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Living in Hungary > Budapest > Living in Budapest

Living in Budapest

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on: Jul 08, 2019

If you're moving to Budapest or a newcomer living in Budapest, here are 14 things to know about life in this beautiful city - from the best districts for expat families and single expats, hospitals in Budapest, international schools, expat clubs and organizations and more.

Expats in Hungary - Living in Budapest

Modern Budapest

"I am a Hungarian and a local to Budapest. This city has immensely changed in the last 20 years for the better. Lots of areas have been rehabilitated, hundreds of turn of the century houses renovated, services improved and compared to other cities we have proper public transportation as well," wrote one Hungarian (who has lived abroad herself) in a post about moving to Hungary.

Best Places to Live in Budapest

"Stay away from the party districts unless you want to party. Those would be in the center of the Pest side of the city. Traffic is bad and loud as are the tourist. A good area is District 1 right under the castle. Consider using the public transportation when you choose your place. It's only about 35 usds per month and you can use anything; bus, tram, metro, and short train routes. Parking will be expensive if you can get a permit and a garage is hard to find as is an apartment with parking," advised one expat living in Budapest.

"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 and 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: view google map. I live in an old apartment with a typical, Budapest courtyard that I love. It is a typical young-person's and there are many foreign students, but it's not a typical expat neighborhood," explained another expat.

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Hospitals and Clinics in Budapest

There are a number of clinics and hospitals in Budapest that have English-speaking doctors and are recommended by expats. Dr. Rose Hospital (private) and Duna Medical Center are two well-known hospitals. Buda Health Center has three locations in Budapest - two are in the XIIth District and one is in the IIIrd District. Buda's hospital specializes in spinal disorders. Rozsakert Medical Center has 100 doctors and 9 of them are US-trained. First Med Centers is located in District I and has English-speaking doctors.

Medicover has modern clinics throughout Hungary. In Budapest, there are three locations in Alkotas, Eiffel Clinic and Dental Clinic and Medicover Clinic, Hospital and Advanced Diagnostic Center.

Expat Health Insurance in Hungary

Expats interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

For more information about healthcare, visit our Healthcare in Hungary guide.

Are there English-Speaking Real Estate Agents in Budapest?

"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," advised an expat.

Renting a Flat in Budapest

"If you rent something you need to pay normally one month rent as a deposit plus one month rent. Only extra is strata fees (and electricity, gas, water... dependent how much u will use.) the amount depends . In the new buildings it cost more... I think we paid around 40 000 HUF/ month . This include hot water, heating and strata. In older building can be around 10 000/ month for strata and u pay for what u use... gas, electricity, water... You need to ask b4 how much is extra and what is included. 140000/ month it can be correct for a 2 b' rooms depends of condition and closeness to the public transport... look on the map. Other thing what you need to remember... here no one use the terms 2 bedroom apartment it's a two room flat/ apartment. People are using living room as a bedroom for a night. So 2 room place is really one bedroom," explained one expat.

"Concerning accommodation and prices rental fees have been increasing constantly through the last years and this is not expected to be stopped so buying is also something to be considered in the long run. Rental fees for a decent size property for a single person vary from 950 USD to 1700 USD in the areas of Budapest preferred by expats," wrote one expat.

International Schools in Budapest

In our article, International Schools in Budapest you'll find a list of popular international schools in Budapest. The list includes Britannica International School, International School of Budapest, British International School of Budapest and others.

Diversity in Budapest

"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)," said one expat.

Will I need to learn how to speak Hungarian?

"Speaking a fair amount of Hungarian is a plus and is always appreciated but in Budapest you can also get by mostly everywhere with English," said one expat.

"Learn some basic Hungarian words before coming and continue your learning once here. But unlike the way it was in the 1990's, enough English is spoken in Budapest for you to feel comfortable. But make no mistake, it is a difficult language," advised one expat living in Budapest.

What is the Cost of Living in Budapest?

"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," commented an expat living in Budapest.

