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 Poland
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

Low cost Poland
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.




227 responses to “Cost in Poland”

  1. Mladen

    My crystal ball

    estimates that Poland is around 40% cheaper than USA…

  2. Greg Mycek


    Thanks for chat about cost in Poland relative to cost in the U.S. Living here my whole life, I’ve seen incredible fluctuation in what things cost. I was recently telling a younger man about a period in the mid 1990’s where I bought gas for 89 cent per gallon(Now $2.60/ Gal). He was young teenager at the time. And to go back further, my father sold a house in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for around $7000 USD in 1975. Today that property can sell for around $200,000 USD.
    What is a problem for me is how inflation is calculated here in the U.S. Core inflation numbers do not include food, energy and housing. For me, that is a hard pill to swallow. Has anyone figure out how to get by without the three? This must make the homeless thrilled when they see their standards unchanged.
    Thanks again for painting the picture with many brushes. Its greatly appreciated.

    1. admin

      Your right: food energy and housing is the biggest cost for anyone. In the USA it is high. In Poland it is much lower (food and housing) Energy the same, depending on how you heat your home.

  3. Maciek

    May i ask whats your occupation in Poland coz youre sayin its cheap here ? Man Get life to rent a flat if you do not have your own in main cities is around 1500zl – 2000zl if you earn 2000-2700 you have 1300 pay all bills its another 500zl , spend rest on food petrol how much left you ?? Ofcourse its easier if you live with someone else (wife , girlfriend) but what life is that ? Living in Poland if you dont have skills or your own bussines is difficult , I see also you dont realize how much people live in poverity here mostly 40% – 50% of people and with lowest paid . I think you should update your webside with some more facts about Poland .

    1. admin

      I am a teacher. Look every Polish young person watches American movies and sees a world that is rich. I am from America, those are the movies. If your in your 20s or 30s in the USA all you do is pay off your student loans. Here in Poland you get free schooling, free insurance and most people I know get grandpa’s apartment or something from their parents to help them with a flat. In the USA, most people I know in their 30s are finishing off paying for school. You have free school.
      Second, Polish people think because you have a master’s degree you should be a manager or at least get paid a lot. Wrong. You get paid in a global economy what you can contribute. Education means nothing or little.
      You can make as much in Poland as anywhere. Market your skills to the world and live in Poland. It is very cheap. Food and housing are anyone’s monthly cost this is about 1/3 the price of the west.
      However, you are right, most people, just get by as everything costs. But this is the way it is everywhere in the world. If you want to get rich in Poland you have to be creative and patient, like in the USA. Same deal. But if you have an idea, you will be richer because costs are lower here. But if you think working for a company will get your rich in life, or that your education is in anyway connected to money, think again.

    2. Marysia

      I agree with Maciek. Life in Poland is the opposite of what you write on your website.

      1. Mark Biernat

        If that is true, then why does tell a different story?

        Do a one on one comparison of prices in America Vs. Poland. An honest side by side comparison. I think this is what it comes down to. Include things like going to the dentist or the doctor.
        OK gas at the pump is more expensive in Poland but I do not need a car. In the USA I need a car. Also in Poland you can use natural gas in your car and it evens the cost between the two countries out.
        Poland is cheaper, right now. It will not always be this way though as Poland is rising and the USA has economic problems and something called mixflation.

        But on the other hand the US dollar is in trouble because of quantitative easing or printing money so there might be inflation, so we will see.

        If you are really interested what do the numbers here tell you? I think they tell a different story. These are actual prices on each item created by users. Here is Boston and Krakow, two historic non-capital cities.

        Further, in Poland there is more opportunity on the low end of prices to be cheap. I buy from potatoes from farmers, local and organic directly and I live in Krakow. It is much harder to do this in Boston. I am also a dual citizen and have lived on both sides of the Atlantic.

        In the USA you do not have free medical care. Do you factor this into it?
        In the USA you pay a lot of gold and silver to even consider sending your child to University.
        In the USA are you saving for your retirement, which you will need at least a million in the bank to live a reasonable life after you retire to create a stream of income for many years.

        Now you do make more money in the USA. But I would say that Polish people travel more, everyone I know takes the summer off and goes to Croatia, Greece Italy and the Baltic. Americans get 2 or 3 weeks.

        Now America is creating 10 dollar an hour jobs with 9.2% unemployment. In Poland if you are clever you can have your own company and live a nice life.

        Polish people like to complain about Poland and tell everyone how hard it is. But this is not true anymore. I have lived here a good part of my adult life and Poland is a nice place. With the discovery of shale gas it will be even better in the future.

        Trade with the EU is increasing and Poland is taking Chinese manufacturing jobs as cost of business in China is getting higher. I know German manufacturer who are not choosing Poland. Life in Poland is good if you have creativity.

        That being said we will live in the USA for a while as we like the beach so it looks like I will be moving to Florida for a few years. But I have no illusions that with money I will save a lot in the USA. I am an entrepreneur so it does not matter where I live. But the costs in the USA now, are higher. But it might not be this way even next year. And if housing falls more it for sure will become cheaper to buy a house.

        But I am looking at this from a monthly cash flow in dollars and more flow out in the USA.

        So both places are nice, but in absolute cost, Poland can be cheap. But since it is not EU it is changing, it will be rich and expensive like London and Paris.

        1. KC

          In your opinion, what would be the minimum salary, per month, you would need to make, to live in an apartment in Krakow, (including bills and an extra couple hundred dollars for going out for dinners and other random activities)?

          Is Kazimierz expensive to live?

  4. Juan Carlos

    Hi, thank you for the information in your web-site. I will go to Poland, but I’m living in Canada, I need a computer, but I think would be much cheaper buy the computer there, I don’t know, but I think technology in Canada is more expensive that in USA. Do you know something about it. One more question I have to learn Polish, what is the best way to start?

    1. admin

      In Poland everything is about 1/3 cheaper than the USA or Canada unless it is a computer, than it is about the same. A few years ago it was cheaper in America. Now depending on the currency it could be cheaper in either Poland or America. I was just in the USA and I bought a netbook at Best buy as it was about 50 dollars cheaper than Auchen in Poland.
      How to learn Polish? Study lots of verbs and words. This is my recommendation then do my Polish grammar course for free online of course. Let me know how you make out with the language.

  5. Juan Carlos

    Thank you. I will, is going to be a little difficult, my mother language is Spanish, so I think it would be a little difficult. I will start here in this web-site. Thank you again.

  6. Mano

    Hi Mark,

    Thank you very much for the information, tips and the grammar / language lessons.

    I myself am currently working hard to go to Poland, where my Fiancee lives (Krakow). I’m in the IT business, I find that there is a lot of work in this area as many international companies have departments in Poland. So if someone is handy with computers or has a significant amount of experience you can find a job, especially if you are multilingual (I speak/write 5 languages). You are right, studies mean little, experience more.

    I expect to be in Poland within 2 months and leave a life in Amsterdam (32 years) behind me.

    Thanks again, good luck with all your projects!


    1. admin

      Mano, Thanks for the kind words, let me know how you make out with your trip and relocation to Poland and Krakow.

  7. Galina

    I’m planning to move to Poland from Cyprus,
    does anybody know how much is the good salary to have in Krakow, if we need to rent a flat, me and my husband work in IT, currently looking for a job in Poland.. how is the salary 6000 PLZ? is it enough for Krakow?
    Thank you,

    1. Mark Biernat

      Galina, that is a good question. I have lived in Krakow for many years, if you need any ideas about anything let me know. Salaries are all over the place based on experience and skill. Prices are all over the place based on how smart you are in shopping. 6000 złoty is very good in my opinion. I think many people make only 1800 pln. However, because you are in IT, people can be well paid. Some of my friends in the IT business get paid a lot. If you are making 6000 combine welcome to the upper middle class.
      I wrote a new post called “Polish prices” for more detail.

  8. terrence

    Dear Mark,

    Thanks for posting. I am considering moving to Poland to teach English. They say 2,500pln plus apartment. I am not sure where in Poland just yet.
    It sounds like a decent deal.
    Do you know how the English schools are, in general, in Poland?

