Please.. I need REAL FACTS about Budapest.

Hello everybody!

So I got offered a position in good research institute there in Budapest. It is planned to be for the next 2 years. During the interview they told me that the salary may seem low from a Western Europe point of view.. but that it is very good and reasonable there in Budapest. However after having read a lot in forums and stuff I have my doubts regarding all these "legends" about how cheap is Budapest. So I just want to ask you expats living there for a while for some real facts. My questions:

1) just to be honest.. do you think 1000 eur nett per month (500000 ft gros) is enough to live there? Also my girlfriend would come with me.. is that enough for both of us to live while she doesn’t have a job??

2) you think she will easily find a job? She speaks german (native) and perfect English.. but doesn’t have more experience than caring old people (and she doesn’t want to work there in that field anymore, so she is open for maybe a new proffesion)

3) is it really the average salary in Budapest below 500 eur as many people says? Somehow I don’t believe that.. from the people you know there and also yourselves. is it not that common to get more money than that? Most of you? Or is it Budapest in fact a place where people earn very little money (400 eur/month average)?

4) Also, I have a Bachelor's degree, Master's and very soon a PhD Doctorate. Do you think I should be better paid there or I am again in the average?

5) is it really true that I can rent a 2 rooms flat for less than 300-400 eur in Budapest?

I don’t know, I am scared. Everybody talks that Budapest is so cheap etc.. but then some expats living there complain that this is not true at all.. that once you settle down there you realize it is not much cheaper than west Europe after all.. and that in fact many people are earning over 1000 nett.

It would be so helpful if you could help me with these questions!

duegui :

1) just to be honest.. do you think 1000 eur nett per month (500000 ft gros) is enough to live there? Also my girlfriend would come with me.. is that enough for both of us to live while she doesn’t have a job??

Exist, yes. Live, can't say. How much do you want to eat out? Do you commonly buy a 3 Euro bottle of wine or a 30 Euro bottle? Etc. Living will depend on your expects lifestyle and without details on that no one here can honestly answer. For facts on possible expenses to help you judge for yourself you can use :

http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/ci … y=Budapest

duegui :

2) you think she will easily find a job? She speaks german (native) and perfect English..

Reverse the question: how easy would it be for a Hungarian only speaker to get a job in a German or English speaking country? Possible, but mostly in behind the scene work where there is little to no interaction with the public. What that work may be and what it may pay will depend on her professional degree. If no degree, then be aware that the minimum wage in Hungary can be as low as 320 Euro a month gross.

duegui :

3) is it really the average salary in Budapest below 500 eur as many people says? Somehow I don’t believe that.. from the people you know there and also yourselves. is it not that common to get more money than that? Most of you? Or is it Budapest in fact a place where people earn very little money (400 eur/month average)?

Look at the numbeo link above, the average net salary reported is 570 Euro. Now also consider the non-internet connected people working very low paying jobs not volunteering their salary online and so the real average is indeed expected to be even less.

Be aware, many people own their apartment so no rent to pay. And both in a marriage work. This help stretch incomes. Options not much available for short term foreign residents.

duegui :

4) Also, I have a Bachelor's degree, Master's and very soon a PhD Doctorate. Do you think I should be better paid there or I am again in the average?

If your degrees are in Biochemistry then you are underpaid. If they are in comparative 16th century French poetry then the offer is generous in my humble opinion. I am being somewhat factious to point out providing factual replies are a bit easier if first provided with sufficient information to formulate a complete reply.  :)

P.S. Also consider thinking a bit outside the box. Live in Györ rather than Budapest. The commute is 1:30 hours both to Budapest and Vienna.  And your girlfriend can surely get a much better paying job in Vienna. The inter city trains are modern and comfortable. Here is the web site for the train timetable:

http://elvira.mav-start.hu/

[at]duegui: [at]kisalle's advice is very good. Here are my perceptions from having lived here (Pécs, for now, soon moving to BP). In general, if you are an expat here and your source of income is EUR or USD, then you'll probably be fine with anything above EUR 1,500 / USD $1,800 a month (untaxed by the Hungarian government). If you work and live here making the same amount, a lot of it is taxed, and you'd still be earning above average. Most locals I know can't make it on their own and have to wait until they are married before they can be truly independent. Heck, even getting married here is a luxury. It is not so different from Puerto Rico, really (except for the easy access to the US job market).

duegui :

1) just to be honest.. do you think 1000 eur nett per month (500000 ft gros) is enough to live there? Also my girlfriend would come with me.. is that enough for both of us to live while she doesn’t have a job??

