Budapest, Hungary Report of what it's like to live there - 11/09/18

Personal Experiences from Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary 11/09/18

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. I've also lived in Sana'a, Addis Ababa, Astana, Jerusalem, Sao Paolo, and Panama City.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

US. Some direct flights now or connect in multiple ways.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Over two years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Live in a house on the Buda side. Nice quiet neighborhood, near hiking, and biking trails. House sizes are all over the board. More apartments on the Pest side. Commute times vary from 20 minutes to 45 minutes. Many take public transportation, which is good.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Availability is good for most stuff you want. Walmart.com, Amazon, the commissary or a grocery trip run to Aviano Air Base fill in the rest. Cost is pretty good, cheaper than DC.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Beef, peanut butter, and brown sugar.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Too many to list. Still trying new restaurants.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

No.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO at post is good.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

We don't employ any. Some do for cleaners. We do employ someone to do the extensive yard work and he does a phenomenal job for US$66 a visit.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Public gyms are expensive. ILEA and the US Embassy have adequate facilities.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

For the most part, quite safe and accepted. The embassy has an ATM or you can use the cashier's service.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Many.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Not much in Budapest. We have survived with extremely little local language, which is extremely difficult.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Some, but not insurmountable.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Extremely so and highly utilized. Taxis be careful and utilize the recommended ones from the embassy list or you might get scammed.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Not a huge SUV, as streets are narrow. Other than that, you can bring whatever you want or like.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Available and hooked up the first day.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Get an unlocked phone. We have three phones and use a local provider with one phone we brought from the US and two we purchased at Media Mart in the mall.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Teachers, telecommuting, full-time, part-time, all are done here. Local salary scales are abysmal.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Several if you look for them.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Formal dress for Marine Corps Ball and similar functions. Most wear a tie at the embassy.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Not really. There is a good medical clinic that accepts US insurance. Great dental. Major medical and births are done outside Hungary to Vienna or elsewhere, which is only a couple of hours away.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Not bad, but there are definitely allergy seasons.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

No.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Varied, but nothing extreme either way.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Two good international schools, one American and one Christian. Experience has been phenomenal with American school. The kids have lots of opportunities to travel, and the campus is gorgeous.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

They have some staff with experience and background, depending on the severity of the issue.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

No experience, but people seem to put their kids in programs. No idea on the cost.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

With the school, yes. Not sure outside the school.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Decent size. Morale is very good. Great place to be.

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2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes to all of the above.

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3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Probably not, but don't know enough to say. LGBT expats do not seem to be accepted openly.

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4. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes, there seem to be issues with all of the above.

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5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Food, the city, traveling within and out of the country. Too many trips to count. Cheap air travel available and many places to drive to.

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6. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Rick Steve's book for Budapest is a good guide. I loved the Labyrinth, castle district, Basilica, etc.

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7. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Yes, lots of great Christmas markets with local handicrafts. Lots of antiquing going on here, too.

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8. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Relatively cheap to live here, gorgeous, and centrally located to visit other places.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Not much.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Ideas about a good hamburger.

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4. But don't forget your:

Walking shoes and camera.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Bridge at Andau.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Loved this place. Great post and great place to live.

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