Europe and the Cost of Living: Poland | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 12.02.2008
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Europe and the Cost of Living: Poland

As fears of a recession circle the globe, DW-WORLD.DE asked people from seven European countries about their impressions of the cost of living. The series continues in Poland.

The statue of 'The Mermaid', emblem of the city of Warsaw, at the Warsaw Old Town Market Square

Warsaw's old town can be expensive

Klara lives in the old town in Warsaw. She said she is lucky because she lives in an apartment owned by her father, so she avoids paying a mortgage or rent. It's a 38 square-meter (409 square-foot) studio apartment in one of the city's most expensive neighborhoods.

Klara lives a short walk to the center of the city and a 15-minute walk to the subway station. She works as the chief editor of a supplement to a national newspaper.

Monthly income: 8,000 zloty (2,210 euros, $3,264)

Rent: 360 zloty in management fees (100 euros, $147)

Monthly utilities: 150 zloty (41.45 euros, $61.20)

Bus / metro ticket: 2.40 zloty (0.66 euros, $0.97)

One liter milk: 2.80 zloty (0.77 euros, $1.14)

Loaf of bread: 3.00 zloty (0.83 euro, $1.22)

One kilogram sugar: 1.50 zloty (0.41 euros, $0.61)

Domestic stamp: 1.80 zloty (0.50 euros, $0.73)

Movie ticket: 22 zloty (6.00 euros, $8.97)

Have you noticed that things have become more expensive recently?

I have on some products, but I'm not the kind of consumer who would really feel this. It would not affect me that much. I can tell that things have become more expensive overall, but not too much; it's just the normal kind of inflation process for most products.

It's hard for me to tell because I often have the impression that they randomly make some products more expensive in small shops, the kind of shops where I go. If a product sells well, for example, and that's because they know that the people who live here are tied to them so they can afford to lift prices sometimes. I buy sardines very often and I can see they are popular in this particular shop because they have more and more kinds, and they're more expensive in a very obvious way. So we're talking about a store that can afford to manipulate prices because they're the only one around here -- and it's difficult to set up a shop in the old town.

How easy is it for you to get by?

I earn a rather high wage so I certainly don't struggle. But I'm also lucky because I own an apartment and don't have to pay a mortgage. I think most people who are in my income bracket with a steady job will very often be burdened by a mortgage, which might mean they sometimes have problems. I'm lucky enough to have this apartment that was given to me by my dad. I earn well and I have a rather wealthy family. I might not be the most representative consumer.

What about for most people in Poland is it easy for them to get by financially?

It depends. People I know from work who are journalists will probably earn around 6,000 zloty (1,658 euros, $2,447) per month before taxes, and if they have a mortgage, like most of them do, then sometimes they will struggle. But they don't struggle to the extent where they can't afford to go out and have something to eat in town once a month or have a few drinks. Generally I don't see them as being handicapped in their leisure time or social life. Of course, they cannot afford to go out every night and have meals in restaurants all the time.

What's your opinion on the European economy?

I'm worried that the finance market crash in the United States will somehow affect the European economy, especially the British economy since it's a bit more tied up and similar to the American economy. I'm afraid that England might take a hit and if England takes a hit then other countries are just as likely to be somehow affected by that.

I'm not sure how Poland would react, but the interdependence is so complex that that's my main worry.

For the European economy in general, whatever happens, we will always suffer from everything else that happens in the world. That's not big news. But for me one of the key problems is the lack of workers' mobility between countries. That's really something that puts us behind emerging economies like India and China and the United States, obviously, the fact that we don't move enough.

In saying that, I know how many Poles have moved to England recently and I know what kind of effect it has on the British and the Polish economies, how positive overall this is. I'm sure that there will be people in Britain who might not be happy about having this flood of immigrants going there, but I think that it gave a boost to the British economy.

It gave a boost to the Polish economy, because, first of all, the unemployment rate fell and, secondly, because people often send money back home. When they come back those people would have benefitted enormously, because just being in another culture, to see the know-how, they would have learnt the language, they might have established economic ties with Britain. I think that if there were more movements like that within Europe it would certainly benefit everybody.

Nb. Currency conversion based on 1 zloty = 0.27 euros and $0.40 US

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