Expat Advice: Retiring in
A woman, who was born in Hungary and moved to the US when the communist regime was in power, decided to return to Hungary for retirement. She cashed in her 401K, bought a downtown apartment -- she is thrilled to be living mortgage free.
What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Why did you choose to retire abroad?
It was over a decade ago when I realized that if I'm unemployed I can't pay the mortgage and without reserves would find myself on the sidewalk.
Cashed in my 401K - even having paid a penalty, what was left purchased me a downtown apartment in Budapest. All mine - no mortgage!! Did you hear that gust of wind? That was a sigh of relief.
It was the best decision I've ever made!
Are you retired abroad all year or part of the year?
all year - but occasionally visit relatives in the US
Why did you choose the country you retired to?
I was born here but never thought I would return after immigrating from the communist regime. Things have come a long way - this is a wonderful and livable country now.
Did you ever live abroad before you retired abroad?
How long have you lived abroad since you retired abroad?
total of 19 years now
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?
I enjoy a challenge and have traveled a lot so there were no particular issues.
What have been the most rewarding aspects of being retired abroad?
Peace of mind!!
What would you do differently if you were just starting the retire abroad process?
Nothing - I would do exactly the same thing although real estate is a bit higher now.
What is life like for a retiree in your city and its surroundings? (Is there an active expat community? Cultural Attractions? Recreation? Nightlife?)
All of those things are available and many more. Small country but it has everything. I love visiting spas throughout the country, wine regions and was an active member of IWC at one time.
What residency documents or visas did you need to obtain to retire in your host country? How difficult was this process? (Please describe)
There are agencies to help you with papers. Coming over the one thing you can save a bit of money on is translating your documents (birth, marriage, divorce) into Hungarian and have the embassy in the US sign and accept them by a notary. Having things officially translated and notarized here is very expensive because only ONE source is acceptable to authorities.
Did you buy a home or apartment, or rent one? Is this a difficult process? (Please describe)
It is not a difficult process if you are not getting a loan - that is difficult for a foreigner. But when you consider I came with next to nothing and was able to purchase - you can too. If you remodel, call me - this was the reason I began my expat assistance business - despite speaking the language that was a great challenge.
Financially, has living abroad in your host country met your expectations? Exceeded them?
It exceeded my expectations. I could not afford to live on my SS in the US - here I have a comfortable life.
What are the most important financial considerations for retiring to your host country?
Do you want to become a citizen - dual citizenship is possible. Why it is so important is health insurance. Foreigners pay a high price for insurance while a Hungarian pays very modest fees. Care and coverage are excellent.
How much can a retiree live on comfortably in your host country?
$1500 would provide one person with a comfortable life.
Do you have access to quality medical care? (Please describe - is it close? Expensive?)
I am a dual citizen, pay $35/month and all is covered except drugs. Having had several surgeries since I've been here I can only say good things about the care.
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Is there a lot of crime where you live? (Please describe)
In the city there is always more crime but you know the areas to stay out of and there aren't many. In the country it is more peaceful.
Describe available transportation where you live. Do you need a car? Is there access to safe public transportation?
I live in the village now and yes, I need a car because I'm at the end of town. In the city there is no need to have a car - transportation is excellent. Citizens over 65 ride free.
Is there high-speed internet access where you live?
Yes, even in the village.
Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share about retiring abroad?
I would recommend it to anyone who ever wanted to live - not exist but live.
More Expat Advice about Retiring in Hungary