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Considering move to Hungary

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HUretiree
8/6/2017 12:07 EST

Close to retirement, am of HU ancestry with some HU language knowledge. Have no known family or relatives in HU and am concerned about the prospects of aging in HU with any and all factors which may be involved. Please advise re financial and health concerns which seem to be a given with getting older. Any and all advice would be much appreciated. Thank you.

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peddington
8/6/2017 14:32 EST

Greetings! If you have no family here I don't see the point of moving here unless you are on limited income and have to make do with 2000 USD a month. If age related issues are a concern Hungary is not for you. Even if you live in the capital city medical help could take time and well in case of a stroke or MCI there is such thing as the "golden hour". Not to mention that you have to buy in to the local government run system and that is not cheap (assuming you get residency etc.) Personally for me didn't work out and I'm moving back and I have relatives in Hungary! Do yourself a favor and if not already read up on all the expat's write ups and comments on Hungary then do some research. Good luck!

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borschelrh
8/7/2017 01:21 EST

Hi, Peddington makes some good points as there are issues about care and life in general after retirement here. As everywhere it is all about money. If you have a decent fixed retirement income (a minimum of $2000 a month and the more the better) then life in Hungary is better than on the same money in the US. You didn't say where you are coming from so I am assuming US. If you are a Brit then things are a bit different but could change drastically once Brexit is figured out. I can only speak as an American and we are fine living here.

The medical system is decent and you can get excellent care here especially if you are paying cash. The national health care system if okay but you do need to consider where to live as the level of care is dependent on that. The closer to facilities the better you will be. Speaking Hungarian is a help but you also have to figure out the systems here which are very different and often illogical. This is going to require either having a very close friend or hiring someone to help you navigate through it all. Hungary is a beautiful place with fantastic scenery, excellent quality of food products, etc. 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. Gas is already 5 times the price as in the US and the same for electricity. Gasoline is 4 times as high and our water here is very expensive as well. 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. Your retirement income will be the main factor.

Also, Hungarians are exceptionally xenophobic and nationalism is rising. Being an American these days is not a helpful thing. Even though you are of Hungarian ancestry you will still be a foreigner. So, again where you live affects how people will accept you. We live in a resort town on Lake Balaton which sees a large number of Europeans from Germany, Austria, the UK, and the Netherlands. German is a common second language which most locals speak and I am also finding increasing numbers of people speaking English. There used to be none. Over towards Kesthely/Heviz there are a large number of Russians so Russian is spoken there as well. My point is that living in an area where xenophobia is the lowest (western Hungary and in particular Lake Balaton) would be a lot easier than say living in Eastern Hungary. Our main hospital is in Veszprem and that is where you have to go for emergent medical care. It is 15 km for us so not a horrible drive and we have a local ambulance service here in our town as well as the National Cardiac Institute (although a heart attack/stroke will still be treated in Veszprem). Veszprem is also the National Cancer Treatment Center and IMHO is a good facility in general. One big thing to keep in mind is medical treatment here is way less expensive than in the US. We have reserve funds for catastrophic illness as had planned to retire in the US and assumed we would need at least $500k to cover something major like heart attack or cancer. Here that would be less than $1,000 paying cash. However, Hungarian attitudes about health care in the senior years is also very different. Hungary used to have the lowest life expectancy (identical to Russia) but it has been improving a lot. The mean age of death for men was 56 when we first came here back in 2009 but now it is something like 72. However, you see a lot of old women around but not all that many old men. So, as a society they are "used" to this.

We brought over my mother who is now 92 and we have had no serious problems getting her care here. But, should she require long term care at a facility this would be impossible here without being fluent in the language. Generally, this is done "in home" but again finding nursing care with English language skills is a serious problem. We may end up importing a nurse from somewhere else in Europe as we haven't found anyone who speaks English for long term in home care. My mother has early dementia and can be very aggressive and ill behaved which baffles Hungarians and we have lost 3 people hired to babysit her while we travel as they just couldn't take it. So, this is also something to consider.

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Tomrock
8/7/2017 20:08 EST

I have to agree with peddington. Much better options in the neighboring countries. Too bad I discovered it after I bought my house. The only good thing is that my house is worth about 150% more than what I paid for it. Other than that I am screwed.

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EllaS
8/21/2017 02:45 EST

OMG I bet you are glad to be gone and frankly Hungary must be too - what I don't understand is what you are continually doing here badmouthing living here.

I've had extensive use of the health care system and have nothing but good things to say about it. Being a citizen now it costs me $40/month for the privilege.

