Living in Hungary

You are living in Hungary, or you used to live in Hungary.

Share your experience!

How would you describe life in Hungary?

Has it been complicated to settle down, to find an accommodation and a job?

Is it complicated to make friends in Hungary?

What would you recommend to people who would like to live in Hungary?

Thanks in advance for your participation

Life in Hungary?
Slow motion mostly. Easy going.
At least here in the country side :)

Mostly open and friendly people that love to chat and share a beer in the local bar.

Not sure about the job, but I doubt that it's easy. We are here between our country hopping times, so more or less on vacation.

Recommendations? Be open and friendly, that should be sufficient :)

Life here seemed a lot easier before we arrived:/ The biggest problem is the bearocracy. We want to be accepted in the communities in which we live which means trying to be as Hungarian as possible. We registered as living here at the police station, registered for tax and the heath system, bought a motorbike and mobile phones and it's been a nightmare at every stage. You can't apply for any of these things by post but have to turn up in person. I was turned down for a mobile phone as it was said that I didn't have enough id, the same went for buying a motorbike. The bottom line is that I got each of them by being persistent. If it's out of their normal remit then they either say it can't be done or don't know how to do it.
As for getting a job, we found it very easy as we were head hunted by an English language school.
Would I go back to England?.....Not if I have a choice. Despite the beaurocracy we love living here. The people, the culture, the country.........
Making friends has been so easy as nearly everyone we come across wants to help us and give us things. I speak very little Hungarian but that does't deter people form insisting on trying to make friends.

I know the bureaucracy part. I only got a mobile phone chip, because we are here since 5 years and we had contracts for the Internet on and off with them, which we started with our Landlords address and name. That's the only reason we get anything. We tried to get away from Telekom and tried to get a mobile with Vodafone. No chance. But them, we are not registered here.
If you are properly registered, you shouldn't run into that crap.
Shouldn't,.... ;)
But hey, they sold us a DSL contract 3 times, even with me telling them, that there's no way that it will work here. And three times I was right, sigh.
The third time I was there with a Hungarian friend translating. One guy still insisted on selling me the contract. His words were: "if you DON'T want it,....."
He thought, we can have DSL because one of his friends,living here has it.
Yeah, he got it thanks to some high ranking political friends somewhere ;)

It's always the same....knowing the right people to get anything done.

Hi Everyone,:D

I've been here in Hungary for almost 17 years and in this time I've felt I've made it my home and I've felt that I wouldn't want to leave. However, in the face of Hungary's CURRENT ie. 2009 economic woes and political situation I'm really considering leaving although to where just yet in the middle of a global recession or afterwards I'm not sure.:unsure


I've experienced all the bureaucracy that you can imagine,with pompous officials - giving tips to our doctor/s and dentists although i have to say they are private anyway and we have known them for a long time (just like you need to 'know' other professionals to get anything done and with some assurance of quality work.

When I first entered Hungary I felt more relaxed than I ever was back in the UK in relation to lifestyle. I began to (and still do) love the level of informaility and general helpfulness among Hungarians, the local cuisine,culture and the way Hungarians in general appear to readily embrace other cultures.Sure every country has its problems but I don't really see any sign of long term improvement ( I'm not talking about superficial things like infrastructural developments) I mean the corruption and the way you can work yourself into an early grave if you live by the book and pay tax on top of tax (there's government creativity for you)only to see the government overspend it in certain areas.

This is just an expression of my personal experience of course but I guess I'm a little tired of overpaying taxes and utility bills due to incompetent invoicing staff and accountants with little or no chance of money ever being repaid.One thing's for sure though - I won't still here by the time I'm a pensioner.
:( though as I really do like most things about Hungary but when you've got children and the country is going down the toilet - fast- you really start looking for the exit door.

Ho Sam,
welcome aboard!
Yes, we are currently rethinking our plan of buying anything here as well.

It's not worth the hassle. Plus people here still think that because you are German or American you shit gold :(
And some even really think their houses are worth what they are asking for.
I'm so tired of that and I haven't even started to deal with the bureaucracy part :(

But like you we have no real clue where to build up our tent next. I want to have a place where I can comfortably live.

Oh well, we shall see.

