How Much Does It Cost to Live in Hungary?

cost of living in Hungary

Hungary is not super cheap in every way, but the destination is a good value for people who want to live a good life for less in Europe. Anyone moving to Budapest from a similarly sized city in Europe, North America, or Australia can easily cut their expenses in half. And the rest of the country costs less.

Estimates of how many expatriates live here range from 30,000 to 50,000 and there are enough in Budapest to support a business newspaper in English. So you won’t be all alone if you choose to move here.

Gary Lukatch was earning around $60,000 gross in New Mexico working in the financial industry, after having lived in a lot of other states before that. “When I moved to Budapest and began teaching English, my monthly net earnings after one year were around $600 per month, increasing to around $1,500 per month after, say, five years,” he says. “In short, I took a huge pay cut, but was 1000% happier.”

After teaching English in Budapest for eight years, he is retired, living a much better life than he could elsewhere on what he has to spend. “The cost of monthly house payments or rental, plus car costs alone, would be more than my monthly income, which is around $2,100 net,” he explains. “Here in Budapest, my monthly flat rental, plus utilities, averages around $400, right in the middle of town.” He says public transportation is excellent, so he doesn’t need a car. “I eat out several times a week and I still have enough money to travel wherever and whenever I want; I have now been to 53 countries, with at least five more trips scheduled this year.”

Australians Karen and Neil D. came to Budapest because her husband got a job offer in his industry and they thought it would be a great adventure. They had already lived in Poland and the Czech Republic though, so they and the four kids didn’t have to make a huge adjustment going to Hungary. “Hungary has been the cheapest of the three,” Karen says. They’ve watched the city get easier and easier as the years have gone by, partly through them adjusting but also because the level of English fluency locally has gotten steadily better.

Hungary joined the EU in 2004, but the country still uses the forint, which is a volatile currency. Prices quoted here are based on 220 to the dollar, but I’ve seen it as low as 198 and as high as 250. So check the current rate before cursing my name when you read this because prices have changed.

Eger

Eger, Hungary

The countryside of Hungary is very cheap, but few expats live in the rural areas unless they’re in the wine industry. Most choose to live in Budapest, around Lake Balaton, or in one of the smaller cities like Eger or Pecs.

Hungary got hit hard in the European economic crisis like many other nations on the continent, but has recovered faster. The official unemployment rate was 8% in mid-2014, which looks downright glorious compared to Italy, Spain, Greece, or Portugal. In many ways, this feels like a nation on the rise and the young are displaying something not seen much in the past couple hundred years of Hungary’s history: optimism.

Housing Costs in Hungary

housing costs BudapestThe residents of Hungary give their rent costs in hundreds, not thousands, and you won’t find many single people or couples paying more than $500 a month, even in the capital. When you get into smaller towns, you can get a large house for that. When I was last in Budapest, I asked several locals I talked to what they were paying per month for an apartment and the answers came in between $150 and $300. In the southern wine region I visited on my first trip a few years earlier, there were houses with a nice garden going for the same. I met an expat from New Zealand working for a winery by Lake Balaton. He was paying $210 a month for his two-bedroom apartment with a lake-view balcony.

The site Numbeo.com uses New York City for a price basis and compares costs of living around the world to that, using 100 as the NYC average. For rent prices, Hungary comes up a 10 and Budapest is 12. This will vary greatly by location, of course, but on average you can expect to pay 1/8 to 1/10 of what you would in your current situation if you’re living in New York.

Gary pays a shade under $300 for his apartment in District 5, one of the most desirable and central areas of the city. (If you’ve come to Hungary as a tourist, you’ve been there to see the sites.)

If you decide to buy something eventually, which you can do freely as a foreigner, “a typical apartment in Budapest will cost between 90,000 and 130,000 euros for 100 square meters.” Karen says. It’s a buyers market right now for a very bad reason: a lot of Hungarians took out loans to buy property in the pre-EU days and did it in Swiss Francs because that was a stable currency. Now they owe far more than what the property is worth because of the Swiss Franc’s rise. “So there’s a mass selling of properties because of exchange rate changes,” Karen says. Combined with the high unemployment so prevalent in much of Europe now, there are far more sellers than buyers.

Health Care Costs

In this country the medical care is good, the dental care is great. With the rise of cross-border medical treatment happening in many places in the world, Hungary has jumped on the trend with both feet. Many Europeans come here to have dental work done or to receive good medical care at a discount. I was actually having some dental problems while in this part of the world two years ago and started asking around for prices to get a new crown. I ended up not getting it done because of timing, but prices I was quoted ranged from $250 to $350 all-in. (In the United States, this can easily top $1,000.)

Getting a cleaning and check-up at the dentist is around $30, getting a set of x-rays about that much again.

The one time Gary had to have serious medical work done, the total bill was about 1/10 the price of what it would have been in the USA.

Budapest market

Food & Drink

you can normally have a very fine cloth-napkin dinner with wine for $15. If you eat at more humble places, a soup will be a dollar or two and main dishes range from $3 to $7.

