Steve 16 Jan 2006 / #1If you are a Pole, and you have spent the working part of your life overseas, and are now looking forward to your retirement, possibly you wonder, just a bit, about retirement in Poland. Is it a good or a bad idea? I guess, as always the answer depends on who is asking the question and what the situation is. Poland as such is not a bad country to live in, although certainly all is not perfect, but tell me a country where everything is. On the positive side are the Poles themselves. And if you are of Polish origin, certainly you will appreciate hearing the Polish language around you, the Polish radio and TV, the Polish humor and the cheeky Polish attitude. You will appreciate the beauty of the country with its old cities, like Gdansk and Krakow, the many old castles, like the royal Wawel, palaces, and other buildings. You will also enjoy the beautiful, mostly flat country side with its plentiful lakes and forests; sunny during the summertime, covered by a white layer of snow in the winter. You don't even need to be a Pole to appreciate the attractions of the land. And if by chance you prefer mountains, you can ski as much as you want in the south of Poland. Why not go to the Tatry Mountains and live in Zakopane, a famous alpine resort - you will enjoy it, if you can afford it. The cost of living in Poland for a foreigner is not very high. On the contrary, Poland is the cheapest country of all in the EU. On the other hand, the taxes are as bad as in any Western country. So, if you have to pay tax in Poland, which you will have to if you choose to retire there, it is one aspect of living in Poland that might put you off a bit. And there is also the famous Polish bureaucracy - whatever you need to arrange, it will be complicated - and there is corruption, according to some, the worst in the whole of Europe (maybe except for Russia). On the plus side, most things are possible to arrange, provided you know whom to talk to and what to say... The Poles do not complain, so why should you? The standard of living has improved a lot in recent years. There is a lot of new housing coming up, so, if you can afford it - and it is not cheap - you can enjoy a similar standard to the West. Renting is also an option, but, especially in the major cities, quite expensive. There is actually a shortage of decent housing with a moderate price tag, which can be an obstacle. Should you for any reason be single, you should not be complaining. There is a huge choice of available ladies looking for a partner, and it is a definitive advantage if you are a returning Pole or of foreign origin. Although, it should be stressed, that on the negative side, for most of Poles, Polish is the language of choice when communicating with a stranger. The English language might be a world language, but hardly in the Polish country side. Things are slowly improving, but it will still be many years before you will be able to ask for eggs and bacon in any Polish supermarket in English. On the other hand, if you are open-minded and prepared to learn a few words, it will take you quite far. Last but not least, the Poles like to eat well and drink well, so be prepared to be invited to consume huge quantities of Polish specialties, like the famous "bigos" or "kielbasa" and others. Don't forget that you need to be able to withstand the Polish vodka in huge quantities, which the Poles cannot do without. A healthy liver is almost a prerequisite for enjoying the proverbial Polish hospitality. If you still wonder about the pros and cons, I'd say go for it. If the worst come to worst, you can always go back to where you came from to recover for a while, the question is, if and how long you will be able to keep away.