Krakow is a very beautiful city with intense cultural activity. It has a picturesque old town with the largest market square in Europe. The Wawel Castle, the wonderful Bohemian Jewish quarter Kazimierz and many other characteristic places. Many expats currently are living in Krakow.
It is a great city to walk around. There are many things to see. Also, the countryside starts not far from the city center and it is easy to get to the Tatras or other national parks. However, the city suffers from a lack of “green spaces”. Krakow is becoming more and more built up. There are apartments and business centers everywhere. Krakow is a huge construction site where vegetation is gradually and inexorably replaced by buildings and condominiums.
The traffic is really chaotic. The city, which was not designed for all these cars, suffers from constant traffic jams. Public transport, on the other hand, is excellent and cheap. It covers all areas of the city quickly and reliably.
The city is exceptionally safe. You can move around safely even late at night without any problems.
Living in Krakow is expensive. While the cost of food and transportation is acceptable, the cost of housing is extremely high. Rents have skyrocketed in recent years due to increased tourism and the power of Airbnb. Due to the high demand, they are not only expensive, but it has also become difficult to find free apartments and rooms.
Living in Krakow means pollution. The biggest problem in the city is pollution. Krakow surpasses Beijing and New Delhi in the top ten metropolises with the highest air pollution. Of the 50 most polluted cities in the European Union, 34 are Polish. There are many premature deaths due to air pollution each year. This is due to the effects of decades of industrial development supported by coal, which generates more than 80% of electricity. Coal is also used to heat homes. Recently, a real ecological conscience has taken hold in the country, and things may be starting to change. But with the Russian-Ukrainian war and the decrease in energy supplies, everything stopped
Krakow is a melting pot, not only of Polish culture, but of a mixture of cultures from all over Europe. You will find music, art and theater. As well as high quality galleries and museums. Several annual events are organized in the city (concerts, sports, etc.) The city has a rich nightlife, many pubs and bars, as well as excellent restaurants. The city’s nightlife is very lively thanks to the combination of tourism and a large number of students.
Poles are not characterized by being friendly and extroverted, on the contrary, they are quite cold and nationalistic. However, there is a very high number of foreigners in Krakow compared to other parts of the country, which causes a more open attitude towards immigrants. Fortunately, in Krakow, as a multicultural city, it is easy to make friends, there are language exchange groups, expat groups, etc.
To try to integrate into the local community, it would be advisable to learn a little Polish. Many Cracovians know English, but they do not like it, they prefer their own language, and if you make the effort to converse in Polish, people will really appreciate your efforts.
The labor market in Krakow is currently functioning very well. The unemployment rate is at a record low. Unfortunately, salaries are low on average, and if you do not have a good job, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to rent an apartment and make a living without having to work 16 hours a day. In general, it is easy to live and find a job in Krakow if:
- You are a highly qualified and experienced specialist who speaks English and possibly Polish (IT sector, marketing, trade, industry, etc.)
- You are a low-skilled worker and willing to receive extremely low wages (even 2/3 € per hour). In this case, sometimes it is not even necessary to speak Polish
As a native English speaker, with no knowledge of the Polish language, there are job opportunities in the tourism sector, (tour guide and little else) and teaching. Or in one of the many multinationals based in Krakow in the sectors: customer service, legal, financial, etc.
Living and working in Krakow, conclusion
In summary, I would say that I would not choose Krakow to live there permanently, but those who are still young and like to socialize might seriously consider an experience in this city.
If you are interested in all the information about your possible move to Poland, you can read the article How to move to Poland
Those who want to know more about work can read the article: Working in Poland