When you shop in the market, prices are at the low end for Europe. You can get rolls for 10-25 cents each or a huge baguette for a dollar or less. Get 100 grams (around 1/5 of a pound) of good cheese for a dollar, 100 grams of good local sausage for $2, and a jar of pickled veggies for another dollar or so.

For a buck or less, you can generally buy 100 grams of any of these things in the market: raisins, peanuts, sunflower seeds, banana chips, or dried apricots. Or you can get a kilo of seasonal fruit or peppers, cabbage, potatoes, radishes, or carrots. I saw a big bunch of white asparagus for about a dollar when I was there. How much do you pay for that in your local Whole Foods?

“We probably spend $80-$100 a week on groceries, not including wine,” says Karen. “In Australia we could spend $300 or $400 a week easily.”

Hungarian wineHungarian wine should be known around the world, but the Soviet occupation days seriously hurt its reputation and the recovery will be a long one. So for now it’s one of the best quality-to-price values in the world. In many countries, expats complain about the difficulty of getting decent wine for a decent price, so if that’s a big priority, put Hungary on your list. (Along with Argentina and tropical duty-free Panama). You can find a decent table wine bottle in a store for $2, something quite good for $4 to $8. If you spend over $10 you might end up with something from a “winemaker of the year” who has adorned Hungarian magazine covers.

This once being part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, you can get a killer coffee and pastry here just as you can in Vienna—but for literally 1/4 the price. After you do a double-take at your low bill in a wine bar, finish with a coffee and dessert for another nice surprise.

Transportation Costs

Getting around Hungary is relatively cheap by bus or train when you want to get out of town. Figure on $10-$12 for a trip of two hours, or $30 to go as far as you can possibly go within Hungary. Seniors and young children travel free. The longest ride on the suburban railway out of Budapest (30 kms) is just $2.50.

Hungary travel by train

Budapest has a metro and while it’s no real bargain on a ride-by-ride basis (around $1.55), a monthly pass that also works for the trams and buses is a good value at less than $50. If you’re of retirement age, you might squeak by for free.

Apart from the ride from the airport, taxis in Hungary are a bargain. In general you can get around the center of Budapest in a cab for $3 to $7. It’s around $2 to start and $1.25 for each kilometer, so it’s hard to spend $10 anywhere unless it’s a long haul. Like much of Europe, this country is set up well for those on a bicycle and some expatriates use a bike as their main means of transport. In Budapest there are lots of dedicated bike lanes and in the countryside there’s not nearly such an abundance of cars as you see in the capital.

Frequent promotions on the train system and Eurolines bus make international travel from here a bargain. If you plan ahead you can get to Vietnna for less than $20 or to beach locations of Greece, Bulgaria, or Croatia for around $60.

Other Costs

If you pay your own utilities they can vary greatly by the season. His utilities vary widely, from $30 to $200 a month. “My place is not the best insulated in town, so I pay more in the winter for heat. In the summer, it’s very low.” Internet is $15 to $30 depending on speed and if you want a great connection, you can usually get it in the cities. The lowest-priced speed is generally 5 mbps, which is fine for a lot of people.

The land of Liszt and Bartok has an abundance of cultural performances going on at all times, from high-brow opera in the capital to an annual festival of wine songs in the south each year. Performances that aren’t free are very cheap by European standards. “The theater is amazing here,” says Karen. “The cost of going to a ballet or opera can nearly bankrupt you in Australia. Here it’s for everyone. Tickets usually start at $5. If you buy really great seats on a weekend for a popular show it might cost you all of $25.”

Budapest coffee pastry

Visas in Hungary

Hungary is part of the Schengen Agreement covering much of the European Union, which means you can’t just stick around here on a tourist visa. You get three months upon entering the zone, but after that you have to leave the whole Schengen area for three months before returning. No problem if you’re only coming for the summer. Terrible if you want to settle down for longer.

To get residency without being tied to a specific employer, you generally have to show you’re doing work a local can’t do, like teaching English, or you have to show that you’re self-supported by income from abroad. You can see a sample of costs and documents needed at this site, which also warns you that requirements may change at any time: http://washington.kormany.hu/entry-for-long-stay

A work visa is good for a year and renewable. Expect to endure a lot of bureaucracy and if you don’t have a college diploma, it’s going to be even tougher. You will have to apply in your own country and will then have 30 days after entering Hungary to get the local paperwork sorted out.

Most people who want to stick around either get a work permit connected to a specific job and company, or a residence permit that’s not tied to one employer. “Americans can only get residency for two years,” says Gary, “then they have to renew.” He’s now looking into permanent residency though, which you can apply for after being in the country for three years. This costs money for a lawyer and requires a lot of additional paperwork. Most of the items need to be translated into Hungarian as well, plus you have to show proof of health insurance or buy into the Hungarian health care plan..

Do you have Hungarian blood? If so, you could be on the fast track to residency. If you have ancestral roots in the country, you can get real citizenship without giving up your original one, making you one of those enviable people with two passports. You have to speak Hungarian, but you can take intensive language courses while you’re living there and collecting paperwork. This is a back door into the EU, which would give you the ability to live elsewhere too.

