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Moving to Krakow

Though not necessarily the first city that comes to mind when one thinks of Poland, expats are sure to be enchanted by Kraków. Considered by many to be the country's cultural capital, Kraków has a rich history and is full of museums, galleries and historical attractions to explore. The city's Old Town is a UNESCO Heritage Site and dates back to the 11th century.

Living in Krakow as an expat

Kraków is one of Poland's economic hubs and is home to numerous multinational corporations, many of which are a source of employment for expats. The city's entrepreneurial spirit makes it a great place to start a business, and many smaller tech startups have done just that.

Expats in Kraków have a range of accommodation options to suit their budget and lifestyle. From soviet-era apartment blocks to modern flats and spacious villas, Kraków has it all. Expats should take into consideration the proximity from their home to transport stops if commuting in to the centre for work, or if needing to get their children to school in the morning. 

Expats will find no shortage of culture and entertainment in Kraków. Theatres, museums and galleries are scattered throughout the city, along with plenty of lively bars, cosy cafes and good-quality restaurants. Outdoorsy expats are sure to enjoy Kraków's vast green areas, and the beautiful views of the Vistula River that runs south of the city centre.

Cost of living in Krakow

Kraków has a rather low cost of living compared to the majority of Europe's larger cities. Expats will be able to enjoy a high standard of living at affordable rates. Although everyday costs in the city are already quite cheap in Kraków, expats will be able to further decrease their budget by living outside of the city centre, buying local produce and opting to cycle or walk around the city as opposed to driving or using public transport.

Families and children in Krakow

Those moving to Kraków with children will find that there are a number of high-quality international schools to choose from. The well-regarded International Baccalaureate is taught at several schools and there are also British and American options. Healthcare needs of expats will also be met thanks to the city's private healthcare facilities, although health insurance is advised.

Climate in Krakow

Kraków has a moderately continental climate, with chilly winters and warm summers. The colder months bring freezing temperatures and an abundance of snow, while the weather during the warmer seasons allows for plenty of time to be spent in the sunny outdoors.

Overall, expats moving to Kraków can look forward to an enjoyable lifestyle in a city with exciting career opportunities. With plenty to explore, expat life in Kraków is sure to be vibrant, engaging and interesting.

Working in Krakow

Kraków’s popularity as expat destination is growing and, as Poland’s second-largest city, it provides a dynamic economy and welcoming environment for professionals.

As the economy of the city expands, there are a growing number of job opportunities for skilled individuals working in fields such as finance, IT and the service sector. English and French speakers will also find there is a demand for their language skills in tourism.


Job market in Kraków

Kraków is one of Poland’s most important economic hubs and receives large numbers of new residents each year. It is a popular destination for foreign investment and a number of multinational enterprises are choosing to base operations in here. This is thanks to the favourable conditions and incentives provided by Małopolska Province, in addition to the city’s convenient location in Central Europe and sound infrastructure. 

Unemployment rates in the city have consistently been the lowest in the country year on year. Most job opportunities in Kraków can be found in the service, financial and technological sectors. Kraków is also one of Europe’s top outsourcing destinations and is home to prominent international corporations such as IBM and Google. Tourism is also a growing industry in Kraków and this is a particularly good sector for both English and French-speaking workers. 


Finding a job in Kraków

EU citizens with a strong professional background in areas such as finance and technology won’t find it too difficult to secure employment in Kraków. Those working for an international company with operations in Kraków should explore the option of relocating on an intra-company transfer. 

Expats from outside the EU will need to navigate the complicated work permit process once they’ve secured a position, as Polish citizens and EU nationals get priority. 

Online job portals, such a LinkedIn, are a good place to begin a job search. Both local and national newspapers also have designated job sections. Expats should also contact English-speaking Polish recruitment companies which can assist expats find jobs before they are even listed publically. 

While those working for a major multinational may only need to speak English, having some proficiency in Polish will certainly be an advantage for those seeking employment in Kraków.  


Work culture in Kraków

As in the rest of Poland, business in Kraków is a formal affair. Traditionally, Poles have a good work ethic, and people rarely take a formal lunch break in Kraków. Rules of the workplace are respected and strictly adhered to. Poles are punctual and it is seen as disrespectful to be late for an appointment. 

Trust and honesty are highly valued in professional circles. As such, expats working in Kraków should make an effort to build solid personal relationships with Polish colleagues. 

