Krakow Poland Warsaw

Warsaw vs. Krakow

Cracow vs. Warsaw

Hang around in the two top-tier cities in Poland long enough, and at some point you’re bound to hear of the perennial debate that goes on between residents of the current capital versus residents of the former capital.  Warsaw has been the seat of government since  1596, a fact that stings some from Krakow, long the home of Polish kings and location of the famed national monument, Wawel Castle.  Numerous Varsovians, on the other hand, no doubt long for the slower and simpler life typified in the Royal City to the south.

Warsaw and Krakow are two distinct cities, with some significant differences between them.  And the “conflict” between Cracovians and Varsovians over city superiority is one driven by a few factors.  I’d like to take a look at both issues in this post, with a particular focus on how the aesthetics of each city compare.  Warsaw is the ugly one, right..?

Big City Life versus Village Charm?

But let’s start with some basic differences between the two.  Krakow is “older”, in the sense that historically, it became a significant place hundreds of years before Warsaw did.  Its architecture also was not destroyed in the war, while Warsaw was systematically annihilated following the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, with estimates that up to 90% of the city was destroyed.  So nearly all of what you see in Warsaw today is post-war construction, while in Krakow much of it predates the war, sometimes by many years.

Flat Warsaw is the home of wide boulevards, skyscrapers, embassy row and many modern boutiques and trendy restaurants.  Krakow enjoys a medieval center, a lot of green space, the historic Jewish district of Kazimierz, and a thriving university culture, with students numbering 150-200,000, perhaps one-fifth of the city population.

A lot of joking goes on that Krakow is a village.  This can be taken in a derogatory way, but I see it as a plus.  The town has a cozy feel—all roads lead to the center (or at least most trams) and with most social life happening in the historic center, you frequently bump into people you know—not bad for an urban area registering around a million people.

In Warsaw, you really feel you are in the city;  having been to all major urban centers in Poland, I’d say this is in fact the only real “city” in the country.  Everything from the skyline and the amount of ethnic diversity (low by most other Western countries’ standards, but high for Poland) contribute to this feel.  So if you are an urbanite, this is where you’ll feel most at home in Poland.

Of course, Warsaw is more expensive.  Krakow is not too far behind, when looking at the price of housing and other measurements of living costs.  Attention from foreign investors, as well as the sheer attractiveness of the city form a cultural and employment perspective, has led to a high cost of real estate in Krakow, though on average not as high as in Warsaw.  Warsaw wages tend to be a good bit higher than in Krakow, and with most international firms setting up headquarters in the capital, the better jobs situation is not surprising.  But unemployment is fairly low in Krakow as well, as it tends to be in the cities, and there are a number of international firms, such as Cap Gemini, Shell, and State Street with a significant presence in Krakow.

One note:  I find the air fresher in Warsaw.  It may have something to do with the geography, with the fact that Krakow lies in a “bowl”, surrounded by hills, while in flat Warsaw, the breeze seems to have a place to go.  The factories of industrial Nowa Huta, a prototypical Stalinist-era settlement appended to Krakow in the 1950s, may have something to do with that as well.

The myth of “Ugly” Warsaw

What about aesthetics?  At lot of the debate has to do with the attractiveness of the cities themselves.  Conventional wisdom has it that Warsaw is the “ugly” sister, that the Stalinist architecture that replaced much of the bombed-out city contributes to a grey and depressing environment.  There may be some truth to this—and especially compared to what Warsaw once was, when it was known as the Paris of the East.

You also feel the presence of World War Two more in Warsaw, perhaps more than in any other city and certainly more than any other city in Poland.  Monuments and memorial signs seemingly attached to every other building constantly remind one of the conflict.  In some ways Warsaw is a living museum of the war.  I find this very interesting historically, and more importantly, a proper reminder of the sacrifice and suffering the WW2 generation endured.  Though I can understand the sentiment that it contributes to a depressive atmosphere.

However, despite the common call that Warsaw is an ugly place, I would have to wholeheartedly disagree.  Warsaw in fact is a quite beautiful place, with some very interesting areas and much of historical value.

Why Warsaw’s Old Town is more pleasant than Krakow’s

After the war, the residents of Warsaw, Latin motto Semper Invicta (“Always Invincible”) painstakingly rebuilt the old town.  Using old photos and documents, they coaxed the old city to rise again like a phoenix from the ashes, or better, like a triumphant mermaid (the “syrena”, the symbol of Warsaw).  What exists today is a very charming and compact old city center, partially surrounded by a city wall.  The streets here are quieter, cozier, and more “atmospheric”, if that is a word, than most of the Old Town in Krakow.  This is likely due to the fact that the Warsaw Old Town is generally less heavily frequented (at least on weekdays) whereas the Krakow old center lies in the center of the city and bustles with tourists, students, and businesspeople the whole week through.