It should be enough to live at the (US) low-middle class level. Expect to spend at least half your net salary in housing if you are renting. If you don't really need a lot of space and are willing to live in the less desirable areas (district VIII, some parts of IX, etc.) then you can go as low as HUF 100K/month for a decent place. This is from my own experience in searching for rental flats in BP and feedback from the relocation agent helping me (she's a Budapesti). You should be able to survive on about HUF 150K/month after housing costs, but don't expect to travel too far outside Hungary or do outings every weekend. Expect to cook most of your own food. Do bring enough cash to buy the basics when you get here, such as buying a car (if you are), furniture, rental deposit, etc, especially while you wait for your residence visa/permit here, as well as for living for at least 3 months with no income. Financing stuff here is ill-advised (IMHO), there is no easy credit like in the USA and rates are insane, so cash is king.

duegui :

2) you think she will easily find a job? She speaks german (native) and perfect English.. but doesn’t have more experience than caring old people (and she doesn’t want to work there in that field anymore, so she is open for maybe a new proffesion)

That depends a lot on her background. Speaking several languages (especially English and German) is very helpful, but if she expects to make anything above average her experience should be applicable in that job to make good money. If she has no experience or qualifications in a specific job, expect at or below average wage. There are plenty of customer service jobs seeking English AND German knowledge, but often they also require Hungarian knowledge. Studying here is cheap, compared to other EU countries, but if you are earning a Hungarian salary, then everything is expensive.

duegui :

3) is it really the average salary in Budapest below 500 eur as many people says? Somehow I don’t believe that.. from the people you know there and also yourselves. is it not that common to get more money than that? Most of you? Or is it Budapest in fact a place where people earn very little money (400 eur/month average)?

Sadly, yes. If your profession is in the IT/engineering fields, you'll probably start off well above the average, but you wouldn't be anywhere close to being rich (even with a Master's), unless you start at the higher echelons of a company (management, subject matter expert, etc). There are other hot professions, but I'm not knowledgable enough to talk about them (HR, financial management, etc.)


duegui :

4) Also, I have a Bachelor's degree, Master's and very soon a PhD Doctorate. Do you think I should be better paid there or I am again in the average?

This depends on your background. IT/engineering fields seem to pay higher than average in general. There seems to be a major deficit of skilled technology workers (though this is a worldwide issue). Check Glassdoors for more information on salaries here. From what I've found, HUF 500k/month gross is above average (countrywide), but average when compared to living cost in other countries/cities. I'd say it is rather low if you have a PhD. I'd expect a raise after achieving a PhD.

duegui :

5) is it really true that I can rent a 2 rooms flat for less than 300-400 eur in Budapest?

You can, but this is on the lower end of rental costs. Expect something smaller and/or in less desirable areas for that range (30-50 sqm, 1 room, maybe 2). The concept of "rooms" here is very different from that in the USA. Sometimes the living room is considered a room of its own, in addition to bedrooms. This can be misleading if you are expecting 2 separate bedrooms. It is NOT uncommon for people here to actually sleep in their "living rooms"; it's just a room that serves both purposes! 400-500 EUR for a flat rental (plus utilities and fees) is more realistic, though still on the lower end. The real estate marked in BP has blown up in the last coupe of years, apparently. Finding a flat is painful, especially in BP, so having a relocation agent that knows the market is extremely helpful. Many local real estate agents work on commissions, so they are often on the lookout for finding you something on the higher end of your budget, instead of looking out for your preferences, so be careful.

duegui :

I don’t know, I am scared. Everybody talks that Budapest is so cheap etc.. but then some expats living there complain that this is not true at all.. that once you settle down there you realize it is not much cheaper than west Europe after all.. and that in fact many people are earning over 1000 nett.

Scared? Then you are having a natural response to (even thinking about) moving abroad. I know I was. BP is cheap, compared to other cities in Europe. Sadly, the economy here is also much smaller, so comparatively speaking BP is expensive when you are Hungarian. Hungary has a charm of its own I can't describe, and BP is REALLY interesting. I look forward to living there and experiencing it on my own. Having said that, I expect to be a little tight belted for a while until my wife can find a job or finish her Master's.

