Planning to move to Poland in the New Year? The process can be complicated, though in our global village a few shrewd businesses noticed a demand for a specialised service and formed agencies that guarantee a smooth transition.
Text by Michelle Smith
Once the excitement of an international position has settled down and the harsh realities of moving dawns on you, there are numerous things that need to be considered, the least of which is a house. The location in the city that you and your family will call your new home is more important than the abode itself. Too far away from work and school and the daily commute becomes a painful part of your new life, sure to bring on a homesickness that might overwhelm. A house or apartment with good access to important roads, in an area that gives you the warm, tranquil feeling of arriving ‘home’ is paramount to spending a few years in a strange country and culture while creating new memories.
Help settling in
So, where do you even start to look for such an area? Finding a house or apartment in Poland might not be as easy as in the UK, since there is no central listing in any newspaper, website or agency that will give you a one-stop service. That is where the well-equipped relocation agencies in Poland come in. Through many years of experience they have honed their services to perfection. One would expect a service that is limited to packing, moving and unpacking, but these companies offer so much more. They can tell you what you will need in Poland and how to get it even before you thought that you might need it. Pro Relocation is one such an agency.
Founded in 1999, Pro Relocation prides themselves in their network of contacts across six Polish cities: Warsaw, Kraków, Gdańsk, Łódź, Poznań and Wrocław. With almost a decade of experience, they will assist you in settling in as effortlessly as possible. The first step will be a search for your new home. There are a few ways to go about this and the best would be to contact Pro Relocation or one of the other agencies for their suggestions. It might require a weekend trip to Poland, or two, to scout the areas for the perfect place to rest your weary head after a hard day’s work.
Most of the relocation companies will have you fill in a questionnaire in order to analyse your detailed requirements for a home. Express Relocations will also have an in-depth discussion with you about your specific needs. That will enable them to line up a few places for you to look at that will be much more to you liking and that will also save time by avoiding places that might qualify as horror-homes in your book. They usually preview the residences themselves to make sure that your time will not be lost on looking at a place that was misrepresented with carefully taken photos placed on a website. You will then be taken to these places with an explanation of the area and a map that will enable you to assess the convenience of the house in relation to the trip to school and work.
The next step will be the rental agreement or the lease negotiations, which Interdean, another relocation company, will be happy to assist you with. Their services include a single point of contact throughout your whole relocation experience and will assist you with all the possible documentation you might be faced with. Poland is known for its paperwork and these guys know what, where, when and how to break through that wall of official forms. These companies will also help you with furniture rental if you decide not to relocate your whole house, but rather only the family and pets, which they also have expert advice on.
Paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork
Once you have your new home and the children start arguing about who gets which room, you now have different areas that will need careful consideration. In their full package service, these relocation companies will give you complete information on the schools available in the city that you will move to. There are a few international schools in Warsaw with the British School seemingly the obvious choice for UK expats who would prefer their offspring to continue their education in a familiar system. There are, however, excellent schools which follow the American, Canadian and French education systems, to only name a few.
There is a myriad of things to think of and Express Relocations is another company that will be able to give you a check list so that you do not forget anything and can just ease into your new life without any nasty surprises. Renting, leasing or buying a car will be no problem with their assistance, provided that your company doesn’t take care of that. They will assist you with the car registration process and all other documentation. Since the UK and Poland are both EU countries, driving licenses should not prove to be a complication in this matter.
No work visa or permission is required for citizens of EU member states or countries with which the EU has agreements for the free movement of people, which would make the list of documentation needed for you a little shorter. But, if a foreigner wants to stay in Poland for an extended period of time, residential permission might be necessary for them and their families. Most companies take care of this for their employees and their families, but it’s best to be sure of this before you pack your first suitcase. If, in the rare event that your company will not deal with this on your behalf, Pro Relocation and the other companies all offer this service as part of their package. The process seems to be simple, but the sheer amount of paperwork involved can be time consuming and quite intimidating.
Pro Relocation will also be on hand to give you advice on the Polish health care system. You can ask them about the best children’s hospital in Warsaw or in Łódź, the best specialists (who are fluent in English) in Kraków and Gdańsk, and even if they have recommendations for good cosmetic surgeons if you would be so inclined. This information always gives one peace of mind for those situations that we would rather not think about, but would like to be prepared for.
Time for the move...
Now that you have a house, a school lined up for the kids and even the phone number of the closest paediatrician, you are now ready to move. Your relocation company will by now have discussed the moving process with you in detail and all you are expected to do, is open the front door to them and let them do the work. Pro Relocation understands that emotions involved in moving your home and they, and the other moving companies, will treat your possessions with the love and care one would expect. With careful packing and a team of experts, your whole abode will be in boxes and loaded before you even know it. Relocating to another home is difficult enough, but moving to a new country, a new culture with different systems and a foreign language is a challenge in itself.
Integration into your new society will speed up the settling in process and these companies know it. They will point you in the direction of social networks where you can meet people with the same interests. Interdean offers this additional service that will put you in touch with social groups, mentoring organisations, volunteer opportunities and even continued education. There are a few social groups in Warsaw that will welcome you with open arms. This is the perfect place to make new friends and find out where to buy items that might be easy to hunt down back home, but in a foreign country it might be viewed it as exotic and hard to find.
Living in a foreign country has forged friendships that can last a lifetime and with people that you won’t usually meet or make friends with, making it a truly enriching experience. One of the many social groups in Warsaw is Mums & Tots, which had been a life-line for many a mother. The International Women’s Group is a fantastic place to meet people and has numerous activities that will show you Poland in a way that even Polish people don’t see. For the men there is Frogs & Co., Warsaw’s expatriate rugby team who, on occasion, invites other rugby teams from the UK and elsewhere for a friendly game or two.
Another way to guarantee integration and a better understanding of the new culture that you will find yourself in, is to learn the language and find out more about the local customs. It is a well known fact that learning the language and receiving some form of cross-cultural training help foreigners, and especially their families, settle in and making it easier to take advantage of the new world around them. Pro Relocation will put you in touch with language schools and give you hints on the culture. Interdean offers a language programme that they base on the needs of the family and you can even enjoy this in the comfort of your home.
Move One Relocations is another company that offers the full service, including assistance in the process of opening personal bank accounts. They will ease the process by recommending banks that will be able to service you in English, banks with websites that can be accessed in English so that you can transfer funds without the fear of where it might end up. They also provide information and advice on local insurance requirements and assist with the completion of necessary forms. There are so many things to keep in mind when one relocates that these companies seems to be a godsend.
It might be your first, or your tenth time, to relocate to another country, but with these companies’ help, your move will become an easy transition from one home to another. Being able to eliminate the worries of the small details and having it taken care of by someone, brings the adventure back in this new part of your life. You can now focus on discovering a whole new world with new customs and new people that will not only give you fantastic new stories for the Christmas dinner table, but will also enrich your life.