    Thanks again,

    1. Mark Biernat

      It all depends on your experience and location and other things. Some guys get here first and shop around. I would choose a city like Krakow or Warsaw or somewhere interesting. Krakow is the city in my opinion. Then I would find work, this is what I did. But you need to know how to get out there and find it and not expect people will give it to every native speaker.
      I think for 2500 pln plus apartment, depending on the conditions you have a normal life. But not super. I live a pretty nice life of whole foods and yoga classes and IKEA etc. But it took a while to find the right balance. If you are green right off the boat it is not bad. Try to determine the number of hours you are teaching. I think at a school a good rate is 35 pln an hour. Privately about 70 pln an hour.
      I can sign legal contracts here etc as I am legal. Other guys do not as they are just kind of living.
      There are many ways to make money in the world and Poland is a very low cost country in my opinion.

  9. Karthik KrishnGowda

    I am Karthik from Bangalore,India. I have been admitted to Warsaw University of Technology for a master degree program ( 22 months )and I am coming to Poland in 4th week of August 2010 . I want now what are the student part time jobs available ?

    What are the prices for a kilo of Rice and wheat flour ?

    1. Mark Biernat

      Hi Well it depends on your visa. You have the right to work you can teach or do anything from work in as a waiter. But you speak English man and you should focus on that as your skill.

      A kilo of potatoes or rice or wheat is like under a dollar, maybe 1 Polish złoty.

  10. Karthik KrishneGowda

    Thanks for replying my query. I have some more questions please bear with me.

    I have a student Visa , My IELTS score is 7.5 /9.0

    I do not have any basic idea Polish language , is there any good online site where I can learn Polish Language.Would you recommend me some intuition?

    Tell me whether an Non-EU student like me can work or not ?. If so , how many hours I am allowed to work?

    1. Mark Biernat

      I do not think you are allowed to work, but I would ask at the Polish office for foreigners directly when you get there. Use this site to learn Polish grammar. No other site is interactive like.

  11. Steven Simpson

    Hi Mark Excellent website, I would just like to know if there are any sort of trades Poland is short of workers for?. For example in the building trade.I ask because maybe to live in Poland is something I would like to do one day and would not mind getting training in something suitable for work there.

    1. Mark Biernat

      In a global market place there will always be need for talented workers, like IT and teaching, or technical skills. Think more like what you like to do rather than what skills people are looking for. If you have specific knowledge then you can always get a job.

  12. Dario Mejia

    Hello Mark!! How are you?

    I am from Nicaragua. I will go to the Silesian University of Technology at Gliwice, Poland in August 2010. I have an scholarship to get my Master Degree there.

    How about the life in Gliwice is? How expense it is? Plaza? Discos? Sport hall? What a young boy can do in Gliwice?

    I will have 1000 Euro for all my expense (monthly). What can I bring from my country as a gift for the staff of the University? Thanks for your information. Regards

    1. Mark Biernat

      You will be a rich man. 1000 Euros a month, your rich. Most people I know make like 500 euros and have a family to support. So all will be good.

  13. khelly

    Hey mark

    thank you for your amazing website and the useful information

    may i ask for advises for people who live outside USA


    1. Mark Biernat

      Yes if you have a question just ask.

  14. Susanna

    Hi Mark,

    I will be traveling to Poland for the first time to meet my family. I live in Canada. I would like to purchase a computer for my cousins, would it be best to buy one here? Are they able to install Vista in Polish afterwards? Also, what kinds of things should I take with me as gifts for them?


    1. Mark Biernat

      Well a few months ago it was cheaper in Poland but now I think its cheaper in the USA to buy a computer. In most cases you can not change the install program on Windows, but this is not an issue, there is a program online that will do it for you. I think if you buy it in Poland now it will cost you about 70-100 dollars more, but they have 2 years of service, so it up to you.

      Remember prices in Poland are quoted after tax.
      For present, anything from Canada is cool. I have brought had maple syrup and things like that, but people do not know what it is.
      Something that is Canadian or very unique. If there are kids in the home books in English for kids. Everyone must study English. Kids books are great.

  15. Usha

    Hi Mark.

    First of all would like to congratulate u on this
    wonderful job u r doing about helping people from
    this website. Secondly I needed to know that I am a student from India going for a course of ACCA, that means that I would have to work as an accountant for 3 years inorder to get my completion certificate. My question is not about working visa or cost of living. I need to know how much does a junior accountant or an intern earns. Even an approximate idea would be a great help thanks.

    1. Mark Biernat

      If you have some experience and can speak the language and are in a big city, I think you can expect as a junior accountant to earn $1000 dollars a month.

  16. davy

    I am of for a holiday to Sopot in a couple of days for 5 days would £1450 pln be enough spending money no charges for hotel as staying with a friend

    1. Mark Biernat

      PLN or GBP that would be more than enough. I can not image you could spend that much.

  17. Neil Macleod

    Fantastic article, Mark.
    Your information is most useful.
    On the Internet these days, it is hard to find such clear advice on such relatively undocumented topics as this.

    But just a quick question on taxes in Poland.
    Is there high income tax?
    I’m a Merchant Seaman looking to buy an appartment in Poland, and I’d be out of the country for 220+ days per year, and my employers are not based in Poland (they’re just over the border, in Germany). My hope is is that the Polish Government would, in my case, spare me the brunt of high income tax.

    I’ll keep shopping around the Net for any further advice.

    Many thanks, Mark.

    1. Mark Biernat

      Income tax is 19% flat. There is not state tax or anything else. There is a sales tax which is high, but if you are buying food and clothes you do not have to worry, it is on things like computers and extra things. I just basically buy food now that I am set up. I live a nice lifestyle and saving to own a house, I hope.
      I live in Poland very cheap. I have a flat that would cost 2000 dollars in Boston to rent a month and I pay 300-400 dollars for the same flat. Culturally you could make an argument Krakow is nicer, but lets say it is equal, it is much cheaper because prices are determine by local supply and demand (However, Polish Real estate to buy in a historic city is almost like Western cities, that is why I will most likely build in the countryside unless prices keep falling as they are). Other things like Ikea furniture or my flat screen TV is the same, but on average it is very cheap.
      I am also an EU citizen ad pay taxes, so I do not have to pay medical coverage, I accumulate a pension and my child can get a PhD for free. It is not a bad life. But the weather in Poland is not like Florida, it is more like New England.

  18. davy

    pln 1400

    1. Mark Biernat

      This is not a problem. Some people support a family on that a month including renting and apartment. So if you do not have to pay rent and it is just you, you can live well on your trip.

  19. Ifeanyi Nwafor

    All you ‘ve said about Poland is really cool, I want to study to get into a masters program in computer Informatics in Poland .

    How can i go about this program it.
    Thank you very much.

    1. Mark Biernat

      Apply at universities directly like AGH.

  20. odi

    I was offered a job (in finance dept. of an Intl. company) in Krakow, they asked me about my financial expectations. I have no idea about cost of living there. net 2500 euros (makes about 10,000 zl) is ok or is it too much/less?

    1. Mark Biernat

      That is a great pay. You will live very well. I am just curious what is the level/title?

  21. Rajesh

    I would like to congratulate you for a very nice work and providing valuable guidence. I am a indian and currently living in india. I have completed my Ph.D. in microbiology and have a 6 year experience in IVD industries. Recently I have applyed for post doctoral position in immunology in krakow and get selected for the same post. I will get 5000 PLZ per month. Is that enough for me, my wife and my 10 month old baby. What is a crime rate in Krakow, work culture and hospitality of the polish people. I am beat confuge with this money I should move or not. I also do not now about taxation rules over there.

    1. Mark Biernat

      At 5,000 pln you will live a middle class life, by Polish standards. You will have a nice life. If you are in a city shop at Auchen it is the French Walmart. It is cheap. You could get a car and an apartment with that income, I think it is good. But it is according to what you are use to.
      Crime is very low in Poland. Polish people are peaceful.
      Taxes you have to pay of course, it is 19% flat tax and then we have VAT tax here or a sales that that is pretty high, but since it is calculated as you buy something you do not feel it. I love Poland. The money or cost or taxes or crime is not a factor. For me the one and only thing I think could be better is in the winter the weather is cold.

