EDIT: Many thanks to “wildphelps” for sending in data from the wild west of Poland, Gorzów Wielkopolski to be precise. We have included this in an updated table now shown below. Figures are from Tesco, not Carrefour but should be broadly comparable.
We’ve had some requests to bring deep and meaningful economic news / analysis that will allow people to understand living costs in this beautiful country. We decided to ignore those requests and check some prices in Carrefour Express instead. In some cases, not mentioning Krakow, we didn’t even do that very well!
(click for larger image)
Now for the analysis part.
Let’s deal with the apartment rental first (at the bottom of the chart). Trying to compare prices for real estate in Poland is an exercise that will guarantee you a prolonged stay in the loony bin. There are so many variables and so little transparency that it is largely meaningless beyond saying it is probably more expensive in Warsaw and the big cities than it is in Pcim Dolny. Then again, there could very easily (genuinely) be a residential developer in Pcim Dolny who doesn’t understand basic economics and is pricing his/her luxury apartments well above market price, so who knows and who cares. The only factor common to all our test locations – Warsaw, Toruń & Krakow – is that they have an old town square so we looked at the cost of renting a place ON that square, the epicentre of cuteness. Understandably, Krakow comes out as the most expensive because it has by far the best square out of the three. Warsaw beats Toruń but not by much. Toruń also has a nice square, quite big and with a building in the middle like Krakow, which is more than can be said of Warsaw for obvious reasons. Of course nobody in their right mind would want to live in any of these old town square locations because the apartments are all small and old with smelly lobbies and no lifts. There’s nowhere to park, too many tourists and drunk stag party morons not to mention no shops, limited green areas and poor public transport. So I think we can safely say that this part of our exercise is largely pointless! [EDIT: apparently Toruń old town square does have shops and does not have stag party morons]
Moving on to the groceries now. We chose Carrefour Express because it is a mid-range shop we could all get to reasonably easily and being the same brand it must be reasonable to assume they share the same distribution channels and the purchasing power of the Carrefour system. As such, any differences in price are more likely to be deliberate adjustments for location rather than just the whim of the duty manager. In each city you can find cheaper shops and also more expensive ones.
Our assumptions about Carrefour policy carrying through all units tested might be borne out by the way Carrefour branded products are the same in every town. In our case this was the eggs and the batteries. There is also consistency on other ‘powerful’ and well advertised brands, the Danone yoghurt and Nestle flakes. Everything else shows differences.
If you bought one of everything on the list where we have comparable data for all three towns, the shopping basket would cost (in PLN):
- Warsaw – 55.39
- Krakow – 51.83
- Toruń – 47.46
Taking Warsaw as 100%, that makes Krakow 93.21% and Toruń 85.68%.
If you compare just two cities we can include more items and get a slightly different picture. Comparing Warsaw and Krakow the gap increases to nearly 10% with Krakow being 90.97% to Warsaw’s 100% (thanks to cheaper cheese in Krakow). If we compare Warsaw to Toruń we get a smaller gap (thanks to high Persil prices in Toruń), with Toruń coming in at 89.14%. Comparing Krakow to Toruń, with Krakow as 100%, Toruń is 91.92%.
There are some surprising differences, especially between Toruń and Warsaw. If you moved from Toruń to Warsaw and remained loyal to Carrefour Express you’d be paying;
- 57.31% more for your bananas
- 35.53% more for your kiełbasa
- 16.74% more for every tin of beer
- 15.38% more for a pack of sugar and
- 13.72% more for your toothpaste
As a generalsation then, based on only this evidence, we can say that Warsaw is the most expensive city. Not really a surprise. We can also suggest that Krakow is 7-10% and Toruń is 10-15% cheaper than Warsaw. It would be interesting to get data from other cities and countries so if you have a Carrefour close to you, get down there and send us the data!!!