I think it is arguable that Krakow’s Old Town is more beautiful as well.  Just have a look at the square in Warsaw—smaller, but undeniably charming with its colorful, skinny tenement homes.  The tenement homes of Krakow’s Old Town, by contrast, are frequently covered with unsightly enormous advertisements, hiding renovation work that seems, for some reason, to never end.  Additionally, for the near-decade I’ve lived in Krakow, there has always been some sort of disruptive city construction project happening on the Main Square—first it was the renovation of the surface from asphalt to stone, then there was something to do with the cellars discovered under the square, now it’s the renovation of the Cloth Hall (Sukiennice).  I find it hard to remember a time when the Rynek was clear of construction.  These are probably all good and necessary things, but one wonders at the speed at which they are completed.

Warsaw also seems to be more (wisely) conservative in the manifestations of commerce allowed in the historic center.  Walk down a street in Old Krakow, and on the facades of the historic buildings, you’ll notice any manner of gaudy attention-getting signs and advertisements for businesses.  For a spell, there was (unbelievably) even a flashing BINGO sign over one establishment on Grodzka street, part of the Royal Way leading to Wawel Castle.  “Tacky” is just a starting point when it comes to that example.

Warsaw old city buildings seem to exhibit a much more restrained degree of advertising.  Signs for businesses are more muted and more suited to the surroundings.  It’s less “commercial” but counter-intuitively may pay off in a commercial sense by creating a more pleasant atmosphere, thereby drawing more traffic.

Krakow does have the decided edge on the question of restaurants, cafes, and entertainment in the old center.  There is simply much more going on in this category, and Warsaw’s establishments are more spread about the city, with Krakow’s concentrated basically in one place.

But with the recent renovation of Krakowskie Przemiescie (the “Royal Way” leading up to the Old Town in Warsaw), the capital has enhanced a charming thoroughfare and raised its aesthetic profile.  This boulevard has gotten a major facelift, and you can see that it has attracted more businesses and, coupled with its extension, the street of Nowy Swiat, makes a very enjoyable commercial center adjacent to but separate from the medieval center itself.

There are numerous other attractions throughout the city as well, from the unique Warsaw University Library, which seems to grow out of a hill in a remarkable composition of architecture and the organic, to the incomparable 76-hectare Lazienki Park, where peacocks roam amongst figures drawn from Roman mythology, while red squirrels and birds eat nuts from your hand (true 20 years ago, and true today, as I found on a visit last month).

What conclusions can be drawn?  It pains me a bit to say this, as one whose heart and body reside in Krakow, but after years of study, I can’t deny the fact:  Warsaw is a beautiful place too, and Warsaw’s Old Town is simply more pleasant than Krakow’s.

Krakow’s could be nicer, but will always have a different atmosphere–unless the powers that be in Krakow decide they want to clean up the carnival aesthetic they’ve either promoted or benignly allowed to flourish (ie, by reducing the number of concerts/events on the main square, and not doing things like awarding permits to people playing progressive metal on amped-up electric guitars).

Not that all this is necessarily “bad”—that point is up for debate.  Krakow is simply using its historic center in a more overtly commercial way, and reaping benefits, but while imposing the costs on all residents and visitors of a diminished “old town” atmosphere.  That’s simply a cost-benefit question that one has to weigh.  On another note, you’ll always have more tourists in Krakow’s center, which tends to clog the place up a bit, but contributing the same undeniable economic benefits.

In any case, you can argue over the merits of using the center in a more commercial way, or whether a bustling old center is preferable to a more subdued one.  But when it comes down to it, I prefer a stroll in Warsaw’s Old Town over Krakow’s most any day of the week.  And I find plenty of attractions in other parts of Warsaw to marvel at.  Warsaw’s ugliness is simply a myth, something that the organization UNESCO recognized as well, when it placed the rebuilt historic center on its World Heritage list back in 1980.

Warsaw or Cracow – So anyway, what’s the problem?

Back to the Warsaw-Krakow “feud”.  There are some classic lines of attack that residents of each city rely on.  Cracovians might say that Varsovians have a complex over living in the “ugly, soulless” big city, while Varsovians might respond that Cracovians have inferiority issues over being stripped of capital status and in some ways ending up a historic backwater.

