Budapest is at the heart of central Europe, with stunning architecture, a fabulous café culture, comforting food and many parks and green spaces. There’s also the draw of the magnificent Danube running between the Buda and Pest sides of the city. It’s no wonder that so many people want to move there.
If you’re thinking of retiring, temporarily relocating, or moving there for good, you may also be interested to know about the relatively low cost of living in Budapest.
We’ll cover the average prices in Budapest for housing, transport, healthcare, eating out and studying right here in this guide. We’ll also explain how you can make your money go further with a smart multi-currency account from TransferWise.
Let’s start with the basics – the currency.
One of the first things to get to grips with in a new country is money.
The first thing you need to know to start managing your money in Hungary is the currency. The official currency in Budapest is the Hungarian Forint (HUF).
How much is the Forint worth compared to other major world currencies? Let’s do a quick comparison:
- $1000 = 301080 HUF
- €1000 = 356245 HUF
- A$1000 = 218042 HUF
- £1000 = 392816 HUF
And if you ever need to work out the price of something in Budapest on the fly, remember that you can always pull out your smartphone and use an online currency converter.
If you need to convert GBP or another currency to HUF, don’t automatically head to your bank or nearest Bureau de Change. You’re not likely to get the best exchange rates there, as there’s often a costly mