In this time of Brexit and people discovering Hungary in general, I thought I would point out some of the realities, pros and cons to be aware of before moving to Hungary to buy property, work and/or study.
If you are looking to buy property in Hungary, you need to Considerations Before Buying Property In HungaryConsider Property Issues and decide whether or not you want to live a Hungarian lifestyle or an Expat community lifestyle. This is normally determined by whether or not you have a Hungarian partner.
Students will have plenty of support from their university, student websites and other students whereas workers will get support from their workplace and work mates, so they will lead more of a Hungarian lifestyle.
Unfortunately, many British people (but specifically the older English generation) who move to Hungary as an expat with no Hungarian partner or Hungarian connection tend to look for an expat community as soon as they get off the aeroplane, literally, if not beforehand by searching out expat communities via the internet.
One of the reasons they do this is because they feel they will be lonely if they do not have English people/speakers around, who can possibly (hopefully!) give them free and instant guidance (i.e. knowledge of the way the country works), help (i.e. to find a service or tradesman) and a group of 'ready-made' friends for example.
While finding an expat community may seem practical, you will find these type of British Expats do not even know how to callout a plumber, how to set up a utility bill or how to read an important letter (in Hungarian) from their landlord or the government. Why? Because they have not intergrated - They have not attempted to learn the basics of Hungarian, instead relying on international sign language (i.e. hand and finger gestures) and/or Hungarians who know enough English to be their translators. Meaning these British Expats will be of limited use to you.
British Expats in Hungary are very few, around 7,000, with many of them being property owners who have bought property in Budapest, Eger, Debrecen, Miskolc, Pécs, Szeged and the Lake Balaton areas; as an investment, as opposed to a place to live. As an example: Those who buy property in and around the Lake Balaton areas of Hungary tend to rent out their property during the summer season. So even if you buy property in a region of Lake Balaton, you might not get to know or speak to a British person.
British Students who study in Hungary, as "Foreign Exchange"/Erasmus students for example, tend to study in Pécs University, Szeged University or a Budapest University whereas British Workers who work in Hungary tend to work in Budapest only; mainly because of the language barrier and because that is where most of the work is.
British Expats who buy property in a specific Hungarian city, town or village (apart from the Lake Balaton areas and Budapest) tend to buy in that region because they have a Hungarian partner (from the UK for example) who was born in that specific region of Hungary. These British Expats tend to integrate into the Hungarian culture and learn the basics of Hungarian because of their Hungarian partner; especially if they have children.
Apart from major cities, normally with a university, in the smaller cities, towns and villages the locals will not understand/speak the English langauge at all; which means you will need to learn the basics of Hungarian to survive, if you do not have a Hungarian partner/friend as your interpreter/translator.
Saying the above: The Hungarian language is only a CON if you are not really going to try and learn the basics of it. And the shame in that, despite what you hear on the internet about Hungarian being difficult, is that the very basics are actually easy to learn whereby they can do quite a lot in helping you with daily tasks such as shopping.
Of course, like any language, learning a fluent-ish level of it is initially going to be time consuming; rather than an expense for example. With Hungarian for example you are going to need at least a year to be fluent-ish, with a couple more years to speak it fluently enough. Despite what you read on the internet though, Hungarian is no more difficult than any other language. In any foreign language there will always be grammar rules and pronunciations you cannot handle, but there are normally workarounds for them; so do not be put off.
One of the main attractions for wanting to live in Hungary at the moment is its cheap property. Hungarian property prices are between 3¼s and 2⅓s cheaper than UK property prices. With a UK income and/or savings, it means you can usually afford to buy one or two Hungarian properties (i.e. one or two apartments) or at least one big village property (i.e. one big farmhouse) with renovation costs included. Your spending power will also be 50% to 75% greater than the average wage in Hungary.
Hungarians are actually quite social and are willing to make friends with "Foreigners". As an example: I have been to many bars, cafes and on guided tours while living in Szeged and gathering research for this website whereby I have been able to quite easily make friends with Hungarians. I have also had many occasions where the language barrier has been a slight problem whereby Hungarian strangers who speak English have, without me asking them, given me free help in translation. And many Hungarians have bought me drinks while making friends with them in local pubs.
