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What's a good/OK salary for living in Budapest?

Hello!

I have a job offer with a large multinational telco company in Budapest, but being an expat and my wife having never worked here (that's why she left Hungary in the first place), I'm not sure what a good salary range is for an engineer (or to live comfortably enough in Budapest). My estimate is that 450k to 600k Ft/month gross is OK to pay for the essentials and enjoy life a bit. We're not into the nightlife scene as we're new parents, but we like to visit the opera and such. We also love to travel and have family abroad (USA, Puerto Rico) that we want to visit at least once a year or have them come over. We're not big on luxurious stuff (clothes, cars, etc.) either, and cook a lot at home.

Thanks to my previous job in the USA, we've already moved everything we need to Pécs, where we are renting. We also have a car, so those expenses are covered and we'd only need enough for living expenses in Budapest (should I accept the offer).

I'd expect to move into a 2 bedroom, ~70 sqm apartment in Budapest, which is similar to what we have in Pécs, and not spend much on gas there. My wife would have to visit Pécs once a week for school. What's your take?

I don't know about how many kids you are expecting to have but I'd go for 3 bedrooms to allow for expansion. Apartment living is quite difficult with children as you need a garden or a park nearby.  They go bonkers during the winter stuck inside. Salary wise, if this is gross amounts then you'll lose half of it to the government. By HU standards, this would be enough but it's not luxurious at all. Don't forget also your kids demands will grow to meet your income and particularly as they get older, they want "extras" at school like sports, trips out and they eat like horses when they are in that growth spurt around 10 years old. It all costs money. OK, worth it in the end (one hopes).  You will be better off in Budapest than Pecs which has nothing particularly going for it.

@fluffy2560: Sounds like good advice, thank you. We don't plan on more than 2 children at the moment, second one may take several years to arrive ;)

Any idea how accurate are the Net salary calculators provided online, such as in hrportal.hu? There is another calculator provided by the government, but I don't have the link at hand...

Found the other "net salary calculators":

fizetesek.hu/en/calculator

hrportal.hu/index.phtml?page=berkalkulator_2015

Sorry, I don't have a clue what an engineer makes here in Hungary.
I know for a fact that most people with families have 2 incomes.
My sister-in-law is a college professor of chemistry at one of the universities in Budapest and last time we spoke to her she was doing housecleaning on her free Saturdays for extra income.
You mentioned your wife was Hungarian, she might be able to find a better paying job in Hungary then you can if you don't speak the local language.
In any case my opinion is I would NEVER work in Hungary as they don't pay, not worth getting up in the morning if you are used to income from the US.
I am about the laziest person I know when it comes to work but even I could make more money in the US working part-time then killing myself over here, the wages are that bad.
My son was offered a casino table games job here in Hungary 10 years back, he was married at the time to a Hungarian who also refused to work in Hungary.
He is a born American but has dual citizenship with HU through his father.
He decided he could make more money working at a fast food place in the US then working full time in Hungary with the extra pressure of handling money for the mob( casino owners!) He never worked in fast food but was just comparing the wages.
Think even 10 years back he would of cleared only $500. a month after taxes in HU.
He makes more then that in 2 days in the US. He is a casino manager in Vegas, never could get that sort of job here in HU.
Not sure if you plan on sending your children to western style school such as the American or British schools in Budapest.
I knew a lady living here from Calif. who sent her 8 year old to the American school. This was 5 years back so prices have probably increased by now. It cost $15,000 USD per year per child for the American school, $25,000 per child per year for high school classes there.
Her wealthy HU in-laws paid for his schooling until things got bad within the family( siblings fighting because they were getting more from the parents they they were, they own a large real estate co. in HU) She and her husband had to leave HU and go back to Canada where he was from, money , real money is hard to get over here.
They tried hard here for 10 years but nothing ever worked out for them here in HU. His family had to support them 100%.
If your job is willing to pay for your kids schooling like some jobs do then that is a different case.
We knew people from HU, they lived for a long time in the US and had kids born in the US. They moved back to HU with money but one way or the other their kids couldn't make it in local HU schools,either they were teased daily because their accent in HU was wrong or the other kids were jealous because they saw their parents had better cars and homes. The 3 different families we knew who moved here with kids all moved back to the US within a year or so because their kids didn't fit in. The parents had a good life here but at the expense of their kids. They had to move and go back to work in the US. Easy to move here if you have no kids or are retired.
In any case, you never stated what your pay rate is at the moment, hard to give accurate advice if we are just guessing what you can afford.This is the cheapest place to live in Europe but the pay rate is the lowest too.
Most well educated Hungarians are leaving Hungary as fast as they can for real money elsewhere.