One footnote I'd add is that networking here pays off. Make sure not to isolate yourself from the locals; they are very friendly an willing to help once you get to know them. The culture here is very friend-oriented; it's all about who you know. That's how I found a job offer in Pécs, which sadly didn't pan out. That's how you navigate the intricate social rules and incomprehensible government requirements.

Finally, I'd put your predicament this way. If you want to come here and return home rich, you're in the wrong place. If you want to get a life experience you'd regret not having, something you can tell your grandchildren about, then go for it and don't look back. Life is not all about money, and often it is those who struggle for something they want, regardless of their success, that live the happiest. Think about it.

Best of luck and hope to see you around in Budapest!

Accommodation has become more expensive so consider sharing a larger apartment or even living a little further out of town.
As a soon to be retired person I find that I can live on less but younger people tend to want to socialise more, buy more clothes etc. So depending on your other material wishes you won't be wealthy and you certainly won't save much.
My friend Marilyn can advise you further.

Hi
I think that is a reasonable salary and very high in terms of a typical Hungarian salary.
Ask a Hungarian to help you find a flat and that will make your costs a lot cheaper.
Enjoy Budapest!

I'll take it from here, thanks for the big intro Ann!!
1,000 Euro a month is ok here in Hungary but rents are going up and I can say at least half your monthly income will be going out in rent.
Yes, wages are insainly low here but usually young people have 2 incomes, they both work.
When my HU husband and I decided HU would work for us as a retirement place it was around the year 2000. We bought our flat almost 10 years ago but at that time we still worked every 6 months in the US and prices then in HU were low.
These days because I am "lazy" and have not worked in 8 years and am not yet old enough for my SS every month we live on my husbands SS from the US.
We usually can save at least half his SS every month since we are older and have put our party days behind us for the most part.'We rather cook at home and we drive a good car but it is older. Used to have a couple of nice cars in HU but since we park on the St. in Budapest having a flashy BMW was not a great idea.
If you want nice cars and things it is better to have a garage. Our neighbor has 3 to 4 cars and puts 2 to 3 of them in a underground parking lot near our flats, he said they cost him over $150, a space for each car per month. He does not work, at least not anything on the books if you get my drift...
Aside from people that are "connected" as we say, wages for people with "normal" jobs here are super low.
On a lark 15 years back my husband called up a machine shop in Budapest because he saw in the paper they were hiring machinists that were highly skilled.
He was told 15 years ago that they pay was around 600 forints an hour!! Crazy low, in the US he wouldn't even bother for less then $25 an hour but usually got more like $45. an hour.
Huge difference but then again a good machinist is a dime a dozen over here where as in the US no one knows what they are doing , everyone is in a union so they get paid more then they deserve skill wise. Like trying to compare apples and oranges as the saying goes.
It could be a romantic experience for you both however to move here, no one is going to put you against a wall if you quit early and move away, take a chance in life, never know.
The cost of food and wine is cheap, what I usually do is in less something is at least half the price I pay in the US for the same thing, I don't buy it here.
Things like going swimming or going to dinner are much higher then in the US, of course I am spoiled with Las Vegas price deals and the fact that in the US the gov. does sort of care if people exercise and swim, Can use a beautiful new lap pool in Vegas 10 times for the price of one swim day in HU.
Gyms are crazy pricey in HU and they do not have the quality overall of what I am used to in the US, Vegas had some of the best instructors in the world, mostly because they come from all over the world.
Haircuts of quality are pricey here too spent 7,000 today for a cut, the very cheap salons are iffy to say the least.
Big ticket items in Hungary have always cost allot for the average worker. These days they are EU priced although wages are not up to pare with other EU countries.
Sort of a rip in my opinion for the average hard working HUngarian, the EU may not be the best deal in their case.
Again, know at least half your income is going out to rent and 2 rooms is larger then average here, we are comfy in our little 50 sq. meter flat, then again as older people I don't think I would be up for cleaning my old large house, doing the yards and cleaning the pool.
Most flats do not have garbage disposals  which I miss allot, no clothing drying unless you can fit one in these tiny bathrooms and no dish washers, these things are so everyday common in the US that is can be strange at first to see what you actually get for your money over here, half the wages on rent but not much of a flat either.
Maybe your girlfriend could look into doing babysitting over here since many Hungarians want their kids to speak German and English.
Good luck, come over and look around before you leap.
To be honest, I mostly feel like I am "roughing" it over here in just about every way. An adventure for sure but then again it can get stale as one ages and notices it's all about the money after all.
Many young HUngarians have degrees, speak very good English, work hard etc. those are the one who usually move away from Hungary after they get a few years of job experience.Not a big deal here to have a degree in anything, everyone and their mother is a doctor of something over here.
Having re read my post it is funny I stated the wine is cheap here, seems I have picked up a few bad habits...

