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Hungary's most expensive cities

Hello everyone,

What are the most expensive cities to live in Hungary? What are the costs of things such as rent, utilities, weekly groceries, dining out, etc.?

What is the lifestyle like in these cities, for expats and locals?

What are the different neighbourhoods like? Are there more affordable areas?

Do you have any experience living in any of Hungary's most expensive cities? What was it like?

Which cities in Hungary would you recommend? Are there any that offer particularly good value for money when it comes to cost of living?

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Priscilla

Obvious answer is Budapest.

I was in the famous Gerbaud coffee shop in Vorosmarty Ter - a nice piece of cake was 2000 Ft!  And a Latte was 1500 Ft.   What a total rip off!   Only about 25% of the place was in use and no wonder.

Yes, I sometimes see flats in BP for rent advertised on Facebook Hungary groups. Even a fairly modest size place can cost more per month than I have ever earned, working in UK!

Budapest is the most expensive.

The cost of the mentioned expenses are not universal, depend a lot on the property in question. Some buildings have central heating, others have gas burners, some others have local industrial heaters in the building. Obviously, in one case the gas bill will be very low, but in other cases, it will be a lot. Groceries also depend on where do you shop and what do you buy. For example, for people living on the seashore seafood is like a basic cheap food, while it is very expensive here. In downtown, you will pay premium, while at the edge of town, it will be cheaper.
Eating out also largely depends on what are you eating, and where. You should be a bit more specific.

What is the lifestyle? I though that depends on the individuals.

Indeed some areas are cheaper than others. You get on the metro, go until the end, get on a bus, go until the end, and the homes there will probably be cheaper than where you got on the metro. Do you have some more specific in mind?

I have lived my whole life here, so I have no idea what life is in other cites.

Budapest comes to mind as the most expensive but any city would be more pricey then the countryside.
Rents I have no idea about really, know they are getting higher but we don't pay rent.
Utilities, much cheaper then in the US , not even sure how much we pay per month but it isn't as much as even one monthly bill would be in the US for us to pay all the bills.
Cable with internet is about 11,000 F per month for us, we have use of fast speed internet, get many tv channels which I never watch and have a landline phone in the flat which I hardly ever use either.
I would say off the top of my head that we pay $100. to $125 per month on all utilities, we have all the meters in our flat so don't share costs with the building.
We pay a monthly common cost to the house for clean up and maintenance, they wash all the stairs and clean up the yard daily from what my nose tells me, they use allot of Hypo on the stairways, take out the trash 2 times a week , I think every house has a crew that cleans up the buildings otherwise we all would have rats running everywhere.
That is about $40 a month, rather low but we live in a small house of only 44 units.
Food is really cheap here we think, we eat just about anything we see that we like when we shop , we however do not buy many snack foods because it goes stale on use usually before we finish it up.
Senior citizens seem to not eat as much as we did in our youth.
I love making homemade soups every day ,at least 5 times per week something fresh in the pot plus the main course. We eat very Hungarian style, soups, sides and a main dish. Sometimes we spend almost nothing and other weeks we over spend, depends on what we need stock up oil, washing soap etc. once a month or so.
In general I think we eat for about $200 a month for 2 people. This does not include my wine bill however... My vice of red wine, half bottle a day at least. That counts as snack food expense.
We always talk about eating out but without bragging, we cook better at home and don't have to sit around waiting to be served. My husband  is the oddest European, he dislikes sitting in cafes or being in bars and waiting for someone to serve him, eats fast and leaves, doesn't enjoy sitting and people watching. I give up on eating out because he asks for the bills before I am finished even my last bite.
He finds it dull to eat out... sad.
That is hard, when we have out of town quests my husband tells us to enjoy ourselves while he walks away and sight sees,does that all the time will not sit and be served by anyone,very non cafe sort of person, makes it hard to go eat out with that attitude.
I would guess if one person it would be easy to live on $800. a month rent and all, unless they like going out dinning and drinking.
Had out of town co. this summer and we took them for a drink on Vaci Utca, only 3 drinks and one water, bill with tip was $40. Not something we would do every day for sure.
If you live like a local you can live fairly cheap without feeling the pinch.

How would you say most consumer prices in Hungary compare to Austria, Croatia, Slovakia or Germany? Is the cost of living in terms of groceries cheaper in the smaller communities.
Also, how are the suburbs of Budapest, like Budaors?

I stayed in Austria for a month, dog-sitting. I was shocked by how much higher the food prices were, compared to Hungary. In Lidl they had the same in-store baked pastries but an item costing 99 ft in Hungary would be priced at 0.99 Euros in Austria. I was not being paid so the trip was quite expensive.