Hungarian

I wouldn’t count on it…

Downsides

The political winds are blowing strongly to the right as I put this book together, with overt racism, anti-Semitism, and discrimination against minorities all rearing their ugly heads on a regular basis.

Hungarian is an especially tough language to crack, but you’ll often need at least some basics when you get outside the capital.

This is an excerpt from the upcoming book A Better Life for Half the Price, about cutting your expenses in half by moving abroad. Sign up here for updates on cheap living abroad.

Comments
  1. Marco

    Food is cheaper in Budapest than it is in other countries but relatively it is quite expensive. The supermarkets are generally smaller and do not stock as much fresh produce as you might find in residential areas of London and it is best to shop at the markets if you have the time.

  2. Jessica T.

    I’ve found this site to be pretty close to what I experienced when I lived there twice for three months each.
    http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=Hungary

    Rents are super-cheap in Budapest compared to London or Dublin and it costs about 1/5 as much to go out at night for drinks. It can get really cold in the winter though.

  3. Susan

    A truly enjoyable read, as you’ve expressed pricing and activities in a way that allows natural comparisons. Appreciate your citing Numbeo as I’ve always used the Runzheimer cost of living comps, but many don’t have access to their data.

  4. Steve H

    Hi Tim – reader of yours since ’06 here. It would seem Hungary, like all of Europe, would be more expensive in July and August when the rest of the western world is on holiday. I have two questions if you don’t mind my asking:

    1) When is the most cost-effective time to visit Hungary and Eastern Europe in general? Even if it’s cold, it’s about the experience for me.
    2) What are the lowest of low-season destinations for July and August – and I guess more specifically – are there really any?

    • Tim Leffel

      Steve,

      Yes, Budapest is much more crowded in the summer like the rest of the continent and the river cruise day trippers are out in force all year. Plus you get the Brits flying in to drink for cheap for a weekend and do pub crawls. We’re talking about a small part of one city though, near the Danube, and even Budapest isn’t real crowded with foreigners outside of that zone. Apart from Lake Balaton, there’s not much of a seasonal swell otherwise. Just get a little bit away from those two spots and you’ll be fine. Autumn would be lovely in the wine districts as its harvest time, with lots of festivals, and it’s just crisp instead of cold.

      • Purabi Ellis

        Hi,
        I am planning to move to Hungary for sometime. However, I have a bunch of queries in my mind, if you could help me with.
        1. Me, being a woman in my late 20’s, how much would it cost me every month to live in Budapest. My basic expenses are as follows:-
        a) salon
        b) gym & yoga
        c) house on rent (with electricity+internet)
        d) shopping ( food+cosmetics )
        e) transportation
        f) dentist
        g) calling plan with internet for mobile
        h) shopping for clothes, shoes, accessories, etc; once in a while
        2. Is having a domestic help, expensive there?
        3. How can I live in Budapest for 6 months at a stretch?
        4. Can I work there on a tourist visa?
        I would be extremely grateful to you if you could help me with all my perplexities. Since, I have no one known there, I would be requiring the right guidance from the right person.

        • Tim Leffel

          Most of this is covered in the Hungary chapter of the book on living abroad for less. To dig deeper, you’ll need to get a book specifically about living in Hungary or start researching on the web unless you want to hire a local consultant.

        • Atti

          Hello,

          I’m going to try and give you some information regarding this, you should be very well as Budapest is fairly cheap so all of this wouldn’t be that expensive. However I couldn’t cover everything so please go check through if it helped :3

          A) Salon
          This will obviously depend on where you want to go but most things wont cost you more than EUR 10-15

          B) Gym & Yoga
          Daily passes can range from 1600 Forints or 5 EUR / while a monthly membership costs 21,000 Forints or 65 EUR, this usually includes access to the gym, classes, and wellness facilities so this could include Yoga classes (depending where you go, so offer it cheaper) – Corvin Wellness

          C) House / Rent
          Lows as 195 EUR to 300 Eur realistically for your self, you can also negotiate internet if it isn’t included in a particular house/flat, in to the monthly price as well as any furniture in most cases.

          D) Shopping http://www.dm-drogeriemarkt.hu/hu_homepage/
          Rossmann, DM (probably best places to look for cosmetics)
          Spar, Tesco, Auchan, Lidl, Aldi, are international supermarkets (CBA) the Hungarian chain, along with others ( your weekly shop wont be very expensive at all if put it at no more than $50EUR if that depending on what you are buying and where. To give you and idea of basics Milk prices are very cheap from 0.50 Eur Cent for 1 liter, Bread 0.45 Eur Cent for -400 grams, butter 0.80 Eur Cent (400g depending on brand) etc.

          E) Transportation http://www.bkk.hu/en/main-page/news/
          BKK (Budapesti Közlekedési Központ) – Very affordable (announcements on transport on some services are also made in English so you can easily get around)
          Single tickets from – 350 Forints (HUF) Student passes 90% discount for monthly passes = 11 EUR (3450 Forints) , normal price for a monthly pass is 9 500 Forints = 30 EUR

          F) Dentist
          Dentist check ups are around 25 Eur the state dentists (offer a free service for those under 18 and seniors) If you are having any work done (should you need to) Its difficult to estimate so I cannot give you a specific answer on this as the price can depend on what you are having done. However the state dentists are normally very good.