Recently a Warsaw tourism campaign featured posters in Krakow with the phrase “Kto sie czubi, ten sie lubi”, which, translated, basically means that he who picks on another person, actually likes that person—sort of like the little schoolboy that teases the girl he secretly admires.  The posters came complete with a statistic claiming that 72% of the residents of Krakow were “proud of the capital”.

This certainly set off further debate in both camps.  I haven’t seen corresponding statistics on Varsovians’ opinions of Krakow, but assuming the above-cited percentage is true, I think you’d find similar numbers of Warsaw residents expressing positive things about Krakow.  Where the “truth” in all this lies, I do not know, but the debate goes on, good-naturedly.

Warsaw vs. Krakow – One Writer’s Verdict

Frankly, I appreciate both places.  I live in Krakow, yet frequently visit Warsaw.  Warsaw was where I first experienced Poland, as a tot back in the early 80s, so it has a special spot for me.  Yet for a number of reasons, I find life in Krakow a bit more up my alley.  That said, I could easily enjoy living in Warsaw, and even did so for a spell.  Admittedly, I’ve probably been a bit more pro-Warsaw in this piece, but I think “ugly” Warsaw is an idea long past its expiration date, which is the main point I wanted to make here.  In any case, there are major pluses, and some minuses to both places, which may be worth addressing at another time.

As for the conflict, speaking with Polish friends from both places, I get the feeling that Cracovians pay more attention to it than Varsovians do.  Why that is, I’ll leave to you to speculate.

As a note, the writer of this article is the American writer on the Amish – Erik Wesner.  He is a writer and live in Krakow, Poland, however, has family from Warsaw. Please leave a comment and let me know your reaction to  Krakow vs. Warsaw.


Taxes in Poland for Polish residents who speak English

The purpose of this post is to give you some ideas about taxes in Poland is your are a dual citizen or resident, an English speaker that needs to pay taxes in Poland. I am not an expert on taxes, but here is the idea (I did taxes at Price Waterhouse). I also have a recommendation of where you can get taxes done in Poland in this post.

US taxes for Polish residents

You as a US citizen must file and report all world wide income forever not matter where you live or your life situation. You need to report all bank accounts and income in Poland. I do this. Even on the pittance I make as a teacher. However, you get a large foreign income exclusion. That is the easy part.

The good news is again, it is not that complicated.  Do not worry.  It is just paper.
If you need help:

  • The US consultant will help with the US side often with volunteers.
  • I also call the IRS directly and talk with them, they have a help line.

Polish taxes for US citizens

On the Polish side of course you have to pay taxes also.  I get an accountant to do it.  You are a resident of Poland and as a resident you most likely work legally. This is almost like the USA in that there are simple forms and more complex. But basically you take your information to someone who knows. I have used a computer program like the ones they have in the USA and an accountant. But here is another idea.

Tax volunteer for Polish taxes – On the Polish side often the catholic church has a man that can help you. He is an accountant and will do your taxes for free and if you want to donate to charity if you can. He is not part of the church but a volunteer. It is not the official catholic church but someone in the church, look to see if your city has this. In Kraków for example there is someone at Bożego Ciała.   I think you can trust a guy like this.  He will also do business returns but I think he does that for a fee. But again you can trust him.

Business accounting and taxes in Poland

If you have a larger firm in Krakow or around Kraków or even maybe other cities, you can go to a company like this company – – They have an English menu and the speak English well, so any tax or business issues are no problem.  They are a very honest and reasonable firm I can highly recommend, I work there as a teacher.  If you have any questions I can connect you with a tax or business consulting firm, for free of course.

If you have a business then it gets more complex, especially is you make a lot in the USA and Poland.  But I think start with what I have recommended.  Try to find a charity that does it for free and maybe make a donation. If you are professional and have a business there are score of accountants for citizens and non citizen expats but start with the one I recommend for business and trust. If you have any questions please ask and I will do my best to point you in the right direction.


Prices in Poland

Things are cheaper in Poland

A common fairy-tale is prices in Poland are more than in the USA. I love to hear Polish people repeat this myth. They come back  complaining hour expensive things are in Poland compared to the USA or Europe.

I just got back from a trip to the USA.  I was visiting my folks in Florida .  Again, I was comparing prices and costs in Poland to those in the USA to Poland and I found that in Poland for everything except computers for example then prices were about 1/3 cheaper in Poland.

What are prices in Poland

If a T-shirt cost 8 dollars in Florida in Walmart, then same thing would be 8 zołty in Poland in Auchan.  If a pound of potatoes is 3 dollars in the USA than it is is 3 Polish żłoty a lbs (not kg) in Poland or cheaper. It is that simple.

