A good place to start looking for a property online is on the Real Estate HungaryReal Estate Hungary website.
That is where Tünde found our apartment. The website is very good at filtering searches.
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Continuing from the previous section, in this section I will explain a little more about the financial side of buying a property (apartment) in Hungary in terms of minimum wage, affordability and pricing.
It must be noted from the start that buying a property outside Budapest is more of a long-term investment rather than a monthly rental income whereas buying a property inside Budapest is more of a tourist business rather than a quick investment (renovate and sell). And buying property in the rural countryside would be because you intend to live there forever one day, possibly with family. In other words, Hungary at the moment is not a 'get rich quick' country.
As a UK Citizen earning GBP it is very easy to calculate everything using GBP as the gauge whereby you buy something for 3,000 HUF for example thinking "That's cheap! It is only £8", "back home that would be £20". This might be true, but to the average Hungarian 3,000 HUF is NOT cheap for anything. If they pay 3,000 HUF to get their bicycle fixed they might say "That’s fine", but to pay 3,000 HUF for a book they will probably say "That’s expensive".
The officially declared Minimum Wage Wiki Pagemonthly wage in Hungary, for 2018, is currently 137,860 HUF (£394.17) per month for an unskilled worker and 180,600 HUF (£516.14) for a skilled worker. However, the reality is that those wages are for a beginner. For someone who has more experience and/or worked more years, they might be paid an average of 200,000 HUF (£571.88) per month. And if they are highly skilled they might be paid up to 420,000 HUF (£1,200.95).
1,000 (£2.85) - 2,000 (£5.71) - 5,000 (£14.29) - 10,000 (£28.59) - 20,000 (£57.18)
If you now consider the rent of a 48 Square Meter apartment and above anywhere in Budapest is currently around 130,000 HUF (£371.55) on average, based on current statistics from Ingatlannet Budapest Property Statistics Web PageIngatlannet, with bills for that apartment costing 40,000 HUF (£114.32) - Digi TV (5,400 HUF / £15.43), Gas (3,000 HUF / £8.57), Electric (3,000 HUF / £8.57), Heating (13,000 HUF / £37.14) and Council Tax + Miscellaneous Fees (14,000 HUF / £40.03) - a skilled person earning 180,600 HUF (£516.14) could not rent that apartment on their own.
Even if they shared the apartment with one other person, halving the rent and bills, their remaining 50,600 HUF (£144.72) would need to pay for their food, tobacco (11,000 HUF / £31.51 per 200 ream), monthly travelcard (9,500 HUF / £27.24), monthly mobile phone contract with Vodafone Hungary WebsiteVodafone (9,439 HUF / £27.07) and leisure activities among other things.
These days, if renting an apartment, it is quite acceptable for the landlord to ask 1 Month rent plus 2 Months rent as a deposit; especially in Budapest, using an estate agent or agency. Getting that deposit back is normally straight forward - Some Hungarians opt to use up their deposit by staying an extra two months for free for example at the end of their tenancy while others prefer to get their deposit back ready for the next property they move into.
As mentioned in the previous section: Many people in Hungary rent their apartment, pay a mortgage on it or own it outright either through a previously paid mortgage or because they inherited it. Either way, very few people can afford to buy an apartment outright, unless they have help from family members abroad, mainly due to poor income or low wages.
Looking at the Real Estate Hungary WebsiteReal Estate Hungary, which is part of Ingatlan WebsiteIngatlan, you can buy a 48 m2, 1+ (i.e. 1 bedroom), apartment in District X (10) of Budapest for 8.2 Million HUF (£23,514). You can find similar prices on Ingatlannet WebsiteIngatlannet.
In District VII (7), which is neighbouring District V (5) in the city centre, you can find 48 m2, 1+, apartments for around 19.9 Million HUF (£57,038). District VI (6) prices are around 26.3 Million HUF (£75,324). The closer you get to the city centre of Budapest, the higher the property prices.
In cities such as Pécs and Szeged you can find similar apartments for between 10 Million (£28,661) and 12 Million HUF (£34,398), so consider your lifestyle budget as well as your buying budget before committing to Budapest. In other words, consider outer-Budapest, its surrounding suburbs and countryside too.
One reason for low, affordable, property prices in Hungary is because its mid-section of citizens, aged 25 to 45 years old, have moved abroad; leaving a vast supply of vacant properties for sale.
Some Hungarians have move abroad to pay off their Hungarian debts while others have been forced to sell their Hungarian property due to unemployment and/or higher than usual mortgage repayments; perhaps because they used a currency exchange mortgage for example. Either way, it is now possible to buy an affordable property in Hungary.
With Brexit on the agenda, it is predicted that many Hungarians will return home and therefore push up property prices; so watch this space!
Hungarian Seller - Many Hungarians are forced to rent out their unrenovated apartment in order to make ends meet and/or to save up for a renovation and possible sale years later. Some save enough money to do a cheap renovation and quick sale a few years later while others unfortunately fail in life and have to sell their apartment anyway. Some even inherit an apartment that they cannot even rent out or afford to renovate, even to a cheap standard, and are therefore forced to sell it.....at a cheaper price.
Hungarian Buyers - Many Hungarians cannot afford to buy an apartment outright and have to go down the mortgage route (just like in the UK) whereby that mortgage goes to buying a renovated apartment in a renovated apartment block simply because they want/need to move into that renovated apartment straight away.
Hungarians do not like the idea of getting a mortgage for an unrenovated apartment only whereby they then have to use their own money, if they have any, to pay for renovation work.
UK Buyer - As a UK citizen you must buy a property, such as an apartment, outright simply because you cannot get a Hungarian mortgage. You still have the best of both worlds though - With £30,000 (10,465,944 HUF) you should be able to buy a £23,514 (8,200,000 HUF) 48 Square Meter, 1 Bedroom, apartment in District X (10) of Budapest for example and create a nice renovation with the remaining £6,486 (2,262,640 HUF).
If you are really lucky, like I was with my apartment in Szeged, you could find an apartment that is almost down to its bare concrete walls. In that case you could, for the same £6,486 (2,262,640 HUF) for example, have a renovation done from scratch - Rewire the apartment, have fake ceilings put in, hide ugly pipework, plaster it, paint it and so on.
When viewing an apartment, do not take in the cosmetics. Look around and see what you want/need to change about the apartment before deciding on how big your "I want to make it mine" renovation work will cost. For example: If you are thinking of having fake ceilings made, retiling the floor, replastering the rooms, hiding the ugly pipes and repainting the apartment, it is going to cost you the same regardless if you buy the apartment renovated or not.
With property prices much lower in Hungary, compared to in the UK, you might be thinking "That's cheap", but to a Hungarian £23,514 (8,200,000 HUF) is a lot of money. And even if £23,514 sounds cheap or is cheap to a UK citizen, one thing you also have to calculate besides the monthly Maintenance Fee and renovation costs is the price of basic essentials such as food, cleaning materials and leisure pursuits.
In many cases these are more expensive than their UK equivalents. Household bleach is currently £1 in the UK and £1.50 in Budapest, a printer is £60 in the UK and £80 in Budapest, a bicycle is £100 in the UK and £140 in Budapest and a burger is the same price in both countries. These slight price increases mean Budapest is quite expensive for the UK Citizen and Hungarian living in Budapest for at least 6 months of the year.