Hope you find a good solution for yourself!!

I know exactly how you all feel. Jut recently I've contemplated returning to the UK, not for good as that's going down the pan also which is one reason we left but maybe for 2 or 3 months each year to earn some money then return to Hungary and spend it here for the remainder of the year.
One example of the inadequancies here: Erika badly broke her arm a couple of weeks ago and was taken by ambulance to the local hospital in Eger. It was dirty, disgusting and the staff were rough with her so we ended up driving nearly 100 miles to Debrecen 3 days later which is cleaner but the staff still manhandle her.
Fortunately I've not yet had to tip a public servant to get the service that I should receive anyway. They'd get told if they expected it. I did tell my doctor recently though that his waiting system is ridiculous! That didn't go down well.
We're in the process of trying to build our business here by renting our house out and organising trips and tours...but it's based in England due to the extortionate taxes in Hungary. Please take a look  www.explore-hungary.com  (if this breaches expat-blog terms then please remove the web address and accept my aplogies).
We still love the country and culture, it's just a shame it's run by corrupt politicians!

Jee, what an experience. I'm sorry for Erika!
I just had a nasty encounter with one of the local bitches, thank goodness there aren't many. She tried to pick an argument with me about feeding stray cats. I am just doing a friend, who's on vacation, a favor and she tried to threaten me.
I'm still getting angry thinking of it...

I bet you are angry. There seems to be a distinct lack of reponsibility in Hungary regarding pets. Dogs tend to be chained up outside for most of their lives and cats tend to be kept outside and fed as and when. 2 weeks ago Erika and I found 4 kittens in the forest that had been dumped by an uncaring owner. They were only a few days old. We trie in vain to find someone to care for them as they needed feeding every 2 hours but ended up having to take them to a vet to be put to sleep. It would have been more humane for the owner to drown them at birth. A responsible pet lover would have their cat neutered so they wouldn't keep having kittens!!

But not many want to spend the min. 8000FT to neuter their cat....
Not many people care for their animals, true.
I still take Hungary in that regard over Korea *shudder*....

Anyone know if this is a decent value-- it's an apartment for sale in budapest:
http://www.sunshineestates.net/main/pro … 26page%3D2
Price:     € 109,600
Close to the famous Andrassy Avenue
Property Ref:     20421
Region:     Budapest [Region Info]
Country:     Hungary

Type:     Apartment
Condition:     Habitable
Bedrooms:     2
Bathrooms:     2
Internal size (sq.m):     88
Ready to move property, freshly renovated on very high standard, close to the famous Andrássy Boulevard and Kodály körönd, in District 6, Budapest!

Close to Andrássy Boulevard, 88 sqm property on the 2nd floor, renovated on very high standard. It consists of a living-room + 2 rooms, hallway, entrance hall with kitchen, bathroom and 2 toilets. The smaller and also the bigger rooms open from the living-room, but the bigger one has a separate entry too. Everey rooms has stylish works. The flat is freshly renovated! The building will be renovated in next summer when a lift will be installed. The staircase is spacious and it is partly renovated. Side streets of the famous Andrássy Avenue (part of the World Heritage) has several new developments, rooftop developments, where the classical buildings has just been renovated along with the attic development. You may also find several gorgeous classical buildings with unique designs and decorations from the turnover of the century. Prices are lower in these areas than on Andrássy Avenue, still popular among foreign tenants due to the closeness of the Boulevard, City Park, etc. You may also calculate with a high capital growth in the area.

It may not be a bad price for the area of Andrassy, but you could probably get a much better deal without having to go too far (a couple of blocks).

Beware also that even some of the more upscale sections of Budapest have rough parts too.

You would certainly be paying a premium for being located in this particular area of the city..

At this time, I would be sceptical of any claim of "high capital growth" potential, at least in the short to medium term.

I would advise doing a little research on taxation if you do not intend making your purchase your main residence (you can sell tax free after 5 years if the property is your main residence).

If you really want the best possible price, I would advise coming over for a while and going through the Hungarian language advertisers. Most of these online estate agents specifically target foreigners and predictably, the prices are not at a level that Hungarians would be prepared to pay.

Thanks, Andrew.

