A Guide To Working Abroad in Poland
Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union at the end of the 20th century, Poland has been gradually rebuilding to become one of the strongest economies in Eastern Europe. An increasing amount of investment has been flooding into Poland, making it a great place to search for fruitful employment in emerging industries. Plus beyond jobs in Poland, the nation is one of the most historically fascinating and culturally tolerant countries in all of Europe, making it an ideal destination for expats from all over the world.
Warsaw is the the country’s capital and largest city. Settled on the Vistula River within short distance of both the Baltic Sea and Carpathian Mountains, Warsaw is the premier global city in Poland and a major cultural and industrial hub of Central Europe. Although the city has faced significant destruction due to wars and occupation throughout the 20th century, an impressively diverse array of architecture remains standing from its long and winding history, dating back nearly one thousand years.
Krakow is Poland’s other major city, a southern metropolis widely know as the artistic and educational heart of the country. Krakow’s beginnings date back to the 7th century, and parts of the city are so beautifully preserved that the old town became one of the first places ever to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the 1970’s. Krakow was also named the European Capital of Culture in 2000, a testament to the enriching environment you will find yourself living in while working in Krakow.
While Warsaw and Krakow are indisputably Poland’s two major cities, it is of course possible to find jobs in Poland in smaller cities or townships as well. Lublin, Wroclaw, and Lodz are a few examples of other locations where you can find jobs in Poland. Be wary though that the further you stray from Krakow and Warsaw, the less English tends to be spoken!
Poland has come running out of the gates fast since the Soviet era, and today has climbed ahead of the pack to boast one of the fastest growing GDPs in all of Europe. Some of the country’s most profitable industries to enter into are communications, banking, and manufacturing. There are many internationally connected companies in Poland which look for bilingual employees to aid in marketing and customer relations, so knowing at least two languages will be a big boost to your prospects for jobs in Poland.
You can also find jobs in Poland outside of the private sector, by working in education or childcare. There are many work abroad programs that will set you up with a local employer teaching English, au pairing, or working with youth in other settings. This type of work in Poland is usually temporary and lasts up to one year, a good way to experience life as an expat in Poland for a short time and interact closely with locals.
Poland is a growing economy so there are a lot of job opportunities for foreign nationals. It will certainly be a great bonus if you speak Polish, but some jobs in Poland in the bigger cities of Warsaw and Krakow will not necessarily require you to know the language (as long as you are fluent in English). Still it can’t hurt to learn as much Polish as you can before working abroad in Poland!
Expats will be glad to learn that Poland is one of the cheapest countries in the European Union. While standards of living are high, most costs of living remain relatively low compared to Western Europe, as Poland continues to play catch-up after the Soviet era (the flipside being that salaries in Poland tend to be lower than the rest of Europe as well). Warsaw and Krakow will naturally be the most expensive places to live and work in Poland, as these are the nation’s two reigning global cities, but it is still definitely possible to lead an affordable lifestyle in either city.
The prices for renting an apartment vary significantly between locations, but it is typically possible to find reasonable accommodation for less than $600 a month in Poland, if you look in the right places. When first moving to Poland, it may be a good idea to sublet a single room, then explore the city for available housing in ideal neighborhoods.
If you are planning to live and work in Poland for longer than three months then you will likely need to apply for a residence permit. Permits are issued for two year periods and can be subsequently renewed thereafter. You will need your employer’s endorsement to file for the permit, as well as proof of sufficient resources to economically support yourself. The specifics of Poland’s visa policy varies between nations, so consult GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory for more information from the consulate in your home country.
Poland is an emerging economy that may not stay cheap for long, so now is a great time to pursue work abroad in Poland. The Polish people are friendly and hospitable, and Poland is a nation that has shown a tremendous amount of resilience throughout history. Working abroad in Poland will allow you to embrace one of Europe’s truly great cultures while having the invaluable experience of expanding your world view by living away from home. Who knows, maybe you’ll make a more permanent career of it!
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