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Best cities to live in Hungary

You are correct, the expat experience is colored by our personal issues.  Language being a big one but for us it has not been a problem.  We live in Balatonfured which I can fully endorse as a great place to live.  It has more than adequate shopping and wonderful things to do as it is a destination resort.  That said during the tourist season it gets crazy but the rest of the year it is fine. We have the National Cardiology Institute here and the Medical Center 12 km away in Veszprem is excellent. Large shopping can also be done easily in Veszprem. Graz and Vienna are less than 3 hours away so for us it is a great place.  We rarely go to Budapest at all except to the airport or when we have tourist visitors.  We do not speak Hungarian but I have enough to get by (barely) and speak German which is the second language around lake Balaton. English is becoming more common but away from the tourist areas it is non-existent.  So, places like Gyor or Szekeshfeharvar no one will speak anything except Hungarian.

I sail and mountain bike around the lake in the Bakony National forests and on Tihany peninsula and go snowboarding at Epleny which is only 30 km away. The hiking trails around the region are excellent and the area pristine beyond belief.  For big mountain stuff the High Alps are 5 hours away. There is a lot of investment by the EU in Balatonfured so it is not only growing but getting better.  That was fortuitous and we didn't anticipate that but it was nice to have happen.

The government issues for us are more of a nuisance than anything else. I know of no country with a perfect government and many are far worse than Hungary including the US and UK.

Suffice it to say we do not regret retiring here at all and I am saying that after living here for 6 years.

hi
I couldn't agree more.
As  for the language issue, my wife is Hungarian but I have made my way up to a relatively  competent level through trial and error and a few teach yourself books. The locals seem to appreciate my efforts! Whenever I need some technical language I take my pocket dictionary with me. The hour long conversations with our delightful 74yr old widow neighbour are a challenge. I understand 100% of what I think I am saying to her, she understands about 90% of it and I understand about 15% of what she says to me. Not that this is anything that her generous rounds of palinka can't address!
just looking forward to retirement (early!) in 2017!
james

jdbm1959 :

....Whenever I need some technical language I take my pocket dictionary with me. ....

I just started using the Google Translate application on my smartphone.  The way it works with the camera is really quite remarkable.  Point it at a sign in whatever language and it will show you the same image (dynamically) with the foreign language text translated.  Some of the translations are utterly ridiculous but it's very interesting how it works.  It even translates SMS messages and you can just point it at say, a letter and it works.  It's in no way perfect but it will eventually improve.

Good to know! Thanks  :)

borschelrh :

So, places like Gyor or Szekeshfeharvar no one will speak anything except Hungarian.

:/  That is odd. I have been to Győr many times (often to catch a train to Vienna) and enjoyed a beer or a meal in the city while waiting for my train. The waiter or waitress often spoke English.

borschelrh :

The hiking trails around the region are excellent and the area pristine beyond belief.

After many millennia of human use and interactions in Europe, almost no part of Europe is "pristine" (definition: having its original purity; uncorrupted or unsullied). Most of the forest in Hungary is second growth, and heavily managed. I do not know a really "pristine" place on the planet anymore, but you might find some if you go probably to Scandinavia, the Amazon, Congo, or parts of Alaska, northern Canada or similar out of the way place.

Perhaps you got lucky finding an English speaking waiter.
I know it used to be required for all wait staff to speak at least 3 different languages.
It was part of their training which took a couple of years to complete.
In the old days in HUngary everyone was a professional at whatever job they had from taxi driver, waiter, shop keepers.
All went to school for a min. of 3 years in each trade.
Being a waiter was more then just chucking out plates of food, one had to know about wines, where the grapes were grown, how to do formal table service, how to speak languages, how to set a proper table, how foods were prepared to some degree.
People who worked for jobs that got tips , waiters, drivers, hairdressers were high paying blue collar jobs so the school was tough because the jobs were great paying.
Of course this was in the "old days" not sure anyone is as professional about their jobs any longer.
I know I was going to a hairdresser who everytime I sat in her chair she would get a phone call and answer the call.
Ok, one call I can deal with, the last time I went to her she got a min. of 6 to 8 calls plus she bought an outfit from a man that walked into the shop.
I never went back to her after I noticed she had the back of my hair all off, had to correct it myself at home. Her work habits were horrible.