I figured as much-- that it was a higher price if they catered to clients from the West.

Many of the ads talk about good investment, and growth--   I know not to expect that in this market-- the worldwide recession, such as it is.

Of course, you would have to see many places before one would buy.  I would probably not live there full time.   I am not averse to paying Hungarian property taxes.  Of course I don't know what amount we're talking about :-)

If they are US$800 to $2500 a year, that would be OK.  In France, I have to pay about 800 Euros a year.   I know they have to collect taxes.   I didn't know that the Hungarian govt. takes 60-70% of their income though.  Wow.  No wonder they can't make ends meet.  That sounds like Denmark and Scandinavia in general.

Here in the U.S., one can minimize your tax burden by deducting the costs of your business-- so you only pay on sheer profits.... if you have a lot of expenses, then you don't really pay that much.

I see I have a lot to learn about Hungary.   

Thanks again, Andrew.  I will keep reading these blogs.

I just liked Budapest so much when I visited for a week 4 years ago.  It just felt so good walking about.  Easy and friendly (despite being gypped by taxi drivers :-)
It seemed like I could live there. And I understand the countryside is exceptionally beautiful.
And people seem friendly.  I preferred Budapest to Prague, actually-- even tho' I had friends in Prague to stay with and show me around.
I was hoping the cost of living in Budapest was lower than cities in the U.S.
I have to learn more about that aspect.

Merci,

Ray

Hi Ray,
merry welcome aboard :)

Sound advice Andrew gave. It's a sure fact that foreigners get charged more.
In the rural areas some city officials even try to charge foreigners more taxes and such.

Be aware of friendly faces that might easily cheat you with a smile.

Best of Luck!
Nicole

You are very welcome Ray.

I’m sure that in the longer term, a city centre apartment would represent a decent investment.

I don’t think that there are currently any annual property taxes, although the government have announced that they intend to introduce one (based upon the value of the property) from 2010. The only other thing would be an annual “community” type charge which varies widely from area to area (and district to district in Budapest), which covers the costs of the local administrative centre/Majors office (I live in a village/small town 160 km SW of BP and our annual charge is just over 2000 Ft, which is currently in the region of US$ 10-11 [ten-eleven]).

The tax that could hit you hard is an income tax, if you rent the property out and/or a capital gains tax if you sell the property at a profit and it is not your main residence.

I found Budapest to be a fantastic place to live when I was (working) there around 10 years ago; excellent night life, friendly and easy going people in the main and quite a low cost of living (although by all accounts this has risen sharply in recent years), don’t worry too much about the robbing taxi drivers either, there are a couple of companies that don’t rip you off, the lesson is NEVER hail a cab in the street, always call for one, it works out much, much cheaper. I would also have to agree, that there is beautiful countryside to be found without having to travel too far from the city too.

Have a great weekend,
Andrew..

Thanks, Andrew.
I ordered these two books from Amazon.com:

"Hungary - Culture Smart!: a quick guide to customs and etiquette"
Brian McLean; Paperback; $9.95
Shipping Method:     Two-Day Shipping
Subtotal of Items:       $12.44
Shipping & Handling:       $0.00
     ------
Total for this Order:       $12.44

"Culture Shock! Hungary: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette (Culture Shock! Guides)"
Zsuzsanna Ardó; Paperback; $12.44

Re the capital gains tax.  I am used to that idea in the U.S. and in France.  No problem.
As you say, you only pay taxes on the portion that represents a profit.  And you get to deduct all the money you have put in the place to improve it.   If you sell it at the same price as you bought it, or less, then you only end up paying various fees and a type of transfer tax, etc.

I am trying to figure out how the economic situation is in Hungary right now.  Can't tell if prices are in a downward direction or what.   I will keep reading and paying attention :-)
A friend of mine who follows global economics tells me to wait two years for real estate prices in Hungary to come down further.   I will keep an eye out.
You mentioned having a look at the Hungarian classifieds rather than the ones that cater to the Western community in English.  The problem is that I don't read (or speak) Hungarian.
So, I would have to pay someone to help me anyway.    I read and speak French, so I didn't have that problem buying in France.
I am more retirement age than young.  So, I am wondering how it is to be semi-retired there.
I would buy the apartment "all cash", so there would be no monthly mortgage payment to make.  I wonder how well someone could live in an apartment and an area like the VI-th
district in Budapest.  My income would be about US $3,000 - $4,000 per month, having two pensions and some rental income.
Thanks for your kind and thoughtful information and suggestions.
Ray

"wait two years for real estate prices in Hungary to come down further"

We are waiting (in the rural areas) since a few years now. Here's nothing to be managed without an Hungarian that you trust go in first and ask for the prices without mentioning anyone from the US or other parts of the EU being interested.

