What’s the Cost of Living in Warsaw, Poland, for Students, Couples, and Families
Good News! You just received a work invitation from Poland. Now the possibility of living in Warsaw (Poland, not the one in Indiana) is real. They offer you health insurance and a few other attractive perks that are attractive at first glance, and you are excited to live in one of the cities with most public libraries in the world. Bet you still didn’t enter into details of the cost of living in Warsaw, right?
Yes, Poland. It’s the same country whose economy is growing so much that it’s causing “reverse immigration”, which means that people who left the country years ago are coming back.
And just between us: we know this is not what you want to know. You still have no idea if your income, minus the living costs in Warsaw allows you to have a good life. (To have a perfect idea of Polish living costs, after reading this article check also our complete outlook of the average salaries in Poland).
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.
Also, check why it is worth applying for a Karta Polaka if you have Polish ancestors.
Cost of Living in Warsaw for 3 Different Life Standards
Living Standards in Warsaw, Poland: “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 month a night out to drink in a local pub. Rarely eating out, no shopping sprees, and a gym pass that costs 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 by Polish standards). Not that this would be a problem, since Poland is among the best countries in the world in terms of public educational quality.
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 who consider a must on international travel per semester may say that it is not enough.
Be aware that any value 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 go the incomes that I consider just enough to live in Warsaw.
Single person: 2000 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: 4000 zlotys per month. Cost of a 35 sqm mieszkania in Praga district: 1800zl per couple.
Family with 2 kids: 6000 zlotys per month. Cost of a 55 sqm miezkania in Bielany: 2600 zl per month. Important to stress is that I am considering public education at this point, which is regularly offered in the Polish language.
Living Comfortably Costs 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 include provisions to build, slowly, a savings account or a private retirement fund.
Single person: 5000 zlotys per month. Cost of living alone in a 36 sqm mieszkania in the district of Ochota: 2200zl.
Young Couple: 7000 zlotys per month. Cost of a 45 sqm mieszkania in Ochota: 2500zl per couple.
Family with 2 kids: 12.000 zlotys per month. Cost of a 70 sqm apartment in Ochota: 3700 zl per month. Here I am still considering public education.
How much do you need 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 You Should Never Make a Warsaw Cost of Living Comparison against Other Cities 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 in 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.
Even a touristic hotspot like Krakow is considerably cheaper than Warsaw (that is why the first and not the former is considered one of the best cities for remote workers in the World).
In fact, nowadays the Polish capital has prices comparable to Berlin (which, on the other side, may not be as safe as Warsaw). On another occasion, I wrote about a few items that have shocking prices in Poland.
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 suggestions in the comment section! Also, check some Polish habits that are true productivity boosters
Cost of Living Warsaw vs London
London is one of the most popular cities for young professionals to relocate to for work. Is it the best choice though?
Warsaw and London are two great cities for young professionals, but if you’re looking for a lower cost of living and higher quality of life, Warsaw should be your pick.
Living in the city center costs less in Warsaw.
One month of public transport in London is equivalent to half a year of city transport pass in Warsaw (other shocking costs from London you can check in this article).
The median rent price for a one-bedroom apartment in the middle of the financial center of Warsaw (near rondo ONZ, the most expensive part of the town) is roughly 5000zl, less than 1000 British pounds. This would barely cover a studio in the outskirts of London.
Yes, the salaries in London are also higher than in Warsaw, but often not in the same proportion that the costs in the English capital are much higher.
In addition to rent being cheaper, food and transportation are also much less expensive in Warsaw than in London. Eating out is both cheaper and safer.
Is it cheaper to live in Poland?
Yes, it is definitely cheaper to live in Poland than in England, to the point that even with a smaller salary, multiple polish professionals are returning to their homeland because they can afford a better standard of life in Poland than in London.
Cost of Living for a Family of 4 in Poland
The cost of living for a family of 4 in Warsaw will be Cost of Living for a Family of 4 in Warsaw, living comfortably, will be around 12.000 zlotys. Rent of a 70 sqm apartment: 3700zl per month.
|Living expenses in Warsaw, Poland||Warsaw average cost (PLN)||Warsaw average cost (EUR)|
|Single person, per month||1007,36|
|Single person, per year||12088,38|
|University student, per month||774,90|
|4 person family, per month||2 652,39|
|4 person family, per year||31 828,63|
Cost of Living in Warsaw, Poland: Conclusion
Living in Warsaw is not as expensive as in other European capitals, but it is a lot more expensive than in small Polish towns (and that is why Warsaw was not voted among the best Polish cities to live in).
For a comfortable life, a single person will need (net values) close to 5000 zlotys per month, a young Couple, 7000 zlotys per month, and a Family with 2 kids, 12.000 zlotys per month. But considering a very frugal lifestyle, one could live with less than 2000 zlotys per month by sharing an apartment.
The cheapest place to live in Warsaw is Praga district (right bank of the Vistula river). There are many cheap hotels, hostels, and apartments there. The average price for an apartment per month there is around 1600 zlotys (330 euro).
Cost of Living in Warsaw for International Students
Considering a very frugal life, an international student could survive in Warsaw with 2000zl per month, considering the cost of sharing a 35 sqm mieszkania in the district of Praga to be around 800zl per person.
For a more comfortable lifestyle, with money enough to go out at night, eat/drink out once in a while, and with a residence in a more central location the amount should be closer to 5000zl per month. For that, we consider the cost of living alone in a 36 sqm mieszkania in the district of Ochota, which is 2200zl.
What are the living expenses in Poland for international students
The amount of money you need to study in Warsaw depends on many factors.
The most important ones are:
- How long will you be there
- What kind of lifestyle would you like to have
- Your budget.
Often there are possibilities to get a scholarship or grant. The amount of money that a scholarship covers depends on: who gives it to you, when and where you apply, what study program you choose, whether it’s an individual or group scholarship, and so on.
Sometimes even small grants can help you with living expenses while studying abroad. This is why it’s better to apply as soon as possible so that there is enough time to receive and send all necessary documents.
Living expenses in Warsaw and entire Poland for international students vary depending on the available budget. According to the Numbeo database, which contains more than 300 cost indicators for over 1200 cities around the world, the average cost of a meal in Poland is 18.77 zł.
This amount may be enough to buy one or two meals in some little towns, but if you intend to live in one of the biggest cities, this sum will not even cover a single lunch. But in Warsaw, it will barely cover a single dish.
If you are planning to stay longer than three months, it’s worth considering accommodation costs as well: according to Numbeo database, the average monthly rent price for a 40 m2 apartment in Warsaw is about 2,700 zł. That is why often students share rooms or prefer to live in student housing (akademik).
Author: Levi Borba, founder of the Expatriate 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.