Long-Term Housing in Hungary
Finding long-term accommodations can be one of the most frustrating tasks for expats who want to settle in Hungary. Depending on what type of employment you seek, employers may provide little assistance when it comes to locating an apartment.
English teachers are more likely to get assistance if they work for state schools (public) or if their private-school employer is large and well-established. For those who work in other fields, the same rule applies: the better established your employer, the more likely they will be to assist you. Obviously, if you accept an upper-level management job with a reputable company, they will have the wherewithal to locate appropriate accommodations. Whatever you do, though, it’s best to take part in the selection process as much as you can.
Renting an Apartment
Although finding an apartment in Hungary is difficult, most people who plan to stay for more than a few months do so. Don’t rent an apartment until you are happily settled into a work routine, because if you make any sudden change of plans, the worst part of the change will likely be finding a new residence.
Though apartment and room rents in Hungary (yes, even in Budapest) are inexpensive by most standards in North America, they are not so cheap when you consider living on the Hungarian economy. In Budapest, it’s possible to find rooms for the equivalent of $90 per month and small apartments that start around $200. You have to look long and hard, though, to find the better deals.
By far the best way to find long-term accommodations is through the people you meet – casual acquaintances, other teachers, co-workers. Make sure that you know the area so you can give people a good idea of where you would like to live.
Though most places in Budapest are pretty safe by American standards, there are still important considerations, such as proximity to public transportation, availability of a telephone (for your personal use), furnished or unfurnished, etc.
Nightmarish stories about problems with accommodations are common throughout Eastern Europe. The best way to protect yourself from any prospective problem is to make certain that you set up a rental agreement that is understood by both you and your landlord. Have a Hungarian-speaking friend translate for you whenever you search for a room or an apartment. Many Hungarians jump at the chance to rent rooms or apartments to foreigners because they can charge rents that an average Hungarian wouldn’t think of paying.
Consider the following before you sign an agreement to rent:
- Do you have good vibes about your prospective landlord? Your initial gut feeling should be a cue for your decision.
- Very few apartments in Hungary come with working telephones. Having a phone installed could take months or even years. Ask your landlord if you may have access to their phone on occasion. Will they be willing to take messages for you? This could be a sign of their friendliness and generosity.
- Apartments in Hungary are small relative to apartments in North America. Expect the basics and not much more, unless you want to pay a small fortune.
- The plumbing and heating systems often are antiquated. Make sure everything is in working order.
If money is an issue, you might want to consider finding a roommate or a private room in someone’s home. Since much of your time probably will be spent out and about, exploring your new surroundings and meeting new people, why spend a bunch of hard-earned money on a place to sleep?