In other words the prices are quite a bit higher in Austria. How much do you spend on groceries on an average week in Hungary?

Some things are more expensive in Hungary, other things are cheaper. Some locally grown or made produce, bread, etc is cheaper in Hungary (lower labor costs). But I find many imported retail items, such as toothpaste of the same brand, more expensive in Hungary (additional transportation cost and 27% VAT has a lot to do with that).

Budaors is a nice suburb just outside of Budapest, I do not think it looks cheap at all, some really nice properties out that way.
Food in Hungary is the same in stores in the city or the countryside, a Tesco is a Tesco with the same prices within the whole country.
Eating out could be a little less pricey in the countryside but everyone wants to make a profit so nothing is really all that cheap.
Had a langos in the countryside that was probably the best one I ever had, only 200 F not 500 like in tourists areas, that's just for the plain style without cheese.
Have not lived in any other European country so no idea on their  prices.
Average week of groceries in Budapest for us two is around 15,000 .
This does not include alcohol or cleaning supplies.
We cook at home and eat Hungarian foods.

Marilyn Tassy :

Budaors is a nice suburb just outside of Budapest, I do not think it looks cheap at all, some really nice properties out that way.
Food in Hungary is the same in stores in the city or the countryside, a Tesco is a Tesco with the same prices within the whole country.....

Just a follow up on that - we had a scandal in the UK where pricing was actually different in different versions of supermarkets - I don't know if such a thing applies in HU  but note from the article that Tesco was implicated: Differential Pricing in UK Chain Supermarkets

Hmmm, nothing surprises me these days.
Price fixing and corruption is the new normal in many places.
Just noticed a article about a SA firm buying the Arena Plaza Mall.
Foreign buyers all over Hungary.

Marilyn Tassy :

Hmmm, nothing surprises me these days.
Price fixing and corruption is the new normal in many places.
Just noticed a article about a SA firm buying the Arena Plaza Mall.
Foreign buyers all over Hungary.

Most of the malls are under utilised.  From what I see, many of the shops are empty with few customers.  I had heard their costs are far too high.  I wonder if the SA firm will make a difference.

I assume SA is South Africa and not Saudi Arabia!

Its the mark-up that drives away the customers. Both the "Nike" and the "Nika" shoes are made in the same factory, and both are similar quality. I just bought a "Sprandi" shoe a month ago, and yesterday in the storm it got wet inside - but not from the top! It sucked up the water from the ground, through the nose.

The big shopping malls are full of clothes stores, and people cant afford to spend a wage on trousers and shoes. They need to cut a 0 from the prices, to get to the realistic price.

Marilyn Tassy :

Hmmm, nothing surprises me these days.
Price fixing and corruption is the new normal in many places.
Just noticed a article about a SA firm buying the Arena Plaza Mall.
Foreign buyers all over Hungary.

If the chain is operated on a franchise basis (like Euronics or CBA), then there can be price differences between stores.

But since the same gasoline is also priced differently at every station, I see no problem with different prices in different stores.

I bought a dress at a chain store in a Mall outside of Budapest about 2 weeks ago, still in the bag with the tags on it.
I saw it at Arena Plaza first but they ran out of the dress, only had the one in the window.They will not sell any items in the window until they are ready to remove it from their stock.
Forgot about it until we happened to walk into a mall about 90 min's out of Budapest to just use the WC, Just bought the dress because it was cute, tried it on was a size 34 extra small but seemed to fit me. Same thing happened in the Cream thrift shop, saw a cute leather shirt/jacket in the window but they were not selling it. No wonder their sales are low, have to beg them to sell you something.
In the US they would remove it right away for you to fit and buy without having to come back when they were ready to sell it.
Got home realized, wow maybe it would be nice to be able to raise my arms when wearing this...
Had the hardest time getting any of the stores from the same chain to find me a larger size. Walked to Vaci Utca to their other shop, the girl called several shops, we went  to another mall she said had my size, took the underground over, they never even checked out if they had it or not, only had a huge size 40. Then they said the window display would be changed out in a day and they would call me for the next size larger, a small. No calls from them, we waited 2 more days for a call and only went in again because we needed to drive past there anyways. My husband gave up and didn't want to call them up.
They same girl who never bothered to ring me helped us, she had taken the dress down and stored it for me but never called to inform us she was ready.
All good, got a larger size, can raise my arm if needed without fear of a tear.
Just different because back home I know they would of called and left a message if they said they would.
Sort of makes me not feel so much like shopping for clothing here again right now. Could of done a exchange for something else in the store with no hassles but they do not do cash refunds.
Now I need to go somewhere to justify spending on a item I really do not need.

