More and more people are moving to Hungary (especially to Budapest) from all over the world. Some arrive here because of work, some to challenge themselves, some for the culture and other for the living expenses. However, it is far from easy to settle here, so The Culture Trip has collected some of the most important things that you need to look out for when moving to Hungary.
Four walls and a roof over your head: finding a flat
Most people will opt for the capital city, Budapest when moving to Hungary because this is where the most work and leisure options are. It is advised to find a place in central Budapest, as there are more foreigners there than elsewhere, so you will be less lost thanks to the language barrier (if you do not speak Hungarian).
If you have some friends or anyone that you can turn to, ask them first for help in finding a flat, or check out the offers of Duna House (available in English) to get an overall view of the price-location-size ratio (the number of rooms includes living rooms as well, not just bedrooms). You can even take your quest to Facebook, where you will find groups dedicated to flat-hunting. The Culture Trip warns you to be careful if a flat’s price is indicated in euros, as those owners target foreigners and will rent their properties for much more than it would be worth it.
Do not ever forget to ask for a tenancy contract.
If the owner refuses to sign such a contract, move on, it is not worth the problems that might arise later, plus a tenancy contract is needed if you wish to register as a Hungarian resident.
Here to earn money: finding a job
You need not worry if you do not speak Hungarian, you can get a job that is not just ‘temporary’ until you find a ‘permanent’ workplace. There are several big companies employing speakers of English, along with numerous websites helping you find the most suitable one for you. Hungary’s number one and most popular work portal is Profession.hu, though this does not have an English version.
Where to put your money: piggy bank or bank account?
If you wish to get a job here and not just stay for an over the top long vacation, setting up a bank account is a must. If you do not have your ‘lakcímkártya’ which is essentially a card containing your address, received once you registered as a resident of Hungary, then you can turn to Raiffeisen for instance.
There are banks like K&H which require you to have an address card when opening an account.
However, banking is not free in Hungary, as there are fees, charges and commissions when you transfer or withdraw money. There are numerous account types, with different costs.
Be a legal alien
If you are from a country that is a Schengen zone member, then you can stay in Hungary for 90 days without legal consequences. After that, you will need to register, which takes hours. If you are lucky enough to be working for a multinational company, then your employer will help you along the way to speed up the process.
When you set out to the registration office, check your pockets: you need your passport or ID, address card or tenancy contract, bank statements proving that you can provide for yourself, 3-4 passport photos and a 1000-forint fee stamp. You can get the stamp at the post office, though we recommend you turn to one in the city centre to make sure you find an English speaker assistant.
This is the most onerous, most extended and knottiest task when you arrive in Hungary, be advised.
Calling your mum or going to the doctor?
Healthcare services are without a doubt the hardest part of living in Hungary if you do not speak Hungarian. Most family doctors and other medical employees do not speak English, and even if they do, they cannot help you unless you have attained a TAJ card, the Hungarian equivalent of an insurance card. This you can get only if you are a full-term student (not an exchange student staying for only one semester!) or are already working for a Hungary-based company. If all else fails, you can opt for private clinics and services such as FirstMed, Mediclinic or Swiss Clinic.
Though before setting out to Hungary, make sure that you have a European Health Insurance Card, in the case that the production of your TAJ card is delayed and there is an emergency.
Here for the fun (too)
It is always fun to meet new people and to explore new places where you can have fun. If you prefer the old-fashioned way of meeting people while out for a drink, you can head to the ruin pubs, one of the main reasons why tourists come to Budapest. You can discover events on Facebook, join groups and meet people online who are interested in the same things as you are. Such a helpful group is International Meeting Point, where you can meet other fellow expats.
You can check out the good old couchsurfing.com or InterNations (areas of interest divide groups) if you are not on Facebook.
Communication: where to get a SIM card?
It really does not matter which company you turn to (Telekom, Vodafone or Telenor), but it might be smart to find a store in a mall or near Deák square, where there are English-speaking employees.
Document-wise you will need either your ID, passport or driver’s license and your tenancy contract (or a registration card if you have already attained it) for proving that you have a Hungarian address.