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Hungary: For Love and Money

When thinking of favorable expat destinations, Hungary might not come to mind straight away. Still, in regard to the cost of living for expats, only a few other nations can compete with this Central European country. The main motivation for expats moving there, however, is something else.
Expats in Hungary can look forward to more than just gulyás and paprika!

In InterNations’ Expat Insider 2014 survey, an impressive 21% of respondents in Hungary stated that their most important reason for relocating had been to follow the call of love and join their partner in their home country. Correspondingly, the partners of over two-fifths of expats who are in a relationship are Hungarian.

The fact that love, not work, is one of the main motivators for people moving to Hungary may well be explained by the current state of the local economy, which has been slow to pick up again after the financial crisis. Indeed, only 35% of survey respondents had something good to say about the current economic situation. However, that does not mean that expats in Hungary have to live on love alone. Au contraire!

An Affordable Life

In our survey, Hungary ranked 5th out of 61 countries when it came to the cost of living. Two out of five expats living there even went so far as to describe their daily expenses as excellent (i.e. very inexpensive). This number is more than double the global survey average of 14%.

Housing in particular stood out as being extremely affordable: Six in seven people had no complaints about the cost of accommodation in Hungary, whereas among survey participants from all other countries, half were less than happy about this expense. This even holds true for Budapest, the country’s priciest location: Renting a three bedroom apartment in the city typically sets you back around 400-500 EUR per month, depending on location, size, and your personal lifestyle.

Of course, the perception of affordability is heavily influenced by one’s income. Expats, especially the “classic” expat – i.e. a foreign assignee – typically earn higher wages than locals. This is also the case in Hungary, where nearly half of the respondents stated that their income is significantly higher than the average local one. Nevertheless, many still feel they would earn more in their home countries.

Hot Springs and Water Polo

Regardless of income, Hungary seems to have a lot to offer in terms of recreation. Nearly every other expat described the available leisure activities as excellent, awarding the country rank 9 out of 61 in our Leisure Options subcategory.

Now we did not ask for details, but one can have a guess as to how Hungary earned such high praise. With over 1,000 hot springs bubbling away as well as one of the world’s largest thermal lakes (if not THE largest), spa lovers at least will definitely feel at home.

However, it is not just hot water that is in abundance. While the country might be landlocked, Central Europe’s largest lake, Lake Balaton, the Danube and Tisza rivers, as well as numerous smaller lakes and waterways offer plenty of opportunities to try one of the nation’s most popular sports: water polo.  

Transport and Travel

If getting your feet wet is not your cup of tea, there’s no need to worry. There are plenty of other things to see and do. The country’s many historic castles, for instance, are certainly worth a visit! And luckily, you should have no problems getting to them: Survey respondents in Hungary did not only praise the local leisure opportunities, but were similarly fond of the country’s transportation infrastructure and the opportunities to travel. In fact, not one had anything negative to say about either!

Now this may seem somewhat surprising, considering tolls are charged on motorways, highways, and many main roads (and people usually love to complain about costs). But it seems that Hungary’s central location in Europe, the readily available road and rail connections, as well as the aforementioned generally low costs of living all help make up for this additional expense.

Michael Preston

"Since I moved to Budapest I have been attending every InterNations event. That is how I met all my friends here ."

Elin Gustavson

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Global Expat Guide