Marilyn Tassy :

Perhaps you got lucky finding an English speaking waiter.

Maybe. Certainly possible.

But if I am really that lucky, since for I years went to Győr quite regularly, maybe I should join you in Vegas and then retire with my winnings.....  :D

But do note: The last time I was in Nevada, I lost my entire "stake" at the casinos..... I walked out broke. :(

Sorry Vegas kicked your butt but that's what it's all about. Hope you at least enjoyed a few "free" drinks, one free drink equals about $20. lost!!
I confess I was a "good" dealer in my day, smiled, laughed and took everyone's money, bosses loved me, had nick names for their fave dealers, and names for losing dealers too.
I want to experience living in a more rural area in HUngary before we leave HU for good, on way or the other by plane or wooden box!
Balaton area sounds pretty much what we might enjoy, I need to be near natural waterways.

Marilyn Tassy :

Sorry Vegas kicked your butt but that's what it's all about

Actually, it was Reno.....  :)

I lost. Oh well. Man enough to move on.  :top:

Reno the biggest little city in the world,or so they say, different place same game.
Yes, I dislike being a victim of a HU rip off, but then again it really breaks my heart when we speak to Hungarians and hear how much some struggle to get by.
Those ex pats who barley speak HU or don't speak any at all can tend to view people as different and so justify seeing them not a equals.
I am mostly 100 % on the side of most issues in Hungary that put the HU interest ahead of outsiders. Not too times does that happen however, sold out and betrayed even by their own elected gov.
I understand why I hardly ever see smiling faces in HU, not much to smile about.

Marilyn Tassy :

Yes, I dislike being a victim of a HU rip off, but then again it really breaks my heart when we speak to Hungarians and hear how much some struggle to get by.
Those ex pats who barley speak HU or don't speak any at all can tend to view people as different and so justify seeing them not a equals.
I am mostly 100 % on the side of most issues in Hungary that put the HU interest ahead of outsiders. Not too times does that happen however, sold out and betrayed even by their own elected gov.
I understand why I hardly ever see smiling faces in HU, not much to smile about.

That pretty much sums it up.

Hi everybody,

This thread has gone completely off topic. :(

Julien has launched a topic on  Best cities to live in Hungary , it would be best if we can stick to the initial topic please.

However, if you wish to discuss on an another expat related subject, please create your own thread but do not hijack Julien's thread. ;)

Thank you,

Priscilla

We were discussing best cities to live in in Hungary. I would think work wise Budapest is the best.  Many big companies are based there and there are big educational establishments.  Following that cities where it is easy to drive over the border for work.
For food shopping and labour it is a lot cheaper to buy things in the countryside.
When we discuss hungary it is difficult not to compare it to what we know and have left behind.

How about Gyor, Zalaegerszeg or Nagykanizsa? Or perhaps Sopron?

Also Szeged? It seemed very nice when I was there a year ago.

Chikagoan :

How about Gyor, Zalaegerszeg or Nagykanizsa? Or perhaps Sopron?

Győr - Nice town center. Good rail connections to Vienna and Budapest. But otherwise an industrial town. Nice place to visit.

Zalaegerszeg - A bit in the middle of nowhere. About half way between Austria and Lake Balaton. I have been there a few times. Briefly.

Nagykanizsa - I have never been there. Can not say.

Sopron - Border with Austria. So get both country's influence and cultures. A nice blend. But city is so-so. But easy access to Vienna which is a plus. More expensive housing since near Austria. But shopping in Austria is cheaper (simply because of less VAT). Mores sun days than some other parts of Hungary (overcast in Budapest in winter can wear some people down). Good wines.

Szeged - Hungarian plain. Flat. Hot summers. Brutal winters. At the SE part of Hungary so somewhat isolated. But easy highway and train access to Budapest so really not a problem. Lovely town. University which adds cultural diversity. Lively social events scheduled year long.

I stayed in Nagykanizsa briefly a year ago and found it a nice, quiet town. Pleasant town square and from looking at home prices, quite inexpensive. Near Croatia too.

Zalaegerszeg: I have spent a lot of time there in the past since my relatives live in villages very close and in the city. A nice but quiet town. Not many attractions in area.

