Budapest, Hungary Report of what it's like to live there - 12/29/09

Personal Experiences from Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary 12/29/09

Background:

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

My first time out of the US.

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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?

It was very easy getting back and forth to work. We hardly ever drove our car, and on public transport it would take about 30-40 minutes.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Moved to Budapest, Hungry in August 2007, and left January, 2009.

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

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We lived in a fairly large apartment and there were 4 of us.

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

I found that some things were more expensive and other things were less, so it balanced out.

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

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

A lot to choose from.

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

Nothing more than usual. We really didn't have any problems with bugs.

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Daily Life:

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

The embassy had a mail room, so it is very easy to send and receive packages.

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

Never used any.

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

Very available.

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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?

We kept our bank account in the States and had no problems. ATMs are very available.

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

Yes.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes.

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

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

Some of the public transportation may not offer access.

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Transportation:

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

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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?

We brought our Ford Escape and we thought that car was fine. Never had any problems.

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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?

Yes.

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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?

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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?

We didn't bring any pets, but I don't think so -- as long as they have current papers and shots.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Very good healthcare for pets.

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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?

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

Casual dress.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

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

No concerns whatsoever.

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

Not bad, just different. But we have embassy health care as well.

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

It is definitely 4 seasons: a really nice summer, fall, and spring. And the winter was cold, but nothing that was unmanageable. I hate the cold and love Texas heat, so it wasn't bad.

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Schools & Children:

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

Both of my children went to the American International School of Budapest, and it is a very good school.

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

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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?

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

Yes, through 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?

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2. Morale among expats:

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Lots to do.

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

There is a lot for singles, families and couples.

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

Yes, it is.

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

We never had any problems.

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

There is a lot to do for families with older and younger children. My children were 14 and 10 when we moved to Buda.

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

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9. Can you save money?

You can, if you don't want to do a lot of things like we did -- with this being our first post.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I would go back. I LOVED it there.

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

???

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3. But don't forget your:

umbrella and winter clothes.

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

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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