When we asked a retiree in Budapest, how much a retiree can live on comfortably, he answered, "$2000 USD will do it but be mindful it doesn't cover major medical or other expenses."

"The cost of living is better than many places but there are some things which will shock you such as utility prices. Many things are creeping up in prices and if the US is successful in forcing Europe to refuse Russian gas and accept US liquid petroleum then the prices will at a minimum double. Frankly, I don't know how Hungarians can survive on their incomes with prices this high here. If you have money and are smart about where to live then these are not huge problems," said one expat in a discussion about moving to Hungary.

Getting to Know Hungarians Isn't Always Easy

An expat in Budapest said, "If you are not acquainted, Hungarians are very unfriendly. If, however, you are a guest, or a co-worker, or a fellow sportsman or have some sort of tie whatsoever, they would give you the shirt off their backs."

Another expat offered a different perspective, "Budapestans work and play equally. The city offers many opportunities for and many places to socialize with like-minded people. The possibilities are diverse and endless regardless of age."

What are the popular expat clubs and organizations in Budapest?

One member shared a helpful list of expat clubs and organizations. She wrote, "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 fran├žais 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)."

Is there a lot of crime in Budapest?

"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 safe," commented an expat.

According to the US State Department, "Hungarian authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes committed in Hungary. Report crimes to the local police by calling 107 or 112, and contact the U.S. Embassy at (36)(1) 475-4444."

Should you use public transportation or have a car in Budapest?

"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. 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," expat retired in Budapest.

Drinking and Driving are Strictly Prohibited in Budapast

"Hungary has a zero tolerance policy for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Penalties are severe, including significant jail time," wrote the US State Department.

Cigna Expat Health InsuranceExpatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in Hungary from our partner, Cigna Global Health.
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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 6 Best Places to Live in Costa Rica, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and 7 Tips for Obtaining Residence in Italy. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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Updated On: Jul 08, 2019

First Published: Jul 08, 2019

Cigna Expat Health InsuranceExpatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in Hungary from our partner, Cigna Global Health.
Get a Quote

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If you're moving to Budapest or a newcomer living in Budapest, here are 14 things to know about life in this beautiful city - from the best districts for expat families and single expats, hospitals in Budapest, international schools, expat clubs and organizations and more.

Healthcare in HungaryHealthcare in Hungary

If you're moving to Hungary or an expat living in Hungary, understanding the Hungarian healthcare system in important. This article offers an overview of the national healthcare system, private hospitals and healthcare, private health insurance for expats in Hungary, clinics with English-speaking doctors and the quality and cost of medical care in Hungary.

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There are numerous international and bilingual schools in Budapest. In this article, we highlight some of the more popular international schools school for expats in Budapest.

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Moving to Budapest

An expat in Budapest talks about the cost of apartments, best neighborhoods for expats, what to bring when you move to Hungary and what to leave behind.

Living in Budapest

An American expat provides some insight into what it takes to live in Budapest, Hungary.

Retirement in Budapest

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.

Culture Shock in Budapest

An expat in Budapest enjoys the lower cost of living, but the bureaucracy and local laws frustrated. Her biggest shock was that the US Embassy didn't really care about expats.

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and natadPlacement.networkID = 52
and natadPlacement.natadid = natads.natadid
and natsentenceend > "2020-07-03"
and natsentencestart < "2020-07-04"
and natsentencestatus = 'live'

