Expat Advice: Retiring in
A U.S. retiree in Budapest, Hungary offers advice on living abroad, including health care, cost of living and some financial considerations.
What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Why did you choose to retire abroad?
I had a parent that needed care, met someone for the long term, and cheaper living conditions.
Are you retired abroad all year or part of the year?
Most of the year. That is 10 months out of the year.n
Why did you choose the country you retired to?
1. Family connection
2. Familiarity with the language
3. Cost of living
Did you ever live abroad before you retired abroad?
Yes I lived 3 months or more in three other countries.
How long have you lived abroad since you retired abroad?
How many countries (other than your home country) have you lived in as a retiree?
What have been the most challenging aspects of being retired abroad?
Dealing with bureaucracy, customs, some different traffic rules and a different way of thinking.
What have been the most rewarding aspects of being retired abroad?
Seeing relatives and finding a partner.
What would you do differently if you were just starting the retire abroad process?
I would do more planning. I would take time to find a location to buy real estate.
What is life like for a retiree in your city and its surroundings? (Is there an active expat community? Cultural Attractions? Recreation? Nightlife?)
It is a great city, culturally, recreation and schools.
However as other major cities the air is not so clean all the time. Many events are held and traffic is shut down. Public trans while not cheap it is a fair deal and monthly passes or higher is the way to go.
What residency documents or visas did you need to obtain to retire in your host country? How difficult was this process? (Please describe)
Most like US citizens can stay 90 days w/o a visa. This is plenty of time to secure a year or longer (temp) residency. All included it is less than $100 USD. Must however provide proof of income/pension/savings and proof of health insurance.
Did you buy a home or apartment, or rent one? Is this a difficult process? (Please describe)
Rented initially for 2 years then bought.
Financially, has living abroad in your host country met your expectations? Exceeded them?
Yes! While AFA/VAT (aka sales tax) is 27% (lower now on some items like pork etc), items are in most cases cheaper than in the US. Some items are not so much like electronics.
What are the most important financial considerations for retiring to your host country?
Opening a bank account but be mindful it costs here to keep your money in the bank. Exchange rates are always on ones mind etc.
How much can a retiree live on comfortably in your host country?
$2000 USD will do it but be mindful it doesn't cover major medical or other expenses.
Do you have access to quality medical care? (Please describe - is it close? Expensive?)
I have medical coverage in the US but in Hungary I'm prepared to go to private providers and pay cash!
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Is there a lot of crime where you live? (Please describe)
Like any capital cities crime is a definite issue. Two years ago I got pickpocketed on the bus. It was Romanian gypsies. There are also lot of homeless who appeared to be able to camp out pretty much everywhere (except maybe at the Parliament building, LOL!) Mainly at metro and railroad stations. There are the occasional car thefts but having said that things are fairly save.
Describe available transportation where you live. Do you need a car? Is there access to safe public transportation?
I have a car but that is a headache in the capital city. This is because of the expensive gasoline and screwy parking rules that are enforced with a vengeance including booting. But metro, bus and taxis are abundant and fairly frequent.
Is there high-speed internet access where you live?
Yes. I don't have the fastest but adequate for 4000 forints (or 15 USD) a month.
Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share about retiring abroad?
Do your research. Ask questions and don't raise your expectations too high then you won't be disappointed. Don't cut all ties and commit until you tried it and you sure!
More Expat Advice about Retiring in Hungary