Krakow is the second-largest city in Poland – just behind the capital, Warsaw. Although it’s smaller, it hosts twice as many tourists each year. It’s busy, there’s a lot of traffic, and the streets are crowded with its 750,000 citizens. Despite this, the pace of life is surprisingly calm.
If you’re looking for a place to live in Poland, Krakow should be top of your list.
Poland, like many other Eastern European countries, is still a pretty inexpensive place to buy. Prices range from €1,000-€3,000 per square metre, but it all depends on which district you want to live in.
The most expensive part of the city is the Old Town. While it’s beautiful and packed with history, a potential drawback is having plenty of tourists walking by. The city also enforces certain restrictions and recommendations about how you have to maintain your property in this part of town. It can still be a good business investment, though – perfect for letting to students or as a short-term lease for tourists.
Located on the south bank of the Wisla river, it only takes 15 minutes to walk from Debniki to the main square in the Old Town. The streets are quiet, peppered with local grocery and pierogi (Polish dumpling) shops, and friendly neighbours. Most of the properties in Debniki are apartments in buildings with three or four floors, built in the 1950s and 1960s. After a boom of foreign investment in the early 2000s, Debniki is now going through a second golden era. A renovated apartment costs about €1,800 per square metre.
You’ll find Zwierzyniec on the west side of Krakow. It’s made up of eight small villages, packed with big houses and plenty of green space – and good public transport links make it easily accessible. There are plenty of houses built in the 1980s and 1990s, which cost around €1,500-€1,700 per square metre. If you want to buy something newer, prices go up to €2,000 per square metre.
Krakow’s cheapest district is also the furthest from the centre. Nowa Huta is famous for its Soviet era architecture, massive concrete blocks of flats, wide streets and giant squares. The area has seen an explosion in popularity lately, and property owners have capitalised on this by listing their apartments on sites like Airbnb. This means it’s getting harder to find a place to buy – so if you’re tempted, move fast. A square metre in Nowa Huta is selling for around €1,100-€1,300, and prices are expected to rise.
Buying property in Poland is pretty simple. All citizens of the EU, EAA or Switzerland can buy property without restrictions, but non-EU citizens need to buy a permit first. At the time of writing (February 2020) the UK is in a transition period to leave the EU, so it is possible that the rules of property ownership for Brits will change at the end of the year, so make sure you keep an eye on the situation.
It’s also a good idea to use an English-speaking estate agent, or hire a translator to avoid complications. After you’ve negotiated a price, you’ll sign a preliminary contract and transfer 10-15% of the agreed price. Then your documents will be registered and legislated at the notary office, and the property will need a new land registration. The whole process can take about a month.
After you receive the keys for your new property, you need to tell City Hall about your purchase and start new contracts with gas, electricity and Internet providers. Apart from the property price, you’ll have to pay a few other additional fees. Real estate agency commission will be around 3% of the total price, civil transfer tax is 2%, and there’s a notary fee – which, depending on the value of the property, property registration. Land registration fees should be about €100.
Krakow is a super green city. The River Wisla cuts the city in half, and its riverbanks have been turned into cycling and walking paths where you can soak up nature. The Old Town is packed with must-see sites, like St Mary’s Basilica and the Wawel castle complex. You’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time, surrounded by all the baroque and renaissance architecture.
When you’re tired of sightseeing, fuel up with the local cuisine. zurek (rye) and chlodnik (usually beetroot) soups are firm favourites, and pierogi are probably the main reason people move to Poland! There’s also great nightlife if you’re looking for a little more action. Most bars stay open late in summer but close earlier in winter.
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*The information in this article is correct at the time of publishing (February 2020). It could change depending on what is agreed between the UK and the EU during the 2020 transition period.
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