  22. aizhan

    Hi Mark,

    I’m being interviewed for one international company in Poland. And I have few questions that I really wanted to ask expats working there about the work conditions. Is salary of 1000 euro per month Ok for Poland (Krakow)? It is lower than in my country. As I will be an expat they are paying for relocation and for an apartment; they also cover 50% of cost of company cafe’s food. They cover health insurance, give some bonuses for x-mas.
    and my another concern is safety. you mentioned that it is a safe country, but is it safe for single females (maybe some places you would recommend to stay away from). I know that Polish people are Roman Catholic, how do they perceive muslims? As I am a muslim female and I wear hijab, which is not a problem for the company that I’m being interviewed for.

    1. Mark Biernat

      1000 Euros a month is fine. I think you will live a nice live in Krakow. Shop at Auchen it is the French Walmart, that is my recommendation to save money. If you get the job let me know and I can give you further advice.
      Do not worry about religion. Poles believe in God like you do and are very open minded contrary to a few people who might not be. People wear hijab around Krakow. Many Poles are marrying muslims. Krakow is a very international city. I am feel very at home here.
      If you really are moving to Krakow let me know. It is safe. Poles are very peaceful people. I am not just writing this, but I have lived here 7 years and traveled a lot of the world.

    2. Mark Biernat

      The main thing about Poland is you need to find a good rent. I live in a 70 meter flat in the old town, which is all modern and very high standard, for 1000 pln. But Krakow real estate people would try to sell it to you for 2500 or more. So the real trick is the real estate in Poland.

  23. Tomek

    Hi Mark,

    First of all – congratulations – great site and I guess big help for those who wish to relocate to PL. You are very optimistic and I guess much more patriotic that Poles themselves, which is nice. I am Pole myself, but lived abroad for 14 years now, some years in Middle East, then in Singapore and now in UK. I have found your website, as I was looking for updated cost of living info. I’m looking for an early retirement in couple of years and Poland is one of the places I do consider.
    Anyway, coming back to the cost of living in Poland, I am afraid that your information is overly optimistic and might be very misleading to some. I would not agree that 5000 PLN per couple would make you upper clas, I would rather argue that this money would provide you with the BARE minimum to survise. When I worked in Poland (and this was 15 years ago) I would earn 20.000, my wife 4.000, plus we both had company cars, free fuel, free mobile phones, medical insurance and some minor benefits. This was not unusual salary for an educated lad in Warsaw. Just middle management in a multinational. We did not live bad life at all, but we were far away from being upper class. I also come to visit my parents every year or so and in my humble opinion, unless you live very basic life and give up on any upmarket entertaintment from time to time, life is not much cheaper than anywhere else in Europe. If we than compare income vs. cost, than in my opinion Poland is not that atractive at all. I am asking about it, not in order to argue with you, but rather to understand, as my picture is so much different from the numbers you have been giving here. Please kindly let me know what you think.
    And once more – great job with the site Mate.
    Cheers – Tomek

    1. Mark Biernat

      You earned the old currency. It is that simple.
      The Average Pole makes about 2000 pln a month and that is optimistic. Therefore, 5000 is more then twice the average.

  24. Tomek

    Hi Mark,

    One more from me:,103345,8389096,Skromne_zakupy_za_rosnace_pensje.html

    If you read this article you will see that currenty average Varsovian earns not much above 20% of what New Yorker does and due to the fact things are a bit cheaper than his spending power is ca. 30% on a New Yorker. This is as I see things myself. We are still a poor nation compared to many others. Any comments/

    R, Tomek

    1. Mark Biernat

      It is a Polish paper trying to stir up emotions. I know the way the press works. Polish media likes to always compare and say, poor Poland. I have lived in NYC and Boston of course and my brother London for 20 years. I have lived in Poland for 7 years and Poland on paper might now be rich like other countries but many people work and are paid off the books like no other country. I live in Krakow and there are fancy big cars all over town.
      I would way rather live in Krakow anytown USA or UK. This is a real nice city. I live in the old town and pay 300 dollars rent for a nice large flat. In Boston for a smaller flat I paid 2000 dollars.
      Medical care in Boston was crazy. As a private person with a family you would pay 15,000 dollars a year in insurance. In Poland zero.
      For school for kids, to get a BA and a MA degree in Boston, it is 30,000 a year * 6 years. In Poland it is zero.
      Plus my family has a farm (like everyone’s) and we get a lot of food for free, organic and natural. You would have to pay and arm and a leg to get that at Whole foods in the USA.
      I took a 2 week Greek vacation with my family all inclusive for 3 people last year for 700 usd. In the States you would pay thousands.
      For someone who lives in Poland now, it is hard for me to believe that Poland is poor.

  25. Chris

    the income tax isn’t 19% flat, but it’s as high as 18% below 85 000 zł, and 32% above this value. It may be that you mean the tax for corporations which in fact equals 19%.
    I must say you present living in Poland in very bright colors. Actually I don’t believe it’s worthy for an average skilled individual to come and live in Poland. That’s of course my opinion and I am glad you are happy to live here 🙂

    1. Mark Biernat

      You have a choice as an individual to take the 19% or the 18% and 32%. It is your choice. What is an average skilled person. Poles are highly skilled and educated. If you come here as a laborer you will live a basic life like in any country. But if you have some IT skills you will be rich, really. So in this would people are paid by their skills and their ability to contribute no matter where they live.
      If you are smart, and I believe everyone has the potential to be, you can do better in Poland than most places. It is the only country in Europe that did not have a crisis and the Economist magazine projects it will be the fastest growing country in Europe at least until 2013.

  26. Tomek


    Old currency and “that simple”? This is plain disrespectful! I have left Poland in 2002 and the new currency was introduced in early nineties! Only this shows how little knowledge you have about the country.
    I have been earning 20k in the new currency, plus benefits and it wasn’t that unusual. I am Pole, I lived in this place for 36 years and I know the prices and cost of living and simply your blog is misleading. I have tried to explain this to you on my example but it seems you do not like to accept fact based comments. This is not only your problem, but the problem is that many people may read this and based on your numbers and suffer bad surprise when relocating to Poland. I simply do not understand your motivation. Another matter is the lifestyle you aspire to.You say that IKEA furniture is nice,that 70 square meters flat is big and that buying food in the Auchan is good. Did you explain to people that this is substandard way of living? The same with the holidays in Greece for 3 people for 700 EUR? It is possible but this is just the (swears deleted by Admin) possible standard. I just happened to come back from Crete, stayed in 4 star place, pretty common and spent 11k in two weeks only – me and my wife! Nothing luxurious. Your comparisons with the US are also strange, but it may have worked for you – I don’t know what your qualifications were. I currently work as a director in big multinational (located in London) and I have some people reporting to my in Boston area. They are middle management and earn around US 160k plus benefits. Are you going to tell me they have less purchase power than Poles?! In other parts of the US, like San Fransisco bay area we pay 20% more. I am sorry for some of my comments, but I really do not get you motivation. And one more about the old currency, he he. The denomination was 1:10.000. This would mean that if I earned 20k in old currency would be getting 2 zloty per month in PLN. but I do not think it is right what you are doing with this blog. Tomek

    1. Mark Biernat

      ‘Time not money is the most valuable thing in life ‘- Wall Street 2 (Gordon Gecko)

      I have not worked in a real job in 7 years. I teach a little but am with my family 24/7. I can do this in Poland. I could not do this in the USA. I bet you work more than 10 hours a week and are not with your wife during the day? Poland is a great place to live and you do not need a lot of money.

      If you are a greedy person and need to impress others than knock yourself out.

      But you do not need a lot of money to live a good life in Poland. You can live upper middle class on little money and take vacations and enjoy your life.

      One thing I love about Poland is it is not the West like London or America where everyone is trying to show up with titles like director or brag about salary. This is very gouche.

      We stayed in a nice 4 star place in Greece. You paid more because most likely the sales agent sized you up and charged you more as you look like someone with money. In fact if you paid that much you were totally ripped off.
      I can show you the documents I still have them.

      We stayed in a nice place on the ocean on an Island with all inclusive including private car from the airport.

      I do not mean to be rude but your whole perspective on money is distorted. The average person can live a very nice life here.

