Located on the banks of the Vistula River and characterised by magnificent old-world architecture and quaint town squares, postcard-pretty Warsaw is not only the capital but also the cultural and economic heart of Poland. Expats moving to Warsaw are in for an exciting experience with a quality of life to match.
Living in Warsaw as an expat
With the fitting motto of “Contemnit procellas” (it defies the storms), Warsaw has endured a turbulent history of invasions and occupations over the centuries, with the most devastating being the virtual levelling of the city by the Nazis during World War II.
Since the end of the communist reign in 1989, Warsaw has enjoyed periods of rapid development and transformation, with many modern skyscrapers overtaking the city’s skyline. Nevertheless, the city still maintains its historic charm, with many of the ancient buildings that were destroyed during World War II having been restored to their former splendour.
Warsaw is becoming more popular as an expat destination, and there are work opportunities for qualified foreigners, particularly in the IT, manufacturing and finance sectors. There is also a demand for English language teachers. Warsaw also offers an efficient public transport network and a good quality healthcare system.
Cost of living in Warsaw
Even though wages in Warsaw aren't high, the low cost of living more than makes up for this. The Mercer 2023 Cost of Living Survey ranks Warsaw as 170th out of the 227 cities surveyed worldwide, making it one of the most affordable European capitals.
Accommodation in Warsaw's centre will most likely be the most expensive. Expats can save on their housing costs by moving to the areas and suburbs outside the city centre. Groceries, eating out and public transport are all reasonably priced. Savvy expats can make their salaries go even further by cycling to work and choosing outdoor entertainment activities, which won't be too hard on the wallet.
Expat families and children in Warsaw
Public schools in Warsaw are free for all to attend and generally offer an excellent standard of education. Although the state schools are free, most expats living in Warsaw choose to send their children to one of the many international schools because of the language barrier. International schools can be eye-wateringly expensive, with tuition fees excluding costs such as uniforms, textbooks and extra-curricular activities.
Expats and their families can enjoy an active lifestyle, thanks to the city’s many parks and green spaces. With 20,000 acres of parks and woodland, more of the city is covered in greenery than any other European city. Łazienki is the city’s largest park, and with its Baroque palaces, lakes and manicured gardens it’s a hugely popular destination for walkers, cyclists and families.
Climate in Warsaw
The weather in Warsaw is characterised by long, freezing and snowy winters and mild to hot summers. Many expats moving to Warsaw are often taken aback by how long the cold season lasts and how short the days can become. Thankfully, the summer months are pleasantly hot with plenty of rainfall.
While a move to Warsaw may not be as lucrative as a posting in another European city, those who take the plunge will discover that the Polish capital is an incredibly vibrant and welcoming city where they can enjoy a richly rewarding cultural experience.
►Check out Accommodation in Warsaw to learn more about finding a home in the city
►See Getting Around in Warsaw for more on public transport and driving in the Polish capital
"I love the Warsaw public transport, the parks, the bike trails and the river. It's a very liveable city, although long winters can play havoc with morale." Learn more about expat life in Warsaw by reading our interview with Australian expat Rose Moore.
Are you an expat living in Warsaw?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Warsaw. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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