Polish property prices continue to fall

One of the considerations my wife and I discussed is whether or not to buy property in Poland when we arrived. When we visited Poland two years ago, we poked around on international real estate sites looking at properties (a derivative of our HGTV obsession) and noticed something interesting – a 2 bedroom flat in the historic district of a major city might cost you $150,000 to buy, but you could rent one for $500, cheaper than a mortgage payment! You’re not paying HOA fees or maintenance, either. How could you justify buying in this market? How does this happen?

Let’s take a step back. After the fall of communism in Poland, the government essentially just gave people the properties where they were living. There was a period of free for all where some people who didn’t understand the value of property sold their flats or houses for next to nothing, but people soon adopted the prevailing notion that real estate is an investment, and prices shot through the roof. Now, Polish people don’t actually make that much money, so no one could afford to pay rent to live in any of these places at comparable rates, so the only sales that occurred were to delusional foreigners or through odd bartering systems between Polish people who were trading equally overpriced property.

It looks like over the past few years, though, prices have started coming back down. People who actually want to sell their property can no longer rely on foreigners coming in flush with cash after the worldwide recession. Owners who want to sell brought their sale prices in line with the rental markets and got competitive. It still isn’t there yet; I expect a lot of the older generation will have to die and leave the properties to children who less remember communism and have less ties to the idea of owning the property. For now, my wife and I intend to be renters, but we’ll keep an eye out for any bargains out there.

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Wolin Viking and Slavs Festival

Every year, thousands of people from all over the Baltic region flock to an island in northwest Poland called Wolin to attend the festival of Vikings and Slavs. It’s essentially a big renaissance fair, but with a Viking flair. I just might have to move our time table to make it for this year’s celebration. Maybe I’ll even score an outfit and take part in the battle.

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February 5, 2013 · 12:57 am

Escaping to Poland (link)

It seems like more and more folks out there are looking for options that don’t include maintaining a presence in the USofA. Everyone has a different reason, it seems, but the key point is that everyone HAS a reason. Sure, there are the die hard patriots out there who wave the red, white, and blue, cook burgers and hot dogs on the 4th, and watch football religiously on Sundays after church, but the numbers of disillusioned are growing.

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February 1, 2013 · 9:38 am

How to start a blog

Mr. Money Mustache is a great resource for anyone looking to prepare a solid budget or learn to live on less, but he recently posted this very useful summary of how to start your own blog. There are some great pointers, though I wish he had put it out a few weeks ago before I decided to kick off this one! Check him out; you won’t be disappointed.

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Oh Canada…

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So the wife and I decided to pack up the kids and take a little trip across the border to America’s hat. We were meeting up with some friends of mutual friends for a get together, some of which we hadn’t met before. This, apparently, set off some red flags in the minds of the border patrol agents; my story of a fun adventure to meet people in person I knew only casually otherwise sounded a lot like a possible terrorism suspect transporting guns/drugs/money across the border. I was in for a long, ridiculously polite interrogation.

First off, understand that I had been driving for 12 hours through the night (prime time for baby transport) so my mental filter was set to “open”. Are you a gun owner, sir? Why yes, Mr. Canadian, what self-respecting American isn’t? Any scary black rifles with armor piercing incendiary fragmenting laser-guided bullets in a 500 round clip? Of course!

The next series of questions definitely turned some heads, and cemented their curiosity.

Agent: So, what brings you to Canada?
Me: I’m visiting a friend.
Agent: How did you know this friend?
Me: I met him on the internet. We’re members of a discussion group.
Agent: An online discussion group? What do you talk about?
Me: Oh, this and that. Mostly politics.

And then came the question that finally woke me:

Agent: Do you have any trap doors or secret compartments in your vehicle?
Me: Uhh… what?
Agent: It’s okay if you do! There are a lot of reasons why some people [like you] would want to avoid traditional institutions like banks and have alternative means to keep valuables safe.

At this moment, I realized that I wasn’t just a married father of two crossing a friendly border any more. No, it appears that Canada has significant concerns:  “some people” crossing their southern border smuggling in weapons and drugs. Now, where have I heard that before? And why does Mr. Canadian think I could be one of these fine individuals? Was it my mountain man appearance, or do Canadians think American gun owners are potential terrorists? Perhaps they were doing their best to be impartial, like our TSA.

