Some expats living in Budapest might prefer to buy their own apartment or house, instead of renting one. Luckily, this is not a problem, as Hungary allows foreigners to own real estate as long as they apply for a purchase permit from the Administrative Authority Office. It is worth noting that if you are buying property as a second home, you need to have been a resident in Hungary for at least five years. Buying property makes a lot of sense for those who intend to stay in Budapest long-term and for those who bring their family. In recent years, new residential buildings have been constructed and many downtown apartments have undergone a thorough renovation. Families will find beautiful homes, often with a garden, in the Buda Hills and in the outskirts of the city.
What is important is that you hire a real estate expert to help you find the house or apartment which is right for you and who can handle the paper work. Property management and real estate companies often take care of these things, offering a lot of different services to home owners. They are also the ones to turn to if you decide to move again and rent out the home you have previously purchased.
Hungary has a very well-developed universal healthcare system, which covers children (up to the age of 16), parents, pensioners, church employees, and disabled people free of charge. Through payments to the HIF, foreign nationals receive the same treatment as Hungarian nationals with EU citizens being reimbursed of their costs depending on whether a reciprocal health agreement exists with their home country. Since the implementation of this universal healthcare system, the life expectancy has been on the rise and the infant mortality rate has dropped significantly. Between 2000 and 2010, the total mortality rate in Hungary dropped by an astounding 18%. The biggest killers in Hungary are non-communicable diseases with incidence of contagion from communicable disease being relatively low. The government has been endeavoring to reduce mortality caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, however, by introducing measures such as increasing tax on unhealthy food, alcohol and tobacco, as well as introducing a smoking ban on indoor public places, and restricting the sale of cigarettes to privately owned tobacco shops of which there are only 6,000. According to government officials, as of 2014 more than 200,000 people had quit smoking in Hungary in only one year.
However, not everything about the Hungarian healthcare system is currently perfect. In 2015, Hungary came 29th out of 34 countries based on their level of spending per capita on healthcare. Whilst the healthcare infrastructure is well-equipped with ambulance stations all over the country; air ambulance services; hospitals; and health centers, Hungary still has one of the lowest life expectancies in all of Europe. There are also huge regional variances: Western Transdanubia is one of the healthiest regions while the Southern Hungarian Plain has the highest rate of strokes and heart diseases.
As is always the case when moving abroad, it makes sense to check which medical services are covered by Hungary’s universal healthcare system and which aren’t. Some expats decide to opt out of the public healthcare system and choose private coverage instead.
Whether you choose to go for private or public healthcare, what is important to keep in mind is that public health insurance does not cover services provided by private healthcare centers or hospitals. So make sure to find out if your insurance covers the medical services you require before you get stuck with the costs.
The nationwide emergency number is 112; for just ambulance and emergency medical services you can call 104. Make sure to memorize it or save it in your phone. Should you witness an accident or be in need of support yourself, dial this number and you will receive the help you need.
Hospital treatments are usually arranged through a referral from a doctor (except in the case of an emergency). Even if you have proper health insurance, you might be asked to pay a small fee. The good news is that there are many hospitals all over Hungary offering high-quality services. Here are some exemplary options expats in Budapest can avail of:
Expats who come to Budapest with their families will have to figure out which school their children are supposed to attend. Fortunately, there are a lot of international schools in Budapest with experience in catering to expat children. As an expat parent you can choose from the following:
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