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Self-employed American living in Poland? Is it possible?


Iwrite4Food 2 | 11
26 Dec 2019 #1
Witaj,

I'm a self-employed American (with American clients) living in the U.S. As my screen name suggests, I am a freelance writer.

I'd like to move to Poland in a year from now due to two things:

1. Despite being "self-employed" (technically "freelancer"), I don't make a ton of money and really cannot afford the high cost of living in the U.S. My primary concern is the expensive healthcare out here--and I know I can get very good healthcare for less money (private healthcare) in Poland.

2. I have an interest in Polish/Slavic history and would like to one day start a (free) website that chronicles the various historical places (e.g. in Krakow). I would make sure the site adds value by interviewing local historians/etc -- in other words put a real effort into it so people who are interested in Polish history will find it interesting. I have Googled some historical places in various parts of Poland and I usually wind up walking away with more questions than the website answered. I'm one of those weirdos who wants to know all the details of what life was like in those olden days.

My question is this: Does anyone know if I will need a work permit to live in Poland (due to me being self-employed and having American clients)? I have spoken to the consulate and they told me that I can probably apply for a visa due to my historical interest in the country. I'm planning a trip out there (Krakow/Wroclaw....sorry can't make the squiggly "L" on my keyboard) in April of next year and will visit some local sites and take some pictures. If I like it, I would plan on applying for a visa and if all is well, moving in Sept of next year.
PolAmKrakow 1 | 457
26 Dec 2019 #2
I am an American living in Krakow. It can be done. You will need some money to get started, but its a fairly smooth process. You don't apply for a Visa, that's a mistake. Your company is not Polish and can not obtain a Visa for you. You will need temporary residency which you can get as a business person who owns a business in Poland. This will take a couple thousand USD. If its Krakow, I can recommend my attorneys who successfully got me through the process. Message me if you want more info.
Lyzko 25 | 7,139
26 Dec 2019 #3
Learn the language and you should be able to land something if your skill set fits the employer's criteria.
Freelance writer though sounds rather general, to be frank! Perhaps a position as "Internet Researcher" might yield fruit, but most likely, only in one of the largest cities.
OP Iwrite4Food 2 | 11
26 Dec 2019 #4
Hi, I'm new to these forums and am not sure how to quote individual responses....so here goes my caveman method of replying to people:

@Lyzko - I will only start to learn the Polish language if I know there is a path forward that will enable me to live there and run my business from my Polish apartment. I'm going to take the advice of the person who commented above you--it sounds like the surest path to find answers. I speak a few languages (including basic Czech)...and while learning Polish will be challenging, I have a desire to do so and integrate in Polish society as much as I can. So, that should help out.

@PolAmKrakow -- Thank you, will send a PM in a few.
Lyzko 25 | 7,139
26 Dec 2019 #5
Especially Czech, being not only a related Slavic language, but relatively close to Polish, compared, say, with Bulgarian or Slovene, for instance. Poles on this forum have contended that Slovak might well be even closer.

Anyhow, best of luck and I'm sure things will work out, so long as you create your own special niche and never get let down!!
Cargo pants 2 | 516
26 Dec 2019 #6
Yes,Medicare is one of them.There best plan is almost 5000pln a year and also covers when you are travelling overseas(USA)

, I would plan on applying for a visa and if all is well, moving in Sept of next year.

If you get it fine or you could do visa runs after 90 days of stay in Poland by entering Ukraine and coming back in cpl of hours.That visa run thingy is only for US citizens.And while there you can sort out issues.
OP Iwrite4Food 2 | 11
27 Dec 2019 #7
@Lyzko

Thanks! I have heard there are such things as "false friends" between Czech and Polish language. Once I realized I would rather go to Poland than Czech Republic--I immediately stopped studying Czech language at night time for fear I would confuse the two languages while I'm learning Polish.

Yes,Medicare is one of them.There best plan is almost 5000pln a year and also covers when you are travelling overseas(USA)

That's only $108/mo. for the best plan...does that cover dental as well? Where do I get Medicare? Or are you talking about the American Medicare (for poor people? I'm on Medicaid right now...completely free healthcare here in the U.S. but I'm getting older and want access to better and cheaper healthcare than I can afford in the U.S.)