While Polish is the official language of business in Poland, English is widely spoken in business circles, especially those in big cities like Kraków. Learning some basic Polish phrases will certainly be advantageous when it comes to networking and getting ahead in the workplace but the language barrier isn’t a significant issue for expats working in Kraków.  

Accommodation in Krakow

Expats in search of accommodation in Kraków will find a variety of options available to them. When considering where to live, a number of factors should be taken into consideration, including budget, size and lifestyle.

Working expats will want to make sure there’s an easy way to commute to the office, while parents will benefit from living close to their children's school. Living in an area well served by public transport makes getting around easier, but prices tend to be higher in these areas due to this convenience.


Types of accommodation in Kraków

There is a range of accommodation in Kraków. Expats will find everything from modern studio apartments and older Soviet-era flats, to villas and freestanding houses with gardens.

Both furnished and unfurnished accommodation is available in Kraków, but most accommodation comes unfurnished.

Many expats moving to Kraków for the first time opt for short-term accommodation initially while they get to know the city. It may be difficult to rent an apartment on a short-term basis, and expats may therefore have more luck with a guest house, hotel or serviced room.


Finding accommodation in Kraków

There are a number of ways to get started on searching for accommodation in Kraków, even from a distance. Online property portals and websites of estate agencies can be a good way to learn about the various areas and what to expect in terms of pricing. That said, expats should never agree to rent a property or pay any money towards it without having seen it in person.

Once in Kraków, the easiest route is to enlist a real estate agent, preferably from an agency experienced with expats. Hiring a bilingual agent who can speak both English and Polish will go a long way towards easing any communication difficulties. These agents will also have a good knowledge of the various areas in the city and can guide expats through the leasing process.


Renting accommodation in Kraków

Once an expat has found their ideal new home, they will need to go through the process of signing the lease, paying the deposit and finally moving in.

Signing the lease

Leases in Poland are most commonly signed for 12 months, or sometimes longer. Before signing, expats should be very sure of their length of stay as they may not be able to break the lease if they need to leave the country suddenly.

If the landlord presents a Polish lease, it is strongly recommended to ask for an English translation, and be sure to read it carefully.

Deposit

A typical deposit in Poland is one month’s worth of rent, though some landlords may charge a double or even triple deposit. As long as the property is returned in a good condition at the end of the lease, the deposit should be returned to the tenant in full.

Utilities

Utilities such as electricity, water and gas are not usually included in rental prices in Poland. To avoid later disputes, expats should always ensure that they have full clarity with their landlord on this matter. It should also be stipulated in the lease.

Healthcare in Krakow

While expats will find both public and private healthcare options available in Kraków, it is worth investing in some form of private health insurance as costs can quickly add up.

EU citizens can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access state healthcare here during a short-term visit. UK citizens can make use of their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which replaced the EHIC for UK citizens post-Brexit.

Public healthcare in Poland is adequate, but most people who can afford to do so utilise the private system which affords them better facilities and shorter waiting periods.

Although medical facilities on offer in Kraków are of a decent standard, they are perhaps not quite up to those found in Western Europe or North America.

Here is a list of the most prominent healthcare facilities in Kraków.


Hospitals in Kraków

John Paul II Hospital

Website: www.szpitaljp2.krakow.pl
Address: Prądnicka 80, 31-202 Kraków

Josef Dietel Specialist Hospital

Website: www.szpitaldietla.pl
Address: Skarbowa 4, 31-121 Kraków

Brothers Hospitallers Hospital

Website: www.bonifratrzy.pl/szpital-krakow
Address: Trynitarska 11, 31-061 Kraków

University Hospital Kraków

Website: www.su.krakow.pl
Address: Mikołaja Kopernika 36, 31-501 Kraków

Education and Schools in Krakow

Generally speaking, education in Poland is of a high standard. Public schooling is well worth considering for expat families with young children or those intending to settle in Poland permanently. 

That said, the private schooling sector in Kraków offers some highly competitive options and is popular among locals as well as expats. International schools in Kraków are often the most convenient choice for globally mobile families.


Public schools in Kraków

Compulsory schooling in Poland begins at age six in what is often referred to as 'form zero', after which children continue to primary school. Schooling remains compulsory all through high school to the age of 18. Public education in Poland is free for both local and expat children. 

Parents can expect a high quality of education in local public schools but, with Polish as the language of instruction, English-speaking international schools are often the easier option.


