Jan 012013

The large number of international companies operating from Krakow, together with the economic crisis in Southern Europe, have led to an increasing number of young Spaniards, Portuguese and Italians seeking a decent living and a prosperous future in Krakow.

Alejandro Molina, a 30-year-old graduate from Andalusia, is a good example. He moved to Krakow in October, 2010 because he could see the economic situation in Spain worsening and he had a Polish friend here. He left everything behind to start a new life in Poland. After distributing hundreds of CVs, he eventually found a job as an IT analyst. Alejandro says his experience of living in Krakow has freed him of a certain “cultural arrogance or sense of superiority” that he believes many southern Europeans bring with them to Poland.

Javier Crego, a 27-year old from Madrid, is a colleague of Alejandro’s and spent a few months in Gliwice as an Erasmus student in 2010 and 2011. Failing to find a job in Spain after graduating in computer sciences, Javier looked in Gdańsk, Wrocław, Poznań and Warsaw before trying his luck in Krakow, and finding a position as an IT analyst in October last year. “It was in Krakow that I found a company willing to give me a chance,” he says. With Spain’s unemployment rate now above 26 percent, it is not surprising Javier was unable to find his first job in his homeland.

Many young Spaniards living in Krakow, and Poles who want to improve their Spanish language skills, gather every Thursday evening for Café Madrid – a language exchange event that takes place at the Por Fiesta Club (ul. Warszawska 17). Magdalena Dudzik, the event’s organizer since its inception in September 2010, explains that Café Madrid helps Spaniards learn useful information about what to do and see in the city, as well as giving them an insight into Polish culture, cinema and music.

Krzysztof Kisielewski is a Pole who attends Café Madrid regularly. “The first time I came to the meeting, I could barely say ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ in Spanish, but everyone made me feel very welcome.” Krzysztof has successfully used Café Madrid to complement his study of Spanish and is now fluent in the language, in addition to having met some new and interesting people.

Magda Dudzik has observed that Spaniards are usually very bound to their homeland and that: “those who have moved to Poland are very brave, open-minded and eager to face big challenges, like the Polish language. They are very interesting people to talk to.” In her opinion, most Spaniards in Krakow are making an effort to integrate into Polish society, though the language barrier makes this quite difficult.

Magda has also noticed that the number of Spaniards attending the meetings has increased significantly in recent months, likely indicating a growing number of young Spanish expats arriving in the city. “When I am at Dworzec Główny in the mornings, I overhear more people speaking Spanish than English,” she says. The Por Fiesta Club’s manager, Amelia Huszcza, says numerous Spaniards have asked her to help them find a job in Krakow recently.

Italy, like Spain, is also suffering under the economic crisis and has sent many young professionals to Krakow in recent years. Among them is 28-year old Alan Mancinotti, from L’Aquila. He was the marketing manager for a Visa credit card partner in Milan at the beginning of 2011 when the company decided to shut their offices in Italy. He searched for a job in Italy for a couple of months before deciding to move to Krakow, mainly because he had visited the city a few years earlier and loved its atmosphere.

Now, Alan is working for an IT corporation at the Krakow Business Park, but his dream is to start his own business. He believes Poland is: “Full of opportunities and has huge potential. The local currency and work regulations are attracting many foreign investors, and this is going to have a positive impact on the life of Polish people,” he says.

Alan used to attend a weekly English-language meeting, but met a Polish girl there who was studying Italian and, together, they decided to organize meetings for Italian speakers in Krakow. It started as an educational, language group but, in less than a year, their Facebook page has more than 600 users and their meetings have become much more than just a place to improve your Italian. “Now we are a big group of friends and we often organize Italian dinners, play games, watch Italian movies, or just meet for a beer.” During the winter months, the Italian meeting takes place every Monday at 18:30 in Movida Cocktail Bar (ul. Mikolajska 9).

Italians celebrating a birthday at Krakow’s Movida Cocktail Bar.

Alan is convinced that the biggest challenge for most Italians living in Krakow is the weather. “I’m from one of the coldest cities in Italy, L’Aquila, but the cold here in Krakow is terribly wet. Try to imagine that a lot of us come from regions like Sicily, where people are used to going to the beach until the end of October,” he says. “Another big challenge for us is the Polish language.” Food is also a big deal for the Italian community: “We really like a lot of Polish specialties but, for us, it is impossible to live without Italian food. Whenever one of us discovers as small shop where it is possible to buy true Italian olive oil or cheese, we tell everyone at our Italian group meetings!”

