Are you planning to move to Poland and renting a flat is still ahead of you? In this guide, we’ll get through the most common things to know and the standard to expect. You’ll get to know how to read the rental ads and what to ask your potential landlord.
1. SIZE, LAYOUT, NAMING
Let’s start with some basic stuff – the size and layout of a typical Polish apartment. In a Polish advertisement, the number of rooms refers to their actual number. This means that an apartment with a living room and a bedroom (the one you know as a 1-bedroom apartment) will be rented out as a 2-room apartment.
In some offers, you may find the M2, M3, M4, etc naming. M stands for mieszkanie – an apartment. The number next to it is the number of rooms in the apartment. And so M2 is a one-bedroom apartment – a bedroom and a living room. The kitchen and bathroom it’s not taken into account. So if you’re looking for a flat with two bedrooms, living room, kitchen, and bathroom be clear about it.
A smaller place – a living room with a sofa bed, kitchen, and bathroom, commonly known as a studio flat in Polish it’s called kawalerka. Interesting fact: the name derives from the Polish word kawaler – a bachelor, a guy who is not married.
In most of the old-style Polish apartments, the kitchen is separated from the other rooms. If you’re looking for a living room with a kitchenette, check out either a renovated flat or an apartment in a new building.
It’s also common to find a flat with a separate bathroom and toilet. The toilet is usually a very small room with just a toilet bowl and a small bathroom sink. In a bathroom, you’ll find a bathtub or a shower, another sink, and, most often, a washing machine.
If you’re more on a budget and you’re looking for a room in a shared apartment, you have plenty of options, starting from a single room or 2, 3, or 4 people in a room.
Quite often, Polish shared apartments don’t have a common space (living room), but simply – individual rooms. In such an apartment the kitchen is usually small and separate, and all the tenants share one bathroom.
Fully equipped – what does it really mean?
In a standard apartment for rent, there’ll always be a fridge, a cooktop/hob (electric or induction, or gas). In a new building it’ll probably be an electric one and in older buildings expect a gas cooktop.
Also, the place usually has an oven and a washing machine. The washing machine, if not in the bathroom, can be found in the kitchen. Check carefully in all cabinets.
A dishwasher can be expected in newly built or recently renovated flats; the older ones might simply lack the space to install it. You’ll probably not find a coffee maker, but you can surely expect an electric kettle – which is not obvious to those from Southern nations who simply don’t drink tea.
If the landlord has detailed all the available appliances and amenities, you can verify and possibly further equip the apartment on your own. The worst case is when the place lacks something you find absolutely necessary but is difficult to add, e.g. a washing machine or an oven. An iron or an ironing board is easy to buy, but if you move quite often, carrying all your possessions around is problematic if not impossible.
Simply ask about such things as the previously mentioned iron, mop and bucket, vacuum cleaner, or kitchenware (pots and pans, dishes, and silverware). The very fact that water or wine glasses are featured in the apartment photos doesn’t mean they are included. If you’re not sure, ask away.
Do you need a dryer? Don’t worry, you’ll have one in every Polish flat. However, it may not be what you think. A laundry rack is a dryer in Polish. We call it suszarka. A tumble dryer isn’t common even in private houses. We each have a drying rack to be put up in the bathroom, laundry room, or wherever we have enough space. When an ad informs you about a “dryer”, make sure what exactly the landlord has in mind.
3. Central heating
If you’ve already been reading about Poland you may have found the information that we have some cold winters here. These days the temperatures are not as low as they used to be in the past. The average temperature in winter is -5 degrees but we had a few days with temperatures under 20 degrees, even 3 years ago. But don’t be afraid! The good news for all the chilly people anxious about cold Polish winters is: central heating is standard in every apartment. The radiator, called kaloryfer in Polish, is available in every room.
Obviously, you should make sure that the heating in your rental apartment is functional and efficient because it also impacts the total cost of your utility bills. Don’t open a window while having a radiator on, it’s just a waste of the heat and money.
The most popular heating systems are central gas or external heating providers (city regulated). City-regulated heating is often included in the rent which makes its price fixed and predictable. The central gas heating system translates into the quantity of gas you use and consequently – the total monthly gas bill. Remember that it’ll be higher in the winter months. Its advantage, on the other hand, is that when the weather gets colder, a building with a central system can decide to start the heating earlier. In the case of the external system, the heating season is regulated and usually lasts from October to April.
Although it doesn’t get frosty in September, the possibility of turning the heat up on a chilly rainy day can be really tempting but is impossible. If the apartment is equipped with a dual function air conditioner/heater you can always use it to warm up, but… these units are standard in commercial and service premises, but not in residential ones.
Utilities are a very important aspect of an apartment rental. This monthly cost can significantly influence the total rental price, so it’s good to make sure you know what you’ll actually pay for.
Water, electricity, waste disposal, internet – these are the most common components of the utility charge. Additionally, it can include gas (e.g. in the case of the previously mentioned gas central heating, water heater, or a cooktop).
When choosing an apartment make sure who is responsible for signing the contract with the utility supplier. In Poland, as regards long-term rentals, this obligation often applies to the tenant. Without a doubt, however, it’ll be much more convenient if the landlord takes on this duty and you settle the accounts according to usage.
What about WiFi? If you work remotely or often contact your family and friends in another city or abroad, a fast and stable internet connection will be important as well. And who can imagine life without it anyway? In most places in Poland, fast internet isn’t a problem and there are several service providers to choose from.
Here, as much as with other utilities, it’ll be best if the contract is signed by the landlord. When owning or managing a number of apartments and concluding long-term agreements, he’ll be able to negotiate better prices than you could on your own. Connecting with the world is so important that efficient WiFi has become standard on the rental market. Demand it.