I'd rather not do a visa run....I have two cats. My fear is one day I will get the proverbial Polish border guard who's girlfriend just broke up with him the night before and he will be in a pissy mood and just not let me back into Poland. The first person told me that I can hire a Polish immigration attorney for a few thousand bucks and have them do the legwork for me.
Joker 1 | 1,723
27 Dec 2019 #8
I don't make a ton of money and really cannot afford the high cost of living in the U.S.

Have you ever been to Poland? If you cant make a decent living in the USA don't expect it to happen in Poland. The wages are a lot lower and the cost of living is much greater when you compare the wages you will possibly earn. Most Americans that move to Poland already have a nest egg saved up, then you can live comfortably.

Perhaps, if you find a little place in the country, but Krakow, bring some money....
OP Iwrite4Food 2 | 11
27 Dec 2019 #9
Have you ever been to Poland? If you cant make a decent living in the USA don't expect it to happen in Poland.

I'm self employed. What I make here will afford me a very nice lifestyle in Krakow---not BMW and Mercedes rich--but enough to have a nice flat and save $$$ at the end of the month for marriage and retirement.

That's all I have ever wanted. A comfy middle class lifestyle with enough $ to raise a kid or two.
delphiandomine 85 | 18,359
27 Dec 2019 #10
What I make here will afford me a very nice lifestyle in Krakow

Don't forget about taxes in Poland. From what you say, you're on Medicaid, which means your income is what, no more than around $2000 a month?

From that, you'll need to deduct taxes in Poland, so roughly speaking, you can expect to lose around 30% to self employment and social insurance taxes. That gives you a total of $1400 a month to live on, or about 5350PLN.

By Kraków standards, that's barely above the average wage. Housing alone will take up at least 30-35% of that, if not more, and that's for a very basic apartment.

You certainly won't be living a nice lifestyle on 3300PLN/month, and as health insurance that provides a decent amount of cover will set you back at least 400 a month, that leaves you with 2900, or not even 750PLN a week to live on.

Poland is not as cheap as you think it is, and Joker is right when he says that you shouldn't have high expectations about how well you'll live here. It certainly won't be a comfortable middle class lifestyle - for that, you'll need to be earning much more.

Furthermore, have you taken into account currency fluctuations? If the PLN strengthens by 20% against the dollar, you'll be living on 20% less each month.
OP Iwrite4Food 2 | 11
27 Dec 2019 #11
@delphiandomine

Thanks for your response. Did not take that into consideration originally. Does the Polish government allow business write-offs like they do in the U.S.?
dovla
27 Dec 2019 #12
I thought that Medicare is for elderly and disabled irrespective of income, while Medicaid is for the poor?
In Poland, you can buy private medical packages from e.g. Luxmed, Medicover etc. However, even premium packages, which cost ~100 usd/month, cover much less than Medicover/Medicaid. Typically, they cover consultations with specialists, diagnostics (x-ray, ct, mri, etc.), physiotherapy, flu vaccination and ... that's about it. Hospital stay, surgery and any other kind of high-level specialty care is not covered. For that, you need to have state insurance, hence you need to to pay into ZUS (Polish Social Insurance, ~1250 zl/month for self-employed). Private insurance in Poland is a way to avoid long queues in state-run facilities when you need to deal with relatively minor health issues. What you will probably want is private package + ZUS.
Joker 1 | 1,723
27 Dec 2019 #13
I thought that Medicare is for elderly and disabled irrespective of income, while Medicaid is for the poor?

Medicare is for senior citizens 65+ years old. Medicaid is for low income families.

I assume, his version of self-employed really means unemployed or severely underemployed.

A comfy middle class lifestyle with enough $ to raise a kid or two.

. but I'm getting older and want access to better and cheaper healthcare

Which is it?

