8/29/2003 10:44 EST
Apartments in Warsaw are expensive by Polish standards, but relatively cheap by Western standards. Your cost will be determined by what standard of housing you want - if you want a new, Western-style apartment in the center of Warsaw, be prepared to spend upwards of $1000 month for a 50m2 2-room apartment (500 sq ft).
If you don't mind living in pre-1990 housing (read: communist-style building), you can do much better on the price. Where you live will depend on where you end up working, as you will want to be on convenient mass transit. If you choose to live in the Mokotow or Ursynow neighborhoods, you will be able to take the subway to the center of town, which is by far the best way to get in and out of the center. It is clean, fast and safe. (Warsaw is very safe by Western standards anyway, violent crime is almost non-existant). If you are working somewhere which is not reachable by Metro, however, you will want to find out the tram/bus lines that serve that area and make sure you live on a convenient one.
Try to stay on the same side of the Wisla river as where you are working. Like any city with a river running through it, traffic across the Wisla during rush hour can be tough to negotiate, and the subway does not (yet) go across the river.
As an example, my wife and I rent out our 1 bedroom, 400 sq ft apartment in Mokotow for 1100 zloty a month (about $275). (Sorry it is currently rented). It is in a 10-story building built in the 1970's, the apartments has been renovated inside, and is furnished. For that kind of money you should be able to find a comfortable, nicely furnished apartment for yourself. If you want a two bedroom expect to pay about 1500 PLN.
The best way to find apartments is by looking in Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper on Wednesday. That is when the most real estate ads run. There are also a lot of real estate agencies, many of them have websites (however they are all in Polish language). One big one that I know of is www.dragowski.pl.
Note that apartments are advertised in Poland by size in square meters (1 sq. meter is appx. 10 sq ft) and by number of rooms. The kitchen and bathroom are not counted as rooms, so a 2-room apartment (dwupokojowe in Polish) is what would be considered a "one-bedroom" in English, with two rooms, a kitchen and a bath. What we call a studio is known as a "kawalerek" (bachelor flat) in Polish. That would be one room with a separate bath, maybe with separate kitchen.
Also, if you sign up to teach English with a reputable school, they should be able to help you find housing. Ask your employer if they assist you.
Shared housing is possible too - you may want to check around the Warsaw University or Polytechnic, you can find ads hanging on telephone poles for people looking to share housing. Your chances of finding an English-speaking roommate are higher if you look for college students.
While you are temporarily staying and looking for housing, the Ibis Hotel on Al. Solidarnosci is a nice, affordable place to stay. Rates are around $60 a night. It is a brand-new, 3-star hotel close to the center of town.
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