"Hungarians are fiercely proud of their traditions and very stubbornly refuse to abandon their language even though it is one of the least spoken languages in the world. So, learning a minimum of Hungarian is essential to a successful transition to life here. I am (very) slowly learning the language enough to be functional. Having a translator is essential, especially when documents need translation. Hungarians love paper work and heavily document everything with lots of stamps and such falderal. I do speak German and in our area many Hungarians speak German as this is a tourist area," advised one expat in Hungary.
"English is prevalent among the younger generation and in the larger cities. It's a little more difficult to get by with english in the smaller cities or villages. It will only take a short time to find most of things you need shopping wise as a large amount of products are imported from the UK or U.S. with english ingredients or instructions," said another expat.
Cost of Living in Hungary
"Hungary is quite cheap compared to Western Europe and the United States, therefore visitors can enjoy buying food, beverages and souvenirs without feeling a pinch. That said, cost of living is high when local salaries are taken into consideration. When calculated as a percentage of salary, items like clothing, shoes, accessories, baby equipment, furniture, bedding and electronics can feel expensive. Try to bring these with you," advised one expat.
"Early on we experienced a great deal of attempts to steal and cheat from us which we have now gotten firmly under control. But, it is typical of third world countries experiencing enormous problems adapting to the new capitalistic economy. Hungary is a poor country with an extremely low salary base and many people are not living as well under capitalism as they were prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. This has led to rampant corruption and a large amount of non-violent crime. Coupled with the removal of nearly all middle aged and older workers with experience this has caused a great deal of problems for the Hungarian citizenry. But, the corruption here pales in comparison to the Middle East or Russia. Hungary is working hard to get this under control and I can see noticeable improvements," warned one expat living in Balatonfured, Hungary.
Finding a Home in 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," suggested one person who moved to Hungary.
Diversity in Hungary
" Citizens are quite diverse: when you go to work or home you will pass by men and women of every social standing, race, age and income level. It is truly fascinating and a nice break from Washington, DC where I was working previously. That said, there are neighborhoods that establish themselves with a certain demographic (9th district is for young urbanites, defined sections of 8th district are low-income and uncared for). As mixed as it is, I feel that some locals are a bit closed off to the minority & low income Roma population, homeless, and other minority groups. I was struck by the non-pc attitudes of some of my friends," said one expat living in Budapest.
Meeting People in Hungary
"Budapest Melting Pot, Internations, Budapest Toastmasters, Budapest groups on Meetup.com, Budapest International Women's Club, British Women's Association, Budapest Accueil (French), Dutch Club Hungary, Expat Hungary, International Women's Club Association of Budapest (IWCA), North American Women's Association of Budapest, Professional Women's Association of Budapest, Institut français de Budapest, Instituto Cervantes de Budapest, Xpatloop.com, Baby Blue Banana (Expat Events), Concerts and bookreadings at TreeHugger Dan's bookshop (there are many branches), Internations Expat Community (they have live meetings), Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity Hungary, Buda Juniors Football (Soccer) League (for children), Bat and Ball Junior Cricket Club (for children)," suggested on expat living in Budapest.
Healthcare in Hungary
"My health Insurance in the States covered me in Hungary so make sure you learn about your Insurance carriers policy regarding International coverage. Otherwise you will need to get international coverage until you live in Hungary long enough (5 years) to qualify for their social coverage," said one expat.
Another expat said, "I am an American pediatrician who has lived and worked in Budapest for the last 8 years. Basically, there is the state system, which may meet your needs if you find a well-trained compassionate pediatrician. It is very cumbersome, and beaurocratic, and the infrastructure (hospitals, equipment) is literally falling apart. There are also several private clinics, which provide more patient-centered, American standard care."
International Schools in Hungary
Expats have submitted reviews of British International School in Budapest, Britannica International School in Budapest, Lycee Francais de Budapest and the International School of Budapest. Another member submitted a map with many of Budapest's international schools flagged.
Another expat said, "There are several options for english speaking schools, from Greater Grace Christian Academy to the British Magyar school and the American School. We live in the 2nd A district which is about 20 minutes outside the downtown Pest area, by car. The American school is moving out here so it is getting more popular."
Don't Drink and Drive in Hungary
"Taxis are also an option for those nights out. 0 tolerance on alcohol, so even one drink is off limits. Cheaper to just take a taxi," advised one expat.
Safety in Hungary
"As far as feeling safe, I feel safe from violent crime, but property crime is rampant. There are many instances of house being burgled, cars stolen and pickpockets. Most of the houses have alarm systems, as do the cars. I recommend both. We have had attempted break ins, but that was it. We also have a dog, which is very popular here in Hungary, though most dogs seem to be for protection of property," said one expat.