Are you a senior citizen ready to have children? LOL
OP Iwrite4Food 2 | 11
28 Dec 2019 #14
Then I'm on Medicaid. I get the two confused.
Cargo pants 2 | 516
28 Dec 2019 #15
Medicover is a pvt polish insurance company collaberating with Damian who have there own medical centres and hospitals.They do have issues with pre existing medical conditions for 6 mths or so.Dental I dont know my wife says she gets some discounts.

@OP if you want to move for a cheap high life,it is possible and good still.I have a 40 sq m 1 bedroom flat in hardcore centre of Warsaw with a porter and 2 elevators that costs me less then 100$ a month to live ,which includes cell,wifi cable,electric co-op monthly fee.If you know how to twist around you can lead another 10 years in Poland quite comfortably.In US it costs me 2500$ a month for 80 times that size in a house in the state of NJ.Food,cars and insurance are not included.If you have investments its freaking easy or if you need loans take fixed loans in US at 3,5% and get yields of 7 to 8 % in Poland.LOL also you can hire English economic migrants at cheap moola to do your daily chores like baby sitting,cleaning etc.
OP Iwrite4Food 2 | 11
28 Dec 2019 #16
twist around you can lead another 10 years in Poland quite comfortably.

I need at least 110m2 size 2 bedroom apartment--yes I know apartments of this size (and in relatively new shape) are a unicorn in Europe, let alone Poland. But I have seen many in Krakow for rent. The 2nd bedroom is for my home office.

What exactly do you invest in Poland to get that kind of yield? I'm looking to save for retirement in 20 years from now.
delphiandomine 85 | 18,359
28 Dec 2019 #17
I need at least 110m2 size 2 bedroom apartment

Forgive my ignorance, but if you're on Medicaid in the US, you can't be earning much more than $2000 USD a month, or just over 7,600PLN. Over a year, it's 91200PLN, but income tax will reduce that to around 74,000PLN, or 6150PLN per month. Then you'll have mandatory social insurance fees of 500PLN a month, plus accountancy costs - let's say 700PLN in total. That leaves you with 5450PLN/month in hand.

An apartment that size in Kraków will cost you at least 2500PLN in a remote suburb with poor transport links, plus utilities - you'll be lucky to have change from 3000PLN/month. That means you'll have 2450PLN/month to cover all your other costs, such as transport, entertainment, food, etc. It's not going to be easy, and it puts you barely into the territory of the upper working class.
Cargo pants 2 | 516
28 Dec 2019 #18
He dont have to declare his foreign(US)income in Poland esp if he is not a citizen and can establish limited tax liability which is fairly simple,till he pays his taxes in the USA.Also I wonder Medicaid dont mean welfare just low income.

@OP,depending where you want to live you can live fairly good with 2000USD in Poland.I do have a retired friend living in Mokotov in a rented flat on 1700$ a month social security.

What exactly do you invest in Poland to get that kind of yield?

In commercial real estate.Some of them which I bought 10 yrs or before are also yielding till 17%.Plus the taxes are low even they increased almost 50% on income earned from it and real estate taxes are like 0.01% whereas in USA are almost 2 % every year and growing.
terri 1 | 1,665
29 Dec 2019 #19
If any US citizen wants to open a bank account, the first thing they will ask is taxes. For staying longer (than a tourist) in Poland you will have to have insurance or be prepared to pay for everything as it happens.
delphiandomine 85 | 18,359
29 Dec 2019 #20
If any US citizen wants to open a bank account, the first thing they will ask is taxes.

Yup, there's a lot of data sharing between the US and EU in this respect. He'll also have to pay taxes in order to get a residence permit, as they'll want to see proof that he's legally self-employed in PL.

He'll have to get health insurance to apply for a residence permit as well.
cms neuf - | 1,687
29 Dec 2019 #21
Those kind of yields are very much the exception - I am lucky if I get 5 percent once I factor in taxes, running costs and even less if you include your own time. It's better than bank interest but no goldmine and quite difficult to manage efficiently if you don't speak Polish.

You will need to declare your US income and pay tax on it in Poland - goes with residence and not citizenship. However you will get some tax relief under a double tax treaty.

I think however that your life plan can work just be prepared for some hassle when you set up and don't burn your boats - make sure you have the option of moving back.

