Retiring in Hungary

Hello everyone,

Why did you choose to retire in Hungary? What are the advantages compared with your home country?

What were your main considerations when deciding to move? For example, taxes, ease of transferring your pension, etc..

Are there any specific formalities you had to go through as a retiree moving to Hungary (for example, is there a particular retirement visa)?

What is Hungary's healthcare like? Have you had any good or bad experiences dealing with healthcare professionals?

Do you have any tips for other retirees in Hungary?

Thank you for sharing your experience.


It really does depend on what you expect from your "golden years"
If you have family and grandchildren in another country then you have to realize they will not be visiting you often . At least not during the school year and again, it does depend on how far they must travel to visit you.
Basically if you are a hands on grandparent, then do not move here.
Healthcare, again all depends on how healthy you actually are.
If you need to see doctors often then it is difficult here.
Not saying the US has good health care at all but with the constant tipping of doctors every visit it can cost more then a co -pay in the long run.
It is very easy to transfer your US SS at the embassy, the women who handles this actually works out of POland but comes to Budapest every so often to handle SS issues from the USA.
She is super nice and helpful.
You must make a appointment with the embassy first and go through security screenings just like a non US citizen to enter the embassy, shoes off etc.
We retired here in HU early I was only 52 and my husband 59, we used to only stay during the warm seasons and go to the US to work part-time or to just hang in Vegas with our only child who lives there.
After actually becoming a "real" senior aged person and seeing a tiny bit of what the local seniors do here IE, going to local senior dances with our neighbor, visiting the senior center for a quick look around in our district, we realize it actually is not all that good here for a active senior if you wish to use the community services .
Poor country, sort of poor services, they have little hand-outs every so often for seniors in our district, we stood in line with our district card a few times to see what was up.
Easter they hand out a small ham, Christmas a package of some food stuffs in a box, every summer a hand out of veggies so far that's been all they give seniors.
If you are low income which we are not and I think no immigrants will be excepted at immigration if they are low income... They have senior centers from what we heard that serve lunch every weekday and if you are disabled they deliver to the home.
We have nothing to do with these free services, the only thing is if you are a EU citizen and over the age of 65 then you can travel within Hungary for free, not first class or on the river boats but in general free transportation.
Non EU then you still pay full price.
We are actually seriously considering selling out here and moving back to the US for the lifestyle available for seniors in a active senior community.
No such thing here unless you are very wealthy and live in a very pricey senior housing building.
In the US they do cater to seniors in certain states such as AZ. NV and FL. Low cost housing with swimming pools and exercise centers, free transportation to shopping etc.
In the long run it is nice to be semi-retired here but if you are on your own without much family here, it is allot better in your home country.
I had knee surgery in Budapest 3 years ago , my room mate was 80 years old and a local HU women. The staff treated her horrible, not sure why she was tipping daily but only a few bucks at a time,
If you find yourself here with the national health and go into hospital without family or friends here you will literally be eating bread and water, no TP and no soap. Without family here and getting old and weak is not going to be pretty if you find yourself in a bad situation.
It is "cheap" here but overall only if you can stay independent and never get ill.
You can not use your US medicare health coverage here and you can not apply for any gov. aid as a immigrant in Hungary.
The min. wage for the workers in Hungary is going to rise soon, meaning your SS funds are going to be worth less and less over here in the long run, the cost of living increases will never keep up to the rise in wages. You will find yourself alone, without speaking the language when you are in a helpless situation at the mercy of strangers. Time to pack up and go home.
My husband is HUngarian and even he realizes there is a huge difference in the way seniors are treated here or in the US.
We have no grandchildren but if that changes, I am outta here ASAP.
Again as older people one of the biggest things is quality of health care, it is very hit or miss here.
If you do not tip under the table then you may either not be referred to a specialist or you may just hit a brick wall. They may have you come in all the time but nothing gets done.
Then again at times they are very caring and go out of their way to take care of you, without speaking HUngarian you will be passed over, not their fault since they do not have to speak your language. Even if they do speak English or your native language, it will not always be easy to communicate. Older people have a hard enough time being understood without a language barrier too. It is sort of hard to actually find the right doctor for your needs with the national health. Many medical staff are leaving Hungary so you will get a very young un experienced  doctor or a old doctor who is burnt out and is only in it for their ego or for the tips. Long story but I have seen it all here experienced good doctors and bad here, if I had been seriously ill I would already of been buried by the bad doctors, that's how much they care...
Also many times at pools, the zoo or anything to do with entertainment they will post a senior price, if you are not collecting SS from the HU gov. and do not have a SS card to prove it here in Hungary then those discounts are not for you.
If you speak Hungarian and have caring family here that is a different story all together, but again it all depends on how much you can actually count on your family once your money dries up etc.
My biggest nightmare is to think I could be alone and ill here and have to have family from the states come rescue me. Not even going to think about that.
Don't wish to seem negative but it is best to not have ones head in the clouds.

