Around 40% of Poles living outside the country work in the IT sector. More than half of them left Poland to explore. What made them stay abroad and what challenges do they face. A short report about Polish Tech Expats and characteristics of Polish diaspora.
Meeting Poles in different countries:
Thanks to my work experience and education, I’ve had the opportunity of meeting many Poles living outside the country and have been able to find out what made them move abroad in the first place. I have lots of experience abroad personally: Firstly, I studied in Germany. During my time at Google I visited Ireland quite often. I’ve also had a chance to visit other great places such as Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Amsterdam, London and Berlin which has allowed me to meet lots of interesting people. Many of them were from Poland and they were all very curious about the situation back home to try and understand what the future prospects are. What, you may ask, surprised me the most during these interactions? The openness and friendliness of people I’ve had a chance to speak with.
In 2018, there were around 2.5 million Polish residents temporarily living abroad, mostly in Germany (706,000), Great Britain (695,000), the Netherlands (123,000), and Ireland (113,000).
By the way, if you are a Pole currently living outside Poland feel free to join:
https://weareplug.in/ – it’s a great initiative connecting great people.
COVID-19 and networking:
I decided to act! I am a self-driven person and I do not have to wait for permission to go ahead with a good idea so I sent more than 200 invitations to Poles living abroad and working in the IT space. So far, I’ve had 40 compelling interviews and I’ve met fantastic people who were more than willing to share their stories and experiences.
I’ve had the opportunity to chat with people living in:
…and some other major cities.
Pros of living abroad:
Everyone has their own story and people decide to move abroad for many various reasons. Some of the expats I interviewed left Poland to work in a foreign country and decided to stay abroad later on. The other main reasons for people migrating abroad were to explore different countries, understand different cultures and make a life in a new, exciting local environment.
From my research, I’ve deduced that the most common factors for why Poles decide to stay abroad are:
- Their partner is from the local country – some people even have kids, bilingual beasts :)
- Better job offers (compared to what they were offered in Poland).
- Higher potential salaries than in Poland.
- Better cultural fit – greater diversity of cultures and a society that fits their characters more.
- Gaining a new perspective – as you shift to a new culture and surround yourself with a new source of information, your point of view may change as well.
- More possibilities in terms of education (local universities).
The following diagram shows the main motives behind Poles moving abroad.
Cons of living abroad:
But not everything that glitters is gold – living outside of Poland comes along with some harsh challenges.
- Cost of living vs quality of living: Even if you earn far more in London, you can still get a better quality of life (apartments, space, access to the sea, etc.) in cities like Gdańsk for half the salary in the UK.
- Local assimilation – in areas such as Scandinavia, people are smiling and friendly but don’t form new friendships easily. Some of the people I’ve interviewed said that even if you speak the local language and stay a few years in the country, you are still perceived as a stranger.
- Missing family – no explanation needed.
- For some people, it is mentally difficult to return to Poland after a few years abroad. They miss some pieces of the culture, yet they are the citizens of the world and never again feel that they completely fit in with the culture of their homeland.
- Some people feel a bit lonely as they don’t truly belong to the new society and are perceived as immigrants (some people don’t mind, some do).
Being an IT Expat from Poland:
People working in some industries, IT included, can work from any place in the world and COVID-19 will strengthen this trend. Living in Madrid, Oslo, or Berlin, but working for a company located in London is not a problem in 2020. The possibilities are endless and regardless, you can always come back to Poland and visit your mum for a “schabowy” :)
Traveling and exploring new countries is always exciting – making the decision to move and stay abroad is a whole new story. Facing multiple challenges and adjusting to a new culture may sound rewarding but it’s not always easy. Variables such as your family status, financial position, ability to adapt, or even having a good support circle can and will make a crucial difference.
All in all, it is definitely worth trying.