Marilyn Tassy :

Having re read my post it is funny I stated the wine is cheap here, seems I have picked up a few bad habits...

I would myself say that good wine can be inexpensive, rather than cheap, in Hungary.

In other words, for a comparable quality of wine for which you would pay say a $25 per bottle in the US (US domestic), a similar quality of domestic Hungarian wine can be found for about $10-$12 (about 3,000 HUF).

But at the very low end, while the wine can be very cheap indeed, it is also not very good IMHO. Again, IMHO, "Two-Buck Chuck" from Trader Joe's is a far better value for its price.

I can not wait to get my glass fulled up with some $2. Chuck. love Trader Joe's.
When I think if over, my son who is on salary as a casino manager in Vegas pays a little less then half his income for his lease. His house has all new carpets, custom tiles, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms a 2 car garage, large living room and kitchen with all new appliances.the landlord has repair men with 24 hours if needed. There is a large community swimming pool for the homes in his gated community and stores walking distance away, easy access to the "free" and I mean it is free way. NO tolls for using the 4 lane highway.
I really think Hungary offers allot less then it should these days for the dollar, I may just be in denial since I remember when taking the bus in Budapest costs around 5 cents.
Actually if you think about how many senior aged people living in HU live, giving their tiny SS checks to their kids for a bed in the back storage area or a cot in their loft,we really should move in with our son in Vegas and help him with his lease payments or help him buy a house of his own.
His wife doesn't even work and they live in a high style much better then if he made an honest days wages managing a casino in Budapest( jury still out about how honest the casino's are over here in HU)
Our neighbor gives her entire SS check to her SIL and is lucky to have a roof over her head. Her family lived in the same flat for over 100 some years but with the changes in 1989 she couldn't afford to buy it from the gov. Her SIL did and now takes her tiny check for her keep, sad...

I can not wait to get my glass filled up with some $2. Chuck. love Trader Joe's.What is the brand, Robert Shaw?
When I think if over, my son who is on salary as a casino manager in Vegas pays a little less then half his income for his lease. His house has all new carpets, custom tiles, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms a 2 car garage, large living room and kitchen with all new appliances.the landlord has repair men with 24 hours if needed. Goes without saying they have a garbage  disposal,dish washer, clothing dryer, A/C and  central heating for those rare cold Vegas nights.  There is a large community swimming pool for the homes in his gated community and stores walking distance away, easy access to the "free" and I mean it is free way. NO tolls for using the 4 lane highway.( actually 8 lanes going either direction)
I really think Hungary offers allot less then it should these days for the dollar, I may just be in denial since I remember when taking the bus in Budapest costs around 5 cents.
Guess it is true we Americans are spoiled.When I speak to my friends and family in the US,they sound like brats to me these days...So used to the good life.Guess it's time for this one to go home.

Marilyn Tassy :

love Trader Joe's.

Yes, me too. Never really found anything like it here in Europe.

Marilyn Tassy :

I really think Hungary offers allot less then it should these days for the dollar, I may just be in denial since I remember when taking the bus in Budapest costs around 5 cents.

Yes, Hungary is no longer the cheap consumer priced destination it use to be. I find now something imported into Hungary most likely will cost more than abroad. I can get many household items for less in Austria these days (the hight Hungarian VAT is part of the problem). It varies, but many locally produced items are still a good price, relatively speaking.

Marilyn Tassy :

Guess it is true we Americans are spoiled.

And easily duped..... Saw that Williams-Sonoma is selling old European lard buckets to Americans for $49 (calling them former "food storage" containers and unloading them for a second life as "composting bins"):

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products … mpost-bin/

You can buy them here for about $7-$10 (lard bucket is zsirosbödön in Hungarian, so just search at Google for "zsirosbödön ár" (i.e. price of a lard bucket)). If you want to make some money, buy some lard buckets here and sell them to Americans for a 500% markup on your next trip back to the US.