          G) Calling Plan
          Vodafone, T-mobile, & UPC plans can get difficult however there are options with these providers there is such a big list I wouldn’t want to list it here instead you can go to. (Prices differ on how much you want for how long and with what provider so I can give you an accurate answer sorry).
          http://www.vodafone.hu/english
          http://www.telekom.hu/mobil/#bizd_ra_magad_a_4g_re (not sure if you can get this in English but google might translate it)
          http://www.upc.hu/ (same with this one)

          H) Shopping for Clothes etc
          We have many really great shopping malls (huge) Árkád, WestEnd, Allee, Aréna Plaza,Mammut 1 + 2 , are just a few you might like. http://www.mammut.hu/en/about-us
          There are many international brands here with good value if you for any of the names I have mentioned here in google it will give you their website some have it in English. ( A recent survey also revealed that Hungary ( Budapest) is the cheapest in Europe for clothes shopping)

          2) Domestic help
          Please could you specify ? ( I’m lost :D)

          3) Living in Budapest for 6 months
          At a stretch you can opt for shared living (you can google these in English it will pop up) Air bnb? most things here are fairly cheap you can get food from the markets really great selection, (renting outside of Budapest city center will save you possibly 50 Eur or so, HOWEVER I do have to let you since you are planning to stay in Hungary for more than 3 months you have to register your self to the Hungarian officials.

          It is mandatory to register at your local registration office if you are staying in Hungary for more than 3 months. http://www.bmbah.hu/index.php?lang=en

          When you go along to the registration office, you will need your Passport, reason for residency (work contract, student acceptance letter), bank statements, EHIC card, proof of your address (leasing contract etc). It costs HUF1000 payable by fiscal stamp available at Post offices. Provided your documents are in order you will receive a residency card and an address card at the time of application. (Ensure that your name is on the post box where you live. By not having your name on the post box could result in post not being delivered.)

          4) Working with a Tourist Visa
          This is a big No No I’m afraid you will have to apply for a working Visa if you want to do this, this can lead to possible travel bans, fines and deportation.

          Citizens of Non-EU/EEA countries (those who are required to get a visa) can apply for various types of visas. The visa type you should apply for depends on the purpose and the duration of your stay. It is very important to apply for the correct type of visa, because you cannot change your status in Hungary after entry. To do this you will normally have to leave the country( if you are already there ofc.), apply for the correct type of visa and then return to Hungary once it has been granted.

          You can apply for a short-term or a long-term visa. The application process for a long-term visa usually takes between 30 and 60 days; while an application for a short-term visa will normally be processed in 5 to 15 days. The application fee for the visa that you will be charged depends on the country of application, ask in the Hungarian consulate in your current country of residence for details (this is also where you will need to make the application for a visa).

          In case of a long-term visa first you will receive a Visa which you can travel into Hungary with. This Visa is valid for 30 days from the date you entered the Schengen Area. During this period you will need to go to the Hungarian Immigration Office in person to receive the final Schengen Residence Permit and to arrange the Address Registration too.

          Please go to the Hungarian consulate in your current country of residence for details upon which visa would suit you and information if you wish to work in Hungary. They will be able to help you.

          • Sudhir

            Hello Atti,
            I am worried as my son and his wife currently working in Dubai ,earning about 4000 Euros are planning to shift to budapest getting only 2000 Euros in Hungary. Dubai is a very costly city but taking a 50% cut in earnings.Is it a wise move? ANY FRESH INPUTS FROM ANYONE……

  5. Wade K.

    I looked at an expat forum after reading about Hungary here and they highly recommend NOT living there, citing a number of negative reasons. After reading here I was very interested but now I don’t know. The cost of airline flights to and from the States is another serious concern. Think I’ll stick with Mexico or some place else in Latin America.

    • Tim Leffel

      I’m in Latin America, so I can’t argue with you on that. But any message board you look at anywhere, you’re going to find disgruntled people who are not happy and are finding fault with their new home. But they probably found plenty of fault with the old one too…

      • Wade K.

        Yes, you are right. Plenty of disgruntled people out there!

  6. Marie

    My friend wants to move to Hungary. Glad I found this post. I will share this to her. Thanks :)

  7. Wade K.

    Hey Tim, You live in Guanajuato, which I know is a beautiful town. Any opinions on Leon? Just found out they have excellent bike paths all over the city. Supposed to be one of the best cities for biking in Latin America. My wife has bad knees, can’t handle hills, and I love biking.

    • Tim Leffel

      Since this isn’t about Hungary, I’ve replied to you by e-mail Wade.

  8. Anthony

    Tim, I am glad you mention the lurch to the right like many countries in the EU in the wake of the unsolved and unfinished Financial Crisis.

    All these Right Wings are Nationalist and when that happens, they naturally make racist remarks in the media, but Hungry has stepped it up a bit with vivid Antisemitism, marches and open celebrations of those who were convicted of war crimes in WWII.