@Marilyn: You paint a pretty dreary picture. I'd guess you're retired (good for you!). I'd expect to net about 300k HUF/month; what's that here, in your opinion?

From the people I've met at the PTE (University of Pécs), government salaries seem to be dismal here. I wouldn't work there for salaries like that. I was able to find a job knowing next to no Hungarian. Obviously this is in a large multinational company.

I think your conception of salaries and cost of living in the US is a bit off. The main difference between here and the US, in my opinion, is the access to cheap credit. That enables people to get whatever they want at the cost of a lifetime of monthly payments. My $80k/yr job near Washington DC was barely enough to save any money. Along with my wife having a hard time finding a job there, moving here wasn't such a bad decision. Half of my US salary went to housing, and most families there also have to live on 2 salaries! Don't get me wrong, we weren't starving, but doing anything beyond the yearly family visit overseas would set us back.

Someone in the US working in a fast-food joint may make more money than most people here, but you're talking the BOTTOM of the spectrum for the US, which compares to the salary AVERAGE here.

I wouldn't mind putting my children through the public school system here. I'm not impressed with the US school system at all. Although I am a product of it, I had the good fortune of having great parents and a knack for school. The experiences they put children through here seem to foster a better sense of humanity and community (huge contrast from the US).

I know for a certainty that I could make a LOT more money in the US, even as a junior engineer ($100k+). Sadly, I was getting tired and bored of the American lifestyle. So far I haven't regretted coming here.

300,000 forints a month is pretty good.
We usually live on 200,000 a month but we are not really saving for anything big.
we often live on less then 200,000 depending on if we are out taking trips or not.
I may have a warped sense of money. I usually worked for pay and tips and tips as a Vegas games dealer were usually very good.
Really have no idea what it is like to leave with just a normal monthly pay. Used to do hair and tips were a big part of my pay in that field as well.never worked for a salary in my life, always got tips.
My husband was a Hungarian trained highly skilled metal worker in the US but he quit to drive a taxi in Vegas because the tips were better then doing a 9 to 5 er. On a good night if you found tourists wanting to go to a strip club the taxi drivers could get between $10 to $40. a person when they dropped people off at the door. easy money but long hours. (so nice with a party of 5 or more)
i am thinking of picking up a part-time dealing job next visit to Vegas just for some mad money, just would never think of even working in HU.Not of retirement age just yet, just living off my poor,"old" husband. if I was into working , I would still be in Vegas.If we were still in HU when I get my SS then it would be perfect here money wise at least.

You are lucky your job skills allow you to find work without speaking HU.
I think 300,000 take home should do you fine with pay raises later. Good luck.

I forgot to mention we live on 200,000  a month but we pay no rent. We own our flat.

We are able to save for yearly trips to Vegas. I have a feeling we don't even spend that much every month since my husband is our banker.
If you happen to have some savings and like Hungary that much, it is a good time to buy property here. The prices are very low right now and they have to come up in the future.You are still young enough to wait for prices to raise someday . It would probably work out to be cheaper to buy right now then to rent long term.
Don't mind my attitude, been coming and going to HU and US fro ever.... Never feel at home in either place these days.
I know my son has a good casino job, a manager in Vegas and he wants to quit and move to Japan with his Japanese wife, live in the countryside there and check out of the "real world" problems.
He had a Hungarian wife when he was in his early 20's, just say, it didn't  work out at all, he is a dual citizen of HU and the US but he will never visit here again after his bad marriage. Another reason for me to dislike it here, no family around for me here.
Going on those marathon flights back home are killers, even if we can afford to go I try hard to put them off for at least 18 months time between flights.
I know what you mean by easy credit in the US, Been there, done that. Have not used credit since 1998, cash and carry baby!If one lives on available cash only life is perhaps not as exciting but one can sleep better at night.
Got in the hole for over $110,000 before I cut up my cards, like I said, I know all about credit cards. Guess coming to HU in my old age is my punishment for living the high life in my youth... just joking... maybe.
if you have any other questions, let us know here and will do what we can to give honest advice.

I think retired and semi retired people generally have a different perspective. Retired life in the uk seems to be all bills and no play , which is why I intend to spend as much time as possible at my holiday home in the Hungarian countryside and only work occasionally in Budapest and London. The cost of keeping a home in the Uk is three times higher than in Hungary and the food is chemical free and delicious.
When I stop working full time in the Uk I wont keep my own home there, it is cheaper to stay in hotels for a few weeks than pay gas bills and council tax all year around .  Of course when I am properly elderly I may choose to just sit on the porch in a dressing gown and sip Jack Daniels in my cocoa . So life will be very cheap.

