Moving to a different country can be a daunting experience, especially if you do not speak the language or understand the culture. Perhaps even more so with such a difficult language as Polish!
There are a lot of things here that can take some getting used to, but to be honest the language is not really a huge issue in most places. As long as you are moving to a larger city like Krakow, Wroclaw or Warsaw then you should be fine with just speaking English. If you decide to move outside the cities, as I have, then it becomes a bit harder but even with my very basic Polish I can survive. Although my wife does end up having to do a lot more than I would like, and I do miss the independence of being able to call a utility provider and complain that their internet service is reminiscent of being back in the early 1990’s!
If you stay in the city, you can easily survive and do all the basics which contribute to normal life. Shopping is easy enough, just look at the pictures on the packaging. I’ve found recently that Tesco are now selling more and more International foods, so I can get my favourite custard cream biscuits and English mustard!
Travelling around the local area is pretty straightforward, all the ticket machines have an option to translate to English and some do German too.
Opening a bank account is also fairly easy, you just need the usual ID such as a passport, and a Karta Pobytu (registration of being in Poland, which I’ll cover in a minute).
I recommend Millennium Bank for ease of use. They have a great online banking system and it’s all available in English too. I’ve had my account with Millennium since I came to Poland and they have always been easy to use. They also don’t charge fees for using ATMs like many other banks seem to do. I have a bank account, savings account, loan and credit card with them and have no issues at all.
Photo by Christian Schnettelker – http://www.manoftaste.de
I mentioned the Karta Pobytu above, which is a kind of temporary residence card which anyone who intends to stay more than 3 months is required to obtain. Even EU citizens need this and they can be obtained from the Office for Foreigners in most large cities. You can find out more information here;
Some of the processes have changed since I arrived in Krakow, but at that time I had to register for the Karta Pobytu, a Zameldowanie and PESEL number. I don’t recall what the Zameldowanie does, just that I needed it. I think it gave me the PESEL number, which allows me to pay tax here. From what I understand, this is part of what has changed and you now get a different number to use for tax purposes, a NIP.
Whilst I have a bank account, credit card, loan & a mortgage easily enough, the hardest thing to get so far has been a mobile phone contract in Poland! Apparently the LTE internet contracts are similarly difficult to obtain. I have no idea why but they are much harder to get than even a mortgage!
The only provider that I found who would consider a foreigner was Orange. None of the Polish companies would touch me. I had to provide the usual identification, Karta Pobytu, PESEL number & my permanent contract of work plus proof of address. But I survived around 4 years with just a pay as you go phone and will be going back to it after my contract expires in a couple of months.