5. Waste management
Fun fact for the beginning: one of the typical Polish apartment features is a garbage can hidden in the cabinet under the sink. The recycling obligation made us put containers for glass or paper in other places, but in 99% of Polish households, you’ll find the general garbage can in this spot. Let’s talk more about waste. The waste collection cost is included in the utility charge.
Since 2020 recycling has been mandatory and enforced by the cities and local governments (yes, it hasn’t been long, but better late than never). Those who recycle correctly pay preferential collection fees and others must pay much higher charges. For example: in Katowice, the recyclables collection fee is about 26 PLN per person, and the unsorted waste collection costs over 53 PLN – twice as much. Waste can be pre-sorted in your apartment or directly in the garbage container at your apartment building.
Caution! If a single person in the entire building fails to comply with the recycling rules, the city can impose a fine and raise the fee for all the residents. It’s worth considering not only one’s own finances but also the whole community.
Okay, when you already know what you can expect from a typical Polish house, let’s talk about the location.
As everywhere, we have all types of houses, apartments, and buildings. To tell the truth, a lot of new buildings are being built right now. In a city like Katowice, you can find any type of rental property, starting from a small shared room, via a 3 bedroom apartment in a new building or in a hundred years old one, to a regular house with a garden and garage.
When checking the ads, you have to think about what you really want and need.
To make it easier, here we share some tips with you a few things we know from living in Katowice city center:
- many international companies are located in the central area of the city, so if you like walking, choose a flat in the city center so you can walk to work (and be more eco-friendly and fit);
- if you need a car, remember that in most old buildings there are no parking or there are the municipal parking that you need to pay for;
- city center is great if you don’t like cooking, there are restaurants all around, but remember that restaurants and clubs mean noise, especially in the weekend evenings (yes, drunk people don’t care about lowering their voices when going for a taxi or bus);
- when talking about buses and trams, they ride all the time, even at night and the city center is well connected so you’ll surely have one of these next to your windows (which is great to travel but not for sleeping)
- flat in the city center means higher price for a smaller space, the convenient location has its price
- lastly, remember that in old buildings there are (usually) no elevators and going up to the 4th floor might be a challenge
As we live and work in Katowice, we can best tell you about our Silesian real estate market. In larger and more popular cities, like Krakow, Warsaw, or Wroclaw, the prices may be much higher. But you’ll also have a larger choice.
The average prices are as follows:
- a room in a shared apartment – a small, but a cozy and renovated apartment in the city center costs about 800 PLN. Something bigger, around 1000 PLN. The lower standard room costs about 600 PLN. The prices include the utilities
- studio – 15-35 m2 (low standard) is 1100 PLN plus utilities; the higher standard cost 1500 PLN plus utilities. Finding a nice and renovated studio flat for under 1000 PLN will be very difficult
- a one-bedroom apartment – 30 m2 – 80 m2, starts at 1400 PLN, but the average is 2000 PLN, plus utilities. Usually, if the apartment is priced for 1500 PLN, you have to add to that not only utilities but also the administrative fee. The prices of higher standard and bigger properties may go up to 2800 PLN plus utilities.
- a 2-bedroom apartment would cost about 2500 PLN plus the utilities and oftenly plus the administrative fee, so the final price may be around 3000 PLN. If you leave the city center and don’t care about the standard that much, you may find something for about 2500 PLN. A large two-bedroom apartment, in the city center and freshly renovated, may reach even the price of 5000 PLN, including all the costs.
- a dormitory – this is also another option, especially for students. Old-style dormitories in Poland don’t have a good reputation. They are the most economic option, but also they offer a poor standard. Fortunately, the market situation is changing constantly. For example, in Katowice there is a brand new, private dormitory. If you rent an apartment only for the academic year, prices for the flats there start at 1300 PLN for a 15 sq. meter studio or 2000 PLN for a 25 sq. flat with a balcony.
As you see, the rates are similar to private apartments, but if you’re a community person, here you’ll have access to a large common space with a kitchen, cinema room, gym, study room, and many more.
8. Where to search?
There are two basic options: search on your own on the internet or ask the agency. But the Internet is the most convenient way to search for an apartment so we’ll focus on this. You have plenty of options, within different budgets. The most popular Polish rental platforms are olx.pl and otodom.pl.
Otodom is a national platform where you can find homes and apartments to both buy and rent. Usually, the offers are placed and promoted by rental agencies so you may expect a fee if you decide to rent an apartment there.
Read every ad carefully and if not mentioned there, ask the advertiser directly to be sure about the final cost.
On the other hand, olx is dedicated mostly to regular people who have their own apartments and want to rent them out. You might browse many different standard ads before you find something interesting, but this will also give you an idea about the average standard and pricing on the market.
Otodom and olx.pl are the most common, but not the only ones to search. Still, you can search on Gumtree and on the Facebook marketplace. If you are an Erasmus student, check out erasmusu.com.
The problem you may face is that most of the ads are in Polish, so you’ll have to use a translator. If you have any doubt, don’t stop asking. An honest landlord will answer all your questions.
Fun facts and other rental tips
We know searching for a flat is not easy and there’re a lot of different things to consider. At the end of the day, it will be your long-term place and you want to feel at home there, right?
If you’d like to know more about typical Polish apartment amenities (with some fun facts), check our blog post about renting a flat in the city center. There, you’ll also find some general information about what to consider when searching for a flat (not only in Poland).
We hope now, with our tips, you’ll easily find your perfect place. Happy living!