What is it like to live and work in Poland?
Compared to the Western European countries, Poland is not such a popular destination to immigrate to. However, Poland has a great climate for startups, as well as a lot of job opportunities to offer. Many big international companies have branches in Poland. Recruiters are actively looking for candidates abroad since it is hard to fill all the positions locally. To find out what it is like to live and work in Poland we talked to Emilia Owczarzak. Emilia has lived and worked in many countries worldwide but has chosen to return to Poland.
1. Please introduce yourself briefly
Emilia Owczarzak, IT consultant/Financial Controller professional
2. Can you describe the labour market in Poland right now – how easy is to find a job, the level of the salaries, employment rates, etc?
The labour market is booming right now, the unemployment rate is very low around 6.6% in whole Poland (very low around 2-3% in major cities: Warsaw, Poznan, Wroclaw, Gdansk; very high in small villages)
3. What are the most demanded specialists right now in Poland?
Any technical professions (developers, programmers, IT consultants); finance professional for investment banks, customer service professionals knowing foreign languages.
4. What are the most common job search channels in Poland?
Pracuj.pl – the most popular portal for job search;
Praca.pl – portal for job search;
Jobs.pl – portal for job search;
Linkedin – also popular;
Goldenline – Polish version of Linkedin;
Glassdoor – not too popular yet
5. How would you rate the balance between pay and cost of living? Is it usual people in Poland to be able to save some money from their monthly salary?
It is very common in Poland to buy apartment/houses. Not that many people rent all their lives (that’s pretty common in the Western countries). People seem to be saving some money, as everybody has a car, apartment/house and can afford going on holidays at least once per year. Many people have children as well (parents usually spent a lot of money on children: additional languages classes, sports lessons, summer & winter camps etc).
6. How would you rate the balance work-life balance in Poland?
From the scale 1-10 (where 10 is the highest) I would say it’s 8. Much higher in smaller cities/towns, and lower in big cities (around 6).
7. In your opinion, is it easy for an expat to find a job in Poland? Is it possible to find a job remotely or the person has to be in Poland?
I believe it is relatively easy. There are a lot of companies with big offices (especially IT companies and American banks) that have huge branches in Poland and they need people with certain skills and languages. They aren’t able to fill these positions with Polish people only.
8. Is it easy to find a job knowing English only without any Polish?
Not sure how easy it is, but it is possible. There are a lot of jobs in Shared Services Centers where you need to have language skills (English plus one more language), quite often higher education isn’t needed and you reply to the customer queries (call centers). These jobs aren’t very well paid but it’s a good start. The contracts are usually fixed-term contracts.
There are better quality jobs as well with better salaries, but they usually require certain skills.
9. Is it easy for an expat to land any job he or she applies for, including management positions, or there are positions that are “reserved” only for Polish?
There are jobs where the Polish language is a must (especially Sales jobs serving Polish customers). Jobs in any government institutions are reserved for Polish people only.
In the majority of multinational companies, English is the main language used on an everyday basis so these are the major places to find jobs for expats.
10. Do you know any case when people are being treated in a different way at work, either positive or negative, just because they are foreigners?
I’m not sure, difficult to judge for a Polish person.
11. What is considered to be a good salary according to the Polish standards that would allow a single person to have a comfortable living? What about a family with 2 kids?
It really depends on the city. There is a huge discrepancy.
- Warsaw>9k gross (around 6.5k net) is a decent salary (a studio rental in Warsaw is around 2k per month). The average salary in Warsaw is around 7k gross.
For a typical family with 2 kids, a total salaries >16k is a decent level.
- Poznan with around 800 000 people
A salary >7k gross (around 5k net) is a decent salary (a studio rental is around 1.5k per month). The average salary in Poznan is around 4.2k gross.
- Smaller cities ie. Bydgoszcz with 400 000 people
A salary >5k (around 3k net) is a decent salary (a studio rental is around 900zl per month). The average salary in Bydgoszcz is around 3.5k gross.
12. In case of an unemployment, do people receive any help from the Government?
Yes, they do. But the amount is very low (around 800zl per month). You wouldn’t be able to survive in Warsaw with this kind of money. You can survive in smaller cities and villages.
13. In your opinion, where in Poland are the best places to live and work and why?
Definitely major cities: Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk, Poznan & Wroclaw. There are many good quality jobs there with decent salaries. The cost of living is much higher than in smaller cities, but it’s possible to live on the outskirts of these cities.
14. Would you move to work and live in another country and why?
Answer: Yes I would. I spent 10 years living abroad already (US, UK, France & China) but would like to move back to Poland to have a quality life.
15. Do you know any expats in Poland? Have they had any issues finding a job? What do they work now?
Yes, I do. All the expats in Poland I know came here either for studies or came here having the job contracts already.
16. What do you like most about Poland?
Food (especially the trend of healthy eating nowadays), active lifestyle, nature, lots of activities, central location in Europe and many flights connections (easy to travel elsewhere).
17. What is that you don’t like about Poland?
– Too much alcohol is being drunk by certain groups of people/older generations,
– Still not enough of social benefits for people,
– A high discrepancy in the salaries between now and a few decades ago, many retired people are struggling nowadays to survive (especially to buy medicines).