Living in Poland – A Guide for PhD Students
Written by Chris Banyard
Poland has one of the fastest growing university systems in the world and welcomes international students. Its many cosmopolitan and trendy cities are ideal destinations to study for a PhD, during which you can experience Poland’s heritage and culture.
The guide covers useful information about moving to Poland for your doctoral studies, including accommodation, living costs, work permits, setting up a bank account and getting around.
A location at the centre of Europe means that studying a PhD in Poland is the quintessential European study abroad experience. Influenced by Eastern and Western Europe, but still retaining its own character, Poland’s many beautiful cities are ideal destinations for your postgraduate life.
You can experience Poland’s rich and varied history through its many castles, palaces and museums. There are lots of concert and opera halls across the country to visit, where you may hear the work of famous Polish composers such as Fryderyk Chopin. More generally, Poland’s cosmopolitan city centres, with their abundance of cafés, bars and restaurants, are popular with tourists and locals alike.
There are plenty of sports and activities to try, including sailing, canoeing and windsurfing in Poland’s lakes and rivers, plus hiking, skiing and snowboarding in the Polish mountains. There are also many well-known festivals and customs with a distinctly Polish twist – Christmas (Boze narodzenie) includes a traditional feast, Easter involves the decoration and exchanging of eggs (pisanki) and St. Andrew’s Day (Andrzejki) has a fortune-telling custom involving pouring hot wax through a keyhole into cold water.
Polish cuisine is known for being hearty and wholesome. You may have heard of kielbasa sausage and pierogi dumplings, but Poland also has bigos (Hunter’s stew with sauerkraut and cabbage), żurek (rye-based soup), barszcz (Polish borscht sour soup), and placki ziemniaczame (potato pancake) among many dishes. Poland’s most famous beverage is wódka (and they’ll insist you spell it correctly) which comes in many artisanal brands and varieties.
Housing for PhD students in Poland is relatively cheap regardless of the type of accommodation you choose. Your university’s international office will be able to assist you when looking for places to live in Poland.
As a PhD student, you will likely be staying in one of two types of accommodation:
- Student dormitories – standard university-run accommodation, similar to UK halls of residence. They will be based on campus or nearby, with single or shared rooms and shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. You can find more information from your university.
- Private housing – rented accommodation from a landlord or letting agent. The rooms available can differ depending on the city and your preferences.
The cost of housing in Poland is inexpensive, and usually cheaper than in the UK.
Student dormitories can cost around €60-80 per month for shared rooms and €100-150 per month for private rooms.
The cost of private housing can vary depending on location, size and number of rooms / occupants, but is usually around €150-200 per month.
Poland has an affordable cost of living compared to most of Europe. You can expect to pay around €330-430 per month, budgeting around €90-140 for accommodation, €150-200 for food and €70-85 for miscellaneous costs.
The following table gives an indication of prices for some common expenses during a PhD in Poland:
Student Cost of Living in Poland - 2022
|Monthly Travel Pass
|Based on crowdsourced data published by Numbeo.
You do not need a work permit to work in Poland if you:
- are an EU / EEA / Swiss student
- have a student visa or temporary residence permit
- hold a Karta Polka (Pole’s card – issued to Polish expatriates and their descendants)
- are only doing vocational training or a student summer jobs programme
Work permits are issued by the local Voivodeship Office (provincial government office) and are applied for by your employer on your behalf. You will usually require some Polish language ability, although English may be useful in the popular tourist regions like Warsaw and Kraków.
You can find jobs opportunities on websites such as the European Jobs Network and get more information from your university’s academic career centre.
Although Poland is a member of the EU, the Polish currency is the Złoty (zł or PLN). However, some larger companies such as international supermarkets may accept Euros.
Opening a Polish bank account is usually easy for PhD students. You will normally require your passport, and your university’s international office may be able to assist you in the process.
Most of Poland has well-developed public transport networks, making it easy to get around. Poland central European location also means there are strong travel links to many major cities of the continent.
Your university student card will provide a range of discounts, many of which will be valid for travel around Poland.
Poland’s rail network covers most of the country and it generally affordable. There are several different train operators than run different trains and routes, but most provide student discounts. You can find more information about Poland’s train networks, and buy tickets from abroad, from Polrail Service.
There are several airports in Poland, the largest being Warsaw Chopin Airport. All of Poland’s major airports provide flights to major cities around Europe and the rest of the world.
The most common way of travelling around Polish cities is on the many bus networks. These offer frequent journeys at relatively low cost. Most cities in Poland are bike-friendly, and some have bike-rental systems for easy travelling.