    All that said, I do know an African-American in Budapest that hasn’t experienced much racism and has no problems dating women locally either.

    The rest of your post is spot on.

  9. turac

    Hi Tim
    I am willing to apply a phd programme in Budapest. They offer me 700€ of scholarship monthly. Do you think it is enough to live in Budapest? thanks…

    • Tim Leffel

      The average salary in Budapest is somewhere between US$500 and 600 depending on exchange rates, so you’ll be far better off than most locals with that amount. You’ll need to be somewhat frugal of course and pick your apartment carefully, but you can certainly live on that.

      • George

        Hi, Tim.
        How one can live on 500 dollars while the rent and groceries according to this article is roughly 800 dollars?

        • Tim Leffel

          Where in the article did I say you can live on $500? I’m sure some Hungarians do it, but I wouldn’t advise trying as an expat.

    • Marine

      Hi Turac,
      Hope you are well!!!

      Dear can you share with link, where they offered you 700 euro of scholarship monthly?
      I have checked and didnt find in their Cornvinus University of Budapest

      • Kamran

        If it is still of any use, Central European University in Budapest offers that … http://www.ceu.edu

  10. Feula

    Good read! My husband is Hungarian & I’m Samoan. We currently live in Australia and are planning to move to Hungary with our son. You’re spot on with the comparisons with costs of daily living. We’re building a few businesses here in Australia and have decided that Hungary is the perfect place to retire to…As a foreigner I’m reading up on what people have to say about life in Hungary. My husband of course is bias as it’s his home country he grew up in, but I would like to see it from a different perspective. You’ve done a great job here. Thank-you.

  11. Joe Berta

    Just want to thank you and contributors for a lot of good info.
    I am Hungarian but left in 1967 and have not been back.
    I lived the life of a nautical gypsy in North America and are looking forward to doing some land based travels after retirement, which is in about three years.
    I feel I am close enough now to start learning so the plans can be laid.
    Your blog was the first I read re the subject.
    Cheers / Viszont Látásra / Szia …… :)

  12. Joe Berta

    My dreams of returning to my place of birth (Budapest) are quickly diminishing as I watch the turbulence build in EU – scary place to fly into as far as I’m concerned……

    • Tim Leffel

      Joe, Turn off the TV and most places get a lot less scary. Reality on the ground is usually far different—unless you’re in a war zone. Plus I don’t know where you live now, but there are very few “perfectly safe” places on this planet if you’re going to be around other humans.

      • Joe Berta

        Tim, unfortunately I am not going only by CNN, LOL…
        I have several friends who all write the same thing. Here are excerpts just from one, but they all resonate the same thing: (This is a very educated and well known Hungarian, writing to me in English.)
        “Visiting Europe is not safe now, especially not safe walking in the popular European cities and I think the main transit airports are in danger because of that religion fanatics.
        In this time I think the best way to come here to arrive to Vienna airport, Austria is a peaceful country, not threatened, not linked to war against ISIS and a must see country.
        Hungary is not threatened, I think there’s no reason to threat for, we are unimportant for ISIS and any other view points. We have other problems with our government but the streets and restaurants are safe :-)
        Hungary is not on a best way I think, the prime minister and his crew (they are former college roommates) are following the russian-chinese line of governance, they turned away from democracy and try to build some cult of personality. There are many many demonstrations in daily basis against the government and the politicians, but these events are mostly peaceful and silent.
        They let live different supremacist groups and it’s scary. …..”

        I live in Bobcaygeon Ontario where it is safe. So far.
        If I go, I will want to do all of EU. I am a EU citizen so I can stay as long as I want. Many of those places I want to see are not safe right now.
        I lived my whole life as a gypsy. Stood on the sidewalk beside my father as the Russian tanks rolled into Budapest in 1956, saw the buildings collapse around me and people dying. I traveled offshore waters and lived through hurricanes on my own boat, so I am not the faint hearted type, but equally not foolish enough to subject my family to what has become more imminent than a possibility.

        Thanks for this website. I will eventually end up in Hungary and will let you know how it was. :)

  13. Sandy Horvath

    Hi Tim, what a wonderful read. Thank you. My husband was born in South African of Hungarian Parents who ran away from the Russian Revolution in 1957. They landed up in Switzerland where they got married. After a few years they moved to South Africa. When my husband was five years old, his Father walked out. Never to be seen again. My husband has been trying to find out how to get his Hungarian Passport. He has his Mother’s Birth Certificate but not his fathers. Any advise on this please. I know it’s complex. Many Thanks Sandy Horvath.

    • Tim Leffel

      Sandy, Just Google “get Hungarian citizenship” and you’ll find a wealth of resources. One birth certificate would be enough I’m sure.

