Home » Poland » David And Joan Piekarczyk, Poznan, Poland

David And Joan Piekarczyk, Poznan, Poland

Who are you? 

David and Joan Piekarczyk.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

We moved to Poznan in August 2007. We moved to Poland for two reasons. In September of 2002, I decided to start putting my loose collection of family photographs in order and then to scan them onto CD for safe keeping. As I started looking at all the old photographs that my mother left when she died, I began wondering who those people were and how they related to my family. Some of them I knew, but many I did not, so I started investigating. My mother told me that my grandfather had come from Golina and my grandmother from Lodz or Krakow. As I later learned, my grandmother actually came from Grodzieć. 

What challenges did you face during the move?

The challenges were many before and after. We started planning and gathering all the documents we would need one year before we came to Poland. You can find the needed documents at any Polish Embassy website in America. The biggest challenge after we arrived was finding a competent government worker who spoke English. It is much easier now, 17 years later. 

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Did you need to obtain a visa, residency permit or work permit? What was the process like?

We applied for a temporary resident permit for the first two years. After that, I was given a permanent resident permit because of my blood connection to Poland. My wife had to renew her temporary permit twice and then applied for a permanent one. She had no blood ties to Poland.

How does the cost of living compare with your previous country?

The cost of living is lower for things such as food and entertainment, and definitely much lower for national health insurance. The cost of rent is comparable but electronics, clothing, electricity, water, heating, and gasolene are much higher.

Is it easy to open and use an account with a local bank?

We opened a CitiBank account before we left the U.S. Here we use Citihandlowy, the Polish version. If you are retired, you can set up an electronic payment with SS. Your payments will be taxed as income. There is no dual taxation agreement with Poland.

How did you find somewhere to live?

We found our first flat through advertisements. The second and forth flat with the help of friends established here. The third was through a local realtor.

Are there many other expats in your area?

There may be other expats in Poznan but we have only met one.

What is your relationship like with the locals?

Our relationship with locals is excellent.

What do you like about life where you are?

Our small SS payments have allowed us to travel to many surrounding countries and buy whatever we need. It would not be enough to live on in the U.S.

What do you dislike about your expat life.

The negative attitude of older people, the sun in winter, and governmental interference.

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

The biggest cultural difference is the language. It is NOT easy to learn.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

Be well prepared. Start one year before you move. Come for a visit and find the area you want to live in. Take a serious course in the Polish language for basic speaking and use it before you come.

What are your plans for the future? 

Our plan for the future has changed because my wife is ill. She has dementia and I am slowly losing her, so there is no plan other than caring for her.

‘Find the cost of freedom, buried in the ground. Mother Earth will swallow you, lay your body down…’

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

‘Znajdź koszt wolności, zakopany w ziemi. Matka Ziemia cię pochłonie, połóż swoje ciało…’

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

To find out more about David and Joan’s life in Poland check out David’s blog.