Marilyn Tassy :

Sort of make me not feel so much like shopping for clothing here again right now. Could of done a exchange for something else in the store with no hassles but they do not do cash refunds.
Now I need to go somewhere to justify spending on a item I really do not need.

FWIIW, customer service, and consumer rights in Europe is sub-standard to places like the USA. The only way to get trouble free returns is to buy online. Onlne purchases are covered by the EU "distance selling" directives to allow a no questions asked refund or return. Else you are left with the caprices of the brick and mortar store from which you purchased.

Hi Priscilla! Well, as a fellow commenter has pointed out,  basically pretty much depends on your budget and personal preferences in terms of food and living. Overall there are 3 separable areas of Hungary considering price which are Budapest, medium sized cities, and small towns countryside. As Budapest is the only metropolis in Hungary it has the highest prices yet it boast by a landslide the largest variety of products and services as well. Expats seeking for the expat life will usually not feel that vibe in any other cities than the capitol in Hungary. I have known some, mostly retirees who prefer the calmness of a village by Lake Balaton or cosy green Western side, but the others perceive this living as boring and isolated with less option for social life. As you have asked about the prices in Budapest rental prices range from 400 USD for a 1-br in less sought-after areas (as district 15, 20, 23) or from 700 in the center and in the so called expat districts (as 5, 6, 2 or 12). As always prices depend on the quality, extras and equipment. A decent 2-br (cca 750-1000 sqf) prices will start from 1200 USD. Here are many shops and services specifically for expats like English speaking dentists, medical centers, Culinaris (for import goods and groceries), daycares, spas and what not. These are usually more expensive, but could make your life a ton more easy.
The non-Budapest areas' prices are 40-50% cheaper but less cheaper if that is a University city (like Győr, Pécs or Szeged...) because of the larger amount of need for rentals.
There is a nice website of this expat real estate agency where there are many useful information in terms of costs and general living in Budapest: budapest.athome-network.com

Some of those "famous" places stand on their history and years of good marketing. So many guidebooks and sites continue to praise the place, because they really don't do the footwork, but get their information from the Internet. Thus, a cycle is perpetuated.

It is the same with the Gellert Spa. Not worth the money.

There was an article in a Hungarian online news translated to English. Hungary has the lowest salaries of any EU country. Not only does that create grumbling employees, it also has ramifications for the quality of goods here. They can only sell the quality that people can afford. Remember, we ex-pats MAY have more disposable income than the average worker.

I can only really comment on my experience in the Hungarian countryside and  Budpest and compare both with my UK experience.
I have noticed that rents in Budapest have risen enormously compared to what was advertised  four years ago when I purchased my apartment in Budapest. Budapest is still cheaper than most capital cities in Europe but I could not now afford to rent an apartment like mine, near the center with a lot of space. Obviously I am glad that I bought mine when I did. In the countryside in most areas you can purchase homes fairly cheaply.

Utility bills here are still cheaper than in the uk with the exception of Internet access.  I pay UPC much the same as I paid for Virgin  in the uk. I think it is probably the same company.
Day to day living,  cleaning materials, public transport, food, cheap meals out, wine and cigarettes and the odd  small household repair are up to a third cheaper than in the uk.
Council taxes, insurance policies and common costs eg maintaining the common areas in blocks, are less than half the cost compared to the uk.

However if I need to buy any new clothes, shoes, phones and other electronic items. Electronic items such as sewing machine news or chain saws. Books, art materials, soft furnishings,  furniture or rugs etc they are all far cheaper to buy in the uk. Fortunately I have sufficient so rarely need anything.
Even second hand furniture costs far more than in the uk and when I purchased three sofas on Facebook I was charged an almost new price whereas in the uk the second hand price would have been halved.

@ fluffy 2560 and the different prices in different branches of the same store, this happens all the time in Australia. I would not be surprised to find this happening anywhere - these are businesses after all.

X

dietsrme :

@ fluffy 2560 and the different prices in different branches of the same store, this happens all the time in Australia. I would not be surprised to find this happening anywhere - these are businesses after all.

Hungary is a very small country unlike Australia. The logistics of getting anything anywhere is much the same - within a few forints.  And then there's the bad publicity - usually described as ripping people off who live further from population centres.  In my own country (UK), the usual complaint is about rural fuel prices. Up in the North, like on the Orkneys or Shetlands or in the Highlands, the prices can be significantly different per litre.  But there's nowhere like that in Hungary.

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