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Expat Exchange - 10 Things to Know Before Moving to Hungary
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10 Things to Know Before Moving to Hungary

By Betsy Burlingame

SJB Global
SJB Global

Summary: If you're planning a move to Hungary, here are 10 things expats living there wish they had known before moving to Hungary.

Are you considering a move to Hungary? This beautiful country, nestled in the heart of Europe, is a popular destination for expats from around the world. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes, Hungary has a lot to offer. But before you pack your bags, there are a few things you should know. Here are the top 10 things to know before moving to Hungary.

1. Understanding the Hungarian Language

One of the first things you'll notice when you arrive in Hungary is the language. Hungarian is known for being one of the most difficult languages to learn in the world. It's not related to any of the other languages in Europe, making it a unique challenge for expats. However, don't let this deter you. Many Hungarians speak English, especially in the larger cities and tourist areas. Plus, learning a few basic phrases can go a long way in helping you navigate your new home.

2. Embrace the Hungarian Cuisine

Hungarian cuisine is hearty and delicious. Famous for dishes like goulash, a rich stew made with meat and vegetables, and lángos, a deep-fried flatbread topped with sour cream and cheese, you'll never go hungry in Hungary. The country is also known for its excellent wines and pálinka, a traditional fruit brandy. Be prepared to enjoy some truly memorable meals.

3. The Importance of Thermal Baths

Hungary is famous for its thermal baths, which are a big part of the local culture. Budapest alone has more than a dozen thermal bath complexes. These baths are not just for relaxation, but also have therapeutic properties. It's a great way to unwind after a long day and immerse yourself in Hungarian tradition.

4. Hungary's Rich History and Culture

Hungary has a rich and complex history that has shaped its unique culture. From the Roman ruins in Aquincum to the beautiful architecture of Budapest, history is everywhere. The country also has a vibrant arts scene, with numerous museums, galleries, and music festivals. It's a great place for history buffs and culture vultures.

5. The Cost of Living in Hungary

Compared to many Western European countries, the cost of living in Hungary is relatively low. This includes rent, groceries, dining out, and public transportation. However, wages in Hungary are also lower, so it's important to have a realistic budget. It's also worth noting that Budapest is more expensive than other parts of the country.

6. The Hungarian Healthcare System

Hungary has a universal healthcare system, which is funded by taxes and contributions from employers and employees. The quality of healthcare can vary, with better facilities and services in larger cities like Budapest. As an expat, it's recommended to have private health insurance to ensure you have access to the best care.

7. The Hungarian Education System

If you're moving to Hungary with children, it's important to understand the education system. Education is compulsory from age 6 to 16, and the system is divided into primary and secondary education. There are also many international schools in Hungary, particularly in Budapest, which offer education in English and follow international curriculums.

8. The Hungarian Work Culture

Hungarians are known for their strong work ethic. The work culture can be quite formal, with a clear hierarchy and respect for authority. However, Hungarians also know how to enjoy life, with a good work-life balance and plenty of time for socializing and relaxation.

9. The Hungarian Climate

Hungary has a continental climate, with hot summers and cold winters. The country experiences all four seasons, with beautiful spring blossoms and colorful autumn leaves. Be prepared for the cold, especially if you're moving from a warmer climate. But don't worry, the thermal baths are a great way to stay warm in winter!

10. The Hungarian People

Last but not least, the Hungarian people. Hungarians are known for their hospitality and friendliness. They are proud of their country and culture, and are always happy to share it with visitors. As an expat, you'll have plenty of opportunities to make local friends and immerse yourself in Hungarian life.

Moving to a new country is always a big step, but with a little preparation, you can make the transition to life in Hungary as smooth as possible. So why wait? Start planning your Hungarian adventure today!

Expats talk about Moving to Hungary

"-Finding English-language real estate agents can be difficult but they do exist (I work for one) and it is worth it to find one. Mix ups I've experienced in the past include agents who confuse numbers (40 and 60, for example) and some debate over whether or not my landlady would offer a couch. Businesses that seek expat clients (relocation companies, some real estate agencies and also exercise studios, beauty salons) can have very useful information posted on their website. Choosing a neighborhood: Families seeking residential settings should look for houses on the Buda (West) side of the city, in districts 1, 2, 2A (a bit far from the city center but home to the American School) and 12. Residential parks exist with detached homes and lots of yard space. Those looking to live in the center and close to embassies/businesses should live on the Pest (East) side in district 5, 6 or 7. For urban but residential surroundings look at districts 9, 13 and 14. I saved a map of international schools in Budapest which will help those interested in living close to one: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=113650380662921546661.00048a66a58c714c0c74a&z=11," said one expat living in Budapest.

"I would recommend hiring a good lawyer or finding a real good real estate agent who can guide you into the best building, if you plan to rent. I purchased my flat and I could not be happier. Even though prices have gone up lately, one of the best things is the lack of property tax, which in the US can be thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars a year. I rented for the first year before I decided to buy, and there are many nice apartments in Budapest. Most of the rental apartments here are fully furnished. Also, be aware that they do not distinguish "bedrooms" from other "rooms." So, if you want a two bedroom apartment you need to look for an apartment with three rooms (two bedrooms and a living room). The kitchen and bathrooms do not count in that calculation. In Budapest there are a lot of Airbnb apartments, so it would be good to stay away from buildings. Also, there doesn't seem to be regulations regarding businesses verses residents, so you might find a business in one of the upper floors of a building. But again, a good real estate agent or lawyer can help you figure that out," wrote a member in Budapest.

"Come with an open mind, there are problems of varying sorts throughout the world. Life is what you make of it, what you demand. We personally find it healthy and quite, much the opposite from where we came from.," said one expat living in Tarnazsadany.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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