      • Greg

        Hi Tim. I like ur posts and find them very informative and encouraging with the idea of living there considering I really dont make that much money. Im originally from Philadelphia and lived in L.A. for 4 years. Im also a US Navy veteran and recieve a disability pension a month of 1072.00 a month. I recently have been researching Budapest all over the internet via youtube and craigslist to get an idea of rent prices. I have been seeing alot of rent higher than what you were saying of $200-300 US a month albiet not that much higher but more in the 500 range for a decent apt. Ive heard that electricity is VERY expensive which would kill me on my income and my budget. I dont have many expenses which are bout 3oo a month including food. Im looking to get a visa after my first 90 days if I decide I want to stay longer which seems like I would by everything i have been seeing and reading about it. Im also concerned about health insurance expenses which would REALLY cut into my budget and am afraid it would decrease my standard of living of being able to afford a decent apartment. I like to know what ur thoughts are on health insurance prices, utility prices and where I can find a good bargain on a decent apartment that is in a convenient location or at least somewhat close to public trans that is easy accessible to shops, stores, grocery etc. Any info u can give me will be very helpful.

        • Tim Leffel

          Budapest would be tough to manage on $1K a month honestly as that’s about 1/4 of the average U.S. income. You’d have an easier time in the countryside—or Bulgaria if your heart’s set on Europe.

        • Peter

          I am australian living in Szeged , even less expensive than b’pest. I have lived world wide since 1967 including 4 tours of vietnem war . Have a place to sell here and may take a look back to aust but assume i cannot afford to live there. But Szeged hungary is a great city of great people and university capital. Monthly health insurance is cheap and brilliant about $20 a month.

          • Jamie mantzke

            Hi ,
            I’m so happy to here this about Szeged! My daughter is studying abroad there this year from September – December. I worry about her finding an apartment / cost of living…. Most of all her safety! As they have a lay over in Istanbul! I’m a very nervous Mother !

    • Peter

      Hi Sandy,

      that is true, one cerificate is enough, if his mother had the hungarian citizeship when he was born, he got automatocally the hungarian citizenship too. The hungarian embassy in Pretoria can manage all others.
      I’m living now in Budapest., if you have any question, don’t hesitate. to ask me.
      P.s.: sorry for my poor english.

      • Agnes Callister

        Peter: I would like to retire in 2018 to Hungary. I don’t want to live in the City as I have already done that while i was there once as a tourist. I was born in Pest, and plan to apply for dual-citizenship…Can you recommend a country-side town that has access to a fast train or bus which would still keep me close to Budapest, while living in a more rural atmosphere where i can at least grow a garden & vegetables? Agnes – Thank you.

    • Don Lugosi

      Hi Sandy

      My story is similar so I would suggest what I did. Your mother in law needs to reinstate her Hungarian citizenship, after that she can register her sons birth thereby getting him a Hungarian birth certificate (this is fine even if he wasn’t born in Hungary!). After that he applies for his passport with his birth certificate.
      He could also apply for hungarian citizenship through ancestry but you need to speak a bit of Hungarian. I didn’t opt for this as my Hungarian is very limited.
      The down side was that the Pretoria embassy was slow and they ask for a lot of paperwork and official translations, but this was 10 years ago so hopefully it has improved.
      Best regards, Don

  14. Jonathan

    Hi Tim,

    I enjoy your blog and am planning to come to Budapest to study at Central European University. I am wondering if 1100 USD per month would be sufficient. Yes, it is subjective to say whether 1100 USD per month are enough. Your advice is much appreciated.

    Cheers,

    Jonathan

    • Tim Leffel

      Jonathan, I’m sure there are many students easily living on that amount. Reach out to them and see. I was just saying for a normal person trying to support themselves in Budapest (with no student housing or subsidized meals) it might be a bit challenging.

      • Fran

        Most food in eu and us is subsidised. If you are cooking at home $200 should be plenty you can survive on much less. The food costs actually much more but these prices are hidden in taxation such as military budget, road taxes, eu subsidy to farmers, land restrictions/ house prices.

  15. michael hegyan

    Grandmother, born and raised in Budapest, left country in 1920.

    Mentioned to me, when I was quite young, that relocate there, from US, and you like

    it much more. Soon i will.

  16. Elif

    Hi Tim !
    First of all, thanks a lot for the info you provided. I’ve not heard about your blog till my hungarian friend requested me. I’m Turkish and thinking about a job vacancy in Budapest at Vodafone. And I really don’t know that much about Hungary. For the job, the salary expected is around 700€ net ( convert to forint), my friend told me that’s the average rate .
    She earns 216000 forints at the same position, HR. Could you please tell me if it’s enough to live on your own including renting a place or a room, shopping, bills, social life ? As far as I searched on web and the things that I read, Hungary is an amazing city with it’s view, history, culture, simple life.. But when you compared the economie with Turkey, I think it’s less powerfull and their currency is less valuable.. Actually, the whole question is whether it’s worth to move there for a job vacancy in this condition ? What you suggest ?
    İf you reply as fast as you can I’ll be glad !
    Thanks in advance ;)
    Cheers !
    Elif

    • Tim Leffel

      I feel like my money goes a lot further in Hungary than Turkey these days, especially comparing Budapest to Istanbul. But your best bet is to search local expat message boards and blogs to get an idea of what people are paying. I list a few of them in the book.

