Living in Poland
Since its communist days, Poland has taken great strides into democracy and economic stability. Expats moving to Poland will find themselves in a country occupying a strategic position in the heart of Europe.
Poland remains one of Europe’s best-performing economies, having effectively weathered much of the economic storm of recent years.
Poland has never been a popular expat destination. Emigration statistics sky-rocketed when the country officially joined the European Union (EU) in 2004, and the population decreased as hundreds of thousands of Poles left their homeland for greener pastures.
Politics in Poland
With a president as a head of state, Poland is a representative democracy, whose current constitution dates from 1997.
According to the Global Peace Index, Poland ranks in the top 20 percent of the most peaceful countries in the world.
The government structure centers on the Council of Ministers, led by the Prime Minister. According to the proposals of the Prime Minister, the President appoints the cabinet, typically from the majority coalition in the Sejm.
Every five years, the president is elected by popular vote.
The Polish Economy
Poland's economy is one of the fastest growing within the EU and is considered to be one of the more resilient of the post-Communist countries. Poland has a low private debt, flexible currency, a strong domestic market and not being dependent on a single export sector.
Poland is the only European economy to have avoided the late-2000s recession.
Poland has pursued a policy of liberalising the economy since the fall of the communist government. It is an example of the transition from a centrally planned to a primarily market-based economy.
The most successful exports of the country include furniture, food products, machinery, clothing, shoes and cosmetics. Germany is Poland's largest trading partner.
Buying or Renting Property in Poland
For expats looking for accommodation in Poland there are many different options. For foreigners wanting to buy property in Poland regulations are complex.
Most expats living in Poland choose to rather rent property.
In Poland the types of accommodation vary widely, from old to new, and large to small. In recent years the quality of housing has improved, and there are many options for expats. These range from old, Soviet-style apartment buildings and large houses with gardens to duplexes, semi-detached houses and large modern penthouse apartments.
While unfurnished and furnished accommodation both are available in Poland, unfurnished options are more common. While appliances such as a refrigerator, stove and dishwasher are standard and often supplied, air conditioning is rare in Polish apartments.
By searching online or in daily Polish newspapers, which list local rentals, expats can take on the challenge alone of looking for an apartment or a house in Poland. However, this may be a difficult task for those expats not able to speak Polish and they may want to acquire the services of a real estate agent. Agents usually charge a fee equivalent to at least a month’s rent for their services.
Visa and Immigration
Schools in Poland
For all children living in Poland aged between seven and 18, including expats, education is compulsory. From the age of around three or five children attend kindergarten; before entering the first grade of primary school no later than the age of seven it is compulsory to attend at least one year of formal education.
Grade 1 to 6, when students turn 13 is primary school (szkola podstawowa). This is followed by lower secondary school (gymnazium) for three years (grade 7 to 9).
Students have the option to attend one of a number of different types of secondary schools after this : three-year general high school, four-year technical high school or three-year vocational high school.
Students write examinations at the end of each level of schooling to determine their strengths and weaknesses and the particular school that they will attend in the next level.
The school week in Poland is from Monday to Friday.
From September to June is the Polish school year. The three major holiday seasons are over Christmas and Easter, and a winter break in late January/early February.
Weather in Poland
Throughout the country, the climate is mostly temperate. Towards the south and east the climate becomes gradually warmer and continental while it is oceanic in the north and west.
With average temperatures between 18 and 30 °C (64.4 and 86.0 °F) depending on a region summers are generally warm. With average temperatures around 3 °C (37.4 °F) in the northwest and −6 °C (21 °F) in the northeast, winters are rather cold.
Throughout the year precipitation falls, although, especially in the east winter is drier than summer.
Lower Silesia located in south-western Poland is the warmest region in Poland where temperatures in the summer average between 24 and 32 °C (75 and 90 °F) but can go as high as 34 to 39 °C (93.2 to 102.2 °F) on some days in the warmest month of July and August.
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