Why not just move to a cheaper part of the US ? That might give the same benefits but less risk and much easier for your business
PolAmKrakow 1 | 457
29 Dec 2019 #22
Everything depends upon going to Poland with some money to begin with. Setting up a company, and producing a profit in year one above 60K PLN will assure residency for at least 3 years. 1500 PLN per month for ZUS, 800 PLN or so for accounting, plus what ever you pay yourself. You can easily live a nice comfortable life as a single person on 24K USD annually. If you are earning more, or course its better. There are plenty of good real estate opportunities outside of the major cities. I have a friend in Katowice who just paid 150K PLN for a very nice flat about 10 minutes outside of the city. Like anything, planning and being prepared is key.
Cargo pants 2 | 516
29 Dec 2019 #23
Those kind of yields are very much the exception

Not if the properties were bought in between 2000&2005 at 3800 to 5000 pln sq m.There yields are fantastic.Your 5% yielding property must have A grade tenant with prominent location.Yes in US there are some that yield even 4.25%.Normally now you can find properties that will yield 7 to 9%,this Jan I got one on Belvederska in Warsaw yielding 8.5%.If you look around plenty come by even lately these buggers are asking till 21k a sq m foolishly.Check your PM pls.

I have a friend in Katowice who just paid 150K PLN for a very nice flat

A friend of mine bought a flat too in Bytom his home town in Silesia region for 1500Pln a sq m,while he works in IT and makes over 30k a month in Warsaw.
johnny reb 24 | 4,778
29 Dec 2019 #24
You nailed in delph.
And at 33% self employment tax would knock you down to $1340 a month take home pay.
You are only allowed to have like $1500 in your savings account to be on Medicaid.
We need more information here from Iwrite4Food as it is apparent that he can not even afford a plane ticket to Poland to start with.

Lets be honest here.

I'm on Medicaid right now...completely free healthcare here in the U.S.

>>>but I'm getting older and want access to better and cheaper healthcare than I can afford in the U.S.)
So what is your handi cap that qualifies you for Medicaid being you are middle aged and collecting Medicaid ?
You say your Medicaid covers 100% of your health care now but want access to cheaper healthcare than you can afford in the U.S. ?????
What is cheaper than free ?
By any chance is Trump booting you off Medicaid or have you milked it for as long as you can and no longer qualify ?

As my screen name suggests, I am a freelance writer.

If Iwrite4Food is on Medicaid it would qualify him for Food Stamps (free food) too ????
Say you are a free lance writer is like me saying that I am a free lance consultant.
Very very vague that confirms/means absolutely nothing.
You say that, "What I make here will afford me a very nice lifestyle in Krakow but enough to have a nice flat and save $$$ at the end of the month for marriage and retirement."

If that was true you would not be able to qualify for Medicaid.
In my humble opinion you are dreaming a pipedream that is beyond your financial capabilities and current assets.
Like Joker said, "If you cant make a decent living in the USA don't expect it to happen in Poland."
Dirk diggler 9 | 4,660
29 Dec 2019 #25
@Cargo pants

Yeah that's what my rents are gonna do. Just the equity out of their house and buy a nice flat in Poland, live off the SS. I doubt that **** will even be around by the time im their age

By any chance is Trump booting you off Medicaid or have you milked it for as long as you can and no longer qualify ?

Medicaid rules. Maaan I ran that **** up in the high 6 figures rofl. ***** sweet especially when you have a doc willing to play ball with you (RIP Dr. Bu****) Dudes at the government office must've had a trip mailing Medicaid cards to the most expensive zip code in the area lololol

If you're not officially bringing in taxable income and your COBRA runs out you automatically qualify for Medicaid. I would've got an Obama phone too but the screen was bullshit on it.
OP Iwrite4Food 2 | 11
30 Dec 2019 #26
OP here. I'm hoping my income will be 228k PLN next year (in 2020). What concerns me is what one of you guys said regarding the fluctuation of Zloty to USD. Do you think there is a chance of the Zloty climbing in value and me losing a lot money on the exchange rate? Or does it all even out over the period of 1 year?

