Jo and I have been living in Wrocław for the last 3 months as we have prepared for our trip away, and I have totally fallen in love with this city. For the uninitiated it’s pronounced Vrotswav, not Warclaw – although I feel Warclaw sounds far more viking so shall be petitioning the city council to change it.
Why we moved
Thanks to some advanced spreadsheet analysis on a napkin in a London pub Jo and I came to the conclusion that living in London was just ‘too damn expensive’. Our in depth analysis identified that it would be far more cost effective to move for a few months to Wrocław and neither of us work than stay in London (staying at Jo’s mum’s place was also a big help as rent was a big contributor to that problem) and only one of us work, and there wasn’t much point in me finding a new job in a few months before the trip – I’m an incredibly bad liar and I’m not sure how “I’m just looking to plug a few months before I go string a hammock between two trees on a beach” would go down in an interview. I tried, I honestly did – with a couple of fantastic companies who I genuinely would have loved to work for, but I think my hearts just wasn’t in it.
Poland is cheap to live in, even with the pound taking a hammering post-brexit. The ex-communist style canteens also help where you can get a decent meal for two for £3.
Ok, so the above is an extreme version but you can get pretty decent offerings for roughly the same price. If you are wondering what those two green blobs on my plate are, they are gołąbki (pronounced gwompki) and pretty damn tasty. If you are after some good food I recommend Soczewka in the market square – it’s pricey but they are some of the best burgers I’ve ever had. They also do gluten free and serve the burgers with a knife shoved in the top for effect.
I know, 3 months doesn’t make me an expat – it’s a long holiday, but it’s a nice trial run for if we move later on in life.
I shall tell you this now, if you don’t speak Polish, living in Poland is hard, not impossible but hard. You will struggle to find someone over ~40 who speaks decent English and the young people who do are mostly too embarrassed over their ‘poor’ English to give it a fair shot, but fair play to them once you give them a bit of a push (or vodka) they will put you to shame with their fantastic language skills.
Jo has been a massive help, things like shopping were OK with the little Polish I know and lots of gesticulating (and lots of pitying looks thrown my way at the English guy trying to speak Polish) but more complicated interactions, like the Doctors, would have been nearly impossible without her translating. On the other hand I survived an Opticians appointment where Google Translate only came into play twice, so your millage will vary.
The Expat Community
Wrocław is a massive student city with around a dozen Universities and the last few years has seen an explosion in multiculturalism and with that several expat sub-communities have sprung up around the place.
We joined one on Facebook, creatively called ‘Wroclaw Expats‘, who are a fantastic group of friendly people from all over the world helping each other and advertising events based in English around the city. From there we discovered a great comedy night at a local metal bar, Niebo and a weekly board games evening being held in various cafes and pubs around the city.
There is also a fantastic cafe, Vinyl Cafe, which I spent a lot of time writing in. I noticed a lot of conversations going on in English – so a great place to meet people (if you don’t have your head buried in a laptop) and the staff there have great English – the times I’ve tried to order something in Polish we usually just end up back in my native language. It’s also a fantastic place with great coffee, board games, and relaxing music playing from old Vinyl records.
More posts on Wrocław to come, when we get time around the busy packing schedule!