Salaries are generally lower in Poland than in most of Southern Europe, but so is the cost of living. In Krakow, these young professionals can at least can gain professional experience, start along a career path and enjoy a better quality of life than if they stayed in their home countries.

It is difficult to estimate how many Spaniards, Italians or Portuguese have moved to Krakow or how many live in the city because many are not yet registered in their countries’ embassy or even with the Polish authorities. However, there are groups and pages on Facebook for Italian, Spanish and Portuguese expats in Krakow with hundreds of members (Cracovia en Español has over 1,000 friends, for example). During the Euro2012 tournament last summer, dozens of Italian and Spanish fans gathered to watch their national teams’ matches in the Błonia and Galeria Krakowska fan zones.

These new Cracovians from southern Europe have their own, individual stories, but what they all share is ambition, enthusiasm about Krakow and the conviction that they are not going back to their homelands anytime soon.

Front page photo: Spaniard Alejandro Molina and friends braving a Krakow winter.

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  30 Responses to “Southern Europeans Seeking a Better Life in Poland”

  1. While I’m happy that more and more foreigners find Poland (and especially my home city of Kraków) a good place to live in, I can not help myself but to wonder. Hundreds of thousands of our youth have left for western Europe because they couldn’t find a job here. At the same time judging from this article there are many open positions in IT-related work. That means that our education system must be flawed – it doesn’t produce professionals in areas that we need! Someone up the “chain of command” in education ministry should read this and think about it.

    • Hi Bartosz,
      I dont think there is an issue in the polish education… or at least not one in this particular case. The polish guy going somewere else usually has much better education than the foreing comming to Poland from Spain and Italy… and belive me, I know many of both. Most of those IT-related jobs are very entry level tasks as help desk, which the only requirement is to speak fluently the lenguage of the country they are supporting (most cases, their home country). Another common job is to teach their lenguage, and they are doing that even without any special education for that. Instead, polish going aboard are usually fluent English speakers (Italian and Spanish suck, we all know), and are taking jobs not only related with their language. Off course there are always some cute polish waitress aboard, but at least it has a fluent English and probably a 3rd language as well.

      • “polish going aboard are usually fluent English speakers”

        Most Polish people I have met in the UK have very little education and their English is absolutely deplorable.

        • @Brian Tatterstall: The education/erudition level of people you meet probably reflects more on the location of your encounters than on the average level of those folks. If you met manual laborers, that would be one thing, but even sales staff, waiters and barmen/maids would not presumably get hired if they didn’t speak the local language. The Polish people in England I happen to know worked high finance in the CIty, so their credentials probably exceeded my own and maybe even yours.

        • Well Brian, Thats not surprising as you would have to be pretty deperate to want to live in England. Most Englanders leave for Australia if they get the chance. Here is another thought, perhaps you could try learning another language yourself?


  2. ..Its not that cold here, its been above freezing for a long ttime already.. and when spring hits its just beautiful.. it can get really cold in the winter though like everywhere else in central europe.

  3. Salaries are generally lower in Poland than in most of Southern Europe, but so is the cost of living.


    Salaries are 4 times lower in Kraków but the cost of living is actually higher.

    Gasoline, food, utilities, clothes, the internet and of course the RENT is more expensive in Kraków.

    A 50 m2 flat costs 500 000 PLN (125 000 EURO) while the average net salary of an IT-professional is about 800 – 900 EURO …

    The article is a nice piece of propaganda though. Probably disseminated by the likes of IBM, MOTOROLLA or other American or British bloodsucking corporation …

    • “Nice” piece of propaganda, yourself, Mordo Ty Moja, but it will not fly; the IT salaries in Krakow are 60-65% of western European average, while the cost of living is 2-3 times lower. While prices for real estate are obviously going up in a booming city and country, a quick check of real estate website shows that the average price in Krakow, if you stay out of high priced downtown or historic areas are in a ~2,000PLN /sq m which would make your 50 m2 flat cost 100,000.
      Nah, Mordo Ty Moja, is probably working for a bloodsucking French, Spanish or Italian government and is trying to keep the people “home” as indentured servants.

      • 100 000 PLN for a 50 m2 in Kraków.

