Hungary is a perfect mix of incredible nature and the urban European spirit. Whether you’d like to enjoy its crystal clear lakes, admire Budapest’s architecture or blend in with the friendly locals, you’re bound to be amazed. It’s located right in the center of the continent, but its uniqueness is what makes it stand out from all surrounding countries.
If you’re thinking about relocating temporarily or moving there for good, you’re probably curious about the cost of living in Hungary. Some of the most common questions are - how much will my rent cost? How expensive is Hungary? Can I get good healthcare? We will answer all of those doubts and then some in our guide for life in Hungary.
To learn the ropes of money in Hungary, you should first know that the official currency is the Hungarian forint. It’s written as either HUF or Ft. Here’s a comparison of the value of the forint to some major world currencies:
$1000 = 309,117 Ft
£1000 = 402,497 Ft
€1000 = 365,085 Ft
A$1000 = 220,138 Ft
These are the present values, but they change all the time. Online currency converters can help you know the exact current worth of the forint whenever you need it. They can also be useful if you want to calculate the price of something and compare it to other currencies.
If you want to exchange British pounds or any other currency to the local Hungarian forint, you can avoid the unfair exchange rates with Wise. Wise uses the mid-market exchange rate, while banks and money exchange services often add a hefty markup.
Banks themselves use the mid-market rate when they’re buying currencies. But, they include hidden fees for customers. Wise helps you save money by giving you the fairest deal possible. Also, all costs are completely transparent, so you know there aren’t any secret markups.
Wise’s Borderless multi-currency account makes sending money across the world incredibly easy and cheap. You can manage dozens of currencies at the same time, from the same account and with zero monthly fees.
Now you can also get Hungarian bank details for free. You can spend forints, keep them in your account or if you need to, convert them to another currency. The process is simple and can be done in a few clicks.
If you plan on relocating to Hungary, you’re bound to feel a huge difference in living costs. The cost of living in Hungary compared to the UK is rather low. In fact, the price of living in Budapest puts it on the 170th spot of Mercer’s Cost of living rankings.¹
Here’s a comparison of some average prices between the UK and Hungary:
|Comparing basic cost of living||1 bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent)||Meal for 2 (mid-range restaurant, three courses)||Transportation (monthly pass)|
|London, UK²||697,692 Ft||24,130 Ft||60,325 Ft|
|Manchester, UK³||335,395 Ft||24,130 Ft||28,064 Ft|
|Edinburgh, UK⁴||322,594 Ft||24,130 Ft||22,521 Ft|
|Budapest, Hungary⁵||163,490 Ft||12,000 Ft||9,500 Ft|
|Debrecen, Hungary⁶||117,429 Ft||8,500 Ft||6,600 Ft|
|Szeged, Hungary⁷||101,667 Ft||8,500 Ft||7,000 Ft|
The most famous city in Hungary is its capital. Budapest is one of the most beautiful cities in central Europe, both architecturally and naturally. It sits at the Danube, while its magnificent buildings and castles create a stunning skyline. It’s known for its café culture, delicious food and buzzing nightlife.
Debrecen’s streets and squares are jam-packed with history and fascinating stories. It’s home to the oldest university in the country, so it’s a place Hungarians are particularly proud of. Each year Debrecen hosts an abundance of festivals which light up the city and attract both tourists and Hungarian residents.
If you need as many hours in the sun as possible, maybe the Hungarian ‘city of sunshine’ is right for you. Szeged is the sunniest place in the country and it’s great for those who prefer a smaller city charm. Its famous university gives it just the right amount of liveliness and spark it needs.
The cost of living in Budapest and your overall standard depend on your income, although it’s safe to say it’s not too expensive of a city. Excluding rent, an average person would probably spend around 180,000 Ft per month.⁵ That number can go up or down, depending on how much you spend on vacations, restaurants, going out etc.