I would plan on billing my clients in USD, then collecting that money in my Wells Fargo bank account, then transferring those monies over to my Polish bank account (once a month and on the days when the dollar is stronger). Between that and my monthly invoices that I save...this way there is a paper trail that the Polish government can use to confirm I'm paying what I owe in taxes--that's one area I refuse to screw around--I don't want to do anything that would cause the Polish government to deport me back to America. Would rather overpay on Polish taxes out of an abundance of caution (that's "old man me" speaking).

The reason I'm not wanting to move to a cheaper part of America is because I was born in Southern California and I really don't fit in politically with the far left or the far right in America and it seems like that's all there is nowadays. I'm as middle of the road politically as they come--technically a-political if you want to get nitty gritty. I tried living in a "flyover" red state for a few years and I just didn't fit in. I'm currently living in a very diverse blue state and it's just the same. People are too extreme nowadays.

Things have changed in the U.S. and it's never going back to the way it was, so if I have to start all over, might as well do it in a country that has a decent quality of life and is semi-affordable. Ergo Poland.

I should have also mentioned my plan to move to Poland rests entirely on me making that 228k ($60k USD) in 2020.

I have a marketing plan that will hopefully get me up there in income. 2019 was a real ****** year for me income wise.
Joker 1 | 1,723
30 Dec 2019 #27
f I have to start all over, might as well do it in a country that has a decent quality of life

Krakow is a beautiful city and has a lot of interesting things to do during the summer. If youre earning $60k you'll be fine. You do know about what happens in winter, with the coal burning?

unearthed.greenpeace.org/2016/01/21/poland-air-pollution-krakow-coal-ban/

citylab.com/environment/2019/09/krakow-poland-pollution-air-quality-coal-wood-burning-law/597352/

This would be a deal breaker for me, but they are trying to clean it up. Give it a few more years and it should get better after the big retro-fit.....







kaprys 3 | 2,458
30 Dec 2019 #28
Guys, where do you get such cheap flats?

@Cargo pants
A flat in the centre of Warsaw for less than a hundred dollars a month? I'm sorry but I must have misunderstood something.
cms neuf - | 1,687
30 Dec 2019 #29
Well I was thinking if you lived in some place like Tennessee or NC or Virginia then it is cheaper and there are plenty of middle of the road normal people there and a pleasant lifestyle.

You self declare your tax and if you are earning that much then they are unlikely to ask for a paper trail provided that you pay more or less on time each month - they don't get uptight if you are 2-3 days late.

Wouldn't worry too much about the currency - you might have bad months but it has been quite stable over 2 years. The Polish govts plans to give free money to half the country will probably keep the zloty quite soft for a while. I invoice sometimes in dollars, mostly in euro and sometimes zloty.
PolAmKrakow 1 | 457
30 Dec 2019 #30
I have a 66sq meter flat 10 minutes walk from Rynek in Krakow in a great quiet neighborhood, secure building, with utilities, internet, ect total expense is 3000 pln monthly. The housing market is coming back to earth in Krakow and in Poland in general. Still lots of building going on but a lot of inventory available and lots of deals to be made.

Currency fluctuation isn't a big deal. But simply transferring funds monthly is not the way to go. If you want residency, you have to have a reason, and on top of the reason you need to show income, health insurance ect. If you don't have Polish roots, whats the reason? If it is because you want to develop your business and pay taxes in Poland, then great, but you still need to file the right applications with the right documents.

I commuted every two weeks to Poland from USA for a year, have a very successful company in USA, Polish ancestry, and still it took 6 months to get residency while working with the best attorneys you can hire.

Polish authorities still find it hard to believe anyone wants to leave the USA because of the "American dream" all Poles were told about. This is a real roadblock for some people in positions of authority to get over.

You need a real plan. Start by getting an attorney, and then visit the country for two weeks in a rented flat to see how life is. Don't be a tourist, work every day, shop, cook, and try to live a normal life for two weeks. That will give you a real idea if you can pull it off personally and not just financially. With the holidays ending, now is the perfect time.


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