One of the many regular TransferGo Blog series is our “Life Abroad” articles. TransferGo was originally founded to help those living in other countries send money back home. Today’s population is more mobile than at any time in history and, seemingly, a bit more adventurous as people move not only for work but also just to experience a new culture.
In this instalment we look at Warsaw, Poland.
A Brief History
Warsaw was founded in 1200 and is Poland’s largest city and sits on the banks of the Vistula River.
At one point, Poland was one of the most beautiful cities in the world and was frequently called the Paris of the East. That all changed in World War II. The German invasion of the country not only decimated the country’s Jewish population but also left almost 90% of the cities buildings in ruins.
The city has done a remarkable job in the restoration and rebuilding and is now a modern looking city, which retains a great deal of the city’s atmosphere and heritage. Modern Warsaw ranks high not only in liveability but also in terms of human capital and lifestyle, and for having a business friendly environment. Almost one-fourth of the city is green space and includes numerous small neighbourhood parks, and conservation areas.
Since Poland’s becoming a member of the EU in 2004, Warsaw is experiencing its largest ever economic boom. This economic growth is due to the business-friendly environment along with the city’s cultural status and importance and tourism.
About 1.8 million people live in the city; the great metropolitan area numbers more than 3.1 million. Like a number of other European capitals, Warsaw has a significant migrant population. According to official estimates more the 20,000 foreign-born individuals live in Warsaw. However according to unofficial estimates the number is actually between three and seven times higher. The most prominent groups are Russians, Vietnamese, Ukrainians, Armenians, and Byelorussians.
Getting Around in Warsaw
Warsaw’s metro is fairly new (the first line was begun in 1983) and consists of only two lines. However the city has a large network of trams and busses to complement the metro lines. The system is totally integrated and managed by a single entity, meaning that passes are honoured on all transports. The system is very reliable and all offer convenient, frequent schedules.
Service is available from 5am until 11pm on weekdays and until 2:30 A on weekends.
Prices in Warsaw
Prices in Warsaw are considered by some to be high by eastern European standards but a still very reasonable. The basic cost of living is about 35% lower than in Berlin. Poland is one of the EU countries that does not use the Euro. The currency is the zloty; one euro is worth about 4.2 zloty.
Here are some common prices in Warsaw in euros.
- Meal casual restaurant 5.97 €
- Fast food restaurant meal 4.06 €
- Gallon of milk 2.34 €
- Fresh White Bread 0.60 €
- Apples 0.28 €
- One-way bus, tram, metro ticket 1.05 €
- Monthly Transport Pass 26.28 €
- Basic utilities for average apartment 150.11 €
- 1 bedroom city centre apartment 529.36
- 3 bedroom city centre apartment 910.81 €
- 1 bedroom apartment outside of centre 412.25 €
- 3 bedroom apartment outside of centre 688.84 €
- Average net monthly salary 912.64 €
Since Poland is a member of the EU some businesses will accept euros, however the exchange rate is extremely unfavourable. If you are going to work in Warsaw or be there for a considerable length of time opening a Polish bank account is the best move.
The largest banks in Warsaw are Citibank (known as Citi Handlowy) and Millennium bank. Mbank is a fully internet based bank. The city also has a number of savings banks, and regional banks. All banks are government regulated.
To open a bank account you will need the following:
- Proof of residence with your home address in Poland clearly stated
Bank fees vary by type of account and based on the services needed. International transfers tend to be expensive and often have floating exchange rates. Fortunately TransferGo offers low-cost, fixed-rate transfers from and to Warsaw.