About this articleThis is short intro for people moving to Poland or thinking about it. All possible aspects of living, working and having a business in Poland have been covered.
WhyBecause of my activity on Calculla and some forums, I often receive questions about moving to Poland, taxes in PL (vs UK), driving rules, rent a house/flat rules etc.
I decided to answer most common questions in plain English in form of the article.
Accuracy of the opinionThis is very practical guide made from the perspective of a native Pole being asked by non-Poles for advice.
Facts are just facts, but there are also some opinions stated in this article. Those opinions are mostly mine, yet most of them have additional discussion/feedback with other people for accuracy (to make sure the experience is not strictly my own).
Please do not rely on text below as your only guidance for any decision.
Also, please don't argue about details.
Direct and honest - Important disclaimerSome opinions stated here may be considered very honest, direct and out of political correctness. It's about Poland written by Pole - not following leftist style you may be used to see or hear in UK or US media.
I described things how I see them - if you're snowflake, if everything offends you, then bye bye, you're not welcome here. Seriously, go somewhere else, find you safe zone on Facebook or other "likes only" environment...
Work in progress - continous updatesThis article is "forever in progress" as it's gonna be updated and extended from time to time. It is up to date as for 2020.
I'll add/modify this content according to new thoughts and questions I receive.
Rent/buy a house or flat in Poland
House or flat - what to buy or rent ?In Poland, the market balance of houses vs flats is a bit different than what you expect in US, UK, India etc.
Flats are a lot more popular (vs houses) comparing to other countries - this is probably because of less costs (heating !), convenience and some historical decisions. Flats are generally cheaper to rent, buy and maintain.
Houses are generally bigger comparing for example with UK house: more rooms (3+) and square meters (60+) - it's a lot harder to find 1-2 rooms house than in other countries.
Also the concept of leasehold vs freehold (as in UK) - that thing doesn't really have a meaning in Poland. In general, when you BUY a flat, you BUY it, not lease it.
my advice: If you're looking for a place to stay and you don't want to overpay, consider flat over house for practical reasons.
The Concrete style - how solid are flats and houses in Poland ?Houses/flats in Poland are mostly built with concrete, bricks. Forget UK's houses made-of-sticks (wood/timber) or US made-of-paper. Ok, I know they actually use timber in US, but using a fist to punch a hole in a wall is not gonna work in Poland.
There is usually a lot of insulation - in walls and roof, so the heating is generally less expensive than for similar house elsewhere.
Polish houses don't burn to well - 2017 California style wild-fire will not happen in Polish cities.
Buildings are solid, they don't burn and we don't have earthquakes.
Rental market is generally unregulatedSome markets are heavily regulated. For example, the "Assured Shorthold Tenancy" in UK stating about min rent of 6 months and many more rules.
In Poland, rents are not regulated. The deal/agreement you have with your landlord is free to have anything you both agree on.
There are some rules preventing evictions for specific cases - ask me for details or get the lawyer advice if you need it.
Agents - do I need one ?Agents are just businesses. They are not needed for rent/buy transactions. They don't have any special mandate for anything - if you can avoid agent in your transaction and make a deal directly (either rent or buy) - do it.
What I mean is that if you find a good offer on a website and it's direct, then don't look for agent.
- with renting - all you need is an agreement with an owner of the property. You can check his identity (his ID) and his title to the property (official register) and sign a deal directly
- with buying - EVERY buying/selling of a property in Poland must be done by notary document. This makes a change to "land and mortgage register" (in Polish "księga wieczysta") valid. Let me know if you need more details.
General rules for rent/buyPoles use square meters as main indication of flat/house value (forget about "square feet" in this country).
Poles count "rooms" not "bedrooms". We don't tell you how you want to use a particular room - is it bedroom or day room or study room - this is up to you how you will use the room, right ?
Other imporant things to consider:
- number of rooms
- location (schools, neigbourhood, how far to the city center etc.)
- type of heating
- number of bathrooms/toilets
- access to parking/garage
Deposit for rent - how much would I need ?Typical: 1 month of rent
Rental prices in PolandAs usual depends on city, location, time of the year, expectations etc.