  17. Elif

    Btw, my friend recommended me this blog and Hungary is a country not a city :D
    Sorry for my silly mistakes !

  18. Spring Hawk

    from the article:
    ” Downsides
    The political winds are blowing strongly to the right as I put this book together, with overt racism, anti-Semitism, and discrimination against minorities all rearing their ugly heads on a regular basis ”
    can anyone tell us any more about this ?
    THANX IN ADVANCE !!!
    –QBQ

  19. Sonal

    Hey
    I have been given a place in an university and they are taking care of my accommodation and health insurance and tuition fee.They are giving me a monthly Stipend of 50,000 HUF .I am an from Thailand and am wondering whether that money will suffice my monthly food,travel to the university and minimal utilities.Also,is there any place I can work or be a part of?I intend to mostly cook if I am staying here as am a rice eater abd vegetariAn.

    • Robert Oze

      You have to earn ~830$/230,000 HUF for a minimum life in Budapest. Look at this: https://twitter.com/4diRobert/status/612426293880164352/photo/1
      Vegetables are very expensive in here.

      I’m a Hungarian senior software engineer and I earn 1700 USD/460,000 HUF per month. It is very high salary in this area (a doctor earns 500$), but I don’t recommend this life without high knowledge and experience. You can easily die of starvation with 50,000 HUF, it is nothing. For example if you would like to take a rent house you can pay caution: 3 * 85,000 (flat) HUF + 3 * 10,000 HUF (common costs) = 285,000 HUF ~1000 USD. Good luck!

      • Tim Leffel

        Obviously the expats I interviewed disagree. Most had apartments that were way less than $500 a month, right in the center. It all depends on your lifestyle I guess, and where you shop. I found vegetables to be incredibly cheap when I was there, and that was when the exchange rate was 220 to the dollar. They were 1/3 to 1/4 what I pay in the USA, on par with Mexico.

        • Tithi

          hi tim
          my husband got a scholarship of 100000 huf for pecs university & will get some accomodation cost & health care services. do u think its enough for him? thanks in advance

      • Sherif Malek

        Dear Robert,

        I was planning to transfer my college from Egypt to Hungary as a computer Engineering student
        , and i have some question and i need little help about generally living in Hungary,
        would you please answers my question if you have time ,
        my mail is sherif.m.malek@gmail.com

        thanks

  20. George

    Hi everyone. What should be done first for a non EU citizen. The work permit, the job contact or the non tourist visa?
    Could you please help me with that?
    Thanks.

  21. Gaurav

    Dear Tim,
    i will be moving to Hungary early next year; and am supposed to receive a gross salary of USD4000/month. looking at this page, it seems this should work out as the company will also give me accomodation and a car; but still wanted to re-confirm on this

    also, the key thing that i wanted to know is what is the difference between the gross and net salary in Hungary? if my gross is 4000 what is the net i get?
    Rgds,
    Gaurav

    • Tim Leffel

      I’m not sure what your tax rate will be, but even if we assume you net $2,500 per month, with your housing and a car provided you’ll be loaded! You’ll feel downright rich on that amount when eating and drinking especially.

      • Gaurav

        Thanks Tim,
        Appreciate your feedback. I was informed that all the deductions amount to 33% (including income tax and social security), which still leaves net of 2700…

    • Karl Nemeth

      4000US and free accomodation you will live like a King.
      4000US is 1.1 million Forint. Once again, like a King.

      Kind regards, Karl.

  22. Ajax

    Hello Tim,
    I was offered a salary of EUR4000 per month…my family consists of wife and kid…I was told the tax will be 16%…after tax,rent,utility and food ,..apprx how much i can save end of the month..please help.

    • Tim Leffel

      I can’t help you with something that specific Ajax. You’re better off asking someone who already lives there now.

  23. Bushra

    For students, how much monthly cost needed? Including accomodation,food and transportation.

  24. Jan

    Hi Tim,
    Can and expat living in Hungary purchase a Hungarian health insurance policy? If so, do you know what the age limits are and approximately the cost of major medial insurance?

    Where can I go online to research the requirements for a visa to be able to live in Hungary?

    Thanks so much,
    Jan

  25. Paulie

    Hi to all. Am a 60yo. Retired. Monthly income of approx. 3,200 u.s. dollars. Would that be enough to live in Budapest. Would like to move abroad somewhere and was watching a show on television and Budapest looks like a beautiful city. Would like to meet some different people. Thanks

    • Tim Leffel

      Paulie, never make a life decision based on what you see on TV as that’s almost never reality. Go there on vacation, spend some time in real neighborhoods doing normal things locals do and see if the place resonates with you. There’s no substitute for using all five senses on the ground.

  26. Imtiaj Uddin

    HI,
    I am planning to migrate with few investment (approx 50,000 Euro) in Hungary. Anyone can give idea what is the best sector / business I can invest with good return. Meanwhile I am looking job in HR profession. Am I eligible to get job?
    regards,
    Imtiaj
    Doha, Qatar
    +97455054359

  27. Vanessa

    HI All,

    like the article a lot, I have been offered a position in Budapest however I am a little bit confused about cost of living, I know is cheaper, but saying that I would have a net salary of around 400,000 HUF (with deductions already). I would need to pay rent, utilities (electricity, internet, water, cable, etc), mobile phone with unlimited data and minutes, gym, transportation, food, dentist, clothes, personal care like salon, do you think this would be ok? I cannot compare it to where I live know (latinamerica) but just want an idea if it would be fine to live there with that salary. Thanks for you help.

