Sunday, August 21, 2016


My work is going to increase in the following months so my posts will be more sparse in the upcoming weeks. It is a pity, I have lots of ideas running through my mind, but it requires time to write them down. Each time I write a post, I need to get information here and there, save pictures, organize thoughts and that requires time. And time is the most important resource for us all, because it tends to be more and more scarce, especially when you have a family.

So, today I am going to write about a Country I have recently visited: Poland.

I have been close to the Czech border of Poland: what struck my attention was that the roads, the squares were all tidy and clean. The woods, the lakes and the forests were wonderful.
Yet, many of the buildings were in a very poor state: the country is not rich, and this is reflected by the purchasing power of the local currency, the zloty. Living in Poland is extremely cheap for an European citizen.

At present, with one euro you buy 4.25 zloty.

But, if you try to withdraw zloty from an ATM in Poland, the currency they give you is one euro = 3.95 zloty! that is 7% less. Damn banks!

The main town in the region I visited is Wrocław, the fourth-largest city in Poland: in 2016, the city is  European Capital of Culture and World Book Capital.
The city is really worth to be visited, especially the wonderful Market Square: it is full of life, with children playing all around making soap bubbles, street artists everywhere and nice bars and restaurants overlooking the square, which is a pedestrian zone. No cars around.

There is a very well done site that lets you compare the cost of living between several towns in different countries. The site is Numbeo.

Keep in mind that the average Polish meal is far far better and more abundant  than the average Dutch meal (this is said by an Italian, and I am always complaining about the food outside Italy, not to mention the coffee!).
So, let's make a comparison between the cost of living in The Hague (Netherlands, close to where I live) and Wroclaw.

Indices Difference
Consumer Prices in Wroclaw are 47.35% lower than in Den Haag
Consumer Prices Including Rent in Wroclaw are 46.61% lower than in Den Haag
Rent Prices in Wroclaw are 44.54% lower than in Den Haag
Restaurant Prices in Wroclaw are 58.02% lower than in Den Haag
Groceries Prices in Wroclaw are 47.38% lower than in Den Haag
Local Purchasing Power in Wroclaw is 44.69% lower than in Den Haag

I know numbers are impersonal, but what you see here is interesting. Everything is cheaper, roughly 50% cheaper, nevertheless a Polish family father is 45% poorer than a Dutch family father, even if he lives in an European country so cheap like Poland.

The point is simple: the cost of living is a ratio between what you buy and what you earn. So, yes, things are inexpensive, but the salary must be far less that the Dutch salary.

It turns out that, after tax, a folk in Poland gets, on average, 730 € per month, less than one third of a Dutch's, which is 2472 €.

So, we can conclude that Wroclaw is cheap for a Dutch, and is expensive for a Polish.

I can't even imagine what would happen if Poland becomes part of the euro-zone. I think they would simply become a colony of Germany, given the current Polish economy, which is far too weak than the German one. House prices would skyrocket and people would fall into deep debt. Speaking with people in Poland (bartenders, hotel managers) it seems they understand that joining the euro-zone would be a bad deal for them.

In a future post, we will look inside the Polish macroeconomic data and demography.

But, before that, I leave you with a nice picture (it is not meant for vegetarians, sorry).

This hamburger "monstre" with fries and all sort of things horrible for your health but nice for your belly costed just a few euros.
So, yes in your read that

                                                          Den Haag         Wroclaw     Difference

Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant15.00 €
(64.64 zł)
4.64 €
(20.00 zł)
     -69.06 %

but it does not mean that you get the same quality and amount :-)

I told you that numbers are impersonal. Useful, but impersonal.

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