Polish neighbours
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My Polish neighbours

Unsurprisingly, I’ve never had Polish neighbours in any other country except Poland.

Recently, I’ve been wondering about my Polish neighbours in Gdańsk. I’ve been living in my current flat since February 2020.

DISCLAIMER: These observations do not apply to all Polish people (or neighbours) by any means. They’re just my observations and experiences. I wouldn’t like to tar all Poles with the same brush.


Are Poles neighbourly when you’re the new kid in town?

Frankly, I don’t think I ever met my immediate neighbours when I lived in apartment blocks in Łódź (18 months, 2012-13) and Płock (9 months, 2010-11). 

Whereas I worked full-time in schools and companies in those two-cities, I now work from home. Therefore, I’m used to seeing my immediate neighbours coming and going.

Before I share my experiences with my dear neighbours here in Gdańsk, let’s check out what founder of polonization.pl, Leah Morawiec, had to say about her experience when she first moved into a flat:

When I first moved into my current flat with my husband, I wanted to say hello and talk to the neighbors telling them who we were and that kind of thing. You know, neighbor stuff. And my husband said “nigdy w zyciu” and “oh, why don’t you just make them a cherry pie too?” So, yeah, don’t even think about it.

“Nigdy w życiu” – never in your life!

So, when I knocked on my two most immediate neighbours’ doors back in 2020, I ventured into uncharted “never in my life” territory.

Mr Cough

First door on the left – Mr Cough. So-called because his coughing can be heard through walls, several streets away, even on the other side of the city.

I don’t want to criticise Mr Cough too much. He always looks like he’s carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Goodness knows what he’s been through. He has a daughter Mr Cough and the daughter’s mother are not together. She turns up from time to time to scream at him.

Still, there are no excuses for his despicable don’t-love-thy-neighbour behaviour. One time, as my wife and I were locking up our flat, Mr Cough began to climb the stairs near the lift. No doubt he saw us in the mirror on the wall just outside our flat. Amazingly, he continued to climb the stairs to make sure he would avoid us altogether. Perhaps he ended up on the roof.

I must have seen Mr Cough twenty times around our estate. He pretended not to see me every single time. 

I don’t know Mr Cough’s name. 

But I bet he knows mine somehow. As Leah wrote:

A little distrust of your neighbours is healthy in Poland because somehow they know everything about you even though you’ve never told them.

Updating this post in April 2024, a fair bit has happened at the start of 2024. I put pressure on Mr Cough to change his ways a bit.

Count 1: The play sessions Mr Cough conducted with his daughter were frustratingly noisy.

Count 2: He hums. The smell from his flat spreads out into the corridor and beyond

Count 3: He slams the front door in the early hours of the morning

Moody Mariusz and The Masters of Avoidance

First door on the right, Moody Mariusz, as I now call him, opened the door and greeted me with a grunt and look of horror on his face. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: Hi! Nice to meet you. I’m your new neighbour 

Moody Mariusz: Yeah

Me: Well, just to introduce myself

Moody Mariusz: OK, do widzenia

Me: Yeah, all right mate. You’re a good one you are, ain’t ya? Bye


Some people are just shy and withdrawn. However, there are no excuses for not being able to adhere to “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”.

And all those half-hearted “Dzień Dobry” greetings he keeps mumbling when I see him might as well be “Get out of my sight”.

As for Moody Mariusz’s wife, she has mastered the art of pretending not to notice my wife and me when she walks past us on the street.

In March 2024, I approached Moody Mariusz when I saw him in the butcher’s. I asked him to stop closing the door in the corridor due to the smell emanating from Mr Cough’s flat. To my surprise, he was quite friendly and polite. He seemed to be keen on supporting me in my war against Mr Cough as well. 

It seems I’ve now got the trust of Moody Mariusz. He even greets me with a hearty “Hej” or “Cześć” instead of “Dzień Dobry”.

Mrs Suspicious and the initial friendliness which turned into indifference

In my first few days in our new flat, I ran into a lady who lives on the same floor as me, albeit right at the other end of the building.

She asked me whether we’d just moved in and told me I could count on her should we need any help.

Several days later, I knocked on her door to ask some questions regarding the building administration company. When she opened the door, she looked at me as if I were a complete stranger.

What happened? Good intentions soon turned into jealousy? Perhaps she found out I have two parking spaces and she has one or something because she was incredibly suspicious of me during this second little exchange of ours. 


Do Polish neighbours show any concern in times of trouble?

Back in October 2022, my flat flooded for reasons I’d rather not go into.

Being the responsible and thoughtful individual I am, I informed the people directly below me as well as Moody Mariusz’s wife. 

A day or two after informing the couple below me, the male half, who looks like a bulldog, completely blanked me on the street. 

Come on man! Where’s the empathy?

It’s gone beyond the joke. I’ve begun to wonder whether I’m living in a mental hospital.


My Polish neighbours – Ill-mannered but ok

Leah Morawiec wrote a cracking post about jealousy in Poland.

There seems to be a great deal of jealousy in the air where I live. And not just jealousy. Suspicion and ignorance too. 

Anyway, what about Moody Mariusz? Was he jealous of me because he has 20 less square metres of property to his name? 

Credit where credit’s due. My immediate neighbours generally respect quiet hours. 

Hence, I can forgive them for their ignorance, jealousy, suspicion, ill-mannered nature and lack of compassion. 

All in all, it’d be really controversial to tar an entire nation with the same brush. I’m sure there are some nice Polish neighbours out there somewhere.


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