The oldest and second largest city in Poland, Krakow is home to over 1.5 million people in a territory of 1,023.21 square kilometers. Located on the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, it has traditionally been a leading center of intellectual, artistic, and cultural life, and is one the main economic hubs in Poland.
The vast majority of the population is native Poles, but there are also significant communities of Slovaks, Jews, Ukrainians, and Armenians. There is also a growing expatriate population, drawn to the city by its thriving economy and private sector.
Although Polish is the official language, many people also speak Yiddish, Hebrew, Slovakian, or Ukrainian. English is widely spoken fluently amongst the younger generations, and by many people working in the financial or economic center of the city.
Expatriates moving to Krakow will need to adjust to an Oceanic climate, characterized by temperate weather throughout the year. Krakow is one of the easternmost areas of Europe to have such a climate, and as near as 100km north east of the city the climate becomes Continental. Average summer temperatures range between 18 and 19.6 °C (64 and 67 °F), but it has been known to exceed 25 °C (77 °F) or even 30 °C (86 °F).
Krakow's proximity to the Tatra Mountains means that the city often experiences a halny blowing or foehn wind, which can cause temperatures to rise rapidly. This can occur even in winter, where although the average temperature ranges from −2.1 to 0 °C (28 to 32 °F), it can sometimes shoot up to as high as 20 °C (68 °F).
As Poland is a member of the European Union, EU/EEA citizens and Swiss nationals moving to Krakow will not need a visa, although they have to register with their local regional office. Non-EU citizens, however, will need a residence permit to stay for longer than the 90 days permitted by a tourist or short-term business visa.
Residence permits must be applied for before moving to Krakow through your local embassy or consulate and the local regional office in Krakow. As part of the application, expatriates will be required to provide evidence of a work permit (see our article on Working in Krakow), or demonstrate that they will be able to financially support themselves for the duration of their stay.
You may also be asked for proof of current residence and employment, and evidence that you will be able to return to your home country when the permit expires. Residence permits are usually valid for two years, and can be renewed for a further two years.