    • L.

      Hi,

      I have just come across your question… hopefully my answer is not too late. If it is, well, let’s hope it helps others.

      400k HUF net is ok to get along, but a lot depends on what your target living standard is. Assuming you are single and are willing to rent a 1 bedroom (+livingroom, etc.) apartment in a good, but not the fanciest location, you’ll pay up to 200k (but most likely around 150k) for rent and utilities, inc. internet, cable, etc. Transportation will set you back by 20k including occasional taxi rides (monthly pass alone is about 10k). Gym passes come in many flavors, but you should be able to get one for 15k. Count on 1.5k-2k for a meal in an inexpensive restaurant. For grocery prices I recommend to check e.g. Tesco (tesco.hu).

  28. Siddharth

    hey I am applying for an Hungarian University with a Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship , In that they offering me 130 Euros a month for my meals , and a dormitory to live in.I am not from a well off family and know how to be thrifty .Do you guyees think I can survive with 130 Euros in a city like Budapest or Debrecen. Please reply :).

    Thanks

    • L.

      Surviving on 130 euros a month will be a challenge. I would say it’s (almost) impossible. It depends on what you want to squeeze in that budget (but you won’t squeeze in a lot).

  29. M. Carax

    “…as I put this book together, with overt racism, anti-Semitism, and discrimination against minorities all rearing their ugly heads on a regular basis.”

    Can you please be more specific. It was my understanding that Hungarians are friendly toward Europeans and are encouraging them to come to their country. There are many retirees from northern Europe.

    • Tim Leffel

      Just scroll through the news for Hungary via the BBC, the Economist, or any British newspaper and you’ll see plenty on this subject. It’s policy more than what any certain individuals may think or do.

  30. Mike

    Hi Tim,
    You said “If you decide to buy something eventually, which you can do freely as a foreigner,”. This statement is misleading. It is not so easy. You must apply and ask the powers that be for permission as a foreigner to own property. You need a lawyer who you must pay in full first regardless if permission is granted or not. After the lawyer makes the application, you may find its not complete until you submit police reports, which you apply for at the post office (also not so easy). Quite a bit of money, stress and about 6 months later you hopefully receive an email allowing you to own the home you already paid for. Oh, and if you want to actually own the car you paid for? Better be a citizen to do that.
    I do like living here but it is by no means a walk in the park to settle here. You must have a tremendous amount of patience, humor , and someone on your side with all that who speaks Hungarian and pray who understands all the paperwork. Marry that guy!

  31. Manmeet Singh

    Hi Tim,

    I will be reallocated to Budapest in few months by my company. I would really appreciate if you could help me out with how much money will be needed to survive in Budapest. I am not in clubbing but yes I like to explore but I would restrict my self in order to save more.

    I have been offered 1200 euro/month but after tax it will be around 800euro/month. So I am thinking I could manage myself with 500euro/month. I am not in clubbing neither have any addiction. Have heard about Budapest architecture… It is looking really good. I would love to explore it. I am from a middle class family.

    Your help will be much appreciated.

    Thank you

    Manmeet Singh

    • Tim Leffel

      I’m just the journalist, not the subject, so you’re better off checking with people who actually live there now to get an idea of what they’re getting by on. Check local expat messenger boards and blogs.

  32. Carl

    Hi all,looking at buying an old cottage near lake Balaton.
    I have read that you are safe in the Capital and the language barrier is not a problem,but I have also heard that i’f you are a foreigner or stranger living out in the more country side parts of Hungary then you may not be a very welcome face shall i put it.
    Can anyone shed any more light on this or maybe be able to tell me that it’s a load of rubbish,cheers Carl

  33. Versavel

    Hello Tim
    I got an admission in Kaposvar university ,Hungary and a Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship , In that they offer me 140,000HUF a month, dormitory and health insurance. Do you think it is enough for me to live in Hungary. Please reply .Yes or No would be okay

    • Tim Leffel

      It’s best to ask students in the same situation how they’re coping. I’m sure there’s a message board or Facebook group there. Otherwise general expat boards. That will give a more current and accurate picture for student expenses.

  34. Mark

    Hello All,

    I don’t know if it is interesting for anyone but I am thinking of starting a service which could help people re-locate to Hungary. I have set up a homepage in case someone would be interested, here is the link:

    https://movetohungary.jimdo.com/

    I appreciate your feedbacks! :)

    Mark

  35. Federico

    Hello Tim. Im thinking of applying for an Intra Transferee with the Company I work for and I would love to move go Hungary.
    Im a 28 year old male, single.. what do you think would be a descent monthly salary? I mean,, how much should I earn in order to get a good quality of life in Budapest?

    Thanks!!

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