Working in budapest with kids

I might be considering a position in budapest and currently doing but of research on the living cost. I was discouraged by friends to move budapest having said im not on a relocation package, kids school would be very expensive considering international school as kids native language is english. Kids age are 1, 2, 6 years old.



Can I ask how you came across this job? Which school was this?

Your friends are right to be concerned, it is known that teachers have to take on a second job just to survive due to the the cost.

@elizabethreima I'm unsure if my previous post was lost. You seem sincere and to be a parent who prioritizes family, so I want to be sure you get another expat parent's 2 cents who is familiar with education here. I am married to a Hungarian and both she and I teach in the public school system (I'm just a volunteer, teaching essay writing in English), and we have a daughter who is graduating high school in 2023.

I fear this is could be tough on all of you. While many teachers can muster some English in the public sector, you are not guaranteed such. Private schools are expensive - maybe your "package" is sufficient, but as I recall my business partner with 3 kids in school was paying around 10K per kid per year (it scaled down for the younger kids and that was 10 years ago).  Check the British school, Brittania, SEK, and the American School for prices.

There are some state bilingual schools, but they are aimed at Hungarians gaining English skills, are targeting high school level, and are primarily meant for the best students. They have no intention to cater to foreigners looking to save on school fees. They also expect kids and parents to have a command of Hungarian.

My bigger concern is that whether you choose private or public, the public education sector is horrendously underfunded with no prospects of a fix (the country seems to have other priorities). Yes, the US as well as many other countries don't fund education well, but here in Hungary, things are at least an order of magnitude worse. As a result, teachers are being forced out of the profession as they simply cannot aford to remain (I'm talking about the earning a "living wage" not whether to forego a holiday in Spain or buy a 2nd car). As such, in the not-so-distant future, if not already, there will be a staffing crisis. As it is, the country lacks STEM teachers (as I figure the turnover rate is 800 annually and last year, the country only generated 100 while this year less than 50 started getting their masters in education). Applying System Dynamics (something Hungarian politicians don't seem to know about) I expect that in 8 years, the country won't be teaching STEM subjects at all. Or if they do, it'll have to be in English with teachers imported from Africa and India (along the lines of how America imports from Latin America to pick grapes, bus tables, and mow lawns).

With the public schools packing up, there will be more competition by at least the better-healed parents, for the private places where you'll be wanting to send your pre-schoolers.

Your toddlers will be okay on the creche, nursery and kindergarten but you will likely need help translating.  For your 1st grader, it'll be more of a challenge. Any issues (say behavioral, bullying, homework questions) and you'll be scrambling.  On the positive side, for your kids under the age of 5, they will acquire Hungarian naturally. Your 1st grader is likely to be lonely though some kids might speak some English. Perhaps the language difference will be a novelty and it might be a way to make friends who will help with language acquisition.

You, however, could find it tough to participate in their schooling.

Selamat datang!

If you are planning on staying long term, you might consider that children start school here later and I know of other native-English speaking children who attend local schools. I know of another woman who is from Malaysia (Sarawak or Sabah?) and living in Budapest. Other living costs are quite reasonable, provided that you eat local produce. Fuel prices are very low and utilities are well-priced, if increasing in price, like everywhere else. I've been here 3 months and, assuming I get my work permit and temporary residency, I start work here in January. I'm planning to stay long term and I can recommend Hungary, so far.

All the best!


Sorry i think you misunderstood my message. I'm not attached to any school. I'm considering to move to a role with my existing company in budapest and I'm looking for schools for my kids..

@Eric Hofer

Great insights, thanks for sharing so much. That gives me an idea what i'll getting myself into. I guess 10k is definitely alot per child. I might need to look at alternative. Agree, language would be a big barrier if we dont know basic Hungarian.


Terima kasih 1f600.svg

Thanks for sharing bout your friend from Sarawak / Sabah. Wondering is she knew how to speak basic Hungarian? And is there a requirement to know the hungarian language if we want to send our kids to local school?


Yes, it is true, international schools are very costly and for primary/nursery school cost will be minimum 3M. There are some private bilingual schools (English-Hungarian) and they teach only Native English as a subject and rest all i.e. maths, history, science will be in Hungarian.



