101 Reasons I Love Being an Expat in Poland

101 Reasons

The other day I made the following post on Facebook:

Reason 101 I want to live in Poland for as long as possible: This afternoon’s hour-long couples massage, with tip, cost less than $40 total. I never want to leave.

Well, that got me thinking. Do I really have 101 reasons why I love living in Poland? The longer I considered it, the more I realized that I probably do. In no particular order:

  1. Szczecin is literally the greenest city in Poland. There are parks everywhere, including the one across the street from our house.
  2. I live on a cobble stone street. Pinch me.
  3. I have a cherry tree in my yard! Cherry tree
  4. And today I found grapes. I had zero clue that the leaves on the vines were grape leaves.
  5. So many flowers that I’ve never seen before.
  6. But don’t go thinking that I have a green thumb. Nope. I have a gardener. It’s ridiculously affordable.
  7. The gardener is even more affordable than the housekeeper.
  8. Molly loves the housekeeper. I think my dog knows more Polish that I do.
  9. Seriously, the cost of living makes me consider retiring here.
  10. Vodka.
  11. Bison Grass Vodka.
  12. Bison Grass Vodka with apple juice tastes like a warm apple pie.
  13. Wisniowa made from the cherries in my yard.
  14. Fruit trees are all over the city.
  15. Dogs are everywhere and most places including hotels and restaurants are pet friendly.
  16. No one talks to or touches your pet without permission. Molly loves that. She’s been much better behaved here.
  17. We lead a healthier lifestyle here — more walking, less fast food, more time together. Our work-life balance is better; no more blood pressure medicine.
  18. The exchange rate. Earning on the dollar and spending on the zloty has been VERY favorable.
  19. Large purchases/luxury items have a 23% VAT which we get back each quarter. It’s like the entire country is on sale.
  20. My culinary skills have improved. I now make chicken stock, cakes, frosting, and coffee creamer from scratch.
  21. Seven in the evening is the popular dog walking hour. Seeing her doggie friends makes Molly happy and that makes us happy.
  22. EU treats, especially stroopwafels  20160803_191223
  23. Sunny but mild summers. I’ve not missed the lack of air conditioning.
  24. Our move was made easier because many rental homes/apartments come partially furnished.
  25. The realtor is your point of contact through your entire lease. Our realtor helped us set up all of our utilities, found some strong people to help us move furniture, and helped explain what to expect on national holidays regarding stores and public transportation.
  26. Holiday traditions hold deep meaning.
  27. Christmas feels much less commercial than back home.
  28. Technology (Skype, MagicJack, Whatsapp) has made staying connected to friends and family very easy. Aside from the timezone issue, it’s no different from living states away.
  29. Lody! Poland is an ice cream lovers dream.
  30. Super fresh produce
  31. Fresh baked goods (breads, cakes, and donuts) on every corner
  32. Fewer preservatives and salt in prepared food
  33. There’s a rotisserie chicken stand in each neighborhood. It’s the best chicken ever.
  34. Low cost carrier airlines. Chris and I flew roundtrip to Dublin for less than $50 total.
  35. History is everywhere.
  36. I live in a city with a castle!
  37. One of the most beautiful castles in Poland is not that far away.
  38. The Crooked Forest is even closer.
  39. Recycling is common and easy. We have yellow bags for plastic and aluminum, blue bags for paper, and green bags for glass.
  40. I walk 100 yards to the market where I can buy everything from pajamas to bigos, the national dish of Poland.
  41. State of the art dental care
  42. Traffic circles are better than traffic lights.
  43. Fantastic public transportation. I live within 200 yards of five different tram routes.
  44. Molly can ride the tram with us.  Pet friendly tram ride in Szczecin
  45. Festivals, especially Tall Ships and Pyromagic
  46. Festival food. Those cone-shaped donuts filled with ice cream that have made their way onto your Facebook feed are a local festival favorite.
  47. New Years fireworks
  48. Public art
  49. Driving takes more concentration. I’ve become a much better driver.
  50. Gasoline is much less expensive than I had expected. After conversion from liters and zloty, it’s about $4 per gallon.
  51. Even so, we rarely drive our car. We haven’t filled the gas tank in two months.
  52. Service station food (sandwiches, pastry, hot dogs, coffee…) is oddly delicious.
  53. Chris can walk to work.
  54. His work schedule is finally consistent enough that he has enrolled in graduate school.
  55. Our house has a sauna.
  56. Pierogi
  57. No unexpected guests — most houses, including ours, are fenced and visitors must be buzzed in.
  58. Oktoberfest. It’s not typically Polish, but we only live ten miles from the German border. I celebrate with a dirndl and all.  Oktoberfest ticket
  59. Long summers. It’s daylight from 5:30 AM – 9:30 PM
  60. You can go to the beach and have one foot in Poland and one foot in Germany.
  61. Unlocked cell phones. Just switch the SIM card when traveling.
  62. Doner Kebab
  63. Poland borders seven countries. Roadtrip!
  64. People willingly give up their seat on the tram and bus for the elderly.
  65. Traffic lights are honored. Jaywalking is almost unheard of.
  66. Bike paths are everywhere.
  67. Don’t have a bike? Rental bikes are stationed all over the city.
  68. Restaurant reservations guarantee that you have a table for the entire night. There is no rush to leave, in fact you have to ask for the check.
  69. I plan to take my Volvo on the ferry to Sweden so that she can visit her homeland.
  70. Fresh eggs
  71. Pasztecik. It’s local to Szczecin and highly addictive.
  72. The international community. I’ve made friends with people from: Poland, Germany, Estonia, Latvia, England, Spain, Denmark, and Sweden.
  73. It’s a small world. An american family in our neighborhood lived in Spartanburg, SC at the same time I was working at Spartanburg Methodist College.
  74. The American community throws great parties. We gave our British friends a reason to love Thanksgiving.
  75. Tickets for the movie theatre are reserved online and include an option for VIP seating. No lines.
  76. Rouladens will be installed on the windows of our house in the states.
  77. Polish Pottery
  78. Road trips to Boleslawic for Polish Pottery
  79. Polish nationalism is contagious. I now wear white and red with a sense of pride.
  80. I’ve found cleaning products that make cleaning glass bakeware a synch. I’ll be shipping cases of it home.
  81. The best muesli. That will be shipped home as well.
  82. More yogurt choices than I know what to do with.
  83. Baltic Sea
  84. Tatra Mountains
  85. Oscypek — sheep’s milk cheese
  86. Parking decks have lights to indicate if a space is open, occupied, or handicapped. Simply brilliant.  Parking deck lights, Galaxy Mall, Szczecin
  87. WiFi debit cards are convenient. (Have those made it to the states yet?)
  88. A month of groceries costs about the same as a weeks worth of groceries back home.
  89. No junk mail
  90. We’ve escaped most of the presidential election ugliness from the US.
  91. Registering to vote absentee was very easy.
  92. Living without cable has proven to me that I can cut the cord when we go back home.
  93. Taxis are readily available and super affordable.
  94. Polish Folk art is beautiful.
  95. The grocery store delivers. I didn’t have that luxury in Kentucky or Ohio.
  96. Filling a prescription is the easiest thing ever. Go to any Apteka and get what you need. No looking up records or searching for insurance. Just pay and go.
  97. Outdoor dining
  98. Manicure kiosks everywhere.
  99. Food court restaurants serve meals on real plates. No plastic plates or utensils.
  100. The views — rivers, mountains, grassy fields, historic buildings. I just can’t stop taking pictures.
  101. Hour-long couples massage, with tip, cost less than $40 total.

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