|Total living expenses in Debrecen⁶||Average cost|
|1 person, per month (without rent)||155,271 Ft|
|4 person family, per month (without rent)||528,463 Ft|
|Utilities, basic, for 85m² apartment||42,298 Ft|
|Total living expenses in Szeged⁷||Average cost|
|1 person, per month (without rent)||158,601 Ft|
|4 person family, per month (without rent)||535,373 Ft|
|Utilities, basic, for 85m² apartment||46,963 Ft|
Although at first you’ll compare the cost of living in Hungary to the UK, eventually you’ll have to change your perspective. Comparing the prices in Hungary to Hungarian salaries is the only way to measure the quality of life. Here are the average salaries for some positions in Hungary:
|Salary averages for Budapest⁸||Average salary|
|Software engineer||5,956,905 Ft|
|Content marketing||3,964,796 Ft|
|Web developer||5,464,628 Ft|
|Salary averages for Szeged⁹||Average salary|
|Software developer||3,000,000 Ft|
|Software engineer||4,000,000 Ft|
|Java developer||5,000,000 Ft|
|Web developer||2,000,000 Ft|
|Senior software engineer||5,000,000 Ft|
|PHP developer||3,000,000 Ft|
|System administrator||3,000,000 Ft|
Is Hungary expensive rent-wise? No, not at all. Even Budapest prices are reasonable, especially since we’re talking about the biggest city in the country. Find out more in our guide for the cost of living in Budapest. And here are the rental costs for some other major cities in Hungary:
|Rental cost in Debrecen⁶||Average monthly cost|
|Large apartment||204,286 Ft|
|Small apartment||117,429 Ft|
|Rental cost in Szeged⁷||Average monthly cost|
|Large apartment||156,853 Ft|
|Small apartment||101,667 Ft|
The Hungarian healthcare system is financed by the state and it’s free of charge or low cost. Its quality resembles the one in most Western countries and there’s both a public and a private sector.
EU citizens who are temporarily staying in Hungary can rely on their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
If you’re making social security contributions in Hungary, you’re eligible for Hungarian health insurance. You’ll be able to apply for a health insurance card called a TAJ card and receive free medical services. Either your employer will take the social security contributions out of your salary, or you’ll have to register at a tax office yourself.¹¹
The transportation system in Hungary is very efficient and well connected. Even smaller towns have a good transportation network, although they can be navigated on foot or bike. For example, over 60% of people in Szeged ride their bike to work or school.¹²
Travelling between cities is easy, since you can choose between trains, buses and even boats. The intercity buses are covered by Volánbusz, while MÁV is the main Hungarian train operator. When it comes to boats, during a certain time of the year, there are ferries on the Danube and lake Balaton.
Budapest has a great metro system, with 4 well functioning lines: M1 (the Yellow Line), M2 (the Red Line), M3 (the Blue Line) and M4 (the Green Line). The Yellow Line is actually the oldest one in mainland Europe.¹³ All public transportation services in Budapest are integrated under BKK. The monthly transportation pass costs 9,500 Ft.⁵ Students get a discount, while those over 65 ride for free.
According to the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities, five Hungarian universities are among 1000 best in the world. The highest-ranked are the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest and the University of Szeged.¹⁴
There are plenty of English programs and tuition prices vary based on the field. For instance, tuition fees are between 1,490€ and 3,500€ per semester at Eötvös Loránd.¹⁵ The programs at the University of Szeged start at 1,500€, but they go up to 6,000€-7,000€ for Dental Medicine and General Medicine programs.¹⁶
The most famous scholarship is Stipendium Hungaricum. Around 5,000 students per year get it. If you come from one of the partner countries, you have a chance of studying free of charge in Hungary.¹⁷
Although life in Hungary most likely won’t break the bank, you should always try to avoid unnecessary fees. Wise’s multi-currency account can be of great use both before your move and once you arrive there. With over 50 available currencies and the guaranteed mid-market exchange rate, it’s all you need to manage your finances with no hidden markups.
- Mercer’s cost of living rankings
- Numbeo - cost of living in London
- Numbeo - cost of living in Manchester
- Numbeo - cost of living in Edinburgh
- Numbeo - cost of living in Budapest
- Numbeo - cost of living in Debrecen
- Numbeo - cost of living in Szeged
- Teleport - salaries in Budapest
- PayScale - salaries in Szeged
- Ehic.co.uk - healthcare in Hungary
- Gov.uk - healthcare in Hungary
- Numbeo - traffic in Szeged
- Elte - transport in Budapest
- Shanghai Ranking of World Universities
- Elte - tuition fees
- University of Szeged - tuition fees
- Stipendium Hungaricum
All sources checked on October 31, 2020
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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