Expat Exchange
Liberty Bridge in Budapest
Liberty Bridge in Budapest
Liberty Bridge in Budapest

Living in Hungary

By Betsy Burlingame

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.

William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance

What do I need to know about living in Hungary?

Live in Hungary? Answer this Question

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," mentioned another expat 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 one expat who made the move to Budapest.

"Stay clear of the public health system (there are good private alternatives). Stay clear of the police. Do not drink and drive. Enjoy the marvelous weather and the fresh produce," remarked another expat living in Budapest, Hungary.

"Come with an open mind, there are problems of varying sorts throughout the world. Life is what you make of it, what you demand. We personally find it healthy and quite, much the opposite from where we came from.," added another expat in Tarnazsadany.

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How do I meet people in Hungary?

Live in Hungary? Answer this Question

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," added another expat in 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 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)," remarked another expat who made the move to Budapest.

"For ladies, the North American Women"s Association is very welcoming, even if you aren't from Canada, the US or Mexico," explained one expat living in Budapest, Hungary.

"It really depends upon your personal needs. This is a quite rural place, the villagers quitely go about there everyday business. Gardening is a big thing, growing your own produce. A car is essential although there's a regular bus service to the bigger towns," said another expat in Tarnazsadany.

"Newcomers should read the Budapest Business Journal to get informed about events - www.bbj.hu," added another expat who made the move to Budapest.

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

What is life like in Hungary?

Live in Hungary? Answer this Question

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," remarked another 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)," explained one expat living in Budapest, Hungary.

"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," said another expat in Budapest.

"We are both retired out here,property is reasonably cheap,the expense of living here we find to be very economical. We have become friends with some of the locals.Work is not the be all and end all.It is a very healthy area, lovely clean fresh air. Family & socialising is a priority here. There are the thermal waters around and about," added another expat who made the move to Tarnazsadany.

"People are basically kind but not too helpful when you are looking for good customer service in a shop," explained one expat living in Budapest, Hungary.

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Is there a lot of crime in Hungary?

Live in Hungary? Answer this Question

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," remarked another expat living in Nagykanizsa, Hungary.

"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," added another expat 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 save," remarked another expat who made the move to Budapest.

Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Hungary accepting of differences?

Live in Hungary? Answer this Question

"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.

"There are some who would say the local Roma community are what keeps people away from here, we never hesitated in moving here at all. People are what you make of them, some are extremely obliging and helpful. The church is centre for the locals.," remarked another expat living in Tarnazsadany, Hungary.

"There are Hungarians and Gypsies... sometimes they have their differences, but you need to see it from both sides," added another expat in Budapest.

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

What are the schools in Hungary like?

Live in Hungary? Answer this Question

"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.

"It's a small, growing school. The class sizes are small, which appealed to us. It's been wonderful meeting students, parents and teachers from all over the world. We considered the American School and the British School when looking at schools in Budapest in 2000. We chose ISB for its bilingual program, the international atmosphere and curriculum and its peaceful location. It just felt right! We haven't regretted our choice," remarked another parent with kids at International School of Budapest in Budapest.

Is the cost of living in Hungary high?

Live in Hungary? Answer this Question

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," added another expat who made the move to Budapest.

"$2000 USD will do it but be mindful it doesn't cover major medical or other expenses," explained one expat living in Budapest, Hungary.

What type of recreational facilities are in Hungary?

Live in Hungary? Answer this Question

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," mentioned another expat inBudapest.

What is the weather like in Hungary?

Live in Hungary? Answer this Question

"Budapest has excellent, very hot Summers and very cold, but generally dry winters," said another expat.

Are there good restaurants in Hungary?

Live in Hungary? Answer this Question

"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," said an expat in Budapest.

Where will I buy groceries and do other shopping in Hungary?

Live in Hungary? Answer this Question

"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," added one expat living in Budapest.

What are the visa & residency requirements in Hungary?

Live in Hungary? Answer this Question

"The process is quite straight forward although it can take a few weeks for residency cards to be processed," remarked another expat in Budapest.

Are healthcare and health insurance expensive in Hungary?

Live in Hungary? Answer this Question

"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," remarked another expat in Fonyod.

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame 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.

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
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William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
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Liberty Bridge in Budapest

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

Hungary GuideHungary Guide
Learn what members have to say about living in Hungary.

Hungary Forum Hungary Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in Hungary on our Hungary forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

Hungary Index Hungary Index
An index of all of our site's Hungary information.

Contribute to Hungary Network Contribute
Help others in Hungary by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Hungary.

Expat Healthcare Advice in HungaryHealthcare & Health Insurance in Hungary

Expats in Hungary offer advice about healthcare, hospital visits, emergency rooms visits, finding a doctor and buying health insurance in Hungary.

Expat Talk about Healthcare Advice in HungaryMembers Talk about Healthcare & Health Insurance in Hungary

Expats in Hungary offer advice about healthcare in Hungary.

Best Places to Live in Hungary Best Places to Live in Hungary

Hungary is sometimes overlooked as a retirement destination. Expats who retire in Hungary appreciate the low cost of living; rich history; friendly people; and beautiful cities, towns and countryside.

Real Estate in HungaryReal Estate in Hungary

Real estate listings in popular cities and towns in Hungary.

Guide to Real Estate in HungaryGuide to Real Estate in Hungary

Advice for people renting and buying real estate in Hungary.

Pros Cons of Living in HungaryPros & Cons of Living in Hungary

Take off your rose-colored glasses and learn what digital nomads & expats have to say about the biggest challenges and the greatest rewards of living in Hungary.

Cost of Living in HungaryCost of Living in Hungary

Digital Nomads & Expats offer insight into the cost of living 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.

Guides to Cities in Hungary
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