Hungary is a beautiful European country with wonderful architecture, food and spas. Budapest is the capital city, and the main place that tourists visit to see Trinity Square, the chain bridge and Castle Hill, a UNESCO heritage site. Due to its situation it has become a melting pot of Eastern and western cultures. There are plenty of theatres and museums, cafes and pastry shops and also many parks and hills to enjoy walking. Carnivals and festivals fill the calendar and are a large part of the Hungarian culture.
The local language is Hungarian, but most people speak some English. The currency is the Hungarian forint, but Hungary expects to adopt the Euro in 2010. The weather is also quite different to what you may be used to, with sunny, dry summers but freezing winters with chilling winds.
Hungary is a popular place for students to come to study. Special student visas are available. Visas are not required for stays of up to 90 days, but check the entry/exit requirements which are quite detailed.
Generally you will find the cost of living cheaper in Hungary than in many other European countries. A bottle of beer, a bus ticket and a loaf of bread all cost less than one Euro, to give you some idea of how far your money will go. Public transport is particularly cheap, especially with a monthly pass. The minimum wage is 65,500 Forint per month which is the equivalent of 260 Euros, but rental of a decent sized family home is at least 1000 Euros so there is quite a disparity. Most ex-Pats chose to live outside Budapest in family homes in residential neighbourhoods such as Buda, rather than in the city itself which is mostly apartments. Generally for stays of 4 years or less it is cheaper by far to rent than to buy a home.
There are many ex-Pats in Hungary and consequently you will find International Schools and English speaking clubs and churches. Most foreign workers are relocated to Hungary with international companies and embassies, but there are some good jobs websites on the internet. Often speaking Hungarian is not a necessary requirement for working in Hungary.
Healthcare is an important issue and generally some insurance will be necessary. First aid and emergency services are free for citizens of the UK, Scandinavia and western Europe, but follow-up treatment must be paid for. Public outpatient clinics charge very low costs but a private consultation can be very expensive.
Police are often seen conducting roadside checks and have a zero tolerance policy for speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol, or using a cell phone whilst driving. Foreign driver’s licenses are acceptable for up to one year and then must be replaced with a Hungarian driving license.