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Canadian planning to retire in Hungary

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4/5/2015 10:34 EST

I am a Canadian and planning to retire with my husband in Hungary in few years. We have been in Hungary and we love it, therefore we see ourselves living there.
We are quite flexible and not difficult to adjust but have some questions and hope to get some advice to our short term and long term plans to move there temporary.

We are planning to live half a year in Hungary every year after retirement so we will be traveling to Canada often in order to be entitled for all benefits and spend time with family.
Budapest is our preferred location, but we are also considering close to Balaton or near border with Austria, I would love to get some advice about top locations for expacts.

I would like to know approximately the cost of living and if significant difference within these three areas.
What would be best advice to carry on with investments and pensions considering that we will get Hungarian citizenship eventually.

Thank you for your time

4/5/2015 15:02 EST

Here is my 2 cents. If you apply and receive "residency permit" for Hungary you must reside here the majority of the year. (for example 6 months plus 1 day) otherwise you are in violation of the permit. As you already figured it out about $2,000 (USD) gives you good basic subsistence. If you purchase a home then the $2000 goes even further. Have specific questions please ask! Good luck!

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4/5/2015 15:25 EST

Hi there, thank you for prompt response, well noted your comments. So for living in Hungary less than 6 months and 1 day we don't need permanent residency? what status we could have for such temporary living style ? thanks in advance!

4/5/2015 15:53 EST

You have misunderstood! If you come here you allowed to stay 3 months without a visa/permit. Then you must leave and you can come back in 3 months and again can stay for 6 months. So yes in a year you can be here 6 months but only in two stages! If you want to stay here more than 3 months you must seek a "residency permit". Usually issued for 1 year but it can be for 5 years too in case you have Hungarian citizen relatives or a life partner, husband/wife etc. Some other permit issued through a local employer is a whole other matter. Once you here on a permit you must be her 6 months plus 1 day in a given calendar year. Incidentally this permit is good for the entire EU since Hungary is a EU country. The application is relatively simple. Short application, passport photo, 18,000 forint stamp (fee) roughly $60. Proof of some sort of health insurance and funds to live on during your stay. Roughly that is it. You get a response in 28 day (super fast for Hungary) so you can apply during your 3 month stay here and no need to go to the embassy in Toronto or whether it is! Hope this clarify s things!

4/5/2015 15:58 EST

Sorry typo! I meant 3 months then leave and then can come back for 3 months for a total of 6 months per year!

4/5/2015 16:16 EST

Thank you very much for clarification, all details noted!

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4/5/2015 17:58 EST

Related to this, I ran into a new law this week. We have been here now 6 years on our residence visa. We shipped our car and household goods back in 2009 without problem and registered the car in our names, again no problem. We bought a brand new VW Passat which arrived from Germany this week. But, when we went to register it we found out you can now only do that if you have permanent residency status. We can own it but not be the user. Bizarre and apparently this law was enacted more or less in secret last year. You cannot get permanent resident status from outside the EU until you have lived here continuously for 3years and you cannot be out of the country for more than 4 months in that period. So now just to get our car registered in our name we are going through the hassle of getting Permanent Settlement status. Coming here from Canada I guess you can't have a car in your name. I called the Budapest main office and they confirmed what our Veszprem immigration and mayors office said so it is true.

4/5/2015 19:33 EST

Thanks for sharing your story, the new law is inconvenient for those who are planning to temporary settle in Hungary, hope to see changes in this regards.

4/6/2015 06:53 EST

Yes, it is very inconvenient and apparently they weren't thinking about immigrants from third nations like the US, Canada or even Russia. What is weird is the temporary residence permit is for 5 years and the Settlement permit is also for 5 years. Both are renewable every 5 years and neither provides any actual benefits other than now you must have the latter to register a car. I asked what the logic was about the new law and it was because a lot of foreigners register cars in Hungary, have accidents, then disappear forever. What that has to do with a residency permit escapes me. If you buy a house here and move your whole life, register a car etc. I think the logic is extremely faulty but sometimes in Hungary those up in the higher echelons of bureaucracy apparently are idiots. Actually, lately there have been a lot of idiotic decisions made by the government here and this particular government seems to be imploding on its own over-reaches and excesses. I hope things improve but we have 3 more years of this to look forward to before the next election and unfortunately there are no better parties. But, I keep hoping some common sense will suddenly penetrate into their minds. But so far there is no sign of that happening. Try and pass a drivers test here and you will understand. That is another can of worms.