What about Kaposvar? I have been through it but didn't stop. Looked like a nice place.

Also: how do people in smaller cities feel about foreigners?

Chikagoan :

Also: how do people in smaller cities feel about foreigners?

There will be a lot more gossip about you and your wife.

But, really, who cares?

There is no perfect place. Pick a place that gives you the larger picture you are interested in. If you want more access to the Mediterranean, then a SW city is to consider. If you want more culture diversity, then something nearer or with easier access to Budapest, Vienna is to consider. Quite frankly, it took us about 5 years to really culturally understand where we lived. Visiting a place briefly is really probably irrelevant to provide any real life decision information and may overall be of no value.

Result, after 5 years, knowing what I know now, would I move here based simply upon the human element? No. But we did not move here based only on the human element. For example, we live in a wine region, which is an important addendum to why I live here, which is part of the wider totality of elements we have considered (but that issue may not be at all relevant to others in their wider element assessment).

Thanks for the good insights. Actually I am not too worried about gossip. I am mostly interested in the prices of rental apartments in smaller towns rather than the attitudes of people towards my wife.  It really doesn't matter too much to me what some people think. When I was young I spent quite a bit of time in a small village and I am aware of how Hungarians gossip and how it can be really difficult to bear if you live in that environment. In general, I recall Hungarians being suspicious of outsiders and also very judgmental.

Does the higher prices for foreigners apply to apartment rentals in all towns? Is there a way to beat that problem? As I've mentioned, I speak quite a bit of Hungarian, and will likely be a citizen, but I am obviously not a Hungarian-Hungarian. Based on what I've read here it looks like I will receive inflated prices.

I wouldn't say everyone takes advantage of foreigners, that is a wide statement.
We got on really well with our country neighbors outside of Budapest when we lived in my MIL old  home. Guess us having a endless supply of good wine in the cellar was a door opener.
No in Hungary people can't be judged too hard because they are not "slick city dwellers" many people living outside of the cities are very well educated, smart enough to know themselves and know they don't want to live in a cramped area.
Overall although my husband was born and raised in Budapest, over the many years the people he is still closet to are Hungarians from the countryside.
Guess we are simple people as well, as far as not having expectations of endless nightlife activities, we are bored with opera, theaters etc.
Just us, both of us over did the party life in our young age and once we were done we were done with it.
You can find nice apt. in smaller towns for somewhere around $250. a month still. We have been looking all around HUngary to invest in a house and leave this city. For as little as 7 or 8 million Forints you can still find nice houses not far out from a mid size city with land and near water for sports. Saw many nice homes in spa towns as well.
Since you can speak Hungarian and hopefully read it too, look at sites such as ," Jo Fogas".
People will talk, I know for the longest time I was the topic, being older and wearing blue jeans now everyone either has moved out of the house or they know me now. I have been told by all the ladies in the house that I am the "nicest" person in the building, hard to believe.Guess not speaking the language has it's advantages.

Chikagoan :

Does the higher prices for foreigners apply to apartment rentals in all towns? Is there a way to beat that problem?

I do know that when I showed up, after my wife (who speaks perfect Hungarian of course) would first call to get a price, the prices suddenly would go up.

A reasonable expat markup I expect. And being from “out of town” and getting a different rate is not a Hungarian novelty as Mr Blandings discovered (great to listen to it all, but skip to minute 10:15 for “standard top gouge price to city slickers”). So it is not just about being Hungarian or speaking Hungarian either. It is more just knowing how things are done here and knowing how to deal with property negotiations to get a reasonable price, rental or purchase.

For example, I was not exactly property ignorant when I arrived here, but I have not experienced quite the same way of thinking about property here as I have elsewhere. So there was a learning curve for the first property purchase here, and I do admit we made mistakes. We got much better quickly as we bought additional properties. Looking back, I probably would have engaged a real estate broker to help with finding the first property and assisting with negotiations, rather than learn this process only via the school of hard knocks. Hindsight is always 20:20.

Real estate broker list here at the Business Directory:

http://www.expat.com/en/business/europe … e-brokers/

Thanks again for the great insights. How about for short term rentals, like 6 weeks. I am coming to Hungary this Summer for about 6 weeks and would like to rent an furnished apt. for this time, probably in Budapest. This will give me an opportunity to see how things are now. I was last in Hungary in the Summer of 2016.

