Moving to Poland? 6 Common Mistakes That You Should Avoid!

Apr 28, 2021

Wawel Cathedral towers above the walls and towers of Wawel Castle

Preparing to start a new life abroad, whether that be for just a short time or the foreseeable future, can be a super exciting, thrilling, and at times nerve-wracking experience. Whether it is your first time teaching abroad, or you are a seasoned pro, there are certain Poland-specific things to know that can help make your transition to the land of pierogis trouble-free.

We want all of our Wizards to have as smooth of a landing as possible, so let’s take a look at some of the most important things to get your head around (and some things to avoid!) before moving to Poland.


1. Underestimating the Start-Up Costs

It is definitely true that the cost of day-to-day life in Poland is pretty great! The currency in Poland is the Polish Złoty (often abbreviated to PLN), and it is more than possible to live comfortably on an ESL teacher’s salary. However, bear in mind that starting a new life and a new job in a new country is a process that doesn’t necessarily come cheap.

Before you start working, you’ll need to factor in covering rental costs (including a deposit and bills), everyday essentials, and possible travel to cover yourself for the first month – at least until the first paycheck comes in. Salaries are processed monthly rather than weekly, so having some savings of at least the 1000-euro mark, not only advisable – but also a requirement for your visa.

Warsaw: A fun and vibrant city –  but also the most expensive to live in


2. Not Coming on the Right Type of Visa

If you’re moving to Poland to teach English and aren’t an EU citizen, you’re going to need a visa; specifically a Type-D Visa. This is the only category of visa which permits non-EU nationals to live and work in Poland. While some nationalities have the luxury of arriving in Poland without a visa and applying for a Temporary Residence Card (karta pobytu in Polish) within the first 90 days, this is not something we recommend.

In fact – from our experience, everyone who takes this route immediately regrets it. So take the time before you travel to make a trip to your nearest Polish consulate to obtain a Type-D Visa. This is quicker and simpler than worrying about the infamous karta pobytu, and of course can all be done in English! Your legal status in Poland is then sorted for an entire year, and you have nothing to worry about on this front once you arrive!


Lot Polish Airlines has many direct flights all over the world at cheaper rates than top competitors


3. Forgetting to Take Care of the Boring Bits Right Away

As soon as you arrive in Poland, your first port of call should be to get a SIM card, bank account, and PESEL number sorted. This is not something you want to put off, as they are essential for so many other things in Poland, and hitting roadblocks due to this delay can be super frustrating. These are really simple tasks, so there is absolutely no reason to delay – even without Polish skills you shouldn’t have any problem finding an assistant or clerk to help you out! If you are coming on one of our training programs, then this is something we personally assist with.

Remember, something you will for sure need for the PESEL application is a rental lease – which leads us onto the next point!

Check out our Support Packages page for more information on all the help we can provide you


4. Not Securing Long-Term Accommodation Right Away

While it is perfectly fine to arrive and spend your first week or two in temporary accommodation while settling into a city, don’t fall into the trap of relying on Airbnbs for months! As soon as you arrive (or ideally, even before you arrive), committing to one place should be a top priority. In order to get a PESEL document, you need a permanent rental lease in Polish as part of the submission.

Airbnb bookings or short-term rentals will not suffice, and holding up on accommodation, means holding up further steps. Accommodation can be easily found to fit almost any budget or preference. So in short, we advise doing plenty of research and figuring out where you’d like to live as soon as possible – and of course, we are on hand to advise whenever necessary!


Poland is very affordable with cheap apartments right in the center of town

 5. Failing to Prepare; AKA Preparing to Fail

While lots of teachers are happy to arrive and hit the ground running, doing a bit of research and prep before taking off is never a bad idea. Now we’re not talking extensive research and hours of googling (although by all means do if you have the time!) but we definitely recommend starting by joining some Facebook groups, watching some YouTube videos from other expats, as they can be a great place to get general advice, and perhaps learn some more dos and don’ts as well!

And of course, if you are coming with English Wizards you will have a dedicated Community Manager and support group to answer all of your pre-departure questions. So be sure to take advantage of this!


Poland has a large number of national holidays – including Polish National Flag Day


6. Being Overly Concerned About the Language Barrier

Finally, there is no reason to stress about having to learn Polish fluently as quickly as possible before arrival. In general, the level of English in Poland is one of the best in Europe – as of 2020, 62% of the population claim to be able to hold a conversation in English, placing Poland in the world’s top 10 for English proficiency in non-English speaking countries!

While you shouldn’t struggle too much to find someone to help you if the situation arises, of course, common sense applies, and the towns and cities that have vast numbers of tourists and expats are going to be better prepared to help non-Polish speakers. But still, the English level of locals in smaller cities and towns may surprise you! 

That being said, learning some survival Polish will certainly help you out, or at least encourage some sympathy from Poles grateful for the effort! 


And there you have it. Some things to avoid, and some memos to make, to ensure you have a successful start here in Poland!

Do you have any personal experiences to share? Let us know in the comments!

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