Buying Property in Poland
The Definitive Guide to
Buying Polish Property

About Polish Property

This is a preview to the chapter About Polish Property from the book Buying Property in Poland by Tim Hill.
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Every country has properties and real estate with their own characteristics and unusual features, and it’s well worth becoming acquainted with this to save time when viewing, during the purchase and once you take possession.

Here the look and feel of Polish houses, apartments, offices and land are covered while recommendations on what to buy and where are considered in Part Three: What and Where to Buy.

Period Properties and Purpose Built


In the West the stereotype is for period properties to be more desirable and expensive, concrete blocks the reserve of social housing and modern apartment complexes a practical and good value option.

Perhaps for this reason many journalists who visit Poland for a short period of time misreport and confuse the concrete blocks as ‘council flats’ because they compare them to what they know in their home country.

In Poland however the situation is stood on its head. At the end of the Second World War period properties were given over to the very poor. They were drafty, damp and had poor insulation. The construction of vast estates that was to follow was only for those who could afford them, council estates are almost unheard of.

The general population couldn’t wait to get into properties with double glazing, central heating and hot running water despite the high prices and so almost without exception the “grey, drab concrete blocks” you read about are owner occupied and thus well cared for, while neighbours in a period apartment house can be noisy, antisocial and difficult to live with.

Polish Houses


During the times of the Polish empire, and even the 125 years before the First World War when the Polish state did not exist, there was a large aristocracy that built country palaces. This elite also had residencies in major cities or towns but, similar to France, these were large lateral apartments rather than town houses. This means pre-war houses tend to fall into two types: very big (palaces) and normal (2—4 room wood built houses). There are some exceptions to this and in towns such as Zakopane, Sopot and Nałęców stunning examples of town houses and villas still exist but they are the exception rather than the norm.

After the Second World War brick built houses became more popular and led to a distinctive style during the sixties and seventies. In the last 25 years there has been exceptional growth in Polish wealth, which has allowed many to build their own property. Unlike a number of European countries there has been less pressure on land (until very recently), which has led to hundreds of thousands of new properties being constructed, mostly by the owner to their own specification although there is a certain style involved (see below). This new wealth has also allowed many Poles to purchase recreational land for summer and weekend use. Here they often build smaller houses not meant for the winter.
Polish houses can be divided into three categories:
  • Residential Houses
  • Recreational Houses
  • Mansion Houses

Residential Houses


Pre-war houses


The pre-war wood built house is usually a one-storey bungalow. It will have a kitchen with a wood or coal-burning stove that will also provide heat to the rest of the property. The windows are not truly double-glazed but are of a traditional construction. One window on the inside of the property opens inwards and one on the outside opens outwards, thus providing a form of double glazing. Some of these houses have been modernised to add internal bathrooms but most do not have this facility and so although they were once inhabited 12 months of the year many are now regarded as recreational houses suitable only for weekend and summer use (see below).

The Sixties and Seventies


After World War Two a growing middle class emerged in Poland and brick built houses became popular. These are generally constructed out of large ceramic bricks (for good insulation) and the outside is then plastered over and painted. Their layouts are broadly similar.

There is a lower ground floor which is half below ground level and usually has smaller windows than the first or raised ground floor. Here there are storage rooms, sometimes a garage and often a second ‘summer kitchen’. The lower ground floor then was, and is, used for drying meat, storing vegetables, pickling fruit and general storage as well as acting as a useful insulation level to the residential area above. In modern times this floor proved just as functional.

Many have their own external door and so have become offices for small businesses. On the raised ground floor are the reception room, main kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms. These may not be the most picturesque of houses but the majority are solid, well built and extremely practical while offering much better value for money than the modern stock.

Two family houses


The houses above often have a second and third storey. These can contain the expected bedrooms and bathrooms but many also have a kitchen on each floor. The reason is that a number of these houses were designed by their owners as 'Two or Three Family Houses'. This was a practical move often in preparation to provide separate space for sons or daughters (who married and had children of their own) while they were saving for their own house. Today they are equally useful as holiday lets or long term rentals. A 'Two Family House' can provide the foreign investor with the ability to buy a home and then rent part of it out thus ensuring someone is on site all year round while still giving them a separate holiday space whenever they want it.
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What else is in the chapter 'About Polish Property'?

The Eighties and Nineties

In the late 1970s and 1980s there was a property building boom fuelled by loans from Russia. In the 1990s and still continuing but driven by genuine wealth, the architectural ...

Recreational Houses

Often confused by foreign buyers because of their very low price, Polish recreational houses are built for holidays and weekends, not year round use. As such they are not usually insulated ...

Mansions and Palaces

As with almost all European countries Poland had a large and wealthy aristocracy who built palaces of all shapes and sizes from 10 to over 100 rooms. During socialist times ...

Apartments

As you would expect in a central European country that has had significant wealth in its past there are a large number of period apartments with plenty of features and ...

Post-War Apartments

On a practical note these apartments are usually located in blocks with a lower ground floor that is given over to storage. Every apartment has a cupboard on this level ...

Modern Apartments

The construction of modern blocks (the late 1980s onwards) is slightly different. Usually there is a basement garage level with either open plan parking or individual garages as well as ...

Polish Offices

Poland does have new and modern office space exactly as you would expect to find in Western European countries, albeit in short supply. Equally there is plenty to be found ...

Polish Land

There is currently a massive categorisation programme of land going on across Poland known as the Three Dimensional Spatial Plan. Each plot of land is being assigned a use, agricultural, ...

Agricultural Land

Polish agricultural land is famous for being highly fertile and producing an excellent crop yield. For this reason large amounts have already been purchased by British farmers keen to work ...

Land for Building

Plots for building are further subdivided into categories. There may be permission to build flats, family houses, two family houses, semidetached houses, terraced houses and so on. The permission granted ...

Recreational Land

Recreational land is a very European concept. This is land not for agricultural use but for people to enjoy during the summer and weekends as a place to relax. Plots ...

Industrial Land

Industrial land means land for commercial production, storage, warehousing, logistics and service provision. Each plot will have its own listing of what activities you are allowed to carry out there. ...

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