4/6/2015 06:55 EST

One thing I didn't make clear you cannot apply for permanent residence (National Settlement Permit) until after being here for 3 years on a temporary settlement permit. This law only applies to those from third nations and those of us who are net descended from Hungarians. Different rules apply for them.

4/6/2015 08:05 EST

Hi borschelrh, well noted all explanations. Let's hope that Hungarian government will come to realize that immigrants will help to grow the economy by buying houses and cars and they should facilitate all the services required, making laws based on exception like foreigners with accidents is is the house market? Others are suggesting no point to invest in it....

4/6/2015 11:31 EST

Thanks we can hope for that at least. The market really depends where you are at. I live in Balatonfured and here it is growing rapidly but elsewhere is not as good. For some reason they are pouring a lot of money into our city in improvements which we are benefiting from. A lot of very wealthy people (mostly from Budapest) are buying houses in this area or land and building large vacation homes. A relatively large lot of roughly 1/3 acre is selling for 50 million HUF across the street from us as an example. We are never planning to sell so it doesn't help us. I wish the dollar had been this high when we purchased as it was 170 HUF/dollar when we bought our house. Now it is 280 HUF/dollar so it is a good time to purchase if you have dollars or British pounds. I wouldn't buy anything as an investment but it is a good time to buy a house if you plan to settle here.

4/6/2015 11:44 EST

Hey "bor" I did not know that either!
I have a 5 year residency permit after a 1 year one. Wonder what I can bring in from outside the EU duty free? Any info? Be safe!

4/6/2015 13:38 EST

I have whatever they gave back in 2009 which I think doesn't exist anymore. My wife's passport expired so she had to get a new visa 2 years ago and received a plastic card instead. This all revolves around the Address Card (I am not certain this is the same thing as what she received) which I only have a flimsy paper version of and no one, including immigration, regards as an equivalent to the actual address card. For example living here in Balatonfured residents, those owning a home and paying local taxes year around, get a free annual pass to the Kisfaludi beach. When I went to get mine using my paper card at our local garbage company (figure that out as I can't) I was told no address card, no pass for the beach and I could take it up with the mayor which I did to no avail. Now it is the same thing with a car. I called the main Immigration office in Budapest who confirmed this is the new law enacted very quietly last year. How that affects things like home ownership I cannot say. Interesting anything in place before the change is okay so it only affects new purchases and then only those requiring an address card. But, without permanent residency you cannot get a card which is a "Catch 22". Basically they are telling anyone who is not already a citizen of the EU or who is not a remote descendent of a Hungarian go somewhere else. I am certain a little pecuniary lubrication can solve the problem if it becomes a serious hindrance to staying here, particularly being an American which is now in Hungary not a good thing to be. If you mention Andre Goodfriend in government it is like saying Frau Blucher in the movie Young Frankenstein. It is funny how things change so quickly. I suppose it is not out of the question to be denied permanent residency just because I am an American. Nothing is certain or even reasonable any more.

4/6/2015 14:43 EST

Indeed! When I had my 1 year "visa" I also had the "paper" which is nothing more than ones address and hey tell you it is "your address card" but it is NOT! Not recognized as such because it is a paper declaring where you live. The actual address card is issued by the Government document office. So if one get's let's say a 5 year residency then the immigration office directs the Government document office to issue the address card. This is different because citizens get their address card at the Mayor's office (City Hall) where they reside, but non-citizens don't.
Hope this clarification helps!

4/8/2015 04:40 EST

Hi borschelrh, thanks for all information, what are most reliable real estate sites for Hungary? I tried mostly, are there other sites you would suggest? Thanks a lot!

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