Why would they want to come here if they have no relatives? Why would they NOT? What would the alternative be to live carefree? Mexico, Panama??

Give it a rest - some people find a reason to complain about everything. I still consider it the best decision I've ever made.

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EllaS
8/21/2017 02:48 EST

TOMROCK - I guarantee 'you will be screwed' no matter where you go. It is your attitude not the place.

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charlick
8/21/2017 08:19 EST

Congrat EllaS, Finaly somebody stands up for Hungary!! I think this gentleman will be unhappy whatever country he moves to. We had them in Australia too, always always whinging about something or other!

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peddington
8/21/2017 08:57 EST

Oh "NO!" IT IS THE PLACE! Hungary keeping it's grip on the old communist rules and policies. for example; address cards. Since communists rarely admit to any homeless and in the old days the secret police needed to find you they invented "address cards". Has no real value today and nothing couldn't be fixed by putting and address on the driver's license. The KRESZ (Hungarian traffic laws) are sorely outdated and if you get a radar generated ticket the 4 page (yes four pages) of a letter will quote the law from 1952. Yes the day of horses and carriage and pre Hungarian revolution but there you go! These are just examples but you constantly run in to: "We can't do that..."WHY?" because it states in our regulation. Can you show me! Oh...I don't have to..." etc. So stop it! Hungary would work so well if they overhauled the SYSTEM although but instead political parties just bicker and call each other names!

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peddington
8/21/2017 09:04 EST

Ha, ha...Not sure who's post your replied to (maybe mine) but understand this! You don't know what happens behind closed doors and unless you know WELL an insider you may never know. My would be brother in law is a the Chief of Internal Medicine in one of the largest Hungarian hospitals/providers. He told me that they "disinfect" and reuse 4 or 5 times an item that was intended for ONE TIME use. He did say that he wouldn't use it on an American because he knew that we are like to sue etc. Since you are a Hungarian citizen ALL bets may be off. Sure there are a large number of 50 plus doctors that are very skilled and professional but don't let that get to your head. Unless you live in a large metropolitan area or near a major hospital and you are over 55 you may not make it if you have a cardiac arrest. Response time by ambulance can be as much as 40 minutes in some areas. So good luck and enjoy your CHEAP health care...oh and don't forget (in case you hospitalized) to bring your own; silverware, pijamas, salt, bottled water and TIPS for ALL!

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smartcharlie
12/5/2017 14:01 EST

Are you thinking of purchasing property when you move? If so, then conside using a First Rate FX company when transferring money abroad. High Street banks will charge you lots of fees! Good luck.

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Mirin123
1/8/2018 11:31 EST

I've been living here for almost 4 years now, off and on over the past 24 years. My health is quite a concern for me. I have Tri-care but since I've worked for the Hungarian Government as a resident I was able to receive National Health Insurance. When I was living in Kaposvar I had to have a by-pass of my femoral artery. Quite extensive surgery and except for a little nerve related problem at the skin level I had not had any problems and recovered well. During that procedure I had: Ultrasound, Venagram, the surgery and several visits and follow ups with both my resident physician and the surgeon. I was and still am quite happy. I also have diabeties, arterio sclorosis and hypertension. I have an internal medicine physician who has been wonderful, helpful and very professional. That's here in Budapest. I also have a resident or family physician who is also fantastic. The facilities here are not US but the difference is it's social medicine. The physicians are much more conservative in my opinion and less puppy mill (next) or money diven. They seem to do it because they are physicans. Everything done here was for the minimal fee of about 40.00 usds per month. That's it. Now in the US I had to have 3 stints put into the other leg. That bill just for the proceedure was 52,000 usds. 1 day hospital stay. Not including the specialist fee and diagnostics. Thankfully, Tri-care paid for most of that but not all. I must say that the facilities here are not US facilities. You have to wait at times but I had to wait in the US longer than it took me to do the surgery here. I see my physicians as I need too and rarely wait more than 1 hour. Medicines are minimal much less that what you would pay in the US. Dental even if you pay outright is 1/3 the cost of US care. I would say they are very good at bridge work, crowns and general care but lacking a bit in the preventative areas. Over-all I have been pleased. I can't complain except for the food in the hosptal. It's terrible even for a Hungarian. Another area I'm very pleased with is security. I was a soldier and private soldier all my life until retirement. This place is safe. I've been all over the world and I haven't found a safer place to live. One of the main reasons I live here. Many here have spoken about the political situation. Involve yourself; make yourself a target and so you will suffer the consequences. As for the official administrative services I've had just as much difficutly with US and other countries services as I have with the Hungarian. Mostly I found them efficient as long as I filled out the right form and found the right person. I was married here went through that process. Obtained residence visa, non-family and family, obtained a drivers license, address card, and tax number, and bought a house, used several lawyers for different legal issues. Those are difficult even in the US. Sure I had help along the way but I got help. Most everywhere here in Budapest you can find and English speaking person in the agencies, business and even shopping. Litttle more difficult in the surrounding communites but still it's getting better all the time. Basically, I love it here made it my home and find the food, attractions and living just fine. I've had wonderful experiences. Suggestion for you is to learn the language if you can. They will be amazed with you.

