- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Budapest Guide (PDF)
Throughout the daunting yet exciting process of moving abroad, it can be all too easy to get wrapped up in a rose-tinted vision of one’s new home, or bogged down by perceived negatives.
More often than not, the truth of living in a particular city lies somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, with each city having its high points, low points and in-betweens.
Here are a few of our pros and cons of moving to Budapest.
Accommodation in Budapest
+ PRO: Lots of options
The Danube River divides Budapest into two main areas: Buda on the west bank and Pest on the east bank. Buda is mostly a residential area while Pest is more built up and industrialised. Accommodation styles and prices are heavily influenced by which side of the river the property is located. On top of this, having a river view will of course drive the price of an apartment up.
Because there are such diverse factors affecting prices, expats have the freedom to pick and choose which aspects are most important to them. For example, giving up on a river view is one easy way to widen the range of choices within a budget.
- CON: Utilities are expensive
Maintenance and utility fees, especially heating costs during winter, can be exceedingly expensive. Utilities are charged on top of the monthly rent, so expats will need to make sure they include this extra cost in their budget when planning.
Cost of living in Budapest
+ PRO: Low cost of living
Thanks to Hungary's low cost of living, Budapest is one of the cheapest European cities to live in. Certainly those moving from some of the more expensive parts of Europe, such as London or Paris, will notice their money going much further in Budapest.
- CON: Low salaries
Conversely, salaries in Hungary are often low. So while it’s possible to live cheaply, expats used to more lucrative wages should be wary of overspending. Negotiating with prospective employers for the highest possible salary package is key.
Transport in Budapest
+ PRO: Getting around is easy
Transportation in Budapest, and Hungary in general, is not only highly reliable but also affordable – even petrol for one's own vehicle is inexpensive which makes travelling a breeze.
+ PRO: Easy travel to neighbouring European countries
Budapest's location in the centre of Europe makes it easy to travel to other European countries, especially neighbouring Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia, Romania and Croatia. It’s not even necessary to hop on a plane – Hungary is a small country with excellent rail and road connections to all of its neighbours.
Lifestyle in Budapest
+ PRO: Budapest’s beautiful landscape
Packed with historic buildings and architecture ranging from Gothic and Baroque to modern, Budapest is certainly easy on the eye. Thanks to the city’s UNESCO Heritage Site status, high-rises are generally not allowed to be built, which makes for an untainted skyline.
+ PRO: Fantastic sightseeing opportunities
When it comes to tourist attractions, Budapest has no shortage of options, with an abundance of things to see and do. There are plenty of opportunities for enriching cultural experiences, from viewing historical monuments dating back to the Roman Empire to visiting renowned UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
+ PRO: Exuberant nightlife and entertainment
The lifestyle in Budapest can be surprisingly exciting and fun. The city showcases some excellent nightlife and entertainment including fantastic yearly festivals, top-notch productions at the State Opera House, spa parties in the Széchenyi during summer, and rejuvenating thermal baths to soothe the mind and body, to name a few. The city’s infamous ‘ruin bars’ in the Jewish Quarter are also certainly not to be missed.
- CON: Language gap
Hungarian is a difficult language to learn, and most of the city's signboards are printed in Hungarian. Though there’s a high English proficiency in Budapest, communication may prove to be a challenge in other parts of the country. Foreigners are encouraged to try and become familiar with at least some of the common phrases in Hungarian that will assist day-to-day interaction with locals.
Doing business in Budapest
+ PRO: Financial centre of Hungary
Budapest’s economy is continually growing and is considered one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe. Business opportunities abound in the city’s strong industries, namely finance, media, technology, fashion and tourism.
- CON: Lots of paperwork
A relic of Hungary’s Soviet past, sometimes getting official administrative paperwork done in Budapest can be a frustratingly bureaucratic process with reams of red tape.
Healthcare in Budapest
+ PRO: High quality care at a low cost
The healthcare system in Hungary is on par with Western countries and affords quality medical care at less expensive rates compared to some other European countries. This has made Budapest a growing medical tourism destination.
Education in Budapest
+ PRO: A variety of great international schools to choose from
There are many well-equipped international schools based in and around Budapest. Unlike most schools in Hungary, these international schools teach in English. By following British, American or International Baccalaureate curricula, international schools can provide children with an uninterrupted schooling experience.
- CON: Expensive private and international school fees
Although public schooling in Budapest is free and of exceptional quality, expats are dissuaded both by classes being in Hungarian and the highly traditional approaches to teaching often employed in public schools. Consequently, most expats enrol their children in expensive private or international schools.
►Learn more about Moving to Hungary
"I love Budapest. It's a big little city. There is so much to explore and see within the city limits and, as the public transport is so good, Budapest is also easy to navigate. There are so many great events in the city, from festivals and English comedy nights to expat mommy meetups. I’ve met all of my friends by attending events that interest me." Learn more about living in Budapest in our interview with American expat Starr.
Are you an expat living in Budapest?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Budapest. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.