Another thing to consider as a older person is isolation.
All very exciting to move to a new country when you are young and full of it but after 60 onwards slowly we all slow down in one way or the other.
60 isn't even all that old, to retire and age in your mid 70's onward in a strange new country is no joke, no joke anywhere but much harder then when one is younger.
Met with a couple last weekend on holiday here from Germany.
Their friends from Germany moved to Hungary because they lost their jobs and were getting older, much cheaper to move here then to stay in Germany.
I am sure they have a comfy life, live in a village 2 hours out of Budapest, they did mention though that their friends are so isolated and lonely here, the husband was in the hospital here and they were shocked how it went, same thing that I mentioned if you have no friends or family bringing in food etc. to your sick bed then you get almost nothing as far as food or supplies.
When one is younger every 10 years or so is a milestone, when one ages it is sometimes a milestone every 5 years or less.
Life changes so much faster as one gets on in years, what used to be good enough is not longer liveable. Illness mental tiredness and seeing things you once loved no longer mean much to you is shocking.
Getting old is not for the weak of heart, takes a brave person to see it through all the way to the end.

Marilyn Tassy :

the husband was in the hospital here and they were shocked how it went

I have known people who came to Hungary to retire (i.e. because of "low cost") then went back to their home country when they aged more and developed health issues. Simply because the health care in Hungary was below what they could get in their home country.

Which only goes to show that "low cost", again, merely means you get what you pay for.

I think I'm repeating what I said elsewhere in these forums. 

If something happened to Mrs Fluffy and the kids were grown up and didn't me to be here all the time, I'd probably leave the country and go back to the UK.  If the kids weren't grown up, I'd have to think carefully how I could manage here.  Of course, if something happened to me, they (Mrs Fluffy and the kids) would be OK here - in theory - as they are locals. 

There are plenty of discussions in the media about British people in Spain, who moved out there 20+ years ago, their partner dies, then they are priced out of the UK real estate market and cannot return, then have to stay in Spain. Moreover, if they get something like dementia or Parkinson's, they end up being stuck in a foreign language system.

My own thoughts are never to burn your bridges back in the home country - rent your place out or if possible, alternate.  6 months here (summer) and 6 months there (winter) etc.   You can always move back  in later and turn to the home country support system as available.   

One of the main difficulties here is getting rid of your property.  Can take years and years to sell it and quite often, it'd be at a loss.  Only buy what you can afford to lose or put on ice.

One thing I can honestly say is we are not totally crazy but if push came to shove, we really wouldn't cry too much about losing our investment here.
We really only plan on safe guarding it and giving it all to our son.
Money was never my or my husband's motivation if life, if it was, I am sure we wouldn't of found ourselves in a walk up in eastern Europe.