How do you convert American costs to Polish prices for food? Since a kg is 2.2 lbs and dollars to the Polish currency is about 2.8 to 1.  Then you can convert the price per pound in the USA to the price in kg in Poland in złoty.  To do this times it by six.  Therefore, if the price for apples in the USA is 3 dollars a pound it is 18 złoty a pound.  I think this is one of the reason many Polish people get confused, they do not convert it properly.

Actual prices of the most important monthly cash flow expenditures are about 300% more in the USA.  That is the price of food, clothes and housing is cheaper in Poland by 1/3. This is what matters in economics, what you spend your monthly cash flow , not some exceptional item.

Why are prices in Poland cheaper

The question is why? The answer is simple.  Labor costs and supply and demand.

For every item on the shelf built into the price there is a cost of labor. Take an apple for example, every cashier, every truck driver who transported the items or manager who mangers the place or the accountant who looks at the books gets paid in the local currency.  If the product is local such as an apple then the farmer gets paid in Polish złoty, not dollars.  Further, if prices were high than people would not demand the product based on the laws of supply and demand.  The prices are connected to the people’s ability in Warsaw or Krakow or Gdansk to pay for it.  That is the monthly salaries.

What about housing? The people who build houses get paid in Polish złoty. For the accountants who do the books or the lawyers who draw the contract.  The people who maintain the building get paid 6 pln an hour or about 2.5 dollars an hour.  The people who make the brick do not get paid in American wages but Polish wages.  They are paid in local currency.  Therefore, the prices are about 1/3 cheaper as people do not make as much in Poland. Do not believe the Polish fairy-tale that America is cheaper. Use objectivity and analysis to see the issue clearly.

Polish prices -What currency do you get paid in?

If you make dollars in Poland you are rich.  Poland is a recipient of globalization and jobs. America and the UK is a net loser and export jobs to low cost countries. The better place to live in terms of cost is Poland.  If you make złoty than your income is about the same as if you live in the USA.  Perhaps in the USA your buying power is about 20 percent more as you are paid in dollars and some items like computers are not affected much by local conditions (but how often do you buy computers? its not something in your monthly budget). If you average all good, commodities like food and clothing selling about 1/3 cheaper and universal goods like computers (which are not part of your monthly purchases by the way) then lets say it is 1/2 price in Poland to be generous.

Polish people can go to the west, make US dollars or GBP, save money and come back to Poland and take advantage of this currency difference and buy a house in cash.  No Brit could do the opposite.  Polish people intuitively know things are cheaper in Poland that is why they save money in foreign countries and buy a house in Poland.

Polish people look at the exception not the rule regarding prices

Polish people will point to exceptions, for example people will talk about some American designer jeans and say its a little more expensive in Poland.  My reply is, Polish companies make beautiful designer clothes.  If you want to be Paris Hilton and wear things for their name, that is what everyone else has, rather than for the beauty than yes you might pay a little more in Poland.

What about VAT?  America has VAT, its called sales tax, usually about 6% to 10%. Its not 22% but this needs to be calculated into the final analysis.  Polish people ignore this when they calculate the price. Polish people repeat a common myth that things are more expensive in Poland.

I live in both countries and have studied economics.  I look at it objectively.  Not just some exceptional item.  In fact, I have even put it on a spreadsheet before. The reality is if you live in Poland you are living in a low cost country.

The laws of supply and demand are universal and apply.  If you go to Switzerland then things cost more than Mississippi.  If you go to New York than things cost more than Alabama.  Yield to the logic of the the situation.  If you go got Poland things are much cheaper than the US.  It is a great place to go shopping or live.  Why pay 300% for the same item in the USA? Prices are cheaper in Poland.


Podgorze Krakow in Winter

I live in Krakow, Poland in the old town of Podgorze.  I am very lucky that I have many parks and green areas where I live.  I stopped going to a gym and simply try to walk everyday.  I do not have a car and if I need to get anything I have to walk.  For me this is a double win.

Podgorze background

Vistula river Podgorze

Podgorsze was an ancient Slavic fishing town. The name means under the little hill.  Only latter did it get incorporated into Krakow.  For a very brief time it was also an international boarder. The Austrian Empire occupied part of Poland. I have seen old Podgorzse passports, these were just honorific.

This section of Krakow is also called the Austrian district as there were may Austrians that settle there. It was also famous for a darker history I do not think I need to mention here as it is already known.

Podgorze forest

Here are some Photos of my walks in the Winter in Podgorze in Krakow, Poland.