Prices are in PLN or złoty (same thing, "PLN" is bank/forex name for "złoty").
A price of rent of flat/house per month in 2018 (this is very rough estimation, there are links below to find out by yourself)
- 800 - 1200 zł - 30 m2 flat, 1 room in any cheaper city (Zielona Góra, Białystok)
- 2000 zl - 60 m2 3 rooms in any cheaper city (Zielona Góra, Białystok)
- 1200 zl - 39 m2 1 room in big city (Wroclaw, Łódź)
- 2000 zl - 4000 zl - 70 m2 3 room in big city (Wroclaw, Łódź)
- 5000 zl - 100 m2 - 4 room in big city (Wroclaw, Łódź)
- 2700 zl - 59 m2 - 3 rooms in Warsaw (capital of Poland)
- 3000 zl - 10000zl 60m2-120m2 - 3-4 room house in Wroclaw
LinksJust google for "mieszkania wynajem Wrocław" if you want to rent a flat in Wroclaw.
Or google for "dom kupno Warszawa" if you want to buy a house in Warszawa.
- wynajem = rent
- kupno, kupić = buy
- mieszkanie = flat
- dom = house
- pokój = room (pokoje = rooms)
- cena, stawka = price
Education in PolandEducation is generally free.
There are private (paid) schools, but those are not very popular (TODO: need some numbers here...).
Years/levels/grades of education
- Primary School:
Mandatory education starts at 6 - 7 year, ends around 15.
Kids go to primary school (it lasts 8 years) and that is the only mandatory part of education in Poland.
All the kids receive the same type of basic knowledge and education, so the expectation is that each kid after that stage has similar knowledge about math, physics, history etc.
- Secondary School:
Starts at 15, goes for 2 to 5 years, depending on the type. The type is a choice of what kid wants to learn (I wanna be a doctor !) + skills of the kid (I have poor grades, so can't be a doctor though)
- "general education" (liceum, 3-4 years) - mostly selected by those planning to quickly advance to 3rd level of education (Uni).
So in 4 years you get the "Matura" (maturity exam) and you've got the "general education", but you don't have any real skill in hand to find a good job - the next stage is supposed to give you that.
- "technical education" (technikum, 4-5 years) - it's like "liceum", so, you get "Matura" too, but you also get education and experience in at least one occupation/trade, like: accountant, mechanic (mechatronic?), electronics specialist etc.
- basic vocational school (zawodowa, 2-3 years) - this one is focused purely on getting the occupation like shop-assistant, cook, gardener, automobile mechanic, hairdresser and baker. You won't get "Matura" after this one.
- "general education" (liceum, 3-4 years) - mostly selected by those planning to quickly advance to 3rd level of education (Uni).
- Tertiary education:
You have to pass "Matura" on lower education level to get here.
The high-school/university/polytechnic (19-25 year old).
How much it costs ? This level is also free in Poland. You don't pay anything. You learn a lot...
Language in educationExpect 99.9% Polish.
Small kids learn bits of English, German, Russian, French or rarely other - depends on particular school policy.
At some point in education (think - 10 years old) learning 1-2 foreign languages is mandatory.
Uni: may be some lectures in English, but don't expect too much of it. It's gonna be mostly Polish.
Salary, job, work, taxes in Poland
Full employment - or 'a job'Minimal 2020 salary is 2600 PLN (minimal 2018 salary was 2.100 PLN)
Average 2017 salary roughly 4.500 PLN
Software engineer in Poland: 3.000 - 20.000 PLN
Work month is 168 hours, so 8 hours/day. Everything above that is/should be generally paid as overtime.
Holidays: 26 days of holidays per year - with some exceptions
Salary vs taxSalaries are generally agreed as "brutto". So, on your agreement (get the paper!) the agreed salary is "brutto". Brutto means "with tax".
In typical circumstances around 20%-40% is taken from brutto salary for various taxes and contributions.
You'll pay income tax, ZUS (pension, disability and sickness insurance), NFZ (medical/health insurance).
Of course, in typical case, your employer will pay/declare everything for you
Detailed description with full calculator of on calculla.