Private and international schools in Kraków

There are a number of high-quality private and international schools in Kraków. Private schools will often teach through the lens of a particular religious ideology (such as Christianity) or teaching method (such as Montessori). 

International schools, on the other hand, teach foreign or globally-recognised curricula in English or the language of the school’s origin. Most international schools in Kraków teach the International Baccalaureate curriculum, though there are also British and American options. 

Some international schools also offer the Polish curriculum, in which case the school teaches in both English and Polish. This puts expat children in a good position to pick up the local language without the pressure of being taught solely in Polish.

Both international and private schools are expensive, and the fees often don't include extras such as textbooks and uniforms. If choosing a private or international school for their children, expats should negotiate a school allowance into their salary. 


Special-needs schooling in Kraków

Expat parents of children with disabilities can rest assured that in Poland, special assistance is given to children who have special educational needs or those children whose opportunities for education, development and learning are limited to such an extent that they can't meet the educational requirements at mainstream schools.

Special-needs institutions provide care for differently-abled pupils by allowing for the implementation of individualised educational processes, forms, curriculum and revalidation. Children with special needs are also able to attend mainstream schools if they are deemed able to cope with the education system at these schools. Support will be given at these schools but not to the extent of the special schools. 


Tutors in Kraków

Education is highly valued in Poland, and Polish parents use tutoring as a tool to assist students in their learning. It is also invaluable to expat children adapting to a new environment, language and curriculum. Even for children in international schools, tutoring is useful for gaining confidence, or for assistance in particular subjects such as maths, science or Polish. Expats can hire private home or online tutors through a number of online tutoring companies. Good tutoring companies in Poland include Apprentus and TeacherMe2.

International Schools in Krakow

For expat families moving to Kraków, finding a good international school will be a top priority. Key factors to consider include the school’s curriculum, language of instruction, location and price range. Parents should try to secure a spot for their child as far in advance as possible as spaces can fill up quickly, especially in the more prestigious schools.

Here is a selection of international schools in Kraków.


International schools in Kraków

British International School of Cracow

Gender: Co-educational
Website: www.bisc.krakow.pl
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, Cambridge IGCSE and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 19

Cracow International School

Gender: Co-educational
Website: www.cischool.edu.pl
Curriculum: Cambridge Primary Programme, A-Levels and Polish National Curriculum 
Ages: 2.5 to 18

Embassy International School

Gender: Co-educational
Website: www.embassyschool.pl
Curriculum: International Primary Curriculum, English National Curriculum, Cambridge IGCSE, A-Levels and Polish National Curriculum 
Ages: 3 to 19

International School of Kraków

Gender: Co-educational
Website: www.iskonline.org
Curriculum: American and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 18

Open Future International School

Gender: Co-educational
Website: www.openfuture.edu.pl
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate and Polish National Curriculum 
Ages: 3 to 18

Lifestyle in Krakow

Kraków’s popularity as both a holiday and expat destination has grown considerably over the last few decades. The city’s expat population is growing thanks to increasing numbers of multinational corporations choosing to base operations in the city. In turn, this has contributed to both increasing levels of development and cultural diversity in the city. 

Expats moving to Kraków will be in for a treat when it comes to ways in which to spend their free time. Whether looking to indulge in fine food, dance the night away or explore the beautiful Polish mountain regions, Kraków offers an eclectic range of lifestyle activities.  


Shopping in Kraków

Within Poland, Kraków is seen as the top shopping destination. Here, shoppers will not only find a wide range of modern goods and international brand names, but they’ll also be able to get great local produce at reasonable prices. 

Galeria Krakowska is one of the most popular shopping areas in Kraków. It boasts a wide range of high street stores and higher-end boutiques, and is conveniently located close to the Main Market Square. The more sedate Galeria Kazimiex is another great shopping spot located on the riverbank in the Jewish district of Kraków. It is home to a host of fashion boutiques, quaint bookstores and cosy cafes. 

For an altogether different shopping experience head to Hala Targowa. Away from the typical tourist trail, this is a favourite among the locals. At this unique flea market, shoppers can lose hours browsing through old books, antiques and art. 


Eating out in Kraków

Kraków has a charming cafe culture. Expats will find plenty of quaint coffee spots hidden underground or in a nook of a historic building. 

While the city may not be quite as eclectic as more established European expat destinations, new arrivals will find a restaurant scene that is rapidly developing to keep pace with the increasingly multicultural nature of Kraków’s population. Beyond the hearty Polish cuisine, expats will find a range of international restaurants serving up Italian, French, Indian, Chinese and Mexican dishes. 