Podgorze forest January

What is amazing about these photos is that this is the center of the city of Krakow.  Can you imagine this much green area in any other city.  I have even seen wild mountain goats here.  This is one of the reasons I love living in Krakow.  It is a combination of city and countryside.

Walk in Podgorze with my daughter and wife

My wife goes sledding with my daughter in the back and I would love to get some skis but I have no time. This would take my fitness up to the next level. But I think I need to focus on my command of the Polish language first.

Podgorze garden house in the winter

Let me know of your impressions.  We do not get much light here in the winter. But there is a certain beauty.  These picture were taken in the afternoon in full light in January.


Polish citizenship

I am an American who acquired Polish citizenship.  The purpose of this post is to explain the rules of Polish citizenship and how I obtained it. I hope this information will be of value to you.

If your a good hardworking, honest person of Polish decent then here is a chance to get the best citizenship in the world, Polish citizenship and prepare for repatriation.

Rules for Polish citizenship

  1. Polish citizen by birth – Confirmation by having one parent that is a Polish citizen.  This is clear and not a problem no matter where you are born in the world. It is interesting if you were born in Poland but not of Polish blood you might not get a obywatelstwo polskie.
  2. Polish citizenship by naturalization – This is having lived legally with a permanent karta pobytu (Polish green card or visa) for 5 1/2 years in Poland. This can be accelerated by marriage but do not count on it.
  3. Polish citizen by descent – If you are Polish blood you are Polish.  If your grandfather was Polish, prove it and there is a chance you could get citizenship from Poland. Note is you are from the East like Ukraine or Belurus you can get a Karta Polaka to confirm membership to the Polish nation pretty easy.
Polish citizenship my Polish passport

How to obtain a Polish citizenship

My simple answer is you have to work for it.  It took me a lot of work, but it was fun and the people in the Polish Uzad were great.  Poland is a great country and many people want to live in Poland.  Therefore, the office of foreigners affairs is over worked with applications.

Do not expect to just pick up a citizenship or visa because you are American or have an Aunt that was Polish. Poland is an Eu country and has a rich legal system.  It is like trying to get in the USA, it requires work and patience.

The law and the constitution connected to who is a Polish citizen gets complex for cases with people that came before Poland was a country. However, because of Polish history who is defined as Polish is based on ancestry rather than boarders.

Do some work, do not be lazy, learn Polish (although it is not required it will make your life easier as it is the official language of Poland and the only language they official will speak) and fill out paper.

You might need to get official translations of American documents.  And no the US embassy does not care you are applying for another citizenship, they will even help you.

Concrete steps to get Polish citizenship

If you can not get citizenship confirmed because your parents are Polish or if you are not married to a Polish citizen then here are the steps and similar to the steps I followed.

  • Polish nationality is based on jus sanguinis. Make a family tree. Do this in Excel and include dates and citizenship information. Be honest and detail, basically tell your family story.
  • Put together folder for the important people on your family tree.  For example get birth certificates of your parents, marriage certificates, baptismal certificates. If you mention that your grandmother had a Polish passport, if you can get it copy it.  Show it to the Polish office. I actually had it from 1921.  I went to the priest in my family village and got vital records etc. I backed up what I had on my family tree with everything I could. Put it on paper and prove it, even if you have to fly to Poland. The Polish government has great records and will help you.
  • Create your own personal story.  Include education, work history.
  • Create a document showing your ability to support yourself via bank accounts and income, tax documents anything.
  • Now create a document stating why you want Polish citizenship and all good things about Poland and what you can do for Poland.

Make an excel spreadsheet and write all your factual information you have about your family history.

Next go to the Uząd or Polish consulate and pick up and application ask 1000 questions to the people and keep coming back.  I was at the Polish office maybe 100 times, no exaggeration, building a case.

Below I have a link to tell you were to get the forms if you live in the US.

Polish citizenship as a legal case

The bottom line is citizenship will be based on some law on paper.  If they can not trace a direct line of citizenship then, get a green card, as stated in the Polish constitution for Poles around the world. Then build your case even further.  With time they can make a case more based on special consideration, than exact transference of Polish citizenship.

Dual US Polish citizenship – these are my passports – I mostly live in Poland.

Dual Citizenship

I am a dual US and Polish citizen.  When I am in Poland I enter on my Polish passport and obey Polish law. When I am in the US I enter on my US passport and obey US law. I am responsible for taxes and pay taxes to the USA and Poland. However,  because I make a pittance and there is an exclusion allowance it is not a major issue for me (For example, the US allows you to exclude 90k USD foreign income or expats).  If I was making six figures it would start to be an issue.