Not bragging at all but we used to "have it going on" as they say

Ok so what is odd here in Hungary is the medical system, no matter how you slice it, it is not like what anyone would expect at home.
Just today I went in with a so called appointment for a "control" or check-up on my bone spur in my shoulder, too many years of working out and getting older.
My doctor had us wait a bit, piles of people came in to wait, I was the second person he called  in to see.
Was decided that I needed a shot of some sort of cartilage building injection. They didn't have any at all inside the orthopedic hospital, would of taken a week to order my shot. They called up a man who had some issues coming in for his ordered shot, he let them release the order so I could pay for it and get a shot without having to come back in a week when the new batch came in.
I had to run out for a hour last time to pick up my own steroid meds.
To my mind it is odd to run a orthopedic clinic and not have drugs on call, I am sure they need this shot often enough to keep a few doses around.
Ok, the doc left a hallway full of people and took me upstairs to where they had a ultrasound machine in my knee doctors private offices.  A young man showed up and also needed a shot, he left while I got my injection.
He returned and went to see the doc, I was told to wait on this man as we all would walk to the doctors office together where those dozen people were sitting and waiting their turn.
This silly young man told the doc that his parking meter was low and he needed to re park his car, We all waited on him to put coins in the meter, for him to come back into the building and then for the doc to give him his shot. He went in for a shot first then went to feed the meter then came back for his shot, they doc told me the big muscle man couldn't take the pain so they gave him a rest? Little old senior skinny me didn't even feel a thing, what a big baby that man was!
What was all this about??
I never heard of anything so lame in my life. Like his parking situation meant anything to all of us waiting on him.

All good in the end, I probably blew my surgeons mind by actually opening up his chest pocket and placing a envelope with money inside, also had to pay cash  right then and there for my shot.
Thankfully we brought money with us, so much for free national health care. Down about another $140. with health coverage. Nothing is free in reality.
I felt very sorry for all those people just sitting in a hot hallway waiting while this idiot feed his parking meter...
Whatever, I will continue to over tip otherwise I might of been one of those poor suckers sitting in the hallway waiting even longer then I had to wait. I just do not understand it at all.

fluffy2560 :

One of the main difficulties here is getting rid of your property.  Can take years and years to sell it and quite often, it'd be at a loss.  Only buy what you can afford to lose or put on ice.

Good advise.

There was a property near us with an "Elado" (i.e. "For Sale" in Hungarian) sign up for two decades (it was "for sale" before we bought our property in 2000). It sold just this year.

Think about that. Two decades. 20 years. Wow.

But on the other hand, when we bought, prices were low and the exchange rate was great. In the 10 years living here (owning for 18 years), our savings in not renting versus what we paid for the house is a factor of 5 (that is, we saved five times as much money owning here than paying rent). Even if we sold for less than we paid, we still saved a significant amount.

But of course, prices "back home" have skyrocketed, and being priced out back home is indeed an issue. My wife, as a Swiss citizen, has a much better safety net for that than I do, as it is Swiss law that any elderly Swiss citizen is entitled to public housing. As an American, my only fall back housing option, if I were to become destitute, is a sleeping bag under a highway overpass....

Marilyn Tassy :

This silly young man told the doc that his parking meter was low and he needed to re park his car, We all waited on him to put coins in the meter, for him to come back into the building and then for the doc to give him his shot. He went in for a shot first then went to feed the meter then came back for his shot, they doc told me the big muscle man couldn't take the pain so they gave him a rest? Little old senior skinny me didn't even feel a thing, what a big baby that man was!
What was all this about??
I never heard of anything so lame in my life. Like his parking situation meant anything to all of us waiting on him..

All too common in Hungary. Most everyone, it seems at times, tries to play and game the system, and those in authority let them.

My wife had a very bad allergic reaction recently, and her eyes got so swollen she could almost not see. She was waiting to see the doctor when some lady came in saying she should go before everyone else because of some "important" paperwork. My wife, took off the over sized sun glasses she was wearing and said to this woman, "If you say your issue is more important than mine, you can go before me". It turned out this other lady just wanted a paper from the doctor so she could get a cheaper lunch voucher. People like this lady really can be that selfish and shallow here when it comes to "health care" issues.

In other words, there is a saying that fits this scenario: If a Hungarian passes through a revolving door right after you he will come out before you. That is, some Hungarians can be pushy. And to live in Hungary, you have to be prepared to push back at times.