        Clearly you need to sober up after the New Year’s Eve …

      • Either you are lying your head off, deluding yourself, have a deeply distorted picture of reality or are a ***********

        1. Flats in Kraków do not cost 2,000 PLN per sq m. It’s more like 8,000 – 12,000 PLN you

        2. Costs of living in Italy or Spain are MUCH lower thain in Krakow. When you pair it with
        this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_in_Europe_by_monthly_average_wage
        you start to understand that pearls of wisdom regurgitated by Krakow Post is a nasty
        piece of propaganda …

      • ahah akurat. In Krakow the prices are crazy and the cost of living is the same like in Italy. Also the prices of the houses are crazy in PL, for example in Olsztyn, one of the poorest city in Poland, the average sqm price is around 5000/6000zl. If you find me a 50sqm-apartment for 100.000zl I’ll buy it

        • I live in Milan and i must say that in Krakow is lower than in here. i visited Poland many times, thus i have my experience on this.
          First of all, in Milan, renting a single room costs monthly at least 500 €, clubs cost 15/20/25 € (with one drink), besides, food also is more expensive than in Poland. Price of electronics and clothes are the same as in Poland. So please, before to say that cost of life is the same try to head here…

          • Milan and Rome are the most expensive city in Italy..you can’t compare it with Krakow. In my city, Trieste, a single room costs around 250€ and clubs cost around 5/10€. You have vsited Poland many times, I live in Poland for 4 years…
            Of course the prices are bit lower than in Italy, but you earn 3.000zl, not 1200€….

          • In the last 4/5 years situation in Italy has collapsed. The famous average salary (1.200 €) is hard to find, especially for a fresh graduate. I think it’s not possible to say that one lives better in Italy or Poland, getting a comparable wage, too many factors impact on quality of life.
            Although, the fact is that there is a big lack of job opportunities in here. People choose Poland, with its pros and cons, because they are fed up of unemployment. This is the point.

          • Southern Europe expats move to Poland, why? Because when one types “italian”, “spanish”, etc on the search bar on job website there are many vacancies from Poland. That’s the only cause. With time probably they’ll love Poland as i do, for several reason. Nowadays it is easier, if one has not specific skills / background, to find a job as mother tongue speaker in Poland than in Germany or England. Wages are not high, but i repeat, better than nothing.

  4. It’s all a little too pink and fluffy.

  5. Knowing the Krakow Post staff, I am reasonably certain that this wasn’t sponsored by the likes of anyone. They all drive pretty chintzy Porsche Boxsters (the CHEAPEST Porsche!!!) and no one has a flat above 150m2 – one person even has a place UNDER 100m2; it’s like living in the middle ages! No one seems to be bribing them or at least not very well.

  6. The good reason for this is that their are beautiful polish girls and easy for Spanish, Portuguese, Italian guys to pick up. so why not to visit Poland, drink bear and have fun and times come go back. ;)

  7. Krakow is a great place for IT, because starting wages are low. To buy an apartment or house is ridicules when renting is cheaper. You can rent a 2 bed room 2 bath apartment about 90m next to the Wawel for 2500-pln plus utilities. Not cheap for the average Polish workers but cheaper than buying the same apartment for 1.5 million-pln which is offered 2 doors down. Foreign guys do have a good chance with Polish girls, of course, been there done that! I love Poland and Krakow is a great place to live and work. Senior level engineers can live well in Poland after a few years of experience. Work hard and do well in Poland the new land of opportunity! There are many reasons to love Poland, this is one of them. Kocham Polska, a Ty?

    • Renting is throwing away money!
      A 2500 zł rent?
      WOW! That’s probably half of your hard-earned money thrown away …
      What about utilities, food, transportation?
      You basically end up speding all your hard-earned money on very basic living

      … so than …

      where is the bright side of being an IT slave on a British or American hamster wheel in Poland?

      Occasional fuc*k at your overpriced apartment before the girl realized that your are an overworked bunkrupt office rat?

      • Given the cost of living in the UK you can also do nothing more than live in the hamster wheel as you so eloquently put it.

        Average UK Salary – £26,500
        Average UK House Price – £250,000

        At least in Poland you have more opportunities.

  8. Hey guys, I notice that you are fighting, well I am from Italy and I worked and lived in Poland for 2 years, Krakow prices are high compared to small cities, however it’s quite good if you earn about 3000 zloty, I used to go to Restaurant many time for week, and I could afford costs of living including a room in the old town center, 1000 zl (250 euro) for month, Restaurant prices are really good, 15 zloty for a complete meal in a plish restaurant, and you could buy a complete meal in a more classy restaurant starting from 25 zlty ( 6 euro), well I think that salaries in multinational company are higher than the average salary in Poland which I think its about 2000 zloty.