Dual citizens are allowed but not recognized by both countries.  It means you just have to be a good guy and pay taxes and obey the law and no problems.

Being a Polish national and loving it

It is pretty cool having two passports.  Although the main document in Poland is a Dowód Osobisty (Republic of Poland identity card) two passports and a draw full of EU and US currencies makes you feel a little like some international many of mystery or Jason Bourne if you will.

You will also get a you get a PESEL a  NIP and a Nasza Klasa account. You will learn about theses latter.

I am very happy and proud that I have a Polish citizenship.  Many people say this is an EU citizenship and you can live anywhere.  I want to live in Poland.

Here is a good place to start in the USA to apply for Polish Citizenship.

Questions about becoming a Polish citizen

I am waiting for your questions. I am not an expert or a lawyer but I know a lot about the process as I went though it myself.  So please leave a question or reply.

living in Poland Poland

Cost in Poland

What is the cost of living in Poland?  Not much compared to the UK or USA. Is living in Poland expensive?  No.  Many people from Poland say that things are more expensive in Poland than in the USA. I think this is false. Living in Poland is cheap and low while low cost.

Living costs in Poland compared to the USA

What does cost of living mean? Living in Poland or the USA means:

  1. Rent or mortgage payment.
  2. Food expenses per week.
  3. Utilities.
  4. Transportation costs
  5. Extra day to day things, like vitamins or herbs or jeans.
  6. One off expenditures and large purchases, like computers.
  7. Vacations and events.

Clearly he first four items on the list is 99% of your budget.  I would say rent and food is your biggest perhaps 90%.  So why do people focus on the other items when making a comparison?

Cost in Poland is lower than most countries

Cost of unusual expenses in Poland

What Polish people do is go to the USA and see a computer selling at Best Buy and it it a full 50 dollars cheaper than in Poland.  They say wow, things are so cheap here in the USA and Poland is expensive.  I think this is untrue.

I have compared computer prices in Poland and the USA and they are the same price. You can get a 400 dollar computer in Poland or the USA.  However, when you do the comparison remember to calculate the US sales tax into the price (Polish VAT is already in the quoted price).  Further, it is sometimes cheaper in Poland.  If a computer part is more expensive I just order from ebay UK or USA.

In almost every case it is cheaper on Allegro the Polish online store. Polish people are very clever and this is a global market.  If there is a way to get it cheaper, Polish people will figure this out.

I shop at Auchen’s a French Walmart in Poland.  If you are low cost you can shop there. I can get blue jeans for a little over 2 dollars there.

But the real question here is how often do you buy a computer?  I still have my Sony Vaio from seven years ago and I am an IT guy. Therefore, when considering cost of living in Poland you have to look at what your real monthly cost are in Poland.

Furniture expenses in Poland

On one hand I bought a little wooden hand made chair for 5 dollars. Anything in the USA is from China.  This was from the Polish mountains.

However, on the other hand IKEA prices are about the same, maybe a couple of Złoty more.

Cost of rent or real estate in Poland

This is the real cost.  I pay about 400 dollarsfor my rent in the old town of Krakow.  I paid in Boston for the same flat 1,800 dollars.  How can you tell me that Poland has high cost or is expensive?

Food cost about 1/3 the price in Poland than the USA. People will disagree with on this but I downloaded the USDA price list and compared it to a Polish market list.  The prices cost less in Poland. I compared apples to apples if you may.

Food and rent are your biggest costs in Poland because you are not buying the other things everyday. This is what it really means to price out costs in Poland.

Food costs in Poland

Cheddar cheese is about 2 dollars a pound in Poland.  Potatoes about 10 cents a pound, eggs a dollar a for ten.  However, it all depends where you shop. If you shop at Alma or some little expensive shop of course you will pay, but still a lower costs then then USA.  But if you get things from the farmers or a large super market food is a fraction of the price of the USA.

Also when you make a comparison remember that most of the stuff I buy is organic farmers produce, you would have to pay whole foods prices for anything to come close to the quality.

There is no way you can tell me that the food you buy in the USA, most of which comes from huge Mexican agribusiness farms is the same quality as food grown on local organic farms in Poland.  My wife’s parents are farmers.  Most farms are organic and in Poland and most people I know have relatives in farming, up to 25 % of the country.  So again regardless of the costs, Poland is a better place to buy food.

Doctors in Poland – costs

It costs about 25 dollars for a doctors visit in Poland.  Or it is free if you pay taxes as I do.

