Good News! You just received a work invitation from Poland. Now the possibility of living in Poland is real. They offer you a health insurance, benefit card and few other perks that are attractive at first glance.
But just between us: We know this is not what you want to know.
So, you run your eyes through the email and find it: the proposed salary.
Great! They will offer me X thousand zlotys! But… what that does really mean?
In this article I am going to tell you:
✔ How much is enough to live in Warsaw as a bachelor, a young couple and a family.
✔ What is the difference between “just enough”, “comfortably” and “very-comfortably”
✔ Why the cost of living in Warsaw should never be compared to any other city in Poland. I will repeat: NEVER. EVER.
“Just Enough” X “Comfortably” X “Very Comfortably”
During my first year in Warsaw, I was spending just the necessary. Food, a roof over my head (shared with another person) in a district in the city outskirts, transport pass and once or twice per a month a night out to drink in a local pub. Rarely eating out, no shopping sprees, and a gym pass that cost less than 70zl per month. This is what I call just enough.
Some people would say that a gym is superfluous. I give them some reason. But it was cheap. Differently than living alone in a premium location, which is superfluous and expensive.
On the other hand, what I mean by comfortably is a small place to live by yourself. A place not far from the city, but also not in Aleje Ujazdowskie or other fancy addresses. This definition includes occasional dinners in middle-range restaurants, annual trips and a healthy amount of entertainment. But no private schools if you have kids (they can be expensive, at least for polish standards).
Very-Comfortably is the definition that requires the least explanation. It is the complete package, with weekends spent at rooftop bars and fancy bistros, plenty of international trips and a nice apartment near some embassy. Plus education for your children in international, private schools.
How much is Just Enough to live in Warsaw?
Probably this is the section tending to polemics. Students that survive in semi-expired food – it is not a shame, I was one of them not long ago – will say that you can survive on much less than that. Young couples which consider a must on international travel per semester may say that it is not enough.
Be aware that any value written below and in this entire article is netto. That means money on hand. Depending on your contract, the discounts over your total salary can be very significant, so to use gross numbers can be misleading.
All disclaimers made, here goes the incomes that I consider just enough to live in Warsaw.
Single person: 1700 zlotys per month. In fact, I was living with a bit less than that when I came to Warsaw. Cost of sharing a 35 sqm mieszkania in the district of Praga: 800zl per person.
Young Couple: 3000 zlotys per month. Cost of a 35 sqm mieszkania in Praga district: 1600zl per couple.
Family with 2 kids: 4000 zlotys per month. Cost of a 55 sqm miezkania in Bielany: 2300 zl per month. Important to stress is that I am considering public education in this point, which is regularly offered in the polish language.
How much is to live comfortably in Warsaw?
(If your idea of comfort is a life similar to the characters of a Warner Channel sitcom, just jump to the next section). The values below includes provisions to build, slowly, a savings account or a private retirement fund.
Single person: 4000 zlotys per month. Cost of living alone in a 36 sqm mieszkania in the district of Ochota: 2000zl.
Young Couple: 7000 zlotys per month. Cost of a 45 sqm mieszkania in Ochota: 2300zl per couple.
Family with 2 kids: 10.000 zlotys per month. Cost of a 70 sqm apartment in Ochota: 3500 zl per month. Here I am still considering public education, or at maximum a private żłobek (nursery school).
How much is to live very-comfortably in Warsaw?
Single person: 11000 zlotys per month. Cost of living alone in a 70 sqm apartment near Rondo ONZ (the financial district of Warsaw): 5000zl.
Young Couple: 17000 zlotys per month. Cost of a 70 sqm apartment near Rondo ONZ: 5000zl per couple.
Family with 2 kids: 28000 zlotys per month. Cost of a 200 sqm apartment in Wilanow: 12000 zl per month. Here I am including private education.
The rent prices are based on searches made in july 2020 at the website Otodom.
Why the cost of living in Warsaw should never be compared to any other city in Poland.
The Answer to this subtitle is simple: Because Warsaw is much more expensive than any other Polish city. (Not considering resort-cities like Sopot or Zakopane though). The question “How expensive is living in Poland” totally depends if we are talking about Warsaw or, let’s say, Rzeszów.
Cities on the eastern part of Poland (often called, impolitely, Poland B) are famous for having very attractive prices and is not uncommon to find living costs that are half of a similar standard in Warsaw. If you are curious to know about other polish cities where you can have a good quality of life, feel free to schedule a free 15 minute consultation with us.
In fact, nowadays the Polish capital has prices comparable to Berlin.
If you read until this point, there is a good chance that you are holding yourself to criticize me because either you consider I overstated or understated some numbers.
Feel free to tell me your thoughts about living in Poland and make any suggestion in the comment section!
Author: Levi Borba, founder of Colligere Expat Consultancy, former RM specialist for the world´s greatest airline, co-founder of Nearby Airport Hostel Warsaw and author of the book Moving Out, Living Abroad and Keeping Your Sanity. You can check some of his articles here.
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