The problem is that I don't read (or speak) Hungarian.
All you need to compare prices is a few words to begin with.
That's how I started.
But true, to know all the facts you need to be able to read the details.
Plus, I think many apartments / houses are still only in newspapers and not online. Most things that are online are already skyrocketed in their price (usually, not always).

I don't know about Budapest, but here in the countryside you can live pretty well on that kind of money.

Best wishes, Nicole

No Problem Ray, I am happy to help.

Probably a good idea to do a little light reading!

We’re about to put our place on the market and I don’t expect we will even come close to the price we paid in the first place. One of our neighbours has been trying to sell the place he inherited from his mother for about 18 months now; he has slashed the price by about 25% and it’s still for sale. As far as my opinion goes, houses right now are worth about what you could build one for and not a great deal more.

I guess I’m pretty lucky in that my wife is Hungarian; if ever we need to buy anything (expensive) I remain a silent observer in the background until the deal has been struck. As Nicole says, as soon as you announce the fact that you are a foreigner then you can almost see the dollar signs flashing in their eyes! There are, however, plenty of trustworthy, English speaking lawyers about; their hourly rate is normally quite reasonable (it is around here at least), less than $10/hr I would guess, you could always engage one to negotiate on your behalf. In my own experience, I have found them (lawyers) to be quite flexible and knowledgeable on a wide range of subjects.

You shouldn’t have too many problems in Budapest speaking English, but if you move outside of the city, particularly westwards, you will find that German is the second language of choice for many Hungarians.

I guess that you are probably the ideal kind of foreigner as far as the authorities are concerned; just coming here in the summer to spend your hard earned cash. In my opinion you could live a very comfortable life here (District 6) with a pension of that amount (I believe that the average wage here is still somewhere in the region of $500-600).

Have a nice day,
Andrew…

"I guess that you are probably the ideal kind of foreigner as far as the authorities are concerned;"

Airdrop the money ;)

Sorry, couldn't resist. :P

Thanks all.   Andrew, you seem like a mellow fellow :-)   Taking it all in stride...  I appreciate your insights.
Drop lift the money, eh?   LOL   I know that feeling, Nicole.  Great sense of humor :-)

Someone told me of a good lawyer in Budapest.  That would be key.
Does anyone know if there are restrictions on buying a place, furnishing it, and visiting as often as possible (but not more than 6 months a year), and renting it to visitors for a month or two at a time?   I would report the income (as I do now) in the U.S., where I pay taxes on all my income.

Also, why do the old buildings in Budapest have no fireplaces?   Are they bricked up?   They must have been there before.

Here is another apartment that looks like it's in the same building as the other, but has more sq. meters. The price seems reasonable to me.  See description below.
http://www.sunshineestates.net/main/pro … 26page%3D1

Unique 3 bdr apartment with central location: (REF 20870)

Price:    € 108,135
Agent:    Flott Invest International
View All My Listings
Region:     Budapest [Region Info]
Country:     Hungary

Type:     Apartment
Condition:     New

Bedrooms:     3
Bathrooms:     2
Internal size (sq.m):     110
   
Unigue 110 sqm apartment in District 6, close to the Westend City Center. It is on the 2nd floor, consists of a living-room and 3 bedrooms. Everey rooms has unique stylish works and the flat is fully and freshly renovated! The building is before renovation when a lift also will be installed.

"The building is before renovation when a lift also will be installed."

I wouldn't buy before that is finished.
In Hungary that might mean it's gonna happen in the next century or so...

Did you check out these guys yet:
http://www.bluehomes.com/go.asp?dest=au … =en&land=H
?