Education cost in Poland

You have three kids that want to go to University and get a masters or PhD?  What is the cost in Poland.  Free.  Cost in the USA is about 25k a year and that is only undergrad.

America is an expensive place.  Poland is a low cost country.

How much does it cost to live in Poland

You can live quite well on about 10k a year in Poland.   Can you do this in the USA?

If you live in Poland with a total cost of 20k a year that is a very good life.

Is Poland a poor country if costs are low

Polish costs? A very old Polish house, something from the past. Poland is not a poor country like people imagine, Low cost in Poland and good income make it relatively rich.

Poland is a normal EU country.  It is still not at the standard of if you are a London money manager.  However, the economist magazine compared costs in Poland and if you are a senior manager all costs and salaries considered you have a better life in Poland. Income has to be seen in relation to costs.

Since I live here in Poland as an American in Boston, I could have told you that.  Poland is a beautiful place to live.  The only problem is you need an income. However, that is the problem anywhere you live.

If you have a global income, you will live quite well in Poland where costs are low.  If you have questions or comments please leave a reply.  Or if you have ever thought about moving to Poland and curious about costs in Poland please write.


Cars Poland

The purpose of this Cars in Poland post is twofold:

  • Is it worth bringing a car from the USA to Poland?
  • What is a good car in Poland?

Auto USA to Poland

If you want to bring a car from the USA to Poland it will cost about 1500 USD after all things are paid.  The rule is you have to own it for 6 months before you can bring it to Poland VAT free. Also you can only do this twice a year.  Therefore, you can not import cars from the USA to Poland, unless you are a professional on a large scale.  Why would you want to do this? Simple, its cheaper in the USA.  Things in Europe tend to be expensive.

That was true even five years ago. That is cars in Poland were relatively more expensive than in the USA. All roads lead to Rome, Rome being the USA. Therefore because of economies of scale it is cheaper to buy a car both relatively and absolutely in the USA than Poland.

However,today that is the case unless you want a model of car in the USA that they do not offer in Poland.  Further, you might have to alter the car once in Poland and this will cost another 1000 usd.

Still not a lot if you can find a deal. However, perhaps it is better to buy a car in Germany or just look harder and you will find a deal in Poland.

Things are cheaper in the USA than Poland

This is not true.  If you can shop around with globalization from cars to computers you can find things, apples to apples in comparison cheaper in Poland.

Of course housing and food and everyday items are about 1/3 the price of the USA but that is a different story.

The purpose of this post is to talk about cars.

What is the most popular car in Poland

I do not know but I would have to say Fiat.

Fiat Panda is a good car

Fiat, an Italian company makes the an amazing car.  It is actual made in Poland. Tychy (I am an American that lives in Poland). It is amazing with performance, cheap to insurance and a low priced.

Many people who have bought a Fiat in the past and who were unhappy with their old Fiats are very happy with the Fiat Panda.  Why? It is something else.  It is not only one of the longest running models of cars but also one of the most popular (I think the name ‘Panda’ does not hurt).

It comes with many features in the basic model that are extras in other models.

Besides a major upgrade in safety from the first Panda’s on the road the Fiat Panda has under gone some great stylistic changes.  It is basically a cheap, safe, cute little car that out performs many of the higher grade models. For acceleration this is a great car.   In fact the Polish police have purchases a number of these.

Jeremy Clarkson an expert gearhead and author rants about the Fiat Panda, and this is Clarkson’s life, to test drive cars.

It also does not need a lot of parking space, which is good in Europe but on the other hand, its roomy inside for a family.

Panda in weather

The Panda is a bear so its good in cold weather. Poland like Italy (in the north) has very difficult weather. However, in snow and ice Panda performed better than, I would say the BMW.  Heating works very well and quick.

This Fiat and car insurance

To insure it is a deal.  You will save a lot of money over the life of the car if you choose a Fiat Panda just on insurance.  Auto insurance is a big factor in choosing a car.

If I get a Fiat I will get a Panda

The bottom line is I am looking for a car.  If I get a Fiat I will purchase a low cost easy to insurance Panda. I might also look for a bigger car as I have a family and I do believe bigger is better with safety but a Panda is one of my top candidates.

Fiat as a car maker

Fiat in my opinion has done a very good job of transforming its business in the last 10 years. I personally think the cars have gone from cheap to cars for the everyman. Here in Europe many people like Fiat not only for their performance but the gas and insurance savings. As cars, they are cheap to buy and cheap to own. I think they are well run and am considering a Fiat Panda.

