Liberty Bridge in Budapest
Liberty Bridge in Budapest
Liberty Bridge in Budapest

Living in Hungary Guide

Living in Hungary Guide

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on May 19, 2021

Summary: Expats, global nomads and retirees living in Hungary talk about meeting other expats, befriending locals, the local culture, diversity in Hungary, international schools, crime and more.

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People living in Hungary share their experiences making friends, adjusting to the culture, what expat life is like in Hungary, healthcare in Hungary and more.

Deciding Where to Live in Hungary

When we asked expats living in Hungary to offer newcomers advice about choosing a neighborhood and finding a home, they replied:

"We looked online and found it on a Ingatlan (Realtor) Hungarian/English site. Wasn't very hard to look through the pictures. You can also use sites like xpatloop.com to help locate the Realtors. Housing in Budapest is expensive right now for anything above 900 sq ft. and hard to find," said one expat living in Budapest, Hungary.

"I already knew the neighborhood from spending a summer here working as an intern. Found my apartment by asking friends & looking for apartments with roommates," mentioned another expat in Hungary.

Read our article, Retiring in Hungary: 7 Best Places to Retire in Hungary, for advice about deciding where to live in Hungary.

Expats living in Hungary interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get quotes our partner, International Citizens Insurance, a trusted expat health insurance broker. They will provide you with comparison quotes from some of the biggest expat health insurers: Cigna, Aetna and GeoBlue. Get a Quote

Expats living in Hungary interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get quotes our partner, International Citizens Insurance, a trusted expat health insurance broker. They will provide you with comparison quotes from some of the biggest expat health insurers: Cigna, Aetna and GeoBlue.

Meeting People in Hungary

Expats living in Hungary talked about meeting people in Hungary and local clubs and organizations:

"Chamber of Commerce events, Houses of Worship gatherings. Refer to www.xpatloop.com," said one expat living in Budapest, Hungary.

"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)," mentioned another expat in Hungary.

"For ladies, the North American Women"s Association is very welcoming, even if you aren't from Canada, the US or Mexico," commented one expat who made the move to 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," remarked another expat living in Tarnazsadany, Hungary.

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

Expat Life in Hungary

What is it like living in Hungary? Here is what people had to say:

"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," said one expat living in Budapest, Hungary.

"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)," mentioned another expat in 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," commented one expat who made the move to Hungary.

"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," remarked another expat living in Tarnazsadany, Hungary.

"People are basically kind but not too helpful when you are looking for good customer service in a shop," added another expat in Hungary.

What Expats Appreciate about Their New Culture

We asked expats in Hungary what they appreciated about their new culture. Here's what they had to say:

"The people here have strong family values and very high food quality. As mentioned they patiently line up in cues and are generally very polite and warm. I have not experienced any anti-foreigner sentiment at all. I notice that most workers typically do a good job without requiring heavy supervision," said one expat living in Balatonfured, Hungary.

"Family values, being able to patiently stand in cue, that man and women still can be man and women (as opposed to Dutch culture where everybody is almost forced to be the same), clean streets and well behaved," mentioned another expat in Hungary.

The Most Challenging Aspects of Living in Hungary

Then, we asked expats in Hungary what was most challenging about their new culture. They replied:

"Lazy/don't care type attitude like it is no big deal. Like telling kids a day before competition at school they can't go because there is "no bus"! WHAT?," said one expat living in Budapest, Hungary.

"There is a defeatist feeling in many Hungarians that things are bad and getting worse. But, on the opposite scale there is this overwhelming desire to get back the territories lost following WWI. I also find it a bit disconcerting that most Hungarians do not understand they have constantly been on the wrong side of every war they have fought in. It is weird to have a national day of mourning for Stalingrad for the loss of 200,000 Hungarian soldiers there but not recognizing that they were complicit in the Nazi attempts of Hitler to conquer Europe. The same is true for the attempted and failed revolution against Soviet occupation in 1956 only 11 years after the war ended in a country still being kept under control following the defeat of Germany and the Axis nations. So, they have supported Germany twice and lost heavily but still have this amazing desire for increased nationality even now that they are members of the EU and much of this is angering their neighbors which acquired the territories lost following the wars. I find this nationalism and increased right-wing behavior somewhat disconcerting," mentioned another expat in Hungary.

"Corruption, decades of communist rule have influenced the work ethos, the way the government let's the country run into deeper trouble, lack of truly free press and objective reporting, shady party financing," commented one expat who made the move to Hungary.

Crime in 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," said one expat living in Budapest, Hungary.

"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," mentioned another expat in Hungary.

Diversity in Hungary

We asked expats about diversity in Hungary and whether locals are accepting of differences. They said:

"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," said one expat living in Budapest, Hungary.

"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," mentioned another expat in Hungary.

"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.," commented one expat who made the move to Hungary.

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

International Schools in Hungary

"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," said one expat whose children attend Lycee Francais de Budapest in 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," added another expat with kids at Britannica International School in Budapest.

"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," commented one expat when asked about International School of Budapest in Budapest.

Health Insurance 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," commented one expat living in Fonyod, Hungary.

Residency & Visa Requirements

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

Why Foreigners Move to Hungary

When we asked expats in Hungary why expats move there, they replied:

"Budapest is a beautiful, historic city with a reasonable cost of living. The architecture is stunning, the restaurants and cafes are plentiful and there are lots of things to see and do. It also has its fair share of green spaces, not to mention the scenic Buda hills," commented one expat living in Budapest, Hungary.

Expat Health Insurance in Hungary

Expats interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get quotes our partner, International Citizens Insurance, a trusted expat health insurance broker. They will provide you with comparison quotes from some of the biggest expat health insurers: Cigna, Aetna and GeoBlue.

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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