Not much in Budapest, I just saw. But well, maybe worth to keep an eye on.

I thought about that Nicole.  I am sure you are right.  However, it might be worth looking at if the exterior of the building is not too shabby.  One would have to take a look and judge- and also, if it's a nice block or not.   If it's a real bargain, and it looks OK, I wouldn't mind waiting for the luxury of a lift.   It's on the 2nd floor, so that's not too bad-- 3 floors up...

I checked out that other site and will keep an eye on it :-)

The one I found had lots and lots of listings.   Lots of "eye candy".     I have friends that call this "real estate porn"   LOL, for those of us who "get off" on looking at real estate :-)

Thanks so much, Nicole, for your input.

Ray in New Orleans

It would maybe help if you had someone skimming the Budpaest papers for you for the local ads. But you have nobody up there, no?
At least to compare the prices.

Yeah, I know the real estate porn ;)
We look at it from time to time as well.
Or the one "too good to be true".
The ones where the price is right, the location perfect, they have all you want and you wonder "what's the downside of it"?
:)

Thanks, Nicole.
I am not quite ready to have someone look for me yet for an apartment in Budapest.

I have a place for sale in Santa Fe, New Mexico.   When I get the money from that, I would have the money to buy something else.   

In the meantime, I am educating myself on things Hungarian-- including property, property laws, taxes, etc.

Love looking at real estate.   It must be in my genes from my parents, who did the same thing and always owned their home, plus rental properties :-)    I was always helping my dad fix floor furnaces, light bulbs, door knobs, etc.   So, all that just seems natural to me.   I also sell real estate here in the U.S..   I have always divided my interests in academic & artistic pursuits with business interests :-)
In school, I got a college degree in Philosophy & English, then a Master's in Psychology.
I really enjoy learning.
I did some amateur photography also :-)
http://www.rayruiz.com/page2.htm
I also did a lot of travel writing for some years.

I just meant looking for you, so you can compare some prices :)

Beautiful pics! The last line left one, the tower is intriguing. I would love to go to Ireland one day!

My brain gets frizzled too easy and I get side tracked on other things when I start to study something,...sigh.
:)

Hi,

i cannot really comment on the living at countryside but here in budapest there is really a large community of expats who live here either part time or full time. In terms of housing, it roughly is split in two: those who are here for short term and/or are young rent their places, but there are really a lot of us who have been buying the property here. In terms of buying, i have not found it any different than any other country, you need to know what you are looking for and you need to do your homework, but beside that there seems little problems. Finding good flat might take some time though. Good real estate offices have their own lawyers, but you can easily find a good english speaking lawyer yourself. Typically it will cost you a few percent of the value of the property. I have never heard any stories about dishonest lawyers, at least here in budapest. Most of my friends are typically buying their flats in 6th, 7th or 8th district where you can find absolutely fantastic looking apartments in old secession buildings with very reasonable money, especially if you are willing to do some renovations yourself. I have ten or so friends who actually pay their living by buying flats, renovating them and then selling/renting out them. Bureacracy can be dreadful -but not typically when related to buying property (very similar than most countries i know of), but can be quite a nightmare especially with utility companies - almost as bad as what you can experiences in south europe (italy/spain). There are companies to help with that if you need help (as most likely you do in the beginning).

Maybe one thing to realize is that most people live "more" in Budapest than they would do at home, as the amount of things to do is just unbelievable, so you better to take that into account when estimating cost of living. Having tens of cultural events to choose any day can be quite addictive combined with huge number of nice restaurants and bars. Also all the "old europe" is just around the corner, the history and cultural life in central europe is just part of life - almost every town has an orchestra of its own, has historical monuments etc etc.

The country has been managed quite badly by socialist government during the last six years but i am reasonably optimistic that it will get back on the right path soon... The tax system is not really helping to be an entrepeneaur here, but there are ways around it, and good consultant can help you with it (like doing it via Slovakia etc).

Good luck

there are lot of real estate sites (ingatlan) where you can find flats, and surprisingly lot of them although targeted to local market have actually english version as well. just google ingatlan and look around.My personal favourite is to look for those old secession houses that are reasonably centrally located, some are already externally renovated some are not but can be absolutely unbelievably beautiful places.

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