My works pension seems well above Hungarian wages but I am sure that over time I will have to economise. My advice is to buy your own apartment rather than rent because rent in Budapest is increasing and buying even on a loan seems a lot cheaper because within a few years the main cost is utilities and maintenance.
People with young families are more concerned about schools and nurseries and just like in any major city which area you choose to live in becomes more important.
I always maintain a positive view about Hungary and Budapest but as far as work and socialising is concerned Budapest seems to offer a better option for mainly English speakers like myself , especially as the work I do is conducted in English to English speakers.
You may already be aware that transport is very cheap compared to the Uk and Us and most basics are cheaper .But the high import taxes and VAT makes clothing and furniture expensive.
Good luck with your move

As "good enough"  is always relative, I guess it is up to native US people to compare US living standards to those here, but I may point out that there have been many such questions in this forum, I also replied extensively to some around two years ago:)

I guess you are correct with the engineering salaries, I am going for my first professional job right now (with a few years of experience in science, but switching fields now) and I expect to land a job between 350k and 450k gross, in other words somewhere  between 1k USD and 1k EUR p.m. net  salary, but also 1k GBP net p.m. is certainly possible for a more senior engineer, at least in IT. I hope I found an easy-to-remember number:)

Perhaps one useful statement is that the local prices are such that a middle class lifestyle in Berlin, Vienna, and London would cost very roughly 1.75 ,  2.5 ,  and 4 times of that in Budapest, respectively. What is middle class in the west is of course pretty much upper-middle-class for Hungary.

Another difference between Bp. and the above cities, and one which I feel significant, is that public i.e essentially "free" healthcare and education in the above cities are of much better quality than in Hungary. (Not sure it is true for the US). I mean many "good" tradition-rich Hungarian state school may still be very good, but I frankly have my doubts how many will be left in a few years - perhaps they will still be there, but morning prayers become obligatory (just joking, but I hope you get the idea).
(Hungarian higher education standards seem to degrade slowly but of course some fields hold up quite well... e.g. learning discrete maths and applications (i.e. theoretical CS) is probably still possible at very high level if - well, if your kid is in the right school, around the right people - sorry, this is still decades away for you - as is for me)
Anyway, you probably want to spend a more significant amount of your salary on those things than in Germany, say.
There are many discussions about this topics,  in the forum.

Yes our serious work days (thankfully!!) are behind us.
I have plans on visiting the US for a few months in the fall, thinking of picking up a 3 day a week dealing job or hairdressing job there just for some gambling funds in Vegas and shopping trips.
I know wages are much lower in Hungary for professionals and for anyone without higher education it is tough in HU to get by.
Not so easy these days in the US either to get by on one income and no education.
Probably unheard of in Hungary for a semi-retired 60 year old women to pick up a gig dealing cards or doing hair.
that's the big difference in Europe, to me at least it seems impossible to get ahead unless you have connections.
Health care in Hungary we have found is just adequate. If you have a routine issue like a hernia or broken arm they will fix ya up alright. If you have a minor or less common issue, good luck, they send you all over the city and no doctor seems to want to take it seriously, they just send you on to someone else at another location. Hoping you give up before you get an answer.
In the US we had "Obama care" for 6 months. I was taken more seriously with my low income health care in the US then I am taken seriously here with the national health. Got PT in the US so I could walk without using a cane after knee surgery in Hungary that left me worst off then pre op.
After minor knee surgery in HU my leg was still swollen and I was on crutches for months not the one week they told me it would be. My surgeon( a nice enough man) just told me that was the best he could do and let me limp out of his office. Who wants to be worst off after going through surgery for a minor issue. In the US I got the "royal" treatment, sports surgeon looked me over, had PT and was given temp. braces and even had access to a free membership in a spa to use the pool for my knee.That's the difference between normal health care in HU and "poor mans" health care in the US.I think perhaps in the US they help older citizen more with health issues and needs. If you are over 60 in the US they do seem to care what happens to you, somewhat.
Also had a patch of skin cancer taken seriously on my arm but here in Hungary they basically said just looking at it that they didn't see anything. Unless your arm was in full blown sores they just pass you on in HU.
In many cases in Hungary it is best to see a private doctor.
I have a friend who lives between HU and the UK, she is planning on keeping her NH for the UK, a good idea as it seems like better care then in HU.

I was told by 3 different derma doc's in Budapest that I had exzema on my arm, it was skin cancer.
just to show the level of care available in HU. You have to push and stay on top of the doctors here to get real care.

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