for you :):

internations.org/krakow-expats/french

Apparently they organize offline meetups in Kraków too :)


Home / Work / A PhD Moving to Kraków, Poland! Salary, housing, spendings, nightlife, English knowledge.
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