Living in Hungary
Last updated on Feb 10, 2022
Summary: Expats, digital nomads and retirees talk about what it is really like living in Hungary. They offer advice about meeting people, cost of living, finding a home and more.
What do I need to know about living in Hungary?
When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Hungary, they said:
"Be patient! While not strangling, there is still bureaucracy. Hungarians are friendly though and eager to help. Ask for help and/or employ people (like Hire A Hungarian .com) to help during the transition. Life is easy after the initial transition. Also, 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," remarked another expat who made the move to 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," explained one expat living in Budapest, Hungary.
How do I meet people in Hungary?
When we asked people living in Hungary about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:
"Chamber of Commerce events, Houses of Worship gatherings. Refer to www.xpatloop.com," commented one expat who made the move to Budapest.
"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)," remarked another expat living in Budapest, Hungary.
What is life like in Hungary?
When we asked people living in Hungary what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:
"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," commented one expat who made the move to Budapest.
"In my opinion they revolve around socializing. Hungarians seem to place a lot of focus on Holidays, meeting in cafes, traveling to the countryside to visit parents/grandparents on weekends. I say socializing and not family because individuals find it difficult to save money therefore there is a low birth rate. Back to socializing -I heard that even the Metro ticket controllers work in groups of 2 and 3 so that they have someone to eat lunch with (this could be another interesting priority--as it is lunch and not dinner that is the main, hot meal of the day here)," remarked another expat living in Budapest, Hungary.
Is there a lot of crime in Hungary?
We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:
"There is very little crime here - the general feeling is friendly, neighbourly and helpful," added another expat who made the move to Nagykanizsa.
"In the city there is always more crime but you know the areas to stay out of and there aren't many. In the country it is more peaceful," explained one expat living in Budapest, Hungary.
Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Hungary accepting of differences?
"The residents of Budapest are very accepting of all types of people though I'm sure the relatively few Roma dwelling in Budapest would beg to differ. In the past 10 years I have witnessed more acceptance of foreigners and more languages spoken. Outside Budapest this is not always the case," mentioned another expat 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). 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," commented one expat who made the move to Budapest.
What are the schools in Hungary like?
"My daughter graduated from the lycee several years ago, so my report may not be the most up-to-date. But I can say that she in now perfectly fluent in French thanks to the lycee. The lycee's small size provided a warm environment, as well as an excellent education. We also found that coming from a different system proved to be an advantage when applying to colleges back in the US," remarked another expat living in Budapest with children attending Lycee Francais de Budapest.
"The school offers IGCSE and AICE.It is a Cambridge Local Examination Centre.It is student centered and has a warm,positive atmosphere.It is the best choice you can make if you want your child to have an excellent education," said another expat in Budapest with children at Britannica International School.
Is the cost of living in Hungary high?
We asked people how much they someone comfortably live on in Hungary, they wrote:
"Well that depends on your life style. Approximately on the average 1,500 euros - 2,000 euros per month on the high end including lots of travel. This monthly living expense is after a property purchase," explained one expat living in Budapest, Hungary.
"$2000 USD will do it but be mindful it doesn't cover major medical or other expenses," said another expat in Budapest.
What type of recreational facilities are in Hungary?
When we asked people living in Hungary about recreational activities, they mentioned:
"The Buda hills are home to many hiking trails with beautiful lookout points. Budapest is also famous for it's many incredible thermal baths," added one expat living in Budapest.
What is the weather like in Hungary?
"Budapest has excellent, very hot Summers and very cold, but generally dry winters," said one expat living in Budapest.
Are there good restaurants in Hungary?
"Budapest has an excellent nightlife, famous for it's stag parties and it's colourful and eclectic ruin bars. In Pest you can find restaurants of all types. The food scene in Budapest is continually growing and adapting to accommodate new trends and tastes," mentioned another expat inBudapest.
Where will I buy groceries and do other shopping in Hungary?
"The main shopping spots are located in Pest's City Center. Vaci street is perhaps the most famous of these, which actually designated as a pedestrian precinct. The Great Market Hall in Budapest is the most beautiful and largest of all Budapest market halls," remarked another expat living in Budapest.
What are the visa & residency requirements in Hungary?
"The process is quite straight forward although it can take a few weeks for residency cards to be processed," mentioned another expat inBudapest.
Are healthcare and health insurance expensive in Hungary?
"I do have health insurance back in the US. However I discovered that if I ask for an "official" bill (understand one with the required AFA/VAT) then the price jumps disproportionately. Give you an example; I had a toothache and a little swelling. I found out which local dentist had an x-ray. He took an x-ray, relieved the swelling, prescribed antibiotics and recommended a root canal which he didn't do. The price was 10,000 forints (very cheap compared to the US). Figuring that I could file with my insurance company in the US, I asked for a "bill"! Big mistake; the price instantly chanced to 17,000 forints. So now for minor stuff I pay out of pocket," mentioned another expat inFonyod.
About the Author
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.
- Hungary Guide
- Healthcare & Health Insurance in Hungary
- Members Talk about Healthcare & Health Insurance in Hungary
- Best Places to Live in Hungary
- Real Estate in Hungary
- Guide to Real Estate in Hungary
- Pros & Cons of Living in Hungary
- Cost of Living in Hungary
- International Schools in Budapest
- 2022 Guide to Moving to Hungary
- More Advice about Retiring in Hungary