You're tax resident in PolandIn 95% of cases, if you're employed in Poland, you're paying taxes in Poland. Period. No workarounds - they'll get you if you try. And taxman is no joke.
About dual taxation - find correct agreement of Polish vs your-country authorities. If you're lucky, you don't have to pay anything more than you earned in Poland to your "other country".
Self employment (contracting) in PolandSelf employment is very popular in some sectors. IT is a good example.
It makes sense to be self-employed, to work on your own small business, because:
- the accountancy for self-employed is quite simple and accountant is quite cheap (expect 100 - 200 PLN a month).
- there is a lot of expenses allowed to claim as deductible bussiness expenses: travel costs, car, mobile, internet, laptop, other equipment,
- there are few different "modes" of taxation for self-employed (progressive, linear and something else) and YOU decide which one you want. Picking linear gives you flat 19% income tax.
- make sure you understand VAT. Find if you need/should be VAT registered (threshold for MUST REGISTER is 200.000 PLN in year 2019). Don not ignore VAT - understanding and using VAT to your benefit is a big thing !
- you have to also pay ZUS (insurance) - expect roughly 1k a month, however there is a reduced rate (think 500 PLN) for new companies (first 2 years of a company life)
Comparison of contracting in Poland to UK:
- forget about umbrella, forget about limited company, forget about IR35 - it all doesn't matter here
- don't talk to agencies which want to sit in the middle of your earnings, ignore strange companies trying to sit in the middle between you and your client. Talk to clients directly or talk to those agencies, which will contact you with their client and get paid ONCE for the job done, not get the margin on top of your rate. It's different market !
- invoicing monthly in most cases, net + VAT (VAT is "transparent" for most companies)
- salary = everyday use "pensja" (pen-cyaa), more formal word "wynagrodzenie" (vee-nag-ro-dze-nee-e), non-formal "zarobki" (za-rob-kee)
- paymet = zapłata (zap-wa-ta)
Health, medical insurance, public health care system in Poland
Public systemGenerally, health care is free for people paying NFZ. This means if you legally work (and your employer is paying all mandatory contributions) - you're entitled to use full Polish public health system.
In many cases the public system works:
it's quite easy to get the correct treatments for common stuff. All world's drugs are accessible (although NOT free!). Medical stuff is generally well trained.
In many cases it doesn't work:
it may be hard to get to some specialists or expensive equipment.
Hard means - a lot of waiting. But it's not a rule, more like a typical pain of public health care.
Private health careSome better companies will include costs of additional private health care in the salary. So, if you're IT engineer, it's common to have the private health insurance paid by employer.
It's good to have that, it's good to use that, but don't think it's a mandatory thing. Most people live without it and they are quite healthy.
My wayAt the moment I live in UK, but I go to Poland to do most of the plannable stuff related to health care.
It's because UK is generally that bad, and PL is generally that good.
Dental care is great - really fix your teeth in Poland. Think 100 - 200 PLN for simple dental thing done without any insurance.
It's easier/cheaper to get stuff like blood tests done.
- health = zdrowie
- hospital = szpital
- medication = leki, leki
- sickness = choroba
Cars, roads, speed limits, driving licenses in PolandYou drive on the right side.
You stop on the red light.
The pedestrian is ALWAYS first. The pedestrians don't cross on red light (really hard to believe if you're from UK).
You drive on the most right lane of the motorway (again - UK/India people, understand that) - other lanes are for take-over only, then you get back to the right lane.
Speed limits in Poland50 km/h in the city (60 in the middle of night)
90 km/h out of the city
100 km/h on 1-carriageway express-road
120 km/h on 2-carriageway express-road
130 km/h on motorway
In progress: Cost of Car buying, rules on the road, culture of driving
CultureIn progress: language, food, say 'hi how are you?', religion and racism
Have a question ?Have a question ? Email me. I'll answer interesting questions here.
Need a consultation ? Contact me.
Need to thank me ;) ? Email please, and link to that art on your blog/facebook page or wherever you can.
Ideas, to add, future editsMobiles & cell phones
Food, McDonald's (Wiesmac!)