Since the Polish capital is not particularly promoted abroad, settling in Warsaw may seem an unusual choice that is not understood by the people around you. Whether you are moving to Warsaw in connection with a professional transfer, to accompany a partner, to study or because you want to “do something else”, you won’t regret it.
Economic dynamism, quality of life, security, cultural wealth, diversity and beautiful landscapes, affordable cost of living … Poland and its capital have much to offer to those who have the curiosity and audacity to say “Why not live in Poland? What if we moved to Warsaw?”
With a population of 1.8 million (3.1 million with the agglomeration) and an area of 517 km2, Warsaw is the 8th largest city in the European Union (EU). The population density is only 3,468 inhabitants/km2 (734 inhabitants/km2 for the agglomeration) compared to other European cities such as Paris (20,640 inhabitants/km2), Bucharest (8,330 inhabitants/km2), Milan (7,520 inhabitants/km2), London (5,660 inhabitants/km2), Madrid (5,485 inhabitants/km2) and Moscow (4,980 inhabitants/km2).
Add to that the fact that more than 40% of the area of the city is composed of green spaces (parks, forests, collective and individual gardens, greenery in the streets and courtyards of buildings, etc.), that the city itself is safe and the cost of living affordable, and it is understandable that foreigners living in the Polish capital often say that the quality of life of Warsaw is a well kept secret. Poland is also above the average for OECD countries in terms of personal safety and education in the OECD Better Life Index (1).
If you are a national of an EU or EFTA member country, you benefit from administrative facilities for living in Poland: travelling, relocating, working and doing business, just like in the 26 other member countries.
Otherwise, depending on your country of origin, you may need a visa to travel and work in Poland and will need to register as a resident in Poland within 30 days of relocation. To determine which formalities are currently required for you to relocate to Poland, consult the Polish consulate in your country of origin or current residence.
Warsaw has a relatively central position in the country, about 320 km from the Baltic Sea to the north and the Carpathians to the south – which has many advantages for travelling in Poland.
The city is divided into 18 districts of different sizes, distributed on both sides of the Vistula, the longest river in Poland, originating in the mountains and flowing 1,000 km further, into the Baltic Sea, in Gdansk. Each of the boroughs has its own local life, character and green spaces.
In contrast to what many foreigners think, living in Warsaw does not mean dealing with 6 months of snow. The Polish capital has a continental climate. However, under the influence of climate change, winters are gradually becoming less cold and snowy and summers consistently hotter with frequent storms. The average temperature in January (coldest month) is about -2ºC, while the average temperature in July (warmest month) is 25.3ºC.
Living in Warsaw means enjoying a rich and diverse cultural offer that promotes national and international artists. Cinema, theatre, music, visual arts, etc. Most disciplines are widely represented, often with a translation of Polish works into English (operas, films, exhibitions, etc.) to make them accessible to the non-polish-speaking public. From spring to autumn, these cultural events are complemented by numerous open-air performances and a variety of festivals (cinema, music, etc.) to delight young and old alike.
Living in Warsaw also means enjoying a diverse and affordable gastronomic offer. You can taste specialties from all over the world, though the most prevalent culinary influences are European, Asian and Middle Eastern. You can enjoy simple cuisine in unpretentious establishments as well as the finest dining in refined, even Michelin-starred restaurants. Foodies will feel at home here whatever their tastes and culinary cravings.
The Warsaw gastronomic scene keeps up with current trends: gourmet burger restaurants are very fashionable, as are those that serve ramen. Perhaps the most surprising fact is the number of vegan restaurants. Warsaw ranks 7th on the Happy Cow portal’s (www.happycow.com) ranking of the world’s most vegan friendly cities, dedicated to vegetarians and vegans. According to the same ranking, the Polish capital is the third most vegan friendly European city, behind London and Berlin.
Residents of Warsaw benefit from a highly developed public transport network. Trams, subways, buses and suburban trains allow you to move quickly, comfortably and safely, including to and from surrounding cities. In addition to this historically rich offer, which has been continuously improved thanks to investments in infrastructure made by the city, we should also add new types of mobility offered by private companies such as bicycle sharing (the Warsaw system bears the Esperanto name of Veturilo), public electric scooters, rental car sharing as well as an abundant fleet of affordable taxis.
In addition, for several years, the city has been developing its network of bike paths, making Warsaw a convenient, safe and pleasant city for two-wheeled travel.
Living in Warsaw means enjoying a good quality/price ratio of life in the heart of Europe. Singles and couples without children will benefit from practical aspects of the city as well as the varied cultural and gastronomic opportunities, while families will also enjoy Polish culture, which is particularly geared towards children.
Since 1989 and the beginning of its political and economic transformation, Poland has been developing dynamically, attracting many foreign companies. Accession to the European Union in 2004 further boosted the Polish economy, which has one of the highest GDP growth rates in the EU.
Its status as a capital and central location make Warsaw the economic centre of the country, although many major cities such as Krakow (2), Gdansk, Poznan, Katowice, Wroclaw and Szczecin also represent important regional areas of economic activity. Warsaw thus produces 15% of the country’s GDP.
The headquarters of many international and Polish companies, Warsaw is naturally a dynamic job pool. Historically, the unemployment rate has always been low; before the pandemic it was about 1.5%.
It is thanks to this dynamism and the openness of the Polish economy to foreigners that new arrivals – even those who are not necessarily Polish speakers – can work in Warsaw without great difficulty. A postgraduate degree and knowledge of foreign languages, first and foremost English, are assets for getting a job, even without mastering Polish.
Historically, wages have always been the highest in the capital, but in recent years, wage levels in Krakow have grown, even exceeding Warsaw levels in the first half of 2021. The average salary in Warsaw in 2020 was PLN 6,800 (approx. EUR 1,500) – compared to the (national) minimum salary of PLN 2,800 (approx. EUR 620) or the national average salary, which reached PLN 5,680 in June 2021 (approx. EUR 1,260).
Warsaw is mainly home to service activities: telecommunications and IT, construction and real estate, hotels and restaurants, trade and education.
Industry is more present in the regions, but sometimes industrial companies have headquarters or an office in the capital.
If you are a national of an EU or EFTA country, you can work in Poland with a valid identity card or passport, as in the other 26 EU Member States.
Otherwise, depending on your country of origin, you may need a visa to both enter and work in Poland. Consult the Polish consulate in your country of origin or your current country of residence to see the current procedures required by Polish authorities to live and work in Poland.
Becoming an entrepreneur is another option for working in Poland. Poland offers a safe, reliable business climate and relatively simple entrepreneurial formalities. Legal, tax and accounting services companies can assist you, in English or French, if needed.
Whatever your country of origin, it is important to entrust your move to Poland to a professional moving company with solid knowledge of the formalities, procedures and Poland itself, as well as your country of origin.
With more than 20 years of experience in moving to and from Poland, the English-speaking team of Indygo Moving Solutions is at your disposal to answer your questions and organise your move to or from Warsaw or other cities in Poland.
Are you planning to move to Krakow? See our article dedicated to the cultural capital of Poland.