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A Quick Guide to... Living and Working in Krakow, Poland

Posted by: Kathie Higginson

Anyone who's been to Krakow on holiday seems to rave about the beautiful architecture, the price of beer and the many things to do. With its UNESCO World Heritage listed Historic Centre and fantastic access to weekends away all over Europe, Krakow would make a fascinating and culturally rich home.

So if you've been offered an expat role in Krakow, here's our essential guide before you go...

Emergency Services: 112
Language: Polish
Currency: Zloty, subdivided into 100 groszy

Schooling & Healthcare
Even expatriate children can access free education in Poland, which is of a good standard – however this will be in Polish, so there may be a language barrier. If so, there are good international schools in Krakow, including the British International School of Krakow (BISC) and International School of Krakow (ISK). There are also 24 universities and colleagues in the city. Public healthcare in Poland is of a decent standard, but it’s still important to ensure you and your family have have comprehensive heath cover so you can access private facilities – despite improvements Poland still spends the lowest percentage of its GDP on healthcare in Europe.

Finding somewhere to live
You shouldn’t have any real trouble finding a rented apartment in Krakow. If your employer is not helping you with the move, Gumtree is a good place to start. It would be helpful to get some assistance from someone who speaks Polish (if you don’t), or if in doubt go through a reputable agent. Krakow is split into 18 districts, simply named in Roman numerals. Quiet areas include Cichy Kacik and Jozefa Brodowicza. Debniki is lovely a green and Kazimierz is great if you’re looking for cool bars.

Navigating the bureaucracy
The Polish system for setting up bank accounts, telecoms, internet is riddled with difficult bureaucracy. This means you will be spending quite a lot of time doing paperwork. It definitely helps if you can call on the assistance of a Polish speaker in these matters. Which brings me onto the next point…

Learning Polish is very important, and you may find yourself isolated if you don’t at least try...
But it’s not easy to learn the language, so start before you go, and throw yourself into it as much as possible. Much of the Polish population don’t speak English, although this is less of a problem in the big cities and with younger people, who mostly do speak English.

Be Respectful
Many Polish people are deeply religious, and even those who don’t consider themselves so still live by Catholic values. Drinking on streets and even in public parks is against the law too - but of course this doesn’t extend to seating outside licensed premises. Try not to get too drunk in public either or you may find yourself in a cell. Similarly, the blood alcohol level for driving is zero thanks to issues Poland’s had in the past with drink driving.

If you like beer, you’re in luck – Krakow’s beer scene is fantastic
With excellent beer bars serving a wide range of craft beers from Poland and further afield, you really can’t go wrong. Omerta Pub and the House of Beer are particularly good, with a wide range of both bottled beers and craft pumps.

It’s easy to have a great diet in Krakow
Good quality, locally produced food is very affordable in Poland for those on an expat salary. Although the Polish diet may be construed as being very meat-heavy, Polish people also eat an awful lot of vegetables, so it’s very easy to eat a varied and healthy diet. Gołąbki, stuffed cabbage, is delicious – and the coffee is fantastic. You’ll also have to start drinking carrot juice, which sounds strange at first but is actually very tasty and does come in different flavours. Good quality clothing however, is quite expensive in Poland – as are white goods and electronics.

Entertaining Yourself
Krakow is a fantastic city and there are lots of things to see and do as a tourist. The medieval old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it’s a great place to just sit at outdoor cafes people-watching. Live music is easy to find and the theatres are good. If you have children check out the English-language facebook page Krakow Expat Families to find out about upcoming family-friendly events.

Exploring Europe
Krakow is great base for exploring Eastern Europe, with many major cities within a day’s drive. Poland borders Ukraine, Slovakia and Germany as well as Belarus and Lithuania, but it’s also easy to get to Hungary, Serbia, Austria and Romania.

Meeting People
You can meet other expats by joining forums and clubs including the International Women’s Association of Krakow (IWAK). For Christians, Christ the King Church might be the perfect way to meet like-minded people whilst in the city.

Price Guide


3 course meal for 2, mid-range 100 zł $24
Draught beer 7 zł $1.65
Loaf of bread 2.91 zł $0.70
Mid range bottle of wine 20 zł $4.73
Gas/Petrol (1 litre) 4.30 zł $1.02
Taxi (1 km) 2 zł $0.47
Rent - 1 bed, city centre* 1,817 zł $430
Recent Comments
Very useful
Jamie ROSCOE, 30 January 2017
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