Making plans to move to Poland? Are you in the “oh fuck, now what?” stage? Or perhaps you’ve already hopped down the rabbit hole and you’re struggling a bit with how to get around or where to find certain things. Knowing a few basic bits of info like what I’ve listed here can make transitioning to Poland much more comfortable. You’ll feel like an honorary Pole in no time.
Finding a flat. Finding a flat is really easy nowadays with sites like otodom.pl or dom.gratka.pl. All you need to do is know a little bit of Polish and you can filter your options in terms of size, cost of rent, number of rooms, etc. You can always use a real estate agent if you prefer but then you have to worry about finding one, perhaps who speaks English, and they’ll probably just show you the same places on these websites. It’s easier just to find something you like from the comfort of home instead of looking at a bunch of scary places with horrendous bathrooms and wasting your time.
Buying a car. This can is complicated in Poland. I mean I think it’s easy to find a car to buy but it’s tricky because it’s common for people to roll back mileage or to sell a car which has problems and you could end up with a car that costs a lot more to repair than it’s worth. That’s why it’s complicated. Frankly, if I didn’t have a business I’d never buy a new car, but it is the safer bet here. However, cars are really expensive in Poland. I think they’re even more expensive in Poland than in America because of the 23% VAT. So that’s also something to consider. If you can find a car from a trusted source, that will be your best option but if you prefer browsing online otomoto.pl is a good option.
Figuring out public transport. I basically avoided public transport for years because it’s scary and complicated and the only way to figure out how to get somewhere was to ask people which bus to take. Fuck that. In Śląsk we have KZK GOP and it’s website with the bus schedule is not the most readable. Nowadays though, just use Google Maps. It’s absolutely incredible for when you’re traveling by public transport. It tells you which buses to take but also tells you how to walk to the bus stops you need with the amount of time and a map. It’s pure genius and you’ll never need to ask someone which bus to take ever again.
Buying stuff online. This was also tricky for me when I moved to Poland because there’s no Amazon here. Amazon is pretty much the go-to for online shopping in a lot of countries. Basically the most popular sites for buying things online are Allegro (so the Polish eBay), OLX.pl (so basically the Polish Craigslist but not as a creepy), and ceneo.pl is also popular for comparing prices from various websites, which can be really useful.
Transferring money from your home country. At least in the very beginning (until your $ runs out!) you’re gonna need to quickly and easily transfer money from home to your new home. Nowadays there are lots of sites that allow you to transfer from one currency to another without using the bank, which usually charges high fees. I would highly recommend using a website to compare the rates for transferring money to and from Poland. The one linked gives you a few different websites where you can get quotes, like e.g. Transferwise, which is my favorite for transferring money abroad since it’s so fast and easy. It’s literally like 3 clicks.
Understanding the Polish immigration process. For basically everything you need, plus a bunch of crap you don’t, check migrant.info.pl. It’ll give you the information in English, which you won’t find on the website for any Urząd Wojewódzki (don’t fucking ask me why), which is the institution which provides you with the permission to live here.
Buying health insurance. This is always a difficult question to answer. People ask me whether they should buy travel insurance in their home countries and just use that. In my opinion, it’s a good idea for the very beginning – maybe the first couple of months – but after that it would probably be cheaper just to buy private health care here in Poland. You have a few options. There are two popular private companies, Medicover and LuxMed, both with websites in English so it’s really easy to figure out. You can also buy insurance from PZU, Aviva or any other insurance company, I’m guessing. Of course you can always pay ZUS (Polish social security) and get everyone’s favorite public health insurance and wait in line with the rest of us.
To the Poles – would you recommend anything else, perhaps similar to what I’ve suggested here or maybe even totally different things that I didn’t even touch on? If so, please let us know in the comments so we can all benefit. Thanks!