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borschelrh
1/9/2018 02:49 EST

Mirin123 - I agree with you completely. There is no comparison between US medicine and Hungary. I can say though that I served most of my career in the US Army providing medical services and we re-used disposable items as well. We also re-dated expired medications (it is permissible under US law) several years past their expirations. The reason is that military medicine is immune to malpractice lawsuits (Gonzales Act). I can also say that in my time I have seen horrors in the US which would shock most people. For example I was assigned an additional duty back when I was a Captain to investigate the medical qualifications of all doctors at our medical center. This included verification of graduation from an approved University and proof of a state license. The amount of fraud was incredible. I found more than 20 doctors who never went to medical school and several were renowned surgeons and several were Colonels. I found doctors who were convicted of felony murder in states (malpractice related such as one was a Psychiatrist convicted f raping his patients) but were serving in the military. Roughly half didn't have licenses in any state and a great deal were "graduates" of shady medical training facilities. I recall that the State of Kansas gave blanket licenses to all doctors not licensed for a fee so if you see a doctor in the military whose license is from Kansas in 1985 guess how that happened. It was an enormous embarrassment to the military which was more or less kept quiet. At least in Hungary they have real doctorates. Most Americans are unaware that foreign medical graduates only have a Bachelor's degree and are technically not doctors. This includes places like the UK, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, etc. Yet, in the US they are permitted to repeat (if they ever had one in the first place is questionable) a Residency program and then take the boards and foreign medical graduate examination and instantly become "doctors". It is a travesty.

I also found that every doctor here in Hungary is more concerned about patient welfare than in profit. I haven't met one yet who wasn't an excellent doctor. I also do not see the rush to get you out of the office so they can see the next patient. Yes, it slows things down but it isn't horrible. Really there is no comparison at all to the US.

If you noticed the recent Tri-Care changes it is now only covering 60% of costs with some interesting limitations. For example, Tricare will only pay $901 a day for the hospital. Our last stay in the local medical center here was roughly $7 a day. Yes, the meals suck but everyone knows that and there are cafeterias available. In Hungary it is expected that the family will take a major role in patient care and normally people bring their relatives meals. It is not a big deal. Our medical center in Veszprem has 4 places to buy food and a MacDonalds across the street.

Another thing you mentioned is the amazing costs in the US. I was working overseas and my wife had a cardiac problem back in Suburban DC in Virginia. She was taken by ambulance ($2,000) to the Emergency Room and kept for 3 days because the ambulance crew overdosed her with nitroglycerine. In the 3 days she received no meals at all and was charged by more than 10 separate doctors most of who she never saw. The 3 day bill was $48,000 and her problem was not cardia at all, was misdiagnosed and she was almost killed by the ambulance crew. Luckily, her insurance paid for everything. BUt that was 15 years ago, so one can only speculate how much it would be today. She broke her leg in a fall in Sarajevo and had to have serious surgery with plates and screws which included 2 weeks in the hospital. Total cost was less than $1,000. The surgery to remove the plates a year later in Veszprem was $400 which included a week in the hospital. I have had eye issues and twice have had a detached retina. I also had cataract surgery here as well. The surgical re-attachment was 40,000 HUF and the cataract surgery was $600 per eye including lens. As I mentioned we pay cash here. I no longer submit claims to Tricare as the error rate is over 400%, due to their incompetence. Now it is even harder as they only accept a cancelled check or credit card receipt as proof of payment and In Hungary no hospital takes anything other than cash. Receipts are no longer accepted without proof of payment by check or CC. I don't miss the long hassles and I filed several Congressional complaints over the poor service by Tri-Care. It is contracted out to the lowest bidder who hires HS graduates (maybe) to process claims. I think their business model is to screw it up so much you just give up trying.

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