How do I know if relocating to this country is right for me?
Poland has long served as a crossroads between Western and Eastern Europe. Located in a geographical sweet spot, the country has some of the most stunning forest parks and seasides on the European continent.
Culture and population
People in Poland are open-minded, friendly, and hospitable. This country of 37.95 million people is increasingly becoming the go-to destination not only for vacationers (thanks to its affordable prices and unique sightseeing opportunities) but also for those who want to relocate for work. Its major cities boast a number of architectural wonders, cultural exhibitions, and exciting nightlife.
Economy and business
Poland is one of Europe’s top tech hubs. It’s one of the most economically developed countries in Central Europe with a GDP of $625 billion and offers an exciting alternative to typical destinations in Western Europe. Poland boasts high salaries, low housing prices, and a relatively low tax rate compared to other European countries.
Safety and security
Poland is a relatively safe country to live in. According to the Global Peace Index, Poland is ranked number 24 out of 163 of the safest countries in the world. You should keep an eye out for pickpockets or taxi drivers that try to scam you out of money when you’re in any major city, but that’s about the extent of your risk.
The country's public infrastructure is also highly-developed, with modern transport and quality roads.
How do you know if Poland is the right place for you? Let’s go over some of the things you need to keep in mind to help you make that decision.
There are a few important things you need to know before you begin the relocation process, relating to getting your documents in order:
- Foreigners with EU citizenship can enter Poland without restrictions.
- Foreigners coming from outside of the European Union have to obtain a right to work permit. It is on the employer to apply for the actual work permit.
- Non-EU foreigners who want to relocate to Poland for work need to obtain a type D visa at the Polish Embassy in their country of residence.
What to do after I move?
There are a few important things you need to consider before starting your new life in Poland, especially if you plan on staying long term.
Residency permit options
Whether you plan to stay temporarily or long term will have an impact on which kind of residency permit you need.
Becoming a legal citizen or obtaining a residence permit in any country is a long and often taxing process. It involves lots of paperwork and navigating through that particular country’s laws, acts, regulations and orders. If you have any doubts throughout this process, it is recommended to contact your local relocation manager for guidance.
Types of residency permits
There are two types of residency permits you can obtain for work. The first is a residency permit for work and stay that gives you permission to stay and work. The second is what is called a Blue Card which enables you to stay and perform work that requires high-level qualifications.
Benefits of the Blue Card
The spouse of a Blue Card holder can obtain a residence permit on the basis of family reunification, which will give them the right to work anywhere without obtaining work permits on their own.
Global mobility department: email@example.com
Types of residency permit for a family
A residency permit for a non-working family member can be issued under two articles of the law on foreigners: the 159th (“Family reunification”) and 187th (“Other circumstances”).
To issue a residence permit under Article 159 (Family reunification), the main applicant must have stayed in Poland with a Blue Card or for at least 2 years on the basis of any other residence permit (this residence permit is issued for a period of at least one year).
Residency permit under article 187 (other circumstances) is possible for those who are not eligible to obtain residence permit under article 159
How to get a long term residency permit
To obtain long-term residency in Poland you need to have lived there continuously for 5 years, and have received a consistent source of income for at least 3 years before applying. It is also necessary to have a certified B1 level of proficiency in Polish.
Everyday life in the city
Where should I live?
Best areas to live (or visit)
Poland is a large country with many vibrant, beautiful cities. Some of the best cities to live in include Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk, Poznan, Wroclaw, Gdynia, and Katowice. In any case, you definitely want to try and visit all of them at least once in your life.
Warsaw and Krakow are Poland’s two largest cities.
Warsaw has a population of around 1.8 million. Living there not only connects you to the rest of the country through various avenues of public transport (most notably the high speed rail and overnight trains) but the entire European continent. The Warsaw Chopin Airport and Warsaw-Modlin Mazovia Airport offer a number of affordable flight options as well.
Not to be outdone, Krakow (with a population of more than 766 k) also has the The John Paul II Krakow-Balice International Airport which offers a selection of flights. You can travel by train to other European destinations, too. Krakow is considered by many to be the cultural capital of Poland, and its Old Town Square is a must-see. It has top-notch nightlife, restaurants, and museums.
Those who are searching for somewhere truly unique might consider Gdańsk, a port city on the Baltic coast of northern Poland. It has a population of a little over 582k and is a major hub for culture and sports. The colorful city square is also a top tourist destination. The Gdansk Lech Walesa Airport offers both domestic and international flights. There are also intercity and long distance trains and buses for those who would prefer no to travel by air.
Nearly every city in Poland offers a variety of beautiful churches, town squares, old castles and ruins, museums, and other places to capture your fancy.
Other tourist destinations
Although you’re relocating for work, you’ll want to travel with friends or family from time to time. Here are some of the top tourist destinations in Poland:
The Wieliczka Salt Mine
Not far from Krakow is the Wieliczka salt mine, one of the world’s oldest and longest-operating salt mines dating back to the 13th century. Tourists can wonder at its pits and chambers, as well as four magnificent chapels, while they delve deeper into the mines.
This 13th-century castle is a testament to Gothic architecture and is the world’s largest castle by land area. Today it serves as a museum with numerous thrilling art exhibitions year round.
Built in the 17th century and covering 76 hectares of land in Warsaw, Lazienki Park is one of Poland’s top urban parks. There are numerous museum exhibitions and concerts held on its grounds, but you can also enjoy a simple walk through it when nature is in bloom.