and natsentenceweight = 'high'
getnatadbottom (Datasource=expert, Time=9ms, Records=0) in /home/www/html/nativerotationtop_tester13.cfm @ 07:43:19.019
SELECT resourceid, natsentence as adcode,  natsentenceweight, natads.natadid
FROM natads, natadPlacement
WHERE natsentencetype = 38
and natadPlacement.networkID = 52
and natadPlacement.natadid = natads.natadid
and natsentenceend > "2020-07-03"
and natsentencestart < "2020-07-04"
and natsentencestatus = 'live'
gettaxgeneral2 (Datasource=expert, Time=5ms, Records=2) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitymobile.cfm @ 07:43:19.019
	Select title, hitopic, hidescript, author, articles.articleID, hiimg, summary, authorurl, hpimg
	From articles, articleCategories, articlecityplace
	Where hitopic <> ''
	and hidescript <> ''
    and type = '3'
   and articlecityplace.citynetworkid = 4143
	and articlecityplace.articleid = articles.articleID
     and articleCategories.articleID = articles.articleID
    and articles.topic <> 'Weekly Quizzes'
   	and articles.topic <> 'Weekly Quizzes: Answers'
    and general <> 'bb'
    and hpimg <> 'none'
    and keycity = 0
    and cityintro = 'n'
    and summary <> ''
    
    and articles.articleID <> '5402'
	
    and (articles.author = 'Betsy Burlingame' or articles.author = 'Joshua Wood')
    and publishdate < "2020-07-04" 
    ORDER by articles.articleID desc  
gethealthsummary (Datasource=expert, Time=4ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitymobile.cfm @ 07:43:19.019
	Select summary, hpimg
	From articles, articlePlacement, articleCategories
	Where articlePlacement.networkID = 52 
	AND articlePlacement.articleID = articles.articleID
   	and articleCategories.articleID = articles.articleID
   	and articleCategories.section = 9
   	and articles.sectionintro = 'y'
    ORDER by articles.articleID desc
checkmovingfeature (Datasource=expert, Time=5ms, Records=2) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitymobile.cfm @ 07:43:19.019
		Select networkname as ctry, city, networkid, rid, networkname, answerid
		FROM allreports
         where rid = 63
         and city <> ''
         and networkid = 52
          and citynetworkid = 4143
		order by date DESC
getsummary (Datasource=reports, Time=1ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitymobile.cfm @ 07:43:19.019
		Select summary, hiimg, hpimg
		FROM answers
         	where answerid = 75057 
getsummary (Datasource=reports, Time=0ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitymobile.cfm @ 07:43:19.019
		Select summary, hiimg, hpimg
		FROM answers
         	where answerid = 25585 
checklivingfeature (Datasource=expert, Time=5ms, Records=2) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitymobile.cfm @ 07:43:19.019
		Select networkname as ctry, city, networkid, rid, networkname, answerid
		FROM allreports
         where rid = 58
           and city <> ''
         and networkid = 52
          and citynetworkid = 4143
		order by date DESC
getsummary (Datasource=reports, Time=0ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitymobile.cfm @ 07:43:19.019
		Select summary, hiimg, hpimg
		FROM answers
      where answerid = 69480 
getsummary (Datasource=reports, Time=1ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitymobile.cfm @ 07:43:19.019
		Select summary, hiimg, hpimg
		FROM answers
      where answerid = 25583 
checkretirefeature (Datasource=expert, Time=5ms, Records=2) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitymobile.cfm @ 07:43:19.019
		Select networkname as ctry, city, networkid, rid, networkname, answerid
		FROM allreports
         where rid = 96
         and networkid = 52
          and citynetworkid = 4143
         and city <> ''
         order by date DESC
getsummary (Datasource=reports, Time=0ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitymobile.cfm @ 07:43:19.019
		Select summary, hiimg, hpimg
		FROM answers
         	where answerid = 74395 
checkculturefeature (Datasource=expert, Time=6ms, Records=2) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitymobile.cfm @ 07:43:20.020
		Select networkname as ctry, city, networkid, rid, networkname, answerid
		FROM allreports
         where rid = 95
         and networkid = 52
          and citynetworkid = 4143
         and city <> ''
         order by date DESC
getsummary (Datasource=reports, Time=0ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitymobile.cfm @ 07:43:20.020
		Select summary, hiimg, hpimg
		FROM answers
         	where answerid = 70604 
getsummary (Datasource=reports, Time=0ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitymobile.cfm @ 07:43:20.020
		Select summary, hiimg, hpimg
		FROM answers
         	where answerid = 24870 
getarticlesection (Datasource=expert, Time=0ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/lib_rd_ctygd_readnext.cfm @ 07:43:20.020
SELECT *
FROM articleCategories
WHERE articleCategories.articleID = 5402 
gettaxgeneral (Datasource=expert, Time=8ms, Records=5) in /home/www/html/lib_rd_ctygd_readnext.cfm @ 07:43:20.020
	Select title, hitopic, hidescript, author, articles.articleID, hiimg, summary, authorurl, hpimg
	From articles, articlePlacement
	Where hitopic <> ''
	and articlePlacement.networkID = 52 
	AND articlePlacement.articleID = articles.articleID
	and hidescript <> ''
    and type = '3'
    and articles.topic <> 'Weekly Quizzes'
   	and articles.topic <> 'Weekly Quizzes: Answers'
    and general <> 'bb'
    and hpimg <> 'none'
    and keycity = '0'
   and cityintro = 'n'
    and summary <> ''
    and articles.articleID <> 5402
    and publishdate < "2020-07-04"
    and publishdate > "2014-01-01"
 