@elizabethreima YW! You'd be surprised how quickly a 6 year old can learn Hungarian before they even start school. Younger children wouldn't be a problem. My friend is Scottish and his wife is Hungarian (but from Romania) and they only spoke English to their 5 year old, who refuses to speak Hungarian at home, but in less than 12 months in Hungary (with no lessons) she is completely fluent with her friends. She will attend a local school in a couple of years. If you plan to live here long term that could work for you.

@wavydavid fuel prices are low? Still? Living is cheap? Sure. Don't warm yourself and just replace worn out clothes. Sure restaurants are cheaper but a carrot here is 90% of a carrot in Germany. The same for a liter of petrol. And a new car? 160% vs Holland.

I do see well healed people out and about. But many can't afford to be out and about. Next time your out count the number of closed shops you pass. I took the bus down Ulloi on Friday. I stopped at 80+.

@singhmjpr I wonder about the socialisation and expectations one gets from mixing with others whose family have little financial concern.

Do those students assume they will always be provided for and needn't apply much mentally. While their parents expect less from themsrkves and more from the teachers as they're paying "good money".

I might be considering a position in budapest and currently doing but of research on the living cost. I was discouraged by friends to move budapest having said im not on a relocation package, kids school would be very expensive considering international school as kids native language is english. Kids age are 1, 2, 6 years old.
[email protected]


Kids are adapt rapidly and learn quickly.

Even the 6 years old can learn basic Hungarian in a few months and later can learn together with the other kids. First grade is exactly about learning basics in spoken language and learn to read/write properly. So kids should have no problem to fit in after a bit of time.

And yes I do talk about local Hungarian public schools.

Many claims those are bad quality - many bad/ worse sure mainly in Budapest. But if you are picky enough can find ok quality also. For youngsters at the first 4 grades that not that hard. Finding a good high school - well THAT is a challange, elementary is much more easy.

As for the international schools there are several: from bad till worse.

Sure: regardless of their bad quality horribly expensive.

The worst (and most expensive) ones are:

  • The British International School Budapest
  • Budapest British International School
  • SEK Budapest International School

A few years back the American International School of Budapest WAS a bit better, not because the curiculum, but because they were get used to diplomats/ their kids, and the school truly was secure (probably the reason why among the most expensive). But my informations are outdated, mostly aroud 10 years old. Maybe the madness like CRT/ woke/ similars find it's way there too.

So not sure about it kept any quality.

If you are Jewish there are some de facto private schools: very well protected (also get used to VIP kids) and above average in curiculum, also less likely holiday camps/ indoctrination centers than the typical international schools.

But overall my advise:

Private kindergarten / pre-school / long language camp ok.

But for school at early grades the free state funded ones can be suitable and affordable. No problem for the kids, but sure for parents carries some difficulty (rely on the kid to translate/ present information, problems with homework, etc...).

@Eric Hofer

", if not already, there will be a staffing crisis. As it is, the country lacks STEM teachers"

There is a staffing crisis since the very early 90's.

Problem started even in the socialism / Warsaw Pact years when they dissolved the old system when PRIOR someone wanted to attend in certain education MUST attend in a test which decided applicable for that certain diploma course or not. If not then cannot even start a diploma course to became a teacher let alone became one.

Then come the mad 90's with freedom of choice and mass stupidity.

As usually the first one to fall were the universities: became indoctrination centers and totally separated from reality, then high scools, and later even most of the elementary/ kindergarten.

Some 30 years ago I was in a very fine practice school - but even then the "little teachers" (university students - wannabe teachers who attended in official practice/ as class lecturer in our school) were bad till worse. Even in better years there were at top 5% who was more or less suitable for teacher

And the remaining cc. 95% incompetent idiot/ advocator: they are also became teachers, or at least get a diploma.

So nowdays to find a teacher who is under cc. 55 years old and competent - well there are exceptions, but only a few.

The truly good ones are mosly long since retired and over 75-80 years old. I am very glad because anno I still had many fine teachers from that age range.

So education is the same as the health service: if you wish to find a professional have better chance if search for a cc. 70+ doctor/ health industry worker. My GP is more close to the 80 than 70, and she is still better than a dozen who get qualifications after 1990.

So actually I don't wish my kids to attend in the Hungarian education system after elementary.

Elementary here still not as bad as the average EU/ anglo-saxon, but still is just acceptable level.