Head to one of Kraków’s ‘milk bars’ where diners can experience authentic Polish fare at bargain prices. 


Nightlife and entertainment in Kraków

Kraków is a university city and is seen by the locals as the party capital of Poland. Expats won’t be disappointed when it comes to evening entertainment.

Main Market Square comes to life in the evenings, with almost every historical building boasting some sort of pub, restaurant or club. Cellar-based venues are particularly unique to Kraków and well worth exploring. 

Kazimierz is a great option for those who are after something more low-key. This is where expats should venture to discover the bohemian side of life in Kraków. Live music venues, craft breweries and street food eateries are an alternative entertainment experience.


Sports and outdoor activities in Kraków

Kraków is a green city. With parks on every corner, expats will find plenty of opportunities to spend time outdoors, at least in the summer months. That said, even when the weather isn’t great, Kraków residents can still be seen enjoying a walk along Planty or by the Vistula River. Kosciuszko Mound is a great spot where one can enjoy some beautiful views of the city. 

When the city life begins to take its toll, expats can head to the Tatra Mountains, as Krakow is just a two-hour drive from Zakopane. This area is a hiker’s paradise, and in the winter it presents perfect conditions for skiing at a fraction of the price found in other parts of Europe. 

Getting Around in Krakow

Expats moving to Kraków may find that the city’s transportation options are a little limited compared to Warsaw's. That said, Kraków’s transportation infrastructure is extensive and well maintained, so new arrivals won’t struggle to get around, even without a car.

In fact, while it may be nice to have a car to explore Poland on the weekends, driving isn’t advisable or necessary, especially for those commuting around Kraków on a daily basis. 


Public transport in Krakow

Kraków’s public transport infrastructure consists of a comprehensive integrated bus and tram network, which runs frequently between 6am and 11pm, and also operates a night service.

Tickets can be purchased at machines and major stops, as well as onboard most services. Tickets are valid on both tram and bus networks, allowing passengers to transfer between them within the allotted time.

It is important to ensure that tickets are stamped upon boarding as inspectors regularly patrol the lines, handing out costly fines to anyone not in possession of a valid ticket.

Various discounts are offered to children, students and pensioners as well as those who opt to purchase weekly, monthly or yearly passes.

Timetables and online network maps are regularly updated and available in English. These are useful sources of information for new arrivals getting to grips with Kraków’s transport network. 


Taxis in Krakow

Taxis are reasonably priced, reliable and plentiful in Kraków. While there are still occasional instances of taxi drivers overcharging foreigners, these are few and far between, and official taxis that are marked as such should work on a meter. Always insist on having the driver use the meter to ensure fares are accurate.

It is possible to get taxis at ranks or hail them on the street, but where possible it's best to book online or call ahead of time to ensure the best fares.

Ride-hailing applications

Expats familiar with mobile taxi applications such as Uber and Bolt will find these services are also readily available in Kraków. These mobile apps offer cashless taxi services with regulated fares.

The only significant drawback of this transport option is that these drivers are restricted from certain areas, while the city’s official taxi services aren't. They therefore won’t always be able to drop their passengers as close to their destination as they’d like.


Driving in Kraków

It isn’t advisable to drive in Kraków. Most residents find it frustrating as there is often a lot of traffic, while parking is expensive and difficult to find. There are also a lot of rules around local ‘driving zones’, which even many locals find utterly confusing. Taxis are relatively cheap and are therefore a good alternative to a private car.

While road conditions are generally pretty good, local driving behaviour takes a while to get used to. If expats do decide to get behind the wheel, they should do their best to drive defensively. 


Cycling in Krakow

Unfortunately, Kraków’s municipal bike-sharing scheme was terminated in 2019, but there are private bike rental companies that expats can use if they don't have their own bike. Many people living in Kraków find that cycling is the most efficient way of getting around as the city is well equipped to accommodate cyclists. There are a whole host of bike lanes as well as scenic cycle paths for a more recreational rider. In addition, the city has installed safe cycling storage facilities throughout Kraków to make cycling more convenient.


Walking in Kraków

Many parts of the city's historic centre are pedestrianised and new arrivals will find discovering Kraków on foot to be a safe and pleasant experience. That said, snowfall during the winter months can make walking around a little tricky. Investing in a pair of sturdy, waterproof shoes will certainly help.