Young Polish migrants to the UK are often portrayed as being highly educated and mobile: willing nomads who are privileged to be able to take advantage of new opportunities for travel and work abroad offered by European Union membership. However, there are also less well-educated young people who adopt migration as a livelihood strategy in contemporary Poland. For many, the desire to experience life abroad combines with a sense of being 'forced' to leave localities where the transition to a market economy has resulted in a contraction of employment opportunities and where parents are unable to finance their children's higher education. My article explores why young people try to migrate to Britain, arguing that unemployment and low wages are important push factors. It is true that migration is also a response to new opportunities, particularly access to social networks. However, not everyone enjoys access to these. In addition, young migrants are to some extent constrained by the migration culture in their local areas, for example, regarding gender roles, although they can also help to shape that culture. The article is based on 115 interviews with women in England and Poland in 2006-2009, as well as a survey of public opinion in Poland's highest migration region.