Where should I look for a new apartment or house? Which part of the city is right for me? These are among the first questions when someone plans to move to a new city.
In online discussions expats ask these questions frequently. And they usually get a lot of answers. Fellow community members mention lists of districts or even street names. Many times, however, they ignore one important aspect. airport accessibility.
We’ll come to that in a moment. First let me state one thing clearly: there is no such thing as a perfect location for anybody. Everybody has their own preferences. Some love to live in a green suburb, mainly because of the space it offers and closeness to nature. Should you choose to have pets, you know that having nature around you can make all the difference.
Others want to live near their workplace. For many in Warsaw that means living in the south of the city, nearer to the infamous “Mordor” area. Mordor is the nickname of the Mokotów district. It boasts office space for 1.3 million people, but car parking for only a tiny fraction of them. Every morning and evening all hell breaks loose when stressed workers are fighting to catch one of the precious spots.
Again others like to be in the heart of the city. In Stare Miasto (old town) or Centrum, where cafes and restaurants, shops and services are all within short walking distance.
But here is a point that most expats want to take into consideration, for obvious reasons: The distance to the airport.
Most expats travel far more than the average Polish citizen. If you’re someone who regularly has to travel for business, you’ll be looking for a location that’s well connected with the airport.
The same is true if you simply plan to visit your home country regularly or have a second home in another place.
What does distance to the airport actually mean? A location that’s geographically closer might still be further away in terms of travel time. You want to check the drive time to the airport, but don’t forget about taking into account rush hour traffic jams. Google maps help to determine the estimated drive time. You’re even able to set different departure times or weekdays, to simulate different traffic situations.
Alternatively, you might want to look for public transport connections. Maybe because it’s cheaper than a taxi, and because you don’t want to leave your car at the airport. Then the distance to the next airport train station becomes a major criterion. Could you walk?
Thing is, in Warsaw, there are actually two airports. And they couldn’t be further apart from each other. 10 years ago only Frederic Chopin Airport played a serious role for international travelers. But today you can’t ignore Modlin, Warsaw’s second airport anymore. Each year the number of flights budget airlines offer increases and their network gets denser and denser.
I find myself flying out of Modlin more often than out of Frederic Chopin Airport nowadays. And it looks like this will even increase in the future. So Modlin definitely is an airport that you need to take into consideration when choosing a place to live in Warsaw.
Modlin is much further from the center than Frederic Chopin Airport (Okęcie). Therefore now locations in the north and north-east of the city are slowly gaining in popularity. Bielany and Białołęka are in similar driving distance to Chopin and Modlin airports. Białołęka has the upper hand, when you consider public transport, because it’s crossed by the train line that serves both airports.
So if you’re planning to switch between a car or the airport train, focus on the train line between Modlin and Chopin airports. Choosing a location close to the stations on that train line are going to make it so much easier to reach the airports.
Here are the stations on that train line:
Lotnisko Chopina – Służewiec – Żwirki i Wigury – Rakowiec – Al. Jerożolimskie – Zachodnia – Centralna – Wschodnia – Toruńska -Płudy – Legionowo – Legionowo Przystanek – Chotomów – Nowy Dwór Mazowieckie – Modlin
Alternatively, if you’re a real city dweller, you will want to find an apartment as close to the city center as possible. You want to have bars and cafes right at your doorstep, and can do without a garden or the additional space a house offers. In that case look for a location near the central railway station. This is a bit further away from Modlin, but the difference is only about 20 minutes on train.
Anything further south becomes problematic. You’ll be quicker at Frederic Chopin airport, but the drive time to Modlin will increase considerably. Not only because the distance increases, but also because you then need to cross the city center with its traffic jams. And if you intend to take the train, you need to add the additional waiting time in Warsaw Central station.
But all of that plays no role if you found a place you really love, and where you feel right at home. We wish you the best of luck with your search!