“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity” ~ Sun Tzu

For me it is really difficult to give advice on how much is enough to live on in Hungary.
My husband and I are retired, have more junk then we need and are retired.Traveled allot in the past, have a grown son and really not many more emotional ties to anywhere.
We made our money, lost it, made it again, lost it again and are still alive.
I personally would never be able to live on what they pay here in Hungary if I was younger and had dreams.
This is the low end of the economy to me. I made more money in the 1970's as a silly  waitress then many people live on these days here in Hungary. Could never settle for less if I was young again.
In my mind Hungary is a nice place to kick off your shoes and have some wine and watch the world pass by.
For those still wanting to get "ahead" in life, Hungary has little to offer expect some nice food and a small experience.
My Hungarian SIL teaches chemistry at one of the universities here in Budapest, she must do house cleaning on Saturdays to make it.
If anyone should happen to take a job here they had better really think it over and make sure the perks are worth it, you may find yourself in love with Hungary and not able to leave otherwise.
I love many things here but the things I dislike are equally on my mind allot.
If I didn't have one foot in the grave, I would never move here and try to make a serious go of it.
Might just be me, too much effort for the return.

well.. this last reply sounds quite pessimist I would say.. and money orientated. If all dreams in a young person's life depend on money, then I would agree with you. But I'd like to think that one can get "ahead" in life without a lot of money. On the other side.. does Hungary have nothing to offer besides nice food and a small experience?

Yes the Hungarian experience is much more than that for me but I realise that even though I have had a holiday home here for four  years, I won't live here all the time until the end of the year.

Living anywhere is very different when people are retired. I am sure that within a few years of retirement most of us need to count the pennies.

I am fortunate because I will continue in private practice one day a week. However , I am still not certain about the Hungarian character so look forwards to learning the language and making  more
friends.
A friendly place is worth millions.

duegui :

But I'd like to think that one can get "ahead" in life without a lot of money.

Yes, we all think that in our youth.  :)

The other option is to "know someone".  ;)

Of course, one must define what one calls "get ahead". It may be different for each of us.

For example, if to "get ahead" means to have more knowledge, then starting from the top shelf and working yourself to the bottom basement in a University library and reading all the books can certainly do the trick without a lot of money.

And one must also consider if one means direct money or indirect money. A lot of money may still be needed indirectly to "get ahead". For example, if working on a research project that helps one "get ahead" professionally, that project still probably is funded by a lot of grant money from somewhere.

Agree, getting ahead means different things to everyone.
I am still an "Old Hippie" at heart.
Have gotten by with a smile, my looks and a good friendly attitude most of my life,.
Had it "all" new cars, sweet home in S. Calif with swimming pool, son in private school, never had to work, my job was going to the gym every single day and then shopping for whatever and then taking my dog to classes, spoiled is the word, probably will never have that again in this lifetime, honestly it was nice but having "everything" really does not make one happy if they are not around great people and feel they are useful to society.
Met my relations in Poland and was blown away, they actually have,"smarts" doctors, nurses, teachers business owners  and useful people. Feeling useful is very important to make one feel happy with their lives, I have finally realized what the saying," it is better to give then to receive" means.
Used to be spoiled, nothing wrong with that if life hands you an easy way out... But there were many times I felt I was not doing what I should be doing, having it easy is not as great as it looks from the outside. One must have goals in life, higher goals then fitting into a size 2 at least.
In my life  I have never held down a job longer then 18 long hard months in a row, would work for a few months and take a few years off to recover, lucky that way always get people to take care of my needs of course I  must take after my father, he had females who supported him for the last 27 years old his life, easy street.
Times are much harder these days, I can see people my age (60 plus) who never got "there" and have regrets now.
My older sister for one, she had so many chances if life really things fell in her lap but now at 67 she is alone unless you count her 3 dogs.
Was married to a college student who for sure by now is a chemistry professor in Calif. married in the UK for the second time to an Englishman and landed a sweet job as an American working for ABC news London, traveled the world, moved and found hubby no. 3 , her long lost love of her college days, later married for the 4th time to a guy working for( Hate them, Monsanto) and had a big house all done up and all she could ever want.
Tossed it all away and alone now... I know for some women even finding one husband would be something big, let alone 4 good ones...( after 4 husbands I now think maybe she also had some issues)
I love so many things in Hungary, had a wonderful day in the park and can enjoy almost anything as long as my husband is near me.
That said, I can see myself leaving Hungary with never looking back. One day at a time with everything .

