Could I Live Here? Warsaw Edition

There’s something awesome about going to a city with little to no expectations and having the few expectations you do have be wrong. Warsaw was way more upscale than I expected, but is it a place I’d like to live? Here is how Warsaw ranks in some major quality of life categories.

Safety

Having been in town a few days, Warsaw seems like relatively safe place. Whether you’re in touristy Old Town or modern-day downtown, there aren’t excessively unsafe neighborhoods that are unlivable. As far as I can tell, the biggest threat to safety in Warsaw are the spiders that lurk in buildings, parks, and other open areas. I’m not particularly scared of spiders but having one crawl up my shoulder is not a pleasant experience.

Atmosphere

Central Warsaw
There’s something about Warsaw that I like but don’t love. For a city I barely expected to have tourism at all, if you walk through Old Town, New Town, or any of the main historic thoroughfares, expect to run into a minimum of 10 tour groups, about a third of them consisting of children. No matter how cute a place is, that excessive tourism kind of kills my desire to live somewhere. The “real” part of Warsaw where locals live, work, and play is actually very nice. But at the end of the day, it’s just a major city. I don’t find anything particularly captivating about it. Some of the old buildings of the Jewish ghetto have a lot of character, making the city beautiful in a tragic kind of way. But the city sprawls in a way that makes me feel like a car would be useful here. It’s not that it’s unfriendly to pedestrians, it just feels a little like walking in downtown Los Angeles.

People

I have to admit, I don’t love the people of Warsaw. Maybe it’s the severe language barrier you might encounter here, but people don’t strike me as friendly. Everyone also looks about 10 years older than they actually are, making me think this is kind of a harsh place to live. Yesterday we had dinner at a place where the waitress looked half dead. I’m not saying I need a line of dancers to wait on me at restaurants, but a smile would be nice. There’s a pretty high ratio of people that look undead in this city, which is a little off-putting.
The escalators at the Złote Tarasy mall are a work of art.
The escalators at the Złote Tarasy mall are a work of art.

Food

When it comes to food, Warsaw is outstanding. We’ve had everything from sushi to Polish sausage, and all of it has been top-notch. You can pretty much find anything you’re craving no matter how foreign and it will be a quarter of the price of that same meal at home. For that, Warsaw gets high marks. I could definitely live any place that feeds me well.

Cost

I can’t rave enough about how cheap everything is here. Really nice apartments will run you about $400-500 a month. And you can eat and enjoy life for next to nothing. Do Widzenia, $12 cocktails! I can get good and drunk in Warsaw for half that, including dinner. Hands down, this is one of the most modern, clean cities where you can live on a few bucks a day.

Total Livability Score 6/10

If this was based on food and cost of living alone, I would have already signed a lease. But I’m looking for a friendlier, livelier atmosphere than Warsaw can offer. Maybe Krakow!

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