    ORDER by articles.articleID desc
    
gettopbanner (Datasource=expert, Time=1ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navbottomad_rdesign5.cfm @ 07:43:20.020
	Select *
	From banners, bannerPlacement
	WHERE status <> "hold"
	AND position = "eebannercountry"
    and toDate > "2020-07-03"
    and fromDate < "2020-07-04"
    and bannerPlacement.networkid = 52
    and bannerPlacement.bannerid = banners.bannerid
    and banners.promised = ''
    and banners.type <> 'swf'
UpdatePageViews (Datasource=expert, Time=2ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navbottomad_rdesign5.cfm @ 07:43:20.020
  UPDATE banners
  SET impressions = impressions + 1
  WHERE bannerid = 869 
gethpbox (Datasource=expert, Time=1ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navmpu_rdesign5.cfm @ 07:43:20.020
	Select *
	From banners
	WHERE status <> "hold"
	AND (position = "eehpbox" or position = "eehpboxglobal")
    and toDate > {ts '2020-07-03 07:43:20'}
    and fromDate <{ts '2020-07-04 07:43:20'}
    and banners.type <> 'swf'
    
UpdatePageViews (Datasource=expert, Time=1ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navmpu_rdesign5.cfm @ 07:43:20.020
  UPDATE banners
  SET impressions = impressions + 1
  WHERE bannerid = 866 
GetMessages (Datasource=forum, Time=0ms, Records=0) in /home/www/html/commentsnew_rdesign4.cfm @ 07:43:20.020
  SELECT *
  FROM comments m 
  WHERE m.tpcid = 5402 
  and m.commenttype = 1
  and m.isapproved = 1
  ORDER BY msgid ASC
getguidesummary (Datasource=expert, Time=0ms, Records=2) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 07:43:20.020
	Select summary, hiimg 
	From articles, articlecityplace
	Where  articlecityplace.citynetworkid = 4143
	and articlecityplace.articleid = articles.articleID
    and articles.cityintro = 'y'
 
gethealthsummary (Datasource=expert, Time=0ms, Records=1, Cached Query) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 07:43:20.020
	Select summary, hpimg
	From articles, articlePlacement, articleCategories
	Where articlePlacement.networkID = 52 
	AND articlePlacement.articleID = articles.articleID
   	and articleCategories.articleID = articles.articleID
   	and articleCategories.section = 9
   	and articles.sectionintro = 'y'
    ORDER by articles.articleID desc
checkmovingfeature (Datasource=expert, Time=5ms, Records=2) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 07:43:20.020
		Select networkname as ctry, city, networkid, rid, networkname, answerid
		FROM allreports
         where rid = 63
         and city <> ''
                
         and networkid = 52
          and citynetworkid = 4143
		order by date DESC
getsummary (Datasource=reports, Time=1ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 07:43:20.020
		Select summary, hiimg, hpimg
		FROM answers
         	where answerid = 75057 
getsummary (Datasource=reports, Time=0ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 07:43:20.020
		Select summary, hiimg, hpimg
		FROM answers
         	where answerid = 25585 
checklivingfeature (Datasource=expert, Time=5ms, Records=2) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 07:43:20.020
		Select networkname as ctry, city, networkid, rid, networkname, answerid
		FROM allreports
         where rid = 58
                    