      Why is it that of the top ten richest people in the world only 3 come from the USA? Zero from the UK or London and most from ‘poor’ countries.

      Because economics is very dynamic. It is not about being a director for a company and paying a lot for vacations. Some people live in very humble ways and are happy.
      Your sub standard or sub life comment that you made is very arrogant.

      So your a nouveau riche Polish guy?
      Any qualification you have do not impress me. So do not start trying to pull that VIP stuff. New Poles that make money love to brag and feel important.
      I did the corporate thing and flew higher and worked on Wall Street back in the 1980s. I worked for the biggest and flew high and rubbed elbows with VIPs all day. Boring.
      “I am a director for a multinational’ – This to me means really boring. Maybe you are not.
      Someone who pushes paper does not impress me.
      I prefer not to be someone who impressed themselves being a director or working for a big company. I would rather live a humble poor life than be self impressed.
      People sell souls and work for another man’s wife (their boss’s wife).

    2. Mark Biernat

      70 meters in the old town is not substandard. You are so out of touch. It is in an old historic building completely renovated. In Boston you would not pay 330 dollars but 2300 dollars and in London in Knights Bridge for the same apartment quality, you would pay more.

      You say is 160k is a middle guy? According to the US department of labor and statics it is less than 1% of the population. You are so out of touch.

      According to the IRS the average American makes 31k.

      Where did you study economics?

      I am a Pole also as well as American. You left the country almost a decade ago. I live here now and I think I have a good perspective on standard of living.

      The Economist magazine. It is a British Economic magazine said a senior manager is better off in Warsaw than in London if you consider PPI etc because Poland is cheaper.

      I think to live a nice life in Poland it does not take the same level as in London or Boston. I think there is more opportunity in developing countries that have dynamic growth.

      I live a normal humble life in Poland. I can see what is around me. If you are a VIP in London, good for you.

      Warren Buffet (Some years the Richest man in the world) takes pride in the fact that he shops at Walmart, drives an old car and lives in the same small house he was married in in 1959. He is like the richest man in the whole world. But you, a new Pole, says shopping at Auchen and IKEA is a substandard life. Where are your values?

  27. Mark Biernat

    When you said you were there 15 years ago. 2010 – 15 = 1995 right? Now you bring new information but you initially said 15 years ago. Just be honest.

    Tomek writes “When I worked in Poland (and this was 15 years ago) I would earn 20.000, my wife 4.000, plus we both had company cars” So you are saying 2002 is 15 years ago?

    It was 1995 not the early 90s for the currency swap, it was the mid 90s, as there was a grace period. Did you know even today that old currency is worth something if you take it to a bank? Not the original rate. So do not make comments like 15 years ago then start saying 2002. You mislead.

    It depends on the time. You said way back 15 years ago. Since your other statements were way off, it was safe to guess this one was too. If it was 16 or 17 years ago the rate was very different. You know Poland had something called inflation.

    Hyperinflation as it was over 500% in Poland, so when you talk ‘way back when’ to me it means times when the economy and money had little meaning today. You did say that.

    Are you sure you are a director and you did not know about hyperinflation in Poland?

  28. Mark Biernat

    This is in reply to Hik’s questions about cost of living in Poland.

    Ask as many questions as you need. German cars will be cheaper in Germany or Poland than the States as will Italian etc. If you want a BMW or Fiat, not a problem. Ten years ago people use to bring their own car from the USA, but now it depends on the make a model. Some are much cheaper in the USA, some are cheaper or not offered in Poland. You can also buy one in Germany and just drive it to Poland. But if you have a contract they will give you credit, so I think you will be all set. All you need is a work contract, which you will have.

    Your wife can make 3000 pln teaching English, more maybe if she wants to go for it. I recommend it.
    Poland is the center of Europe, so the vacations are great. I go all over Europe for little money. I think you will love it here.

    Your expense will be the same if you are single or married. When I got married my expenses changed very little, if anything I do not blow cash on useless things.
    It is just like living in the USA.
    Krakow has in the top ten public transport in the world. You do not need a car unless you really want to. I do not have one, and have not owned a car in many years. I had one here, sold it. Will buy one again sometime.
    The insider’s deal on apartments, maybe have a company like Tecnocasa can help you when you get to Poland. Or look on gumtree. But I speak Polish and I have a Polish last name and really a cheap guy so I did not take the word of some smooth talking agent. I looked around for a while, until I really found something I liked.
    The markets is as much or little as you will pay for it and price is not connected with quality, unless you believe in the perfect information and efficient market economic theory fairy-tale.
    I really like the flat I live in and the area and I pay 1/2 of the market rate.
    If you need help, I live in Krakow, Poland, ask. When are you moving again?
    I can even take you around and help you get settled here if you want, maybe for a donation when I get here if you want. Let me know if you are interested.

  29. Tomek

    So first of all – where did I study economics? University Of Cambridge, This obviously means nothing to you, because as you said yourself you do not believe in education and economic data – the power of Auchan and Ikea is enough for you. I do not even try to ask where you studied yours, because you clearly do not understand the basics, like the difference between the cost and purchasing power, basic of Polish economy, what GDP per capita means, etc, I agree with you that a guy who earns in the US $160K may belong to 1% of best earning Americans, but it does not make him upper class, but barely middle class. The distribution between the classes does not work like this – you should know. The same is with all the rest of your bla bla – what you write is against facts, any published and basic economic rules. There were more Poles on this blog trying to correct you, but you just called them negative.You call me a new rich – this is absolute BS, because I have been trying to tell you several times you I was typical Polish middle class guy – that is why I have tried to describe what I do. I do not try to impress you, because I am not impressed myself, I lead normal life. There are thousands and thousands of Poles that achieved much more…. And you are right – yes my Mates having similar jobs in Poland do financially better than me. The only point here is that they earn minimum of 30.00 PLN (in the new currency, Sir) and not 5000 like you inform your readers. Just geegle 2010 salaries in Poland an this will confirm you the range of pays for the managers. They are Middle Class, upper class is totally different matter, here the salaries reach 100.000 monthly. So Poland is the relatively poor country with the uneven wealth distribution as simple as that.

    1. Mark Biernat

      So you have a PhD from Cambridge in Economics? I did my graduate work in Economics at Trinity. My thesis was on Knut Wickell and prices.

      We can exchange contumelious epithet ad infinitum. I deleted only your rants that do not pertain to cost in Poland, I want to stay on topic and not throw stones at each other. I also fixed your numerous spelling and grammar mistakes. I know you do not speak English well, so do not be offended at the corrections.

      If you compare the average Polish wage earner to the rest of the world, Poles actually falls in the top 1% of wealth. Shocking? Think of all the billions of Chinese, Indians, Africans, Middle Easterners, South Americans etc that are poorer. I have traveled much of the world and seen it with my own eyes. So your point to say Poland is poor plain and simply is wrong. Statistically it is in the top 1% of world wealth. Wealth is very relative. That being said lets look at the data.

      In 2010 the average per capita GDP ( I know it is not salary, but it is pretty close) is $12,757. The average Pole makes about $1,000 and lives in Poland.
      But all this is meaningless as the USA and Poland are two different worlds. In Poland you do not have to pay a lot for a Master’s degree like in the USA. 4 + 2 = 6 years at 30,000 dollars a year per child or $180,000. In Poland it is free as is medical care, while in the USA people pay 10k. So my point is it is hard to compare these two worlds with just numbers.

      That being said, if you make $2,000 or about 6,000 pln you are rich. You are double the average and can have a very good life.
      If you make 3,000 pln you are fine and can shop at Auchen and IKEA and live a normal life in Poland.
      I do not understand your point? Of course there are rich and poor with an income distribution like in every country.
      But 2,000 pln is more like the mode. Mode being the highest frequency of pay and discount outliers that skew the curve.

      If you buy local goods like local Polish food clothes rather than designer name things, then of course these will be cheaper as the cost of production is less, if you include transportation etc.

      If you buy something like a computer the cost is the same in Poland as internationally. But how many times a month do you buy a computer compared to potatoes?

      What is wrong with shopping at IKEA and lets say Target (Auchen)? This is what Warren Buffet does, he is the first, second or third, richest man in the whole world (depending on the year)? What is your problem with that?

