What are the good and bad things about living in Warsaw?
Warsaw is the biggest and one of the most interesting cities in Poland and life in Warsaw may be interesting as well. Its centre becomes a modern business centre, but its Old Town reminds of the history it went through. Although it is not the most beautiful Polish city, especially in comparison to Cracow, Gdansk or Wroclaw, but it has a lot to offer in terms of job opportunities and launching or speeding up your career. In this article we will try to give you some hints on what to expect if you want to move here, to live and work in Warsaw. So, what are the good and bad things about living in Warsaw?
What are the good things about living in Warsaw?
The unemployment rate and salaries in Warsaw
The unemployment rate in Poland is very low (about 5,4%), and Warsaw is the lowest, and it’s only about 1,3%. Although it’s a bit higher around the city it is still very low (2,1%). We expect it to rise due to coronavirus, but it’ll be still the best city in Poland to find a job. Just to compare: the unemployment rate in Madrid is now about 10%, and in Berlin it is now 7,9%.
You will probably not have problems finding a job in IT or finance if you are qualified in those areas, even if you don’t speak a word in Polish. There are many multinational companies where English is the main language. There are about 200 business centres in Warsaw, and the ones with the biggest demand for candidates are Citi Bank, Samsung, Accenture, General Electric, and BNP Paribas. Jobs are available also for unqualified workers – for instance as shop assistants or storage workers (but you would probably need to speak Polish or another understandable language – Ukrainian, Slovakian or Russian should be OK).
Low unemployment and international companies result in salaries higher than in other parts of Poland. Of course, what you’ll earn depends on your qualifications and negotiation skills. ut expect it to be more than in other cities
Living in Warsaw means living in a big cultural centre and leisure opportunities
Warsaw is the capital of Poland and the main cultural institutions and events are located here. Of course, there are also many cinemas, concert halls, theatres, international restaurants and so on. There are lots of events during the summer, and if you don’t find something in Warsaw, you will probably find it nearby. For instance, the biggest Aquapark in Poland – Park of Poland (comparable to Tropical Island in Germany) located just 50 kilometres away from Warsaw. As more and more foreigners come to Warsaw to study or work here, it is very probable that you will meet your compatriots here – either at work or at some social events. Try looking for Facebook or Couchsurfing events announcements to make your life in Warsaw more entertaining.
Lots of apartments to rent or buy
Warsaw is growing and more and more apartments appear on the market. Some of them, especially those in the city centre are bought and then used as a short-time accommodation for tourists only. But you should find a suitable apartment for you in any district of the city. And if you need a cheaper option, you may look for apartments in the surrounding cities, that are well-connected with Warsaw by public transport.
Cost of living in Poland and Warsaw
Although Poland is trying to catch up with Western European standard of living, the fact is that the cost of living in Poland is still much lower. However, as the capital of Poland Warsaw seem to be winning the race to be the first Polish city to level the cost of living with the West. So although your salary will be higher than in other Polish cities, expect the prices to be higher, too. This will be reflected in the rent, services, restaurants menus or small groceries. In large chain stores, the prices are usually set for the whole country. This should not affect you if you earn and spend your money here, as it will be reflected in your salary anyway. But if you earn your money elsewhere and are relocated to Warsaw, or come to Warsaw with Erasmus, it will. You can immediately see that you can afford more here, as cost of living in Warsaw is lower than in most of West-European cities.
Cheap public transport in Warsaw
Public transport in Warsaw is very cheap – 20 and 70 minutes ticket for public transport costs about 1 Euro, and monthly tickets for bus, trams, subway and trains is only about 100 PLN (25 EUR) for Zone 1, and 180 PLN for Zone 1+2. You may also buy a 90 days ticket with some discount.
Public bike system Veturilo
Although Warsaw is not the most bike-friendly city in Poland, a couple of years ago the city introduced Veturilo – public bike system. It operates regular and electric bikes mainly in the city centre, and after registration, you may use their bikes. Every first 20 minutes are free. Then you need to either pay 1-7 PLN/hour or change the bike.
Good air and ground connections from Warsaw
Warsaw is located in central Poland, and with growing road network, every corner of Poland is reachable in 5-6 hours drive. This means you may easily visit almost part of Poland on a weekend trip. And if you don’t have a car, there are a lot of trains or buses to most cities in Poland.
Warsaw Chopin Airport is the largest airport in Poland. It serves over 120 destinations. Thanks to Wizzair and Ryanair, tickets may be really cheap if you book in advance, and it is possible to fly out for the weekend to many European destinations. If you can’t find any interesting direction from Chopin Airport, try other cities. There are good train and buses connections from Warsaw to Gdansk, Poznan or Berlin, so you may go and start your holiday there. Check out our articles on travelling around Poland.
Forest around Warsaw
Unfortunately, this is an industrial region, and there are not a lot of green areas inside the city. But if you go about 10 kilometres east, you’ll find Kampinowski National Park. This is a large forest area added to UNESCO’s list of biosphere reserves in 2000.
This is not the most picturesque national park in Poland, but still gives you the opportunity of making an outdoor trip not going far from Warsaw.
What are the bad things about living in Warsaw?
Although Warsaw is a good place to live, there are some annoyances that may discourage you from moving to Warsaw. So, what makes life in Warsaw less comfortable?
Poor air quality
Pollution is a rear problem in Warsaw. Heavy traffic, industry and coal stoves contribute to air pollution that sometimes makes it hard to breathe. It is believed to be the cause of about 3000 deaths yearly. It is mainly a big problem during winter when households use coal for heating. Politicians promised to improve the situation and give some incentives for ecological investments. However, until coal is a big sector of Polish economy, they will never put the money where their mouth is.
One of the biggest problems is traffic jams. Not everywhere and not all the time, but usually roads from the cities around Warsaw to the city centre are jammed with cars. If you want to avoid that, use public transport, bike or – if you commute to Warsaw city centre – use any of the Park&Ride.
This is not actually a problem of Warsaw, but the whole country. If you come from southern or Western Europe, the weather in Poland might be an issue for you. It won’t be so bad during summer, but during winter expect the weather to be freezing. It might be as cold as 20 grades below 0, and the snow may paralyse the city. What’s more, the days are very short during winter the sun rises at 8 am and sets about 3-4 pm. So it’s getting dark and cold very early. The second challenge is the weather in Autumn – it’s usually raining a lot and it’s getting cold. The weather in Autumn can make life in Warsaw really depressive for a while.