Your right about having to be aggressive at times living here.
We are laid back, lived in Cali. and Hawaii for too long, snap wake up for me though, getting run over by people here has turned me into a
" grabby old lady" at times. My husband asks me why I am so mean, no answer just the surroundings. I will say something in lines, make comments and give people the stare back. My husband hates it, he is still laid back, he went to the doc with a appointment by himself, told me that 5 people went ahead of him until the doctor herself come out and called him into the office, he still gives huge tips and I am sure most of those pushy people don't even bother with tipping, Selfish people rarely think about how the other person is getting on. This me first attitude is horrible.
What I may of failed to explain was yesterday one client slowed everything to a halt.
First I was on time actually 5 mins early,the first person waiting to see my doc.
They called in a few people who just needed a quick shot.
Then I was called in , decided I needed a shot but they needed to use the ultrasound because the needle was going deep into the joint area of the shoulder.
They didn't have extra meds in the whole hospital so they took more time to ring up a man who was not going to be able to get his shot that day, he let his shot be sold to me, takes over a week to order them, so strange since this is a major hospital here for orthopedic issues, one would think they would stock a few doses of this med.
One young man also needed to use the ultrasound so the doc took us upstairs to the machine at the same time.
Actually they had to call the guys name out 3 times before he even answered, his cell phone was more important to him.
Upstairs he had the guy come in, the guy couldn't take the pain ( big baby I had a shot too and didn't kill me) He told the doc he needed to feed his parking meter and move his car and he would be back.
My turn, all done.
The doctor waited in the office, my husband and I in a hallway and more then a dozen older people downstairs outside his office, all waiting for this idiot to feed his meter.
Finally he came back after a good 20 mins. then he went to get his shot , another 15 mins. I only had to pay for the shot downstairs but the doc told me to wait until he finished with that slow poke.
Totally unheard of in the states for the whole operation to stop because one selfish person couldn't put in enough coins in his meter.
The doctor is super relaxed, couldn't care one way or the other but those poor people just waiting in the hallway with not knowing what was going on.
I felt terrible as we walked back to his office, everyone looking at me like maybe I was the problem. Good thing I do not speak Hungarian or I would of spilled the beans right there and then, told everyone the hold up with this young guy who probably was using his cell phone in the car and that's what took nearly a extra hour of their time.
Just crazy...

I swear this really happened yesterday.
Right after I received my shot, the doctor told me to wait in the hallway because they young man who went in before me had too much pain so he was giving him a break and he also had to either feed his meter and or move his car. I was to wait to pay until he had finished with that guy whenever he came back!
Can you even imagine how slow it would be if one or two more selfish people like that stopped everything, wait times are long enough without this silly behavior being allowed.
I was mad, I just had to pay the nurse and leave but no, we all had to wait on this one guy to play with his car.
The doc was ok with it, he had time to chat with other doctors, catch up on things with them.
I swear I have lost my Aloha a long time ago.
I was thinking of telling the doc I had a cake in the oven and had to run ... Know my husband would of gotten upset if I made a big thing about it so "controlled" myself.
I had already placed a envelope full of cash in the doctors pocket and had exact change for my shot, wish I could of just given him the funds for my med and left. Still strange to think we all were held up because one guy had parking issues... Help!!

I have retired to Hungary last summer. For me it was easyer since i was born in Hungary and later moved to the United States. Speaking the language is a plus, and my Hungarian citizenship is reinstated. For me its better financially. I get my pension still in My account in Amercia, but I can use my card and get cash from any atm, for a fee. One advise is that get a good Health insurance. DO NOT use any state or city medical centers or hospitals. You need to go to a private doctor and hospital.  There is a dr and nurse shortage and they get 50 pations a nurse and dr. Plus there is not enogh hospital supplies and do not disinfec good. Thousands die of infection and malpractice. You go in with a brocken arm or leg and do not come out.
Otherwise your pension will go farther. Housing and food is cheap.

I think the real thing is to think of why you moved to Hungary? And does that reason still hold true? If so stay or do whatever if not then go somewhere else.

