Poland the Hollywood of Europe
Many Poles are puzzled why I am living in Poland. Poles love Poland. Poland is a great country. But why would a foofy American from Boston live in Poland? Some Poles, but certainly not all, dream of the converse, to live in NYC, Boston or Hollywood.
Besides having a Polish family connection, wanting to learn Polish, among other reasons, I live in Poland because to me this is like living in Hollywood for them. Yes living in Krakow is like living in Hollywood. Its far away from what I know, exotic, and a different culture experience. Do we have Nowa Huta in Boston? No. Do we have ‘milk bars’ in Boston no. Living is in Poland is very different from Boston. All the things the Poles take for granted is something fascinating and exotic and outside the ordinary for me. It would be like for them to move to Hollywood.
Polish people often imagine America as a country where everybody’s rich or at least richer than Poles and more sophisticated – take any TV show where an average family lives in a nice, spacious house and for 16-th birthday kids get their cars. Now when I am back in Florida I like to take day trips with my wife and daughter. When we were driving through Clay County I told my Polish spouse that it’s pretty nice out there to which she replied :”Oh Mark please don’t make me move here just to prove how much I love you”. She said that not because the place is off the beach or it’s a country side, she said that because the place is far from civilization, houses are often mobile and if you don’t have a car there is no way to go anywhere.
Polish girls and guys sometimes criticize one another over some wardrobe trifle – sure thing I do see Polish man waking in sandals and socks or girls wrapping themselves in scarfs or wearing calves – it is appealing for female but not male part of the population, but apart from this observation, let me tell you, Polish people dress very well. It’s not only when you walk through the big city but even in the countryside any day you see that most people do pay attention to their look – younger, older, they put thought into it. When Polish people come to America they imagine that Americans look like Hollywood actors in hots seen on tabloids – stylish handbags, perfect hair, oversized sunglasses, and although dressed in a regular t-shirt and jeans, carrying around they non-fat non-sugar latte, everybody knows that certain amount of money is behind that outfit. Well, let me tell you how wrong you are. In the middle of a day without any distinct reason, you will see girls shopping in whatever pajamas. And it’s not because it’s late in the evening or early in the morning and they run out of some crucial item, it’s because they don’t care. Rarely, even in crowded Disney, you will see well dressed Americans – most people are size L+. I understand that buying stylish clothes can be difficult but you don’t have to give up on yourself because of the size. What do however wonders me, is the amount of people using wheel chairs, one would think that we have a major percentage of disable people in this country but the truth is they are nothing more but overweight . It is a puzzle to me why do people use this wheel chairs instead of just take their chance to move – in theme parks you do have to walk a lot, so if you stay for few days it would be a great opportunity to exercise and lose some pounds. In Poland when you see disable people you will notice that their problems don’t come from uncontrollable but socially approved eating.
Every country has its problems and its advantages. When you are an outsider though, I assure – you will have some fun identifying both.
126 thoughts on “Why living in Poland is like living in Hollywood”
Hi Mark, I’m a Canadian social worker and am wondering about social services in Poland. What happens when Polish people lose their jobs? Is there unemployment insurance? Any welfare system? Are there a lot of homeless people in Poland? In Krakow?
There are social services in Poland. However, there is nothing like the need as in the Americas. Think of the Amish. The adults take care of the young and the young take care of the old. In Poland families stay together, no matter what. They help even more distant relatives. Women do not divorce their men and take care of them and so there are not broken families. Of courrse there are social problems but because of the stronger family structure nothing like you find in the West. People take care of each other.
Poland was a socialist country so the country has a large social system built in. There are unemployment benefits and food stamps etc and housing. But this is nothing compared to going to grandma’s in the village and eating fresh food, even if unemployed. It is a different reality. You can live in Poland for nothing and people’s expectations are different. My wife was making 500 dollars a month and lived on potatos and still had a few dollars to take French lessons. No gadgets or cable TV but reality is different. She did not have a gym membership but walked everywhere and was in better shape than the excesses of ther west.
So yes there is a social system of charities and government but it is mostly the family that takes care of people.
Thanks for the quick response! We definitely have more family dysfunction here in Canada compared with Eastern Europe. However, we get 55% of our salaries for 10 months in unemployment insurance. Does Poland give that to people who lose their jobs? What if someone doesn’t have family to rely on there?
I’ve never been to Krakow but heard it’s very beautiful. I love Warsaw though and always have a great time when I visit and feel sad when it’s time to leave.
You will get (small) help from goverment if you had work continously for a year, before loosing job.The amount is not enough to pay bills although.
Also as long as you are registered in “Goverment Employment Office” (I dont know how to translate it)you have medical insurance.One cant reject work offer, if do then loose insurance.
Hello, I just wanted to say that Poland is in the middle of Europe, so it’s Central Europe.
Hello, I am married to a Polish woman and we met in Germany and have traveled from Germany to USA. we are looking to relo to Poland her region in Brzozow close by Krosno. A question came up, Taxes? What are the taxes like for an American receiving Social Security and a pension from USA? Will there be double taxes or just US taxes?.
We both Love Poland and it is like Hollywood. All things are possible there and the people in this area are still in relaxed mode and not the hustle bustle in their lives. Now I need to learn more Polish..do widzenia
Poland is a beautiful place to live. Tax wise it is like the USA, except for VAT, however you do not feel this as you do an income tax. US citizens have to report all income domestic and foreign but if your tax residence is in another country you can usually exclude 90k or around that. I do not know the laws about social security and Polish taxes.
How did it work out for you to move to Poland? My fiance lives in Krakow and we decided that I will try to relocate to Krakow instead of her coming to the US. I have been looking for a job for a couple of months in Krakow but getting nowhere fast. I am 54 and it seems most companies want a young person and most jobs are in IT. Any words on how it really works to fins a job there for an American who speaks maybe 12 polish words, so far? Seriously, I have checked out the teaching English and I do not qualify. I cannot give up and will not.
Hello Mark. Obviously you like living in Poland. Can a person do better financially on their social security there than in the U.S.? If you compare a smaller town in Poland versus a smaller town in the U.S.? Is there a Polish Government website describing the tax situation. Also should you keep your money in an American Bank? I will have no language barrier, but am a citizen of the U.S. My sister and I are toying with the idea to retire in a smaller, but nice town, e.g. Cieszyn, to keep the cost down, but still have some culture and be able to walk without looking homeless. lol, like in Houston. Also my cousins there, always travel, and here in the U.S. when I talk about it, they think they must be millionaires. So bottom line: can I live cheaper and still have some fun in the older years, and healthcare too.
If you can straddle the language barrier and understand the tax implication than Poland is significantly cheaper. However, in the USA you can find homes up north like Maine or Central Florida that are just as cheap to live. I live in Florida now and grow my own food and life is cheap. So it is according to what type of life you would like to have on a day to day basis.