    So, Poland offer a beter quality life for food, flat and entertaiment, however if u want to buy nice clothes and smartphones, prices are the same like Italy and you need a more competitive salary.

    I think Life in Poland is quiet good

  9. Hi guys!

    I have been living and working in Poland last over 3 years, last over 2 years in Krakow. I am a Turkish guy, but no, I am not a kebab guy. Actually no kebab places are Turkish here, therefore easy to guess, there is no Turkish kebab here.

    Anyway, getting back to the issue, I work for an American company, entry level position in human resources, above 3500 zloty/ month.

    So, here comes the question: What do you wanna do in Krakow?

    Starting from zero and BUYING FLAT, car and all? Then good luck. It is pretty hard not so cheap. Since my girl friend is looking for a flat to buy, the cheapest price is 5000 zloty/m2, which means 250.000 for 50m2 flat. You can easily end up with 300-350 thousands zloty for a 50m2 flat to buy, not in very city center. But comparing to other western EU countries? It is more or less the same picture relatively with currency and average salary.

    But if you are young, seeking early career opportunities, more important is experiences in multinational companies (to be utilized later years) but not money, you are ok to live with a flat mate at the beginning; then Krakow is not that bad. You earn 3000 zloty at the beginning (it can get higher later on), you give 1000 zloty for a room in 2 room apartment (bills and everything included), 40-50, mostly 80 zloty for transportation, 500 is more than enough for groceries. Then directly to your pocket: around 1500 zloty. After transportation, rent, bills, pocket money, you can easily keep around 500-700 zloty per month, still you can go out, drink, sometimes restaurants etc. But yea, smart phones, branded clothes etc, that is hard to manage then. Only if you are earning around 2000 zloty, then that could be hard to handle the life here. Simply, after 1 year of working in entry level position and having a nice life, you can buy even a decent car. Is this option possible in western countries currently? That’s tricky a bit, I am not sure.

    And maybe one minus, currency for savings. If you try to save in Zloty and spend in Euro, that sucks.

    But without a heavy comparison to western EU countries, Krakow is not so bad for young people as I have described above.

    Plus, the charm of living abroad, the experiences both professional and personal make Krakow desirable.

    Simply, for you career starters, Krakow is not too bad, not too expensive, generous regarding living standards (I would say even higher at many points). Actually, comparing western EU countries, Krakow is: Earn less, pay less, save less – That is mostly about currency- and have a nice life standard and nice time here. So, it is understandable that foreigners are invading here.

    And yea, girls hot, eager with foreigners, Polish guys are not attractive at all (no competition), alcohol is cheap, a lot of party, that is convincing party as well :D

  10. Maybe these people will teach the Poles a bit of culture and respect.

    • Thats funny coming from a national of a lawless and culture less country where the Prime Minister and National broadcaster bow before paedophiles.

  11. Foreigners steal our Polish girls. Not good.

    Polish girls should marry a bald Pole instead of a hairy foreigner.

  12. ps: And plz do not complain about low wages and a bad job. It is still better than being a living slave advert for tattoos, beer or a (s** *ay) fast food chain….lol

  13. Hi everyone,
    I need a estimation to live in Krakow, with wife (unemployed) and a son.
    We own a car, and now wait for official offer from corporation seattled in Krakow.

    While waiting for contract, can anyone specify how much money do I need for:
    – renting apartment (around 50m2)
    – utilities
    – gasoline
    – food
    – kindergarten
    -clothing / fun / restaurants /toys

    I am very grateful if you can specify some income (net) that should be enough for us, considering fact to be able to have around 300 Euros saved.

    Thank you all

    • Hi EU_work_Poland,

      Considering that you keep your car and that your wife will stay unemployed for some time, I would say that you should bargain for at least around 8000 PLN gross to be able to save Monthly around 300 euro’s (1300 PLN).

      This is an extrapolation based on what we’ve been spending and have been managing to save the past couple of Months.

      Hope it helps.
      Warm regards,

  14. Hi EU_work_Poland,

    Considering that you keep your car and that your wife will stay unemployed for some time, I would say that you should bargain for at least around 8000 PLN gross to be able to save Monthly around 300 euro’s (1300 PLN).

    This is an extrapolation based on what we’ve been spending and have been managing to save the past couple of Months.

    Hope it helps.
    Warm regards,

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