Recent statistics from Poland show that the number of expats living around the country hit an all time high in 2019 - with over 400,000 foreigners registered.¹ Drawn by a rich history and culture, stunning natural resources, and solid infrastructure - alongside relatively low costs of living - expats are increasingly choosing Poland as a country to call home.
This guide is for you, whether you’re retiring, temporarily relocating, or moving to Poland for good. We’ll cover a full overview of the costs of living in Poland, including how the prices in Poland compare with the UK.
We’ll also highlight a smart way to keep down the costs of currency exchange, with a free online multi-currency account from Wise.
The official money in Poland is the Polish zloty. You’ll also see the Polish currency written as PLN - its official currency code.
To give you a bit of context, here’s the value of PLN against some major world currencies.
$1000 = 3,825.02 PLN
£1000 = 4,968.13 PLN
€1000 = 4,485.43 PLN
A$1000 = 2,751.24 PLN
PLN is a floating currency. That means that its value will move up and down according to market demand. To keep up with the current value of the zloty, get yourself a reputable online currency converter. This makes finding the live exchange rate simple - and can help you spot if a currency provider is offering you a poor rate.
The value of PLN against other currencies used above is the mid-market exchange rate. That’s the rate you’ll find with a currency converter or a simple Google search. It’s also the rate that a bank or exchange service will get when they buy and sell currencies on the open market.
However, it’s not usually the rate that’s made available for regular customers. Instead, it’s common to find a markup or margin added to the retail exchange rate - an extra fee which can push up costs.
Use your currency converter to spot if a markup has been added to the exchange rate you’re given - or choose a provider which always uses the mid-market exchange rate with no markups, like Wise.
Nobody wants to pay more than they have to for currency exchange. That means avoiding high admin fees, marked up exchange rates and extra costs such as SWIFT fees.
With a multi-currency account from Wise you’ll get a cheap, secure currency exchange which uses the mid-market exchange rate with no markups. You just pay a transparent fee per transaction - and you’ll see exactly how much you’ll get in PLN in the end, before you hit confirm. Use your account to hold, send and spend money in dozens of currencies, to cut your costs and make it simple to travel, study or live abroad.
Check out Wise today, to see if you can save.
If you’re thinking of moving to Poland, you’re probably wondering: is Poland expensive?
The good news is that life in Poland doesn’t need to break the bank. In fact, the cost of living in Warsaw - the capital and most expensive location to choose - comes in at number 169 in the Mercer 2020 Cost of Living rankings².
Let’s take a look at some key costs across major UK cities, compared with Poland.
|Comparing basic cost of living||1 bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent)||Meal for 2 (mid-range restaurant, three courses)||Transportation (monthly pass)|
*Live data from Numbeo, correct at time of research 1 October 2020
As the capital city, Warsaw is the natural destination for many expats heading to Poland. However, there are a good range of alternative locations if you’re flexible in where you base yourself. You may even find the costs are lower by moving to a smaller city.
Try cultural Krakow, coastal Gdansk, or historic Wroclaw - or get some inspiration from the many other beautiful towns and head somewhere a little off the beaten track.⁹
Let’s take a look at some of the average costs of living according to location in Poland.
|Total living expenses in Warsaw⁶||Average cost|
|1 person, per month (without rent)||PLN2,339.69|
|4 person family, per month (without rent)||PLN7,931.51|
|Utilities, basic, for 85m² apartment||PLN697.66|
|Total living expenses in Krakow⁷||Average cost|
|1 person, per month (without rent)||PLN2,193.12|
|4 person family, per month (without rent)||PLN7,322.23|
|Utilities, basic, for 85m² apartment||PLN719.57|
|Total living expenses in Poznan⁸||Average cost|
|1 person, per month (without rent)||PLN2,172.88|
|4 person family, per month (without rent)||PLN7,334.52|
|Utilities, basic, for 85m² apartment||PLN659.27|
The relatively cheap cost of living in Poland is matched by salaries which are fairly low on a global scale. Don’t forget, though, that your money goes much further thanks to significantly cheaper fixed costs in Poland for things like rent, compared to the UK.
|Salary averages for Warsaw¹⁰||Average salary|
|Salary averages for Krakow¹¹||Average salary|
Housing is a major expense, no matter where in the world you choose to live. Here are the average costs of some different apartment types in Polish cities, to help you plan your budget.
|Rental cost in Warsaw¹²||Average monthly cost|
|Rental cost in Krakow¹³||Average monthly cost|
If you work in Poland, you’ll automatically pay a 9% National Insurance premium which goes towards the cost of your medical care. This means you can access state health facilities for free, although you may still need to pay for prescriptions. If you’re self employed you can choose to pay voluntary contributions - or buy private medical insurance.¹⁴
How you choose to get around in Poland will depend on your personal preferences and where in the country you live. There is a comprehensive bus system which runs regularly in cities - but less frequently to smaller towns and rural areas. You’ll also be able to take local trains, cycle or drive.¹⁵
It’s worth noting that some cities don't have cycle lanes, making travel by bike tricky. If you prefer to drive, your UK driving license will be valid in Poland for the first 6 months you’re there - after that you must switch to a Polish license.¹⁶
Getting around Poland is simple with connections by bus, train and air. Buses tend to be cheaper - but slower - than trains.
The University of Warsaw is Poland’s top ranked higher education institution, according to the Shanghai ranking of world universities. You’ll find that students from the EU can access free university studies, with international fees for most others. Even as an international student, though, the costs are relatively low - in the region of EUR2,000 per year for an undergraduate course.¹⁷
Living abroad can be a hugely rewarding experience. But it also comes with a whole host of extra costs. You can skip some of the expense of living, working or studying in Poland, with a multi-currency account from Wise.
Top up your account in pounds and convert to PLN using the mid-market exchange rate. It’s cheap, secure, and convenient - with no hidden fees to worry about. Try Wise today, to spend less on international payments and currency conversion.
All sources checked on October 1, 2020
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