      Poland is a Catholic nation and the values of materialism and greed have not corrupted the average person. Even the Pope said that when Poland enters the EU his hope was the Polish values would influence the west not the other way around. Why are you impressed by the green stuff? Ad majorem dei, right? What is wrong with living a normal life?

      Money is not my god.

      Like I said I worked on Wall Street in the 1980s, my perspective on money is experiencing first hand extreme wealth, not the things you are talking about, and I can tell you it does not do anything for a person’s soul. So what is wrong with living a normal life and shopping at IKEA and Auchen?

      Why did you pay all that cash for a simple vacation?

      I do not understand your point. In one, crisp, clear concise statement what is your point? Mine is life in Poland is nice and with relatively little money you can live a good lifestyle.

      Look at the facts for the Average Polish wage earner. They are fine. If you want a nice life in Poland you can have one for little money, not like a foofy London lifestyle, but it is cheaper here in Poland because of something called PPP. However, if you are clever in Poland you can live much better than Londoners economically.

      P.S. You make a comment in your long discourse I deleted that I was not Polish. Explain to me how in your mind is that?
      I have Polish citizenship. I live in Poland. I speak Polish.
      I have a Polish last name (a famous one at that Biernat z Lublina), I am ethnically Polish, my family comes from here. I vote in Poland etc. How am I not Polish in your mind?

  30. Tomek

    You have that annoying habit of distorting my points – did I say I had PhD in economics in my post? Why do you suggest that money is God for me, when I have told you I live regular life? I do not think there is anything wrong with Auchan or Ikea, but why don’t you explain to people it is low tier shopping, just in order to report the truth? Why do you quote Pope or bring this religious stuff here? You sound like Mother Teresa sometimes…Do you realize that besides “Mocherowe Berety” nobody else is doing it in Poland? Why do you keep comparing to the US here when there is no comparison? Especially that US sucks in so many aspects?

    My point has been (once again) from the very beginning that purchasing power of average Pole is less than of average citizen of any Western Europe country – this has been proven by all the economic data and also by the simple fact that milions of Poles have been forced to live and work abroad to earn better living (there is currently almost one milion Poles in the UK and Ireland only) doing crap and not so crappy) jobs; The same was happening over the centuries and that is why there has been so much Polish emmigration abroad… including your family that had to emigrate to the US – poor fellows – bless them….

    My whole point has been that the numbers you state on the blog are too optimistic and that in my opinion you should correct it in order not to mislead people. To earn better than average Pole does not mean necessarily to live well (and that is why we loose the best part of Polish society to emmigration).

    I have tried to point it showing you the examples of my own life, but your answers were aggresive and insultive…. You statement about me earning in old currency was plain stupid and ah so arrogant…. I do not know why my simple suggestion to correct your numbers pissed you off like that, forcing you to tell me I was new rich and all that crap?

    And ref. to your last question – I have clearly explained that already… You say I lost touch when it comes to Polish reality and it is pathetic that it comes from somebody like you, because we simply do not even compare. Why do you try to explain to me how well (or not well) I can live here if I am FROM HERE and know it better than you? Everybody has the right to the opinion, but do not be insultive. I have tried to show you that your Polish experience is very little and I eplained you why: I have been living in the country more than thirty years longer than you, lived, studied and worked here, during good and bad times. Went through communism, marshall laws, Solidarity, transformation, etc. What do you know about all this? Where have you been these days? When we were throwing rocks at the commie riot police, you were working on the Wall Street (no surprise that my spelling sucks, he he). I am breathing this country and you just scratched the surface – as I said before – the name or citizenship does not make you local, experience does… And you tell me I am out of touch? You simply do not compare to me when it comes to the knowledge of this country – and nothing wrong with that – you are an outsider and newcomer…. Hope this clarifies.

    Dziekuje za poprawienie literowek i przepraszam za kiepska gramatyke, nidgy mi sie nie udalo mi sie lepiej nauczyc….

    1. Mark Biernat

      I am not against the USA at all, I am a patriot.
      I only bring the moral stuff in because you make some kind of crazy statement that 20,000 pln is not that much as you made it 15 years ago.
      You said that 160k in the USA is like a middle manager,
      You said shopping at Ikea and Auchen is a sub par life.

      I am very sorry if I was rude, but I might be a unrepentant capitalist but I am not a materialist. I do not like bragging about money as I grew up around people who would boast about salaries and titles and find it very distasteful. But if you were making a point OK.

      I should not have mentioned the spelling or grammar as I am not perfect in Polish either.

      The average Pole does make a lot less then someone in London. That is why so many Poles left. But most when there only temporarily. The reason is, you can make GBP and come back to Poland in a few years and build a house with cash. An average American or Brit can not do the same. The reason is FX rates. Poles can work in Norway and the UK and live a basic life middle class life and come back to Poland and exchange their currency for pln and they are rich. Americans have no place to do this. It is good to be Polish economically.

      With Polish growth rates according to the latest economics magazine projected to be the fastest in Europe in 2011 and 2012, it is a very nice place to make money.

      Why? It is a developing market.

      Further, it is really cheap here.

      I laid out the cost of living in Poland in the Old Town and in a modern standard Western flat that was just renovated. This is a fraction I would pay in London or Boston. Life does not cost much.

      If you can stomach the 19% flat tax, which is not that bad if you ask me. Than life here is quite good. Where in London can you hire a maid for 2-3 dollars an hour? Or rent a modern flat for 330 dollars a month?
      Or pay 30 pln for a kilo of Potatoes (5 cents a pound).
      Or take a 2 week vacation to a 4 star resort all inclusive to a Greek Island for 700 dollars?
      Mineral water is 50 cents a bottle.
      But Ikea is the same.
      So in my experience and I live very well here for a fraction of my cost in the States or my brother (who has live in London for 25 years).
      Cost in Poland is increasing but it would be a hard to convince me someone who lives here now and well, that it is like the West in terms of cost.

  31. Tomek

    Look Mark, fair play Mate,

    At least we agreed about some things – that my English really sucks for example – no doubt about that, fair enough… 🙂

    I have made this mistake with the years – I was getting this 20k+ in 2002 not 1997 – I put wrongly 1997 as this was when I started to work for my current company. Anyway this is a really number and I did not leave opulenet life – probably a bit better than majority, but still normal middle class life. I may have also exaggerated that IKEA is substandard, but it is just lower tier and that is it. (By the way – you may get better and cheaper stuff made locally – did you know that?) I think we also have a similar approach to money and that is why I got pissed you called me a new rich, as this is something I really do not like myself…. You see, the reason I have found you blog is that I am contemplating which country would be good for me for early retirement, so that I can leave the rat race and do what I like for living. This means I need a nice place which is relatively cheap. Poland would be beneficial as I know the country and and am street smart here if you like. Unfortunately, accrding to my studies Poland does not look good in comparison to some other candidates as the cost of living compared to the salaries is less atractive (on top of crappy weather :-))…

    What I still disagree (no need to be emotional) is the way you compare countries, which I believe is slightly uneducated. It is true things are more expensive in London (anyway London being silly expensive), but the salaries are much much higher (about 50% difference), so it is all about your purchasing power. The tax in PL is 19% but only if you are self employed, otherwise the tax reaches 40% which is a massive difference. I pay the same (40%) in UK, in Singapore where I lived for some time paid only 11% and in UAE – 0%. Hence it is nice to put things into perspective. Also there is always a matter between the cost vs. value and clearly the infrastructure in Poland sucks in comparison with e.g.: UK. Take as example lack of highways, poor medical services and so on and so forth. We can not compare the provincial town like Crakow to London or NYC, for instance, where your access to culture, music and world affairs in without comparison….As they say – you get what you paid for….

    So all in all I would suggest you would do better in your blog by giving less biased view on the things…

    It was interesting to exchange the opinions with you, but clearly this discussion does not fit your blog anymore – if you want to take it offline feel free to contact me if you want on my email.

    Take Care – T

    1. Mark Biernat

      Your fit for the blog, and I respect your opinion as you layed it out. I am sorry for the English comment. I will notdebate you too much as you will most likely not reply and it would be unfair to you.

      However, lets leave it as a lifestyle choice.

