Moving from the UK to Hungary

Parliament of Budapest, Hungary
Image source: Shutterstock / Location: Budapest, Hungary

Capital City: Budapest
Population: 9.77 million
Official language: Hungarian
Commonly spoken languages: Hungarian, German, English
Currency: Hungarian forint
Exchange rate to pound: 1 GBP to HUF = 401.06 Hungarian Forints

If you have decided to move to Hungary for the many spas and thermal springs, you probably don’t need much more convincing. Famous for its classical music and as the birthplace of Harry Houdini and the Rubik’s cube, Hungary has much more to offer than only this. With your relocation to Hungary, you’ll come to enjoy the inventiveness pleasantly combined with old world traditions in a place where there is a little bit of everything for everybody.

Where to live in Hungary

The quality of life index will take you to live in Hungary’s capital – Budapest. Home to close to 2 million people, it’s the ninth-largest city in the European Union by population. The two merged cities – Buda and Pest combine the administrative, political and economic life with the renaissance, historical and artistic one.

Economically developed and popular cities are also Pecs, Szeged and Debrecen. They all can offer you the joy of the busy culture and vibrant lifestyle without any of the drawbacks of living in a capital.

Most British expats moving from the UK to Hungry live in Budapest, on the side of Buda, which is more residential. With a strong sense of community and frequent social events, many groups for expats and international schools and church communities your social life can be as busy as you make it.

How to become a resident

British citizens won’t need a visa or another travel document to move to Hungary by the end of 2020. From the following year with Brexit, travel may be affected after each country re-negotiates it with Britain.

Upon arrival in the city of your choice, you must register with your local registration office. You will need

  • A British passport
  • Your bank statements
  • Reason for residency
  • Proof of address
  • European Health Insurance Card

The cost of registration is under £3 and can be paid and received by post. If you relocate to a different Hungarian city you must register again. Should you leave Hungary you must de-register as a resident.

Working in Hungary

Proficiency in the Hungarian language will provide you with access to a larger variety of job opportunities. The average pay is lower than a UK salary but you can check how much you need to earn to cover your costs of living in Hungary. Often there is no expat wage available, only the local rate. Some professions like doctors, nurses, teachers and lawyers may need an additional qualification to earn a Hungarian license and practice when moving to Hungary. Teachers may be able to find substitute positions in international schools, sometimes full-time positions come up, too.

Looking for freelance work with a UK company may be the best solution in order to match a UK wage in Hungary.

Transportation in Hungary

Public transport in Hungary is very reliable and affordable. At your disposal are trams, trolley buses and regular buses, along with an underground metro station. To secure a passage on any of the transport means in Hungary you must first pre-purchase a bundle of tickets at a kiosk in a Metro station. The single tickets must be punched in at the beginning of your ride. There are frequent and random checks all throughout Hungary where a seeming passenger simply stands up, puts on a piece of uniform and starts asking for validated travel tickets. Fines are quite serious and applied immediately and it is possible for the Inspector to not speak good English. Regardless of a language barrier or not, you will not be allowed to leave until you pay the fine.

Monthly passes are available throughout the country and a Budapest travel card for a fixed-hour period is available. Ticket machines and kiosk are readily available in or around almost all Metro stations. Night transport is reliable.

Driving your own car in Hungary

A valid UK driver’s license will be permitted for driving in Hungary as part of the European Union agreement. You can use your UK driver’s license up to a year after starting your residency. After this you must exchange it for a Hungarian one. From 2021 additional requirements and regulations may be added, depending on the post-Brexit settlements between the UK and Hungary.

In Hungary, you drive on the right side of the road and the roads are all in generally good conditions. Highways in Hungary can only be used after you have acquired a toll sticker or you may face fines. You must wear a seatbelt, have always dipped lights on and not use your phone. You can speak via a headset or your car’s hands-free calling.

Education in Hungary

The education system in Hungary is governed by the Ministry of Human Resources and is predominantly public versus private. Compulsory education starts at 3 years old in preschool kindergarten. Primary education then lasts about eight years. School hours are usually in the morning until early afternoon. Primary and secondary schools are free of charge, as well as most of the higher education for national and international students.

Being a student in Hungary

Many of the colleges and universities in Hungary are free of charge and Hungary is famous for its scientific studies. Many also offer a scholarship for tuition and living fees.

European citizens do not need a student visa to stay and study in Hungary. From 2021 UK students may need to apply for a long-term student visa to stay in the country. Regardless of country of origin you must apply for a Hungarian residence permit up to 15 days upon arrival. This applies if you are going to be staying in Hungary longer than 90 days.

The residence permit application must include proof of paid tuition fees, approval document from your host university and proof of health insurance.

Tuition is affordable and varies depending on the school and the degree. In Hungary, there are also exam, registration and application fees which are each about £90-£130. There are many scholarships and grants available when living in Hungary. Stipendium Hungaricum – founded in 2013, is one of the most popular and overall best scholarships available, open to international students only. It covers tuition, housing, medical insurance and monthly allowance.

Ranked in top 200 in Europe and considered some of the best Hungarian universities are:

Healthcare in Hungary

Hungary’s National Health Insurance Fund offers a universal and tax-funded healthcare system. If you are regularly contributing to social security, then most of healthcare is free. Only medical expenses may occur for medicine and for some of the medical equipment.
To benefit from it you will either:

  • Need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
  • Have to register with Országos Egészségbiztosítási Pénztár (OEP) in order to get a national insurance number and a TAJ card

If you are already employed, then your employer can request both your tax ID and your TAJ number. If you are self-employed you must go through the process of arranging for your social security contributions yourself, at your local tax and customs office.

To stay updated in case of any changes after the end of 2020 and Brexit, monitor the UK government site. If you moved to Hungary before 2021 your right to healthcare will remain the same, as long as you are a legal resident

Takeaways

In conclusion, we can say that Budapest attracts many history, classical architecture and music aficionados from all over the world, not just from the UK. You will quickly get used to the culture and mannerisms of the Hungarians. If you’ve set your mind on moving there already, you can check out your options for international relocation.

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