           and city <> ''
         and networkid = 52
          and citynetworkid = 4143
		order by date DESC
getsummary (Datasource=reports, Time=0ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 07:43:20.020
		Select summary, hiimg, hpimg
		FROM answers
      where answerid = 69480 
getsummary (Datasource=reports, Time=0ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 07:43:20.020
		Select summary, hiimg, hpimg
		FROM answers
      where answerid = 25583 
checkretirefeature (Datasource=expert, Time=5ms, Records=2) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 07:43:20.020
		Select networkname as ctry, city, networkid, rid, networkname, answerid
		FROM allreports
         where rid = 96
                    
         and networkid = 52
          and citynetworkid = 4143
         and city <> ''
         order by date DESC
getsummary (Datasource=reports, Time=0ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 07:43:20.020
		Select summary, hiimg, hpimg
		FROM answers
         	where answerid = 74395 
checkculturefeature (Datasource=expert, Time=5ms, Records=2) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 07:43:20.020
		Select networkname as ctry, city, networkid, rid, networkname, answerid
		FROM allreports
         where rid = 95
                    
         and networkid = 52
          and citynetworkid = 4143
         and city <> ''
         order by date DESC
getsummary (Datasource=reports, Time=0ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 07:43:20.020
		Select summary, hiimg, hpimg
		FROM answers
         	where answerid = 70604 
getsummary (Datasource=reports, Time=0ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 07:43:20.020
		Select summary, hiimg, hpimg
		FROM answers
         	where answerid = 24870 


Scope Variables

CGI Variables:
AUTH_PASSWORD=
AUTH_TYPE=
AUTH_USER=
CERT_COOKIE=
CERT_FLAGS=
CERT_ISSUER=
CERT_KEYSIZE=
CERT_SECRETKEYSIZE=
CERT_SERIALNUMBER=
CERT_SERVER_ISSUER=
CERT_SERVER_SUBJECT=
CERT_SUBJECT=
CF_TEMPLATE_PATH=/home/www/html/lib_rd.cfm
CONTENT_LENGTH=
CONTENT_TYPE=
CONTEXT_PATH=
GATEWAY_INTERFACE=CGI/1.1
HTTPS=on
HTTPS_KEYSIZE=
HTTPS_SECRETKEYSIZE=
HTTPS_SERVER_ISSUER=
HTTPS_SERVER_SUBJECT=
HTTP_ACCEPT=text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,*/*;q=0.8
HTTP_ACCEPT_ENCODING=gzip
HTTP_ACCEPT_LANGUAGE=en-US,en;q=0.5
HTTP_CONNECTION=Keep-Alive
HTTP_COOKIE=
HTTP_HOST=www.expatexchange.com
HTTP_REFERER=
HTTP_USER_AGENT=CCBot/2.0 (https://commoncrawl.org/faq/)
PATH_INFO=
PATH_TRANSLATED=/home/www/html/lib_rd.cfm
QUERY_STRING=articleID=5402&networkid=52
REMOTE_ADDR=172.69.63.127
REMOTE_HOST=172.69.63.127
REMOTE_USER=
REQUEST_METHOD=GET
SCRIPT_NAME=/lib_rd.cfm
SERVER_NAME=www.expatexchange.com
SERVER_PORT=443
SERVER_PORT_SECURE=1
SERVER_PROTOCOL=HTTP/1.1
SERVER_SOFTWARE=Apache
WEB_SERVER_API=
Session Variables:
cfid=31007710
cftoken=23444314
sessionid=IBEXPATEXCHANGE.COM_31007710_23444314
urltoken=CFID=31007710&CFTOKEN=23444314
URL Parameters:
articleID=5402
networkid=52
Debug Rendering Time: 12 ms