Warsaw City Profile

Though Warsaw may be an old, historically important capital city, it doesn’t possess the time-honored charm of its other Eastern European counterparts.

Hitler’s army leveled all of the buildings that would have allowed Warsaw to claim its share of architectural wonders. Even the Old Town Square in Warsaw is a reconstruction from the ruins of the original.

In this city of 2.4 million people, Western commercial influence is recent and rampant. If you can get beyond the tacky, commercial, and grim architecture, Warsaw is actually a bustling and lively metropolis. There are plenty of bars and restaurants offering international cuisine or fast food, but don’t expect either the level of quality in food or service that you would get in the West.

Residents of Warsaw do the majority of their socializing in their own homes. This holds true even for most expatriates. Rising costs in Warsaw have had an impact on residents. High prices have created a “nouveau-riche” Warsaw society that frequents the flashy establishments, which most Poles and expatriates can’t afford. You will, however, find many people in Warsaw frequenting the numerous theatrical, music, and arts festivals that take over the city every year. The annual jazz festival and the Chopin festival are just a couple of examples.

A large university keeps the city feeling young. And there is a great deal of international trade going on in Poland’s capital. This can bring with it changes that can be seen as both positive or negative. The changes have brought some of the finer things in life to the shops of Warsaw, but it is very much a city of business. Because of all the international trade and diplomatic activity, Warsaw’s expatriate crowd tends to be a little older and more sophisticated.

Conveniently, Warsaw is located in the central region of Poland’s great plain. It’s easy to travel to and from by train or air. Consequently, it’s fast becoming a major transportation hub for all of Eastern Europe, which makes it a good home base for the adventurous expatriate. A train ride west will take you to Berlin, while a train to the east will eventually arrive in the Ukraine or the Baltic states. The climate tends to be a little more severe in its hot and cold extremes but good planning can keep you comfortable.

In the words of one of Warsaw’s veteran expatriates, “Warsaw is a great city to live in, but you wouldn’t want to visit.”

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