Chikagoan :

How about for short term rentals, like 6 weeks. I am coming to Hungary this Summer for about 6 weeks and would like to rent an furnished apt. for this time, probably in Budapest.

For a furnished apartment for just six weeks, I would first try AirBnB. Limit the price range you want, then contact a few rental offers. See if they will negotiate the price.

Yes, it is hard to find a place for only 6 weeks. We got lucky back in 2000 and found one for only 6 weeks in the 5th district . The women usually rented out to students and since it was summertime they had gone home for a short break. Worked out for us but the place had been left semi- junkie with crates of old beer bottles and school books left on the shelves. Just had to live with someone's junk around for 6 weeks time.
Not so sure it is easy to find in 2018, those B&B options do seem like a good idea.

Good tips. Thanks. Does anyone know anything about Kaposvar? Looks like an attractive town. Somogy megye.

Chikagoan :

Good tips. Thanks. Does anyone know anything about Kaposvar? Looks like an attractive town. Somogy megye.

The NATO airbase was in Kaposvar but now that it's "abandoned"  I expect the local expat population disappeared completely.

See here: Tazar Airbase

The airbase at Papa seems to be there still.

See here: Papa Air Base

I think there's a maintenance base there for heavy lift military aircraft.

Pápa is a logistical base for Nato.

Rawlee :

Pápa is a logistical base for Nato.

We had someone posting here sometime ago about jobs in Papa - aircraft maintenance engineers. 

There's another airfield in Tököl which is used by small planes.  It has a massive runway and bunkers. Clearly ex-military Soviet standard and close to abandoned status.  Could easily become a 2nd airport for Budapest for the likes of Ryanair (if not their planes not all cancelled).

Tököl airfield is part of an aircraft factory.

We have 2 airports next to each other, Ferihegy 1 was only closed due to the excess capacity, no need to build an entire new one.

Ferihegy 1 was used by low-cost flights, BTW.

What is the cheapest airline or way to fly to Hungary from the US?

Chikagoan :

What is the cheapest airline or way to fly to Hungary from the US?

Airline prices are a commodity. They change all the time. There is no such thing as a singular cheapest flight from the USA to Europe.

Chikagoan :

What is the cheapest airline or way to fly to Hungary from the US?

Have a look at Norwegian.  They fly to NYC and are making waves on lower cost but quality trips.

A US friend of mine recently went Finnair (I think) via Iceland.

Thank you. Yes, I saw Norwegian. I wonder if it  is OK and not of really poor quality. I would like to try it this Summer. How about Wizzair from European cities?

Chikagoan :

Thank you. Yes, I saw Norwegian. I wonder if it  is OK and not of really poor quality. I would like to try it this Summer. How about Wizzair from European cities?

I cannot say about the USA direction per se.

I heard from Hungarians working in the UK that Norwegian was the current choice over and above Easyjet or Wizzair. 

I don't usually travel on the low cost airlines (and especially not Ryanair) but we will all travel on Wizzair in November.  They have improved their offering - large baggage allowances available, hand baggage, changeable tickets etc.  For four people, it was 1/2 the price of a "full service" airline which is just about impossible to argue with. 

I've heard one of the US airlines is going to start flying in to BUD again - like United or American Airlines.   I was surprised to see Air Canada Rouge at the airport a few times. I think it goes to Toronto which could be useful.

FWIIW, I almost always find international airline prices to Vienna cheaper. Sometimes with direct flights. Then take the train to Budapest.

Good ideas. Thanks as always. I found a website; sublet.com. It had many rentals in Budapest. I wonder how reliable these rentals are. Again, I would initially look for a place for 6 weeks for the coming summer, and after two years. Given the discussions on dishonesty, I am a bit apprehensive, but perhaps without reason. I noticed that there is a very wide range of prices, some seem quite ridiculous as being way to expensive. Others quite reasonable. I am thinking of a nice place for about $900 a month, furnished.
I will look into flying to Wien/Becs/Vienna, a nice city. Two years ago I took a night train from Rome to Vienna. Then caught a train to Szombathely. When we got to the hotel they looked at my (Korean) wife  with fear, thinking they would have to speak English. I reassured them, but it was kind of funny.

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