A landlocked country at the heart of Europe, Hungary is the perfect mix of Eastern and Western European cultures. Blessed with diverse topography, the country boasts beautifully lush hills, sweeping plains and green river valleys. The mighty Danube cuts through Hungary and bisects the famous capital of Budapest, which is often sold as Europe's prettiest city.
Expats moving to Hungary can expect a wonderful expat destination with a stable economy and a government intent on expansion and change, particularly when it comes to adopting European Union guidelines and requirements.
Living in Hungary as an expat
Not only is Hungary one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, attracting more than 32 million tourists every year, but it is also a popular destination for expats employed in the booming private sector that sprung up after its transition to a market economy in the 1990s.
Some industries in Hungary are attracting plenty of foreign investment, including information technology, luxury vehicle production and renewable energy systems. Smaller areas of foreign investment include the textile and food industries, while high-end tourism is an ever-expanding industry in Hungary.
Hungary has well-developed public transport networks, and its capital, Budapest, has an easy-to-use metro system, including four lines covering most of the city. The Hungarian healthcare system has its ups and downs, but good quality public healthcare is available in major cities and, while participation in the government’s insurance scheme is compulsory, many expats choose to take out private insurance as well.
Cost of living in Hungary
The cost of living in Hungary is fairly reasonable in comparison to other European countries. Accommodation and the related costs in large cities such as Budapest will set expats back quite significantly, but new arrivals can mitigate this by living a little further out of the city centre.
Thanks to Hungary's excellent and affordable public transport links, owning a car in the country is unnecessary, although a vehicle is convenient for exploring the rest of Europe. Expats can further bring down their monthly bills by buying local produce and staples. Eating out will also be something expats can enjoy occasionally, as Hungary boasts many restaurants catering for a range of markets.
Families and children in Hungary
Family is an integral part of Hungary's society and as one of the safest countries in the world, expats will find Hungary an ideal place to raise children.
Education in Hungary is generally considered to be high quality. The official language of instruction at public schools, which are free to attend, is Hungarian (Magyar) which may present a language barrier for expat children. Fortunately, there are several international schools in Budapest that offer English-language education and private schools which teach using various alternative pedagogical philosophies.
Hungary also offers plenty of natural landscapes, historical sites and green spaces for expats moving to Hungary with children to explore during their leisure time.
Climate in Hungary
Hungary has a continental climate, with warm summers and chilly winters. While many expats may find the colder months of the year quite trying, the warmth of the Hungarian people definitely makes up for it.
Hungary is home to some of Europe’s friendliest people, and the country offers both abundant economic opportunities and a relaxed pace of life that appeals to expats seeking a balanced life abroad.
Population: Almost 9.7 million
Capital city: Budapest (also the largest city)
Neighbouring countries: Hungary is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Romania to the east, Serbia to the south, and Croatia and Slovenia to the southwest.
Geography: Hungary is a land-locked country. The Danube and Tisza rivers are the major defining features of the country's geography, splitting it into three sections. The first of these is Dunántúl, which has a hilly terrain with some small mountains. The other two areas, Duna-Tisza köze and Tiszántúl, are characterised by the Great Hungarian Plain.
Political system: Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic
Major religion: Roman Catholicism
Main languages: Hungarian, also known as Magyar, is the official language in Hungary, with Romanian and German being co-official minority languages. English is also spoken by a small percentage of the country, and business dealings are commonly done in English.
Money: The Hungarian Forint (HUF) is divided into 100 fillérs. Fillérs, however, are now out of circulation. There are plans to replace the forint with the euro in the future. To open a bank account, expats will most likely need to present a residence permit and address card, though some banks may allow accounts to be opened with a passport only. ATMs are easily accessible.
Tipping: Tipping is customary in Hungary. 10 to 15 percent is usually appropriate.
Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from late March to late October).
Electricity: 230 volts, 50 Hz. European style two-pin plugs are standard.
Internet domain: .hu
International dialling code: +36
Emergency numbers: 112 (general emergencies), 104 (ambulance), 105 (fire), 107 (police)
Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right-hand side in Hungary. There is a well-developed public transport system, including a metro system in Budapest. Most parts of the country are easily accessible by car or public transport.
►Moving to Hungary? Check out Accommodation in Hungary to get you started on finding the perfect home
“That’s probably what I like most – the surprises. I’ve been here more than three years and I’m still discovering new places.” Mary is an Irish expat who has been living in Hungary for more than a decade. Read her interview.
“Take advantage of Hungary’s location. Travelling to another country by train is often a pretty short and cheap trip, but there are so many cities in Hungary worth visiting that it’s hard to pick where to go next!” Read our interview with Jake, an American expat in Hungary.
“Hungary isn’t Western Europe, it’s not the Balkans but it’s not fully Eastern Europe either. It’s unique, and it has so much to offer people who are willing to scratch beneath the surface.” Read more of Rory’s comments in our full interview.
Are you an expat living in Hungary?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Hungary. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global Health Insurance
With Cigna, you won't have to rely on foreign public health care systems, which may not meet your needs. Cigna allows you to speak to a doctor on demand, for consultations or instant advice, wherever you are in the world. They also offer full cancer care across all levels of cover, and settle the cost of treatments directly with the provider. Cigna is currently offering a 10% discount for seniors (over 60) on their Silver package.
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.