Will Fiat play to win

Now the big question will be is, will Fiat have the strength of will to shut down inefficient American and German lines of production. In Germany for example, workers get fat bonuses and payments, while in, Poland Fiat operates lean and efficient operations. Why would a worker get paid 500% more just across the river(Germany – Poland). I hope that Fiat does not cave to German and American political pressure to keepinefficient plants open. I think Fiat expand operations in Poland and closed shops in German they will do well.

If anyone else has anything to add about cars and Poland let me know.

Poland Polish economy

Polish economy

Polish economy is one of the most resilient economics in the world.

Why the Polish economy did not have a recession

I am an American who lives in Poland.  Poland does not have the downturn that western Europe and America has.

In fact Poland was the only country in Europe and America that did not have a crisis and continued to grow.

I read many economic experts in the west for years call for the fall of the Polish economy, it did not happen and I knew it would not as I live here and see the way Poles do business.  Now predictions have changed and there is a greater confidence in Poland.

The reason is simple.  Polish people did not get crazy with credit.  They are very down to earth people.  When they want to buy something they usually pay cash or on a large purchase put a lot of money down.

Businesses do not run with a lot of credit.  Even in a country which has a capital shortage Polish businessmen are very practical and conservative with loans and credit.

Polish economy

Poland is the largest small nation or the smallest large nation.  Either way, it has a balanced economy.  Poland has fuel, super agriculture, manufacturing, high tech research and development.

Further it has something that other economies does not have.  That is Poland has a large internal economy. Even if it were cut off from the world Polish people buy things from Poland and count survive.

The Poles are perhaps the most educated people in Europe because of the tradition of free education to the PhD level.  Everyone I know has at least a masters degree.  Generally Poles are hard working humble people.

Poland is now a recipient of globalization.  Meaning it is a low cost high tech country in the EU.  There is no need to outsource to India when Poles speak English and you can do it in the EU.

Some people say Polish corruption is a problem.  However according to  Poland is one of the cleaner countries in the world with corruption and the most improve.

If you want to set up a company in Poland it is very easy, and if you live in a city you can do it in one day.  The Polish government plans to put this all online soon.

You also have a 19% flat tax.  This in my opinion is clear and easy.

Poland gets a lot of money from the EU and will continue to get money until 2020 about. Therefore, if you want to apply for funds it is not hard as long as your project is valuable and unique.

There are few downsides to the Polish economy.

Poles are never happy with their economic  situation

If you ask an American how they are doing, even if they are losing their house and car and are in debt they will tell you fine.  If you ask a Polish person, even if they have two houses and no debt they will complain. There is a difference in the way Poles and others see the world.

However, this is actually a good thing.  When you are not satisfied with the current situation you will  always looking for  way to improve then you will be better prepared for what life throws at you.

This is not a perfect academic explanation why Poland is not in a crisis, but it does not mean it is not accurate.


Polish scientist develop fuel from water

Another great bright Polish scientist runs a car on water, almost.  Poland has many bright great minds.  I live in Poland and see it myself. Brilliant people here in Poland.

Fuel and water

This is another breakthrough in the search for alternative fuels. I live in Poland and have herd of this but I do not have all the details. And certainly nothing in the western media about this. A group of researchers at the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in the Lublin, Poland have developed an idea to create a cheap ecological fuel. The fuel will be produced from carbon dioxide and water.
What Polish researchers did was synthesised a high-grade fuel combining the two ingredients in the present of catalysts. Due to the fact that the method could effectively boost the country’s energy security, experts from the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in the Lublin will get support from the government, the cost of of implementation, which is estimated to amount to 30 million dollars.
the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in the Lublin team leader Professor Dobiesław Nazimek stated that the research outlays and expenses in the initial production stages are expected to pay off very quickly. I am very curious how this will all come about and if this will be the next big thing when it comes to alternative fuel.


Polish stock market

The Polish stock market trades in Warsaw and is called the WIG. Although it is subject to cycles I think generally it is a good investment.

Polish stock market

I am an American that lives in Poland. I also have been in and out of the investment – stock market world for most of my life. What is my opinion of the Polish stock market? Very good. Now if you want to know if stocks are going up or down. However, if you want to know about the Polish stock market as a whole, it is very stable, solid regulations, even more than in the US as Polish GAAP is more conservative than US GAAP.

Polish stock market and currency risk

If you want to invest in the Polish stock market there is a foreign currency risk of course. I usually do not hedge currency, and take as part of the investment risk. However, if you are more conservative you can.

Overall about the Stock Market in Poland

No problems investing in the Polish stock market and there are values there that are not picked though in the US stock market.