Hungarian Transport is on a par with London Transport. It really is that good, even in the countryside. Very reliable and very comfortable. It also has great train lines to other European destinations, with many affordable fares and flexible timetables.
With Hungarian university cities such as Pécs, Szeged and Budapest and with Hungary having a youthful population, you will find Hungary a very family orientated and youth friendly country. And with natural greenery everywhere (i.e. green open countryside, woodlands, forests and vine yards) and outdoor leisure activities and festivals to suit all types of people, you will certainly find life in Hungary very pleasant, fresh and happy.
With farmland and countryside not being too far from cities, towns and villages you will also find fresh farm produce in local shops and markets. Although the supermarkets support farmers too, they also buy imported produce; so do not rely too much on supermarkets for the widest range of fresh farm produce. You would be wise, and perhaps a little healthier, to buy from the markets and local shops if/when possible; especially as the markets are cheaper and of better quality (IMHO).
Many of the universities in Hungary are internationally known for their particular fields of study. For example: Szeged, Pécs and Debrecen universities are all known for their law, medical and science research, work and study while Budapest universities are well known for medical, law and language studies; among other topics.
Remember: It was a Hungarian (Albert Szent-Györgyi) who discovered Vitamin C. Another Hungarian (János Kabay) who progressed the purification of Morphine. And another Hungarian (Ignaz Semmelweiss) who cured childbed fever by recognising nurses needed to wash their hands with antiseptic oil in obstetrical clinics before looking after children in the wards. József Béres was also a doctor who made a vitamin type tablet containing Magnesium, Iron, Mangan and much more.
Surrounded by so many other Europen countries that are within a 2-3 Hour reach is a real bonus of living in Central Europe (Hungary). It gives you the freedom to travel to nearby countries like Austria, Romania, Serbia, Croatia and Slovakia as well as countries slightly further away such as Italy, Germany, France, Bulgaria, Poland and the Ukraine.
Yes! This is also a PRO if you are one of those people who do not like to be surrounded by non-integrating British Expats and more precisely want to escape the UK altogether, including not seeing and speaking to any British (English) people anywhere in Hungary.
Yes! It is a PRO! People on the internet are always whinging about the so-called bureaucracy in Hungary - Its "unnecessary and complex paperwork". However. If these whingers actually took the time to see things from a Hungarian's perspective when moving to the UK, they would realise the bureaucracy in the UK is far worse.
UK Banks require "Foreigners" to have lived in the UK for at least six months before even allowing them to open a 'current account'. They also use a credit score system and other criterias that make it virtually impossible for a "Foreigner" to open any type of bank account other than a 'savings account'.
In Hungary it is far less complicated. Just fill out a form, provide proof of Hungarian address and you have a 'bank account'.
The UK Immigration Office is full of bureaucracy for the "Foreigner". The "Foreigner" must have lived/worked in the UK for at least five years, and paid National Insurance Contributions along the way, before having to fill out reams of paperwork to get their 'residence permit'.
In Hungary you just take a short immigration interview whereby you show proof you can support yourself, proof of Hungarian address and have insurance cover to get a 'residence permit'.
UK Estate Agents have a scoring system similar to the bank's credit score system whereby the "Foreigner" must meet certain criterias and pay certain fees before being allowed to rent a property. One criteria is that you must earn at least three times the rent. So if you want to rent a £500 per month property, you must earn at least £1,500 per month. The fees, such as estate agent fees and deposits, will cripple you before you start.
In Hungary you just contact the property owner or estate agent, fill out the contract and then pay the deposit and rent.
As someone who has helped many Hungarians with HMRC, Bank, Landlord, Phone, etc. enquiries and results, I can honestly say the Hungarian system is more about filling in forms rather than meeting certain criterias. In the UK the property market, renting and buying, has become too much about the money and credit score system.
In conclusion: If you come to Hungary to live, work and/or study in Hungary, perhaps via buying and/or renting a property, be prepared to integrate into Hungarian society. Learn about the culture by mixing with Hungarians, attend their festivals and visit their museums. Learn basic Hungarian, even if you just learn Fruit & Veg words and a couple of Shopping sentences. And when visiting Hungarian shops and bars try and practise a little Hungarian. Believe me: It is not as difficult as it sounds to integrate and you will feel better for it.