For my father who is retired and moved here as a retired disabled person he is not happy with Hungary in many regards society wise. And many things he does miss like disable parking and stores having the electric carts which all of Florida has. But i will admit he has not gone to drs here so i can not speak on that, but that said the drs in USA are horrible. In no way would he ever say neg things about healthcare here as the expensive health care he had in usa both private and federal were really worse than anything Hungary can offer. So medical is a plus for him even as a cancer survivor. That was one thing that made him move out of USA is the cancer treatment that would of been most effective for him was not even aviable in the USA, even in Hungary they use this type of radiation treatment. USA uses a treatment that was considered less effective 15yrs previous to 2013. His surgeon was from Greece and stated this. If at that time he was in Hungary he would of gotten this radiation, but since USA uses older technology he could not. Ok due to the fact usa uses older technology he had to get 2nd bout of treatment in 2015. If he had the beam treatment that is aviable in Hungary or most of EU then the 2nd bout of radiation would not of been needed.

I will just say dental here varies. The dentist i go too is very very good, but i have seen some places that no i would not let a stray rat use! So i will say dental wise you do need to shop around. The place i go some Hungarian people said he is "stuck up and has too much Swedish furniture". I do not know! he hee. The office is very nice and my dad said he could not believe even the coat hangers were high end, made him want to steal them himself! he hee. But they do good work and as my dad said they treat me like a child which he says is a good thing as i act like a big baby all the time! he hee

Cost of living is cheaper here at least more so than the Tampa Bay area of FL where we lived and other parts of USA. We are broke mainly due to we came with a permit move and only brought luggage. If we had all our stuff then no it wold be cheaper. I mean if you were not having to buy a fork, and towel and every single little thing yes we would have more money! And yes we had to buy everything being here and that said i more clothes that i do not need too. All our stuff is in storage back in FL which is everything we own about 100 large boxes and we pay monthly on it. When we move we will have it all shipped here which will be nice. I am not confident in Hungary for shipping so we are just going to keep it stored.

And as others said family is a factor. Dad and i even who is also rather retired in a since, have no family or friends in USA so we do not miss anyone and there is no one to visit or anything. So being out of USA is as plus for us. We know more nice friends people here than in all of USA. And also in other parts of Europe.  So even my dad at 60 and me at 37 have nothing to go back to at all. IF something god forbid happened to him, i would do anything rather than go back to usa! With me and him ok i still do not feel safe to even visit usa!

so for us retiring here is only positive. And hell if we do not like Hungary there is other places in Europe!

But that said that is us we have no ties to USA. The few friends i have in USA are all moving out anyway and i have spent much time helping them find info about that so whatever.

Hungary is very beautiful and peaceful and I enjoy spending time here.
I was in a very big serious job in the uk and I knew I would like to retire from that and take advantage of being able to claim an Occupational Pension well before my official retirement age.
I already had a holiday home in the countryside that I purchased in 2011. I managed to visit four times a year and got to know my neighbours.
Because I wanted to continue with my  profession work part time and am only really fluent in English I decided to get a home in Budapest before I stopped working full time. Fortunately prices were fairly low at that time 2013 and I could afford it.  There is also the advantage of being so near Budapest airport.

I find I can live quite comfortably in Hungary mainly because I own my holiday homes.  I also brought my own furniture from the UK and generally didnt need very much for the home. It was expensive to ship stuff over but worth it because I felt home from home.

Generally, buying property,  household bills, transport and social events are far cheaper than the uk. Just one small comparison : council tax was 100£ a month in the uk. It costs less than 60£ per year for my countryside property.

I have done  some work at a language school in Budapest but this has mainly been for social reasons. I am fairly young at heart and I find that people of my age in Hungary are fairly set in their ways, whereas I am still very up and running and like to travel and go out in the evenings. So the younger crowd suits me fine.
I still have a home and friends and  family  in the uk and visit frequently.
When I reach the proper pensionable age and go ga ga I will probably give up my cottage in the countryside and live more in the uk.
The reason being is that I would prefer English speaking health care when I age. I don't really know any elderly people in Hungary and I have got a social circle of people of my age in the uk so I know I will seek their company. All the people I was friends with at 17 will still be my friends at 70.
Fortunately I have never used Hungarian health services but I suppose I would do in an emergency. Most of the people I meet seem to be unhappy with the services they get here and I imagine it is worse for elderly and poor people.

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