Like any place, what Hungary has to offer depends on your priorities and your preferences. Yes, pay here is low compared to other parts of the Western world (e.g., Germany, USA, etc.), but there is plenty to see and do. This country has been infused with so much history it hurts. People here strive to participate in their culture and folklore, which contrasts greatly with the USA's lack of folklore. Like Marilyn said, getting to know the locals and befriending them will greatly enhance your life here; both the language and the culture create barriers for foreigners. If you're up to the challenge, I think you'd be satisfied in the long run. Budapest, where the vast majority of expats reside, is an epicenter of arts and history. You'd be hard pressed to find an activity a younger person would enjoy (not to flame the more... umm, "established" folk here ;). From millennial ruins to progressive arts, to world-class operas, Hungary has it.

I believe Hungary is an awesome place to raise children, perhaps not so much after they become young adults (due to lack of opportunities). Having said that, knowing English opens many doors. People here literally stop in their tracks to goo-goo at children, but not excessively so. I think it's cool.

Marilyn mentioned something important that any expat should keep in mind; always have a backup plan. If things don't work out for any reason, try to have a safety net, a place to go back to or enough cash to keep going. This is true for anyone moving abroad to a very different culture, wether it's Colombia, Vanuatu, or Hungary. Life here is very expensive for the locals, and just cheaper enough for expats living off the economy. It will be hard, it may not work at all, but if you don't try you won't know.

Finally, remember all the countries around Hungary if travel is your thing (I'd think it is) and you get tired of Hungary for a bit. The oft overlooked Balkan countries are next door, and Western Europe is a few hours away.

Kenyo00 :

the USA's lack of folklore

:unsure

http://www.loc.gov/folklife/
http://www.native-languages.org/legends.htm
http://americanfolklore.net/
http://www.afsnet.org/

Every country has folklore.  ;)

Good wine is not cheap in Hungary 10-14 Eur compare to Benelux where great Bordeoux could be had for 6-7 Eur. Dont try to find good Champagne in BP either. Produce is relatively cheap still and of good European quality. Eating out is still dirt cheap in BP that remains unchanged. Restaurant Food is better than in other Eastern European countries, much much better. What is really cheap here is RE and labor to fix that RE. Once you have nice place to live inBP the rest is food and entertainment. Travel, attend exhibitions, go out, ski in Austria, visit wine regions, get away during July/Aug the heat is getting too much in BP. Why not run small online business to suppliment your income - do something with your life instead of complaining on message boards.

That was a fab answer dkzzzz. People who have been here a while don't realise how cheap it is to maintain a home in Hungary.  Compared to the South Coast of the UK it costs me less than a third.
Also the location is fab for using it as a base to travel around Europe. I picked up some info from the bus station yesterday and cross border travel is fairly in expensive.

dkzzzz :

Why not run small online business to suppliment your income - do something with your life instead of complaining on message boards.

You mean those who are not already running a business and also doing a lot with their life, but still like to spend a little bit of their free time complain on message boards?  :cool:

P.S. This is not the USA, where running a web business from home can cost nearly nothing due to more favorable tax and business laws. Running a small business in Hungary is relatively expensive compared to the average income here. Fixed costs such as taxes (which must be estimated and pre-paid before you earn income (and even if you do not earn any income)) and fees (e.g. all businesses, even SOHO, are required to have an accountant) can easily cost 3,000-5,000 USD a year (i.e. which is about the yearly income for many Hungarians), and that is not even including other business costs such as inventory.

And I did not even yet mention business VAT responsibilities and EU distance selling regulations required of web based businesses.....

Hi duegui

First of all, it's very difficult to make a statement about someone else's life: at €1000 net/month salary might be fine for some people, while others might struggle.  It depends on your expectations - and what I've found is that I wasn't clear about my expectations until I actually lived in Budapest and realised which ones were not being met!