Oskar Schindler's enamel and metal factory in Krakow is now the location of two museums. The former industrialist is famous for having saved the lives of over 1,000 Jews during World War Two by employing them in his factory. Visitors can have a somber look at what life was like in Poland during Nazi occupation.
Near the small town of Gryfino exists a forest which tempts your understanding of nature. The pine trees stand with a 90-degree curve at their base. It is a marvelous sight that lovers of nature will surely want to experience firsthand.
Standard of Living
Poland has a decent standard of living. It boasts one of the best education systems in Europe, with a 99% adult literacy rate.
The country also has a universal healthcare system in place, something worth considering if, for example, your choice is between relocating to Poland and the United States–the latter of which is notorious for expensive healthcare costs. The overall cost of living in Poland is nearly 45% lower than that of living in the United States.
According to the World Health Organization, the average life expectancy in Poland is 78 years.
Get Health insurance
Employers in Poland are required by law to register their employees in the Polish public healthcare system within 7 days from the start of their employment.
Employment-based private health insurance
An appointment at a city clinic can be scheduled up to a month from the date of application, unless the case is critical. There is an option to personally visit the doctor, but you will have to spend two to four hours waiting in line, depending on the medical priorities of the other patients.
Although commercial insurance is issued almost immediately after signing an full-time employment contract (at the request of the employee), it becomes active only from the beginning of the next month (even if the policy and card are already in hand). It is better to plan an appointment in a private clinic in advance. An ordinary visit (with no immediate threat to your health) can be scheduled for a couple of days from the day of applying (enel-med, lux med).
More rare tests can be usually scheduled in a month or so (e.g. allergy, nerve, heart tests).
Insurance coverage for family members
Family members have the right to be insured under an employee’s health insurance plan. However, this comes at an additional cost for private insurance. If it is a spouse or child they can be insured for free under a public healthcare plan.
In Poland, everyone is treated in public hospitals free of charge if you are enrolled in the public healthcare system, or if they have purchased some kind of travel insurance. However for the latter it is not guaranteed that all medical services are free. The opposite is true for private hospitals, where you have to pay for the medical services you choose. All working individuals, including foreigners, are required to have insurance in the Polish healthcare system.
Public hospitals in Poland by city
Children officially begin school in Poland when they turn 7 years old. There are also private and public nurseries where children are accepted when they are 2.5 years old.
State nurseries require children to have PESEL (the 11-digit national identification number used in Poland since 1979).
There is a way of getting around this, that is, obtaining a temporary PESEL number, but this rules out the possibility of enrolling online.
Poland has highly developed networks of public transport. Depending on the city, there are a variety of airports, buses, trams, trains, trolleybuses and subways to choose from.
When it comes to methods of transport like the bus or the subway, it’s a good idea to purchase a monthly ticket from a local kiosque because it is cheaper than continuously buying one-way tickets, not to mention very convenient.
Driving and traffic system
A Polish driving license, by law, is valid for 6 months from the date your temporary or permanent residence begins.
Both front and rear seat occupants are required to wear seatbelts. Cars are driven on the right side of the road.
Setting up for the long term
Opening a bank account in another country is another important step to starting your new life abroad.
There are a few basic things to keep in mind when you try to open a bank account:
- Not every bank wants to do business with foreigners due to double taxation and other complicated factors;
- Not every branch of every bank has employees who speak English;
- Even if a bank does business with foreigners, it might only be with those who possess a residence permit card.
- Some branches won’t have employees who specialize in handling foreigners’ accounts or speak your language. In this case, you might only be able to access a limited number of branches;
- You need a residential address to open an account. Depending on the bank, they can send a plastic card there (for example, Bank Millennium needs to verify your address), or issue a plastic card on the spot (for example, Citi Handlowy);
- Be sure to familiarize yourself with any tax liabilities relating to both your home country and new location. Most countries will require their citizens to declare a foreign bank account when filing taxes, especially if you earn an income which exceeds certain tax thresholds.
You can check out a number of Polish banks, such as:
Just remember that banks might change their regulations, especially in regards to doing business with foreigners residing in Poland.
Currently, there is a limit of PLN 15,000 for cash transactions in Poland, or the equivalent at the exchange rate if the transaction was carried out in foreign currency.
From January 1, 2023, new rules will be put in place. The limit of cash payments in transactions between entrepreneurs will be 8 thousand PLN.
In Poland, you can get used to paying by card so quickly that you stop carrying cash around. In most cases, this is a good system and it works. However, it is recommended to carry a minimum of 200 zlotys in bills and coins in your wallet, just in case. Some places will only accept payment in cash.
One such example is Morskie Oko: there is no connection because of the mountains, and there are no ATMs. The horse-drawn carriages which operate there only accept payment in cash.
Personal income exceeding 30,000 PLN is subject to taxes in Poland. The tax rate can range from 17% to 32% (12% to 32% from July 2022).
There is also a beneficial and commonly-used tax relief for engineers called “creative hours”: designing a new API, writing and implementing new test scenarios, or simply implementing new task features might fall under this qualification.
Online tax calculators such as this one can give you a better idea of what you might owe in taxes.
Global mobility department: firstname.lastname@example.org
Important links (list of links for government institutions/banks/internet/mobile providers/real estate agencies/public transport networks/etc.:
- Useful blog on legalization in Poland
- Forum of Russian-speaking IT specialists in Poland
- Migrant info — general directory
- Everything about BLIK payments
- An application which, among other things, can show which ticket is recommended to buy for a given trip (public transportation).
- Roaming — using a mobile phone in the EU
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