      Basically it is all a matter of how you want to live.
      In a global economy you get paid what you are worth to the market. Unless you work in a factory or shop for example. But most professionals do not.
      I am very lucky I can work remote as I have certain skills. So if I get paid as a consultant in the USA or Poland or London it is all in dollars. The only thing that changes is my tax location and my cost of living. (I pay in the USA a lot of taxes, state, local, federal, social security, medicare, sales tax etc). But in Poland I pay 19% but must medical but get coverage. Taxes are complex so it is another topic.

      I prefer Krakow to Warsaw and Boston to NYC, Venice to Rome. The financial centers are good for making money but if you have a family it is more fun, at least for me not to be in the center but in a smaller city or suburb.

      Weather wise I am not thrilled about Polish weather, but I prefer four seasons than Texas lets say. It is a matter of lifestyle.

      I disagre with you on the medical and roads comments but I will not debate you as I do not want to take too much of your time.

      But lets leave it as a lifestyle choice that determines where you live and be happy.

      For me Krakow, is very charming and cheap and central for travel and cross culture as I love Slavic languages and culture.

      If you are into English theater or cooking or whatever, London is better for you. So it is a matter of taste.

      It is very interesting to hear the other side of the story. That is a Pole that goes to the west as I am from the West but went to Poland.

      There is no way we can see agree as out perspectives are so different. But for me as a western going to Poland I have reverse sticker shock, that is the whole country is cheap compared to Boston.
      But for you, you are looking at the income not the cost side which is fine, I understand, but I am talking more about the cost in Poland.

  32. Tomek

    Hi Again Mark,

    I am ill at home now, so can write.

    And please don’t worry about English comment – this was the one that REALLY didn’t make me upset – I don’t have any ambitions in the lingustic arena…

    I get your point – cost vs. income; so my personal opinion is:

    1. if you e.g.:have an income in the West and spend it in PL, then the country will be attractive economically of course as COL is lower; so it may be a good place to retire if your pension is coming from the West
    2. if you need to earn and spend in Poland than your wealth is worse than in the West, also no doubt about it, as your spending power is less; disregarding the national health or free schooling, as these free things come with the different quality; I know you may not believe in all the rankings, but e.g.: this year national health service in Poland has scored ca 50 in the global ranking and the best Polish University (jagielonian) was not even in first 250 (with harvard being 1st and Cambridge 2nd). This ranking is pretty straight forward as it rates no of publications and scientific awards). I do not think you would debate highways with me, as we know that they do not exist – I used to work as a salesman years ago and travelled ca 60k a year and man – it was crazy. The quality of the roads sucks as well – get yourself an SUVn if you wanna last; So all in all I do not believe in free things, it is a socialistic BS (even in UK their National Health Service NHS sucks – same thing)…
    3. We have never debated between us which lifestyle is better, as it was never a subject of our discussion – we were just comparing cost and income; lifestyle is a matter of personal taste and obviously there is much more to it than just cost and income…

    My views as Pole moving abroad? Hm – I do not feel I have emigrated or anything like that I rather feel kind of of a jet setter; I have lived now in several continents and traveled extensively as well – currently staying in the UK. I am not particularly excited with the UK lifestyle – London is great, but just for spending there couple of hours, enjoying cultural scene, quisine, etc. To live there it is horrible – to big and too busy, INHO. I myself go to London every month or so for a weekend but live in the countriside in the small village, where I can enjoy nature, where people are nice to each other and where I can do my sports. I lived in the Middle East (Dubai) – quite luxurious but very uncultered life, good for desert trips and extreme sports though :-). Stayed also in Singapore – with a lot of travelling in Asia. I have been offered an opportunity in US (Miami), went there to check it out but decided not to go. I have never been too excited about US – not my cup of tea… My company has sites in Boston, Frisco, Dallas, NYC and Miami – I do not think I would accept an offer in this country.

    If I were to tell you how PL and all these places compare – I do not know – it is all about the balance between things and also my preferences has been changing with the age. I really loved leaving in Singapore and South East Asia – much better lifestandard (not only money to be precise). Loved the people and culture, love places like Cambodia,Vietnam, Bali and so on. Weather there is a bit difficult and you have to live with that. Europe on the other hand has the best culture IMO, but became too socialistic and expensive. You pay 40% of tax, only to see the benefits going to people that abuse the system and service generally sucks. (US is still better off, but this EU disease will come there as well); If I were to retire now I would go to live in either Malaysia, Thailand or maybe Crete in Greece (I just came back from the three months long “research trip” from there). If I decided to live in Eastern Europe I would rather go to Bulgaria (better weather and cheaper), but may end up in PL, because it is easier and could take care of my Mom and Dad.

    I know it sound all a bit chaotic – but see – I think there is equlibrium with things, some of the things that are nice in a country, balance with not so nice aspects. I am happy, cause for me my home is where my wife is and I am lucky she travels with me. We always have plenty of friends which is good. As long as I can spend time on my hobbies it is good. I may get tired soon with this lifestyle and then will probably have to move somewhere cheap…

    Does it make sense?

    1. Mark Biernat

      As a former jet setter, I see where you are coming from. But I am married (happily) now and I need a base for my life. Poland has good schools, good food, the second lowest murder rate in all of Europe (Austria lowest), so it is pretty safe. It has moutains, sea and nice coutryside and cities. And for me with a Polish but also American bank account it is cheap.
      The medical care is the same as in Harvard. I used to go to Harvard medical and it is all hype. In Poland if you pay for private which is cheap compared to Boston you get the same or better care anywhere. The doctors take time with you and really seem to care. In Boston it was all about lawsuit protection and reducing costs. Public medical care is fine in Poland today. For kids it is great but for adults on some conditions you need to wait. But pretty cheap like 25 dollars you can go to a private doctor. In the USA you have a 2000 dollar dedultible and then co pays.

      Roads? Getting better, but in Boston huge traffic, like in LA and NYC. I used to live in NYC it was horribe
      traffic. Oh yeah nice roads but many times more cars. Average commute in NYC Boston LA is like 1:15 in Krakow 37 minutes. In Krakow I can go from one side of the city to the ext in 1/2 hour.

      In Krakow it has ranked the top ten in the world for public transport. It is very good.

      Trains are cheap in Poland I can go across the country from Krakow to the Baltic for 25 dollars. I went to Crimea (Krym) from Lviv for a 26 hour trip for 25 dollars. This is impossibe in the USA.

      Lifestyle for a family is very nice. Poland is a nice peaceful place with good food, nature and family things. Polish people have a sense of community. I like it. In America everyone closed their door when they got home from work.

      But for jet setting I would perfer better weather. One of my friends from Holland moved to Mexcio. Another from Sweden moved to South America. Both love it.

      Unless you are a GM/Ford guy that needs to go to the office everyday, then the world is yours and you can choose to live not only based on income from the office job but general lifestyle and cost are more important.

      I think cost/lifestyle is the important side as more people can work remote. I do.

      My dream place is Hawaii. It has to do with the weather. I love Poland for the cost but the weather is better in Hawaii. I know it is more cost but you have a nice life. But I have family in Poland and Boston and Hawaii is too far.

      Maimi is also an option but as a self employed person, I would have to pay like 15,000 dollars a year for medical for my family and then education and retirement start saving much more. In Poland I can live easier again because of COL.

      I could live in Cyprus or Greece but these are not Americans or Poles. I feel very much at home in Poland or in American but would not feel at home in Greece, it is more of a vaction place for me, but not Poland or America.

      Even in London where you are based, even with the English language I feel as an outsider. English are polite but not warm like Poles. Just my feeling.

      I guess my question is if you could settle down where would you? I think the idea of retirement is not really something to think of as we are both young and the world is different today. At 65 I will not collect a pension and look out the window. I want to keep going as long as I can doing what I love.

  33. Tomek

    I might settle down in La Jolla, San Diego – almost bough a house there – nice place; or in Sydney, Australia; If this was too far, than I wouldn’t complain about Tuscany, Mate….

    1. Mark Biernat

      I feel good in Poland. I love Poland as you know, but I have read the weather will be pretty cold here this winter and it is making me think. My friends in the States say come back to Boston, but there is no advantage to live in Boston or New York or Montreal when the cost is so high and the weather is the same.
      I would also consider Tuscany as Italians are similar to Poles in many ways and the weather is so nice. But again to me you need 2 times the cash as you do in Southern California.