I think the absolutely most important factor in whether your salary will be comfortable for you is this: how much rent you'll have to pay for a place to live.  You can adjust and change other expenses as necessary, but once you sign a contract, your rent is fixed (and landlords in Bp tend to look for a fixed-term, 12 month contract as a minimum).  At the current exchange rate, €1000 is 312.000Ft.  If your total accommodation expenses are 100.000Ft, it's looking good.  If they're 170.000Ft, not so good!  (NB: do not agree rental denominated in €, unless your salary is also denominated in €: you don't want to take on the currency risk!)

Bear in mind that there are other relatively fixed costs, over and above the rent: the közös költség (contribution to common expenses for the block of flats), which can be anything from 6.000 to 20.000/ month, and the gas/electricity bills: for the bills we paid about 15.000Ft in winter and 9-10.000Ft in summer.  In some flats water charges are extra, rather than included in the közös költség.

duegui :

I have my doubts regarding all these "legends" about how cheap is Budapest

Wise.  I think the most deceptive legend is about rental prices.  Many Hungarians have rolled their eyes when I tell them we're paying 120.000Ft/month: "wow, that's so expensive!".  There is an established common knowledge that it's easy to find places for e.g. 80.000Ft/month or less: but it's wrong.  People who say that aren't trying to fool you: their information is simply out of date.  Perhaps they used to rent a place even 3-4 years ago, but have now bought a property.  (It's telling that, of my ex-colleagues in my last job, 6 months ago, all of whom were well-qualified people with a combined income similar to yours, not one was paying market rent: they were all living at reduced/no rent through a family/friends arrangement, and saving to buy a place.  None of the Hungarian friends I knew from before rent in Bp either.  This of course is not an option for someone new to the city).

I remember a lesson in a Hungarian language class, where the exercise was reading an advertisement for a flat and calling to make an appointment to view it.  The flat was in Krudy Gyula utca, for 55.000Ft.  I ended up laughing my head off, with tears running down my face.  Because if I hadn't laughed, I'd have cried... the teacher laughed as well, and said "well, the book is a few years old..."

There's been press coverage about rental prices increasing by 20-25% just in the past year.  People say there's a big bubble building of owners improving their properties and putting them on the short-term, lucrative (if you can find the guests) AirBnB market.  The result is a shortage of properties available for long-term rent.  (Some also say that this bubble will burst within a year or two - but that's irrelevant to someone looking to rent now).

Another factor is the large student population.  On various Facebook groups there are (admittedly nice-looking) flats being rented to students.  €250-€300/month per room in a shared 3-4 person flat is a common price, and these flats get snapped up.  It's an odd experience being outbid, as a working couple, by undergraduate students!  There seems to be a flat "feeding-frenzy" in August/September, as the foreign students look for a place to live.

This doesn't just mean that the prices are high: it makes it difficult to even find a range of places to view, and to choose a flat (and a landlord) that you feel is right for you.  Taking our 120.000Ft/month flat as an example: we didn't pay this much because we decided that paying a bit more was worth it for some benefit: we paid this much because this was almost the only flat we could find available, in a month of searching.

The impression I get of renting in Budapest (from my perspective as a UK citizen) is that it's not a tenant's market: you don't get to pick and choose the flat and landlord, they get to pick you.  This to me is just as important as the price.  In that kind of market, there's a risk that you'll end up renting from a bad landlord (as we did), simply because you don't have any other choice.

Another obstacle for foreigners looking to rent is that there is the normal, European requirement for you to register as a resident with the Hungarian government.  The bureaucracy involved in this is actually pretty painless: but many landlords flat-out refuse to allow tenants to register at the rented address.  (Why, exactly, I don't even want to know - leszarom ;) )

I don't mean to put you off coming and working in Budapest, because (as others have said) it's a wonderful place with so many great things on offer.  From my experience, though, the one thing which will make or break your quality of life in Budapest - your ability to get on with your work and enjoy your free time - is having a decent place to live, with a decent landlord who keeps the place working.

Get this right and you'll have a great time: any other difficulties with your budget and with adjusting to living in a different place, you'll just take in your stride.  Get it wrong and it'll be a constant irritant, preventing you from enjoying the good things about Budapest.

Someone at the company I'm now working for suggested I asked the company/HR department for help in finding a flat.  A year ago when I arrived in Budapest I'd have turned down this offer, being (as I still think I am) an independent, resourceful person.  Now I would snap up this kind of help.  I'd suggest asking the research institute for help in finding you a flat, through their personal and professional networks, before you commit to the job.