Meanwhile, Ms. Canadian border agent was furiously jotting down notes which I can only imagine determined my ultimate fate and looked something like this:

Pros

  • White
  • Traveling with wife and children
  • Driving a ridiculously boring vehicle
  • Purports to be visiting a friend’s ski cabin for vacation

Cons

  • A little TOO white
  • Traveling with a convenient cover
  • Driving a vehicle with plenty of space to hide guns/drugs/money
  • Member of some kind of political “discussion group” joining people he met on the internet in a cabin in the woods, probably in order to plan the assassination of a Canadian politician that no American cares about, but by god needs to be protected.*

In any case, it was the most polite harassment I have ever undergone, at least as polite as being asked 12 times if I was sure I wasn’t smuggling weapons can be. And we only got in to our destination a few hours late. I also had a serious burst of Canadian traffic on my blog, as Ms. Canadian claimed to be technologically retarded (and judging by her computer use, she was telling the truth) and also claimed not to know what a blog even was, so I showed her mine. I’m pretty sure she kicked it around the office, so maybe the CBSA learned something about international travel beyond their border.

 

*No Canadian politician was harmed or threatened harm in the course of our trip, unless you count general admonitions of Harper’s terrible government by drunk Canadians as harmful.

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Why med school?

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Polish medical degrees are transferable to the United States. Not a lot of people know that.

So why med school? From everything we’ve been hearing, it’s a bad time to be a doctor, and a worse time to go to school. According to the British Medical Journal, doctor satisfaction is at an all-time low; half of doctors say they wouldn’t even get into medicine again, starting over, down from 69% just a YEAR ago. That could just be some political grandstanding, but the reasons cited are specific to the increases in paperwork and the corresponding limits placed on actual patient interaction that drives dissatisfaction.

To make matters worse, even their salaries are falling, in some specialties by 10%. That’s especially troubling when you consider the fact that American medical schools can cost upwards of half a million dollars when all is said and done. Doctors in some states might not even make much more than high school teachers. It’s hard to look at those numbers and see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Med school is notoriously difficult. Law students like to think they have it rough, but they need three years of education, whereas med students are in for four years and a residency (3-7) and possibly a fellowship (1-4) and all of those years are likely going to require 80+ hour weeks of reading, studying, and preparing for exams and clinicals. So, why med school?

Poland

As I covered in my previous post about Poland, the two biggest draws are the fact that my wife’s family lives there, so we will have a lot of local support, and med school is far cheaper there than in the US. I will not face the massive student loan anchor that most American students do. If the kiddos get a little crazy, and the wife and I need a break, we will have aunts and uncles to watch them for a breather. That is my fortunate reality, and it is huge.

Finances

Debt aside, doctors still make pretty decent money. My family and I will be pretty much set for life once I get the ball rolling with my career. I have a few connections to physicians and hospitals in the States if I come back here for internships or residency, so I’m not worried about fighting for unwanted spots that don’t get me the benefits I want. It’s a good gig.

STEM

I love science and math. Sometimes it aggravates me to no end, and there have been times in discussions or debates where I want to throw books/objects or commit felonious assault to random strangers who don’t seem to get it, but overall, it’s my passion. I’ve tried a number of different jobs in the STEM fields, but none of them fully caught my attention. I have been working in the medical field in a part time capacity while exploring other options, and I’m now jumping in with both feet.

Status

What can I say? It feels good to feel important. I don’t plan on being one of those asshole doctors who parks a car he can barely afford in the handicapped space just to show everyone that he’s in charge, but I’d like people to know my name instead of being, “Hey you!” I also don’t mind steak dinners, decent wine, and traveling to interesting places, so it all ties in rather nicely.

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Learning the Polish language

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There’s a great little summary of some language help resources over at Roosh’s new site, Return of Kings, tailored specifically for the Polish language. If you are unfamiliar with Roosh, he’s an international traveler known best for his guides on how to attract women in the various countries he has visited. His new project is a cooperative effort focused heavily on self-improvement and men’s issues. If you get the chance, take a look at what he has to say. Some of it can be shocking, and most of it is politically incorrect, but you can’t clean the house without getting a little dirty!

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