      So I do well, but want a reasonable lifestyle. Right now I can live here and basically not work. If I move to the States I will have to go back to the Matrix.

      I might have to turn up the dials to make more money before I live my dream. But the places you mentioned all sounds nice to me. Southern California has little temperature variation. I interviewed out there with Bank of America and, if I took the job I might never have come back.

    2. Mark Biernat is a forum that has good lifestyle comparisons. It was started by a Polish guy, who is very rich now as it is one of the largest sites on the web.

  34. Tomek

    Have you looked at South-East Asia? Thailand is a great place and cheap. People are lovely, food is good, nice beaches, good weather. You could also do nothing (if you decided there) with a nice lifestandard…. no skiing though :-). Culture is very different, but plenty of expats to hang around with….

    1. Mark Biernat

      It is a good point. My friend’s wife is from there and he loves the food and prices when he is on vacation. I have a family and I want to be in a place that I feel good in. Thailand might be cheap, but it is a very foreigner land relative to the good old USA or Europe. With a Dual passport I can live permanently in many places in the world. Thailand might be good for a 3 month vacation but I want my daughter to have a normal life with a house and a garden and neighbors who speak Polish or at least English.
      However, I know that people really love Thailand. I have heard a lot of single Polish guys work the summers in London and then relax in Thailand the rest of the years because it is cheap.
      I think Hawaii or Florida for me would be a better warm weather place. Cost is a factor in life as it translates directly to lifestyle.
      In the Polish countryside you can build a house now, a solid one for 700 dollars a square meter. A few of my friends have. You have have a castle, with a swimming pool and tennis courts and a garden, for the price you might pay for a flat in Boston. 350,000 dollars in Boston, where I lived in Beacon hill might get you 50 meters, maybe, but 1 million pln in the Polish countryside will get you all the house you ever want.
      But Thailand will get you even more I image. But it is not my country, but more a vacation place.
      North Carolina is also very nice and pretty cheap and nice weather. I lived there so I have a connection. But for now, I like Krakow, Poland as it is high civilization, European culture, great Polish food and in my opinion cheap. But I am open to other places.

    2. Mark Biernat

      I guess I have a question, what about Miami? You said you go there, is it a reasonable place to live? That for me is realistic and the weather sure beats Eastern Europe.

  35. Tomek


    What I said was that I got a job offer in Miami but I turned it down, cause I didn’like the place. Weather was awful if you asked me – to humid in summer, hurricanes and all that…. Also if you care about cost of living then Miami is not the place – very expensive.
    I’m not particularly excited about US to be honest – South California would be the only place I would like to live

    1. Mark Biernat

      Miami is humid and hot as it all the east coast in the summer south of Washington. It is like a jungle. California might have ideal weather. Cost in Miami again will depend on lifestyle. Many poor people from Latin America live there. But it is not Poland in terms of cost. The USA is a great place to get a job, and have a career but I agree with the Economic writer Jon Markman This is my logic for Poland also, there are are always more opportunities for creative people in developing countries than developed countries. Markman also predicted the 2007 crisis when everyone was telling him he was nuts.

  36. jyoti panchal

    Hi sir first i would like to ask.its any cost for ask about question.its not any cost so i would like to ask about polish language.I am from India and i am learning polish language.please tell me some tips how can improve my polish language.(and i would like to thank you receive my comment)

    1. Mark Biernat

      Polish is a complex language so what you have to do is start with words. Learn a few thousand words pretty well. You need a base to build from. You can not just start speaking the language until you know some vocabulary. I recommend starting with verbs as concrete nouns are easier to pick up.

  37. Eugenio

    Hi guys!
    I’m interested a lot in Poland since my girlfriend lives there and is Polish.
    I’d like to ask your opinion about one thing: i know it may take a long time, but what do you think will happen whenever euro will arrive in Poland?!

    Do you think prices will increase a lot or what?

    1. Mark Biernat

      Good question. At this point prices are starting to approach EU Euro zone levels. All imported goods are the same price. There are less and less really Polish goods on the market. So right now, health care and food is still cheaper as are some Polish clothes. But all imported goods from gas to computers are at EU levels as well as any brand name clothes. Haircuts are still cheaper. I pay 10 pln for a good one with no buzzer. This is because it is a human service and therefore internal to the Polish market.
      Real Estate is expensive now but for insiders there are still deals. The market in real estate is soft from an over supply.

      Prices over the next 4 years when Poland will get the Euro in 2015 will on a linear path approach the prices in Western Europe. The good news is wages are also if you are a professional.

  38. Ted

    What about health care. I have a Polish passport, own a tiny apartment in Krakow and am considering moving there next year. Does Poland have socialized health care, do I pay for prescriptions, are hospital stays, surgeries covered etc. How do I find this out cause I’m no spring chicken and I know in the US getting sick can bankrupt you very easily.

    1. Mark Biernat

      Poland has social health care. Prescriptions are not always covered but everything else is. Some prescriptions are covered others are not. You have to registrar to get these services and get an insurance card. You need a Legitymacja Ubezpieczeniowa. Get this and you are all set. If you work, your work pays for it. If you are unemployed you need to go through a different process. If you have your own company you will pay 800 pln a month Zus. It is very nice if you are poor. However, it is not a to z treatment as there are cost considerations. But it is free medical care.
      One consideration is if you have health problems, remember depending on where your flat is it is polluted as it is a valley. The best health insurance in the world is fresh air and exercise along with vitamins and being 5 lbs underweight.
      Just my opinion.

  39. Ted

    Thanks so much Mark for your thorough reply. Well, when I move to Poland I will be unemployed for a while so I wanted to make sure I have health insurance. Am healthy so far, but changing environments can be tricky on the system. Didn’t know Krakow was that polluted. I thought that they had switched over to gas from coal long ago and given that they have pretty good transit, the air was better than ever. I do lead a healthy lifestyle though.

    1. Mark Biernat

      Krakow is polluted. We are getting out to the countryside or even to Florida. Poland is cheaper but we will see. Why are you thinking of moving?
      I know exactly where your apartment is. You are lucky you have a nice shopping mall near you and you can walk along the river.

    2. Mark Biernat

      You will have some health insurance but you need to registrar and get your card. Everyone is covered under health insurance not matter what. Even homeless people, but you need to register as either a business owner, a worker for a company, a freelancer, a farmer, unemployed, retired or homeless. They will ask you which category you fall into. Once they know you get a card.

  40. Ted

    BTW, my flat is near Kazimierz by the old Jewish cemetary near the Vistula.

  41. Ted

    OMG, Florida is absoluate hell, the humidity is brutal, the mentality is disturbing and business right now is bad. I would stay away from the USA, they’re heading into a period of severe instability and decline. Are you consideringf leaving Krakow now? Thought you were quite happy there. I love it so far but have only spent a few months of the year there over the last couple years – more this year.

    1. Mark Biernat

      I love Krakow, I love Poland, but need a change in weather. Northern Florida is hot like that for 3 months (as opposed to cold 3 months out of the year, I guess you have to choose). Business I can do anywhere as I write software etc, it does not matter if I do it on the beach or in a snow bank. But you input is greatly appreciated. I will consider what you write.

  42. Ted

    The main thing that disturbs me about Poland is the mentality that there is something always better somewhere else. People in my family keeping moving to find better fortune – UK, Ireland, Iceland, Norway and the children have severe anxiety disorders. And of course now they are moving back to Poland, but if they hear some bad news in Poland or if they hear it’s better in Bangladesh they start packing. I’t obvious to me that this small minority of Poles is afraid to commit to Poland or anywhere. If I commit to Poland, I will stay for a while, because it’s an excellent base with a very good quality of life, culture, natural setting. You would get pretty sick of the US where you have to drive everywhere – for milk, to go to a movie etc.

    BTW, where in Krakow can I apply for such a health card…I guess I would be classified as a free-lancer for a while.

    1. Mark Biernat

      You are right about the USA, you have to drive. Cars are people’s legs. In Krakow I walk, but the pollution is a little too much on some days. But I think Krakow, and Poland give you a very high quality of life. It is almost a perfect place to live.
      Poles always want to find a place to live better than Poland. But many Poles love Poland and do not want to leave. They may complain (I think mostly because of the weather) but they know it is an interesting place.
      If you are truly a freelancer and make money on a monthly basis you need not to start your own business but rather be a ‘sole trader’, but this will require you to pay ZUS. It is about 100 dollars a month for the first 2 years and 250 dollars after that. If you can get a job like I do, the company pays for it, and you do with your taxes, if you want to registrar as unemployed it is free. Also many foreigners buy private health insurance instead as it is cheap for normal things.
      Check out for all the information about Polish health insurance and costs. It is in English also.

  43. Ted

    Didn’t know pollution was an issue. I have done some reading and it seems that pollution has come down 80% since 1989 and the main reason now is cars, coal and people who burn garbage in their stoves. The car problem is being solved by the ring road (obwodnica) that I believe is almost finished on one side and coal conversion is very extensive but the biggest problem is people’s burning stuff like plastic or behaviour. However, UNESCO says that pollution in main market square now half acceptable levels, which is good. Anyway, thanks for this info looks like Krakow has a way to go.

    As for living in US, why not just visit Florida for a month in January every year to deal with winter blues that’s what Canadians do. I envy you that you are free to live anywhere. When I was a journalist I could do that, but now journalism is dying and its hard to find good pay in that area with the internet and blogs taking over.

  44. Edward

    Thanks for the informative discussion guys.

    Just be wary of the exaggeration of Mark’s view of life in Boston.

    The Boston area is an awesome place to live, raise a family, experience a bright future… both a strong work ethic and intelligence (Polish traits) do well here.

    I’m Bostonian (of Polish heritage) and frequently travel to Warsaw.


    1. Mark Biernat

      Be fair, what is exaggerated in my view of Boston? I am almost a life long New Englander except when I have lived in Poland? You can say nice things about Boston, but it is a hard argument to not say it is one of the most expensive cities to live in.
      Besides just writing some general comment, specifically where do you agree and disagree?
      You may travel to Warsaw but I live in Poland and have lived here a good part of my life. So maybe I overstate something, but please get specific.
      Further times are changing but not 100%.

  45. dennis yarmesch

    Mark, enjoyed all the banter with Tomek and glad it got more friendly at the end, so I plan on visiting Gorzno in the fall of 2011 or spring of 2012, after many years of searching I found my fathers birth place. A new polish friend from Brodnicka forum has helped me greatly with my search and in one week pinpointed my grandfather and grandmother’s marriage record.So a small town like Gorzno {1300} might be a place to retire or even Brodnicka. My small pension of $1100 seems to ok according to your figures. but what about this change to the Euro? what will that do to my dollar pension, seems like 3 to 1 for pln is ok but I am concerned. sorry to say we were never taught polish. I know I know you will say learn but my old brain [65} will not pick up a new tongue, I tried with Tagalog in manila and couldn’t do it. so give me some good advice
    thank you and God Bless.
    Dennis yarmesch{Jarmuzewski}

    1. Mark Biernat

      Dennis the world is changing and it depends on your expectations. For that amount of money you can live a reasonable life. However, Poland will change to the Euro and is getting rich. It is no longer poor Poland. You might want to consider that as wealth increase and wages rise your pension will have to also to keep your current standard of living. Do you have any way to increase you income or supplement it? Does it have a COLA clause? It it OK to live in fact today it is a nice life in Poland. I am just thinking about the future.
      Poland is a beautiful place in the center of Europe with a lot to do an experience.

  46. David

    My company recently decide to send me to Poland, a country I know nothing about, and strangeltly my pay check will be issuded in Poland. That means I have to pay income tax over there, the question is what is the income tax ratio for single male? My monthly pay check is usd $3,300. Also, company will provide a car, apartment, gas and 3 meals a day at the company cafeteria.

    1. Mark Biernat

      You will live a good life in Poland for that money, that is about 10,000 pln a month. Plus you have benefits. Polish tax rates for an individual is 18% or 32%. Just make sure that your pay is gross not net, as many people here quote netto not brutto salaries. If that is a netto quote you do not have to worry about a thing. But even if it is brutto you are making good cash in Poland if you have a car and apartment and meals.
      You will sock away about $2,000 dollars a month in savings if you are frugal or $1,000 dollars if you travel around and wine and dine.
      Where are you moving and what will you be doing?

  47. Ujwal Maharjan

    I might be coming to Poland within 2 months for my masters studies in IT after having worked for around two years in programming & development related areas here in my country Nepal. Hope whatever information you shared would be true. I am trying to learn Polish by self 🙂
    I am scared for this one reason:- ” Would i be able to get any part time work to cover up my studies as well as expenses? ”
    If yes then what would you suggest me?

    1. Mark Biernat

      You will need a work visa not a student visa. However, there are some exceptions in the law about students working, but the wages are not high. Other people make money tutoring languages or math while other people do things like therapeutic massage or are street performers. But I think the biggest problem for you is what does your visa allow you to do?
      You have to take an inventory of your skills, what can you offer people in business?
      You could check into a peddler’s license in the city you are going to live and sell things from Tibet, I think people would find this interesting.

      1. Ujwal Maharjan

        If I apply for Masters in IT, would I be able to get a work visa.
        And the educational consultancy from where I am going to process for getting admitted at one of the universities in Warsaw told me the Fee for a semester would be about $4200; is that true?
        It is relatively much higher for me.

        Can you suggest me some of Universities where I can get admitted for low tuition fee & living cost as well.

        Would I be able to do Computer Related part-time jobs?
        Like troubleshooting PC’s, Laptops, Designing webpages.
        Work at a cyber cafe?

        1. Mark Biernat

          IT work is all around the world. You can always get a job in IT regardless of all other factors. However, the one thing you will need is a work visa to do it legally. Poland has brilliant IT specialists and it is a good place to learn. Warsaw is expensive you might want to try Eastern Poland for cheaper prices in Tuition. But Poland is in the EU so prices are going up, it is no longer poor Poland any more. If you were a Polish citizen I think the prices would be lower.

  48. Ujwal maharjan

    After I get there with a student visa can I apply for work visa? If yes then what’s the process for it? And the time factor? And in Warsaw; is it only the tuition fee that’s higher or everything else?

    1. Mark Biernat

      Please grammar check your comments as I have to correct them, no chat style.
      If you have all your paper work in order expect 6 weeks for a time frame. The work visa you need to be sponsored by a company that is willing to sponsor you or you have to start your own business.

  49. Madan

    I am coming to Warsaw for work. The company is providing a place to live but not food. So I want to know what is the average expense on food per month?

    1. Mark Biernat

      Milk 1 liter is 2.5 pln
      Bread 2 pln
      Beef 23 pln a kg
      Chicken 7 pln a kg
      Bannas 2 pln a kg
      Apples 4 pln kg
      Rice 3 pln a box
      Water – I use filters – but a bottle is 2.5 pln
      Carrots 1 pln kg
      Blueberries frozen pln for 300 ml
      Carrot juice fresh 1 bottle 3 pln

      Just ask if you have any specific question on prices in Poland.

  50. martin bowman

    Hello Mark,I have read your whole site and I have found it very informative, I live in Canada and I have a guaranteed income of 31,000 Canadian dollars a year. I met a gal in Lodz and I want to move there with her, what type of living can I expect to have on this amount of money and will it be enough for me and her to live a decent life with a car and a house I hope I also have a criminal record from about 10 years ago and am wondering if this will prohibit my entry into Poland. Just a dumb mistake but i am hoping it won’t matter I value your opinion so anything you can tell me would be appreciated,thanks, Martin

    1. Mark Biernat

      For 95,000 Polish Zloty a year you will make about 8,000 pln a month. You will live like a spoiled king in a country where families live on 2,000 pln a month. About conviction that is a hard cross to bear through your life, If you commited a petty non-violent crime, I think it might be OK. My friend was caught stealing CDs from a shop when he was younger and it followed him, but now I think it is off his record, no pun intended. But if it was crime of aggression I do not have any answers for you. If you can not come to Poland, than maybe she can come to Canada.

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