This would be a mutual favour: you'd be getting a flat to live in, they'd be getting a normal, responsible tenant who they already have some connection with.  There are some terrible, bad landlords in Budapest, but - from talking to friends who are landlords - there are also terrible, bad tenants.  Use the fact that you're not one of these.

Good luck!  Feel free to ask any more questions.

sebT27 :

Hi duegui
Another obstacle for foreigners looking to rent is that there is the normal, European requirement for you to register as a resident with the Hungarian government.  The bureaucracy involved in this is actually pretty painless: but many landlords flat-out refuse to allow tenants to register at the rented address.  (Why, exactly, I don't even want to know - leszarom ;) )

I believe this is because only the registered tenant can un-register themselves from the property address. If the tenants leave but don't un-register, the landlord can be left with a host of people assigned to that address with none of them actually living there anymore. A recourse to this is to provide the landlord with a limited power of attorney to un-register the tenant once they vacate.

Kenyo00 :

I believe this is because only the registered tenant can un-register themselves from the property address. If the tenants leave but don't un-register, the landlord can be left with a host of people assigned to that address with none of them actually living there anymore. A recourse to this is to provide the landlord with a limited power of attorney to un-register the tenant once they vacate.

That's interesting: thanks for the information.  In our case the landlord/agents simply flat-out refused, without explaining why or trying to negotiate; but perhaps this was the reason behind it.

I've also heard that there's a common (baseless) fear that landlords can't evict a registered tenant (e.g. if they don't pay the rent or wreck the place) without having to rehouse them, and that this is based on a long-repealed law.  (In fact our tenancy agreement has a clause specifically saying that the landlord doesn't have any duty to rehouse).

I remember around the local elections last year, when a reporter found a boarding-house with a sleeping capacity of about 30, which had around 300 voters registered as living there!  Perhaps this came from people not bothering to "unregister".  Certainly I've met dozens of Hungarians who are still registered at their original family home, in spite of now living somewhere else.

Not sure but  landlords might also not want to let tenants register the address because they might have a claim to the property if they are registered as living there.
This happened to my Hungarian MIL when her older brother died. He had a nice fixed up flat in the 5th district.
His niece ( her granddaughter) was not living there but registered that she was because she was going to school in the city. He died and she put in a claim for the property which should of gone to his living sister. My MIL let that one granddaughter take it over since she didn't need it herself. Not exactly fair to the others in the family that this one niece got the flat, she now has it on her list of several rental properties. Got a house too when her father died, same sort of deal his siblings got written out. I guess she is just waiting until her own mother dies so she can be a proper slum lord.
People can not be put out of the flats legally as easily if they are registered that they live in the place.

Marilyn Tassy :

He died and she put in a claim for the property which should of gone to his living sister. My MIL let that one granddaughter take it over since she didn't need it herself. Not exactly fair to the others in the family that this one niece got the flat, she now has it on her list of several rental properties. Got a house too when her father died, same sort of deal his siblings got written out. I guess she is just waiting until her own mother dies so she can be a proper slum lord.

It seems that every family I know here has at least one gluttonous bully that acquires land and properties in this manner, and builds their personal wealth at the expense of other family members. It seems oddly too common in Hungary to be anything but disturbing.

But I suppose the original poster of this topic will not be affected by this.

True, these facts will go over the heads of people not related by blood to Hungary. I often wonder who the real enemy is, family or strangers... sometimes long for my old "honeymoon" phase of living in HU!
have not spoken to my bro and sis in -law for years now, only a 30 min ride away from us too.
Tried to reopen communication several times only to be let down once again.

Minimal wages is 300 € but nobody work for it

Tomi HU :

Minimal wages is 300 € but nobody work for it

A few points:

1) This thread is two years old. Things change in two years.

2) You are wrong. The current minimum wage (Aug 2017) is not 300 Euro a month. This is easy to look up to get the current value:

127,650 HUF (€425; $445) per month for unskilled labor, 161,250 HUF (€535; $560) per month for skilled labor.

Tomi HU :

Minimal wages is 300 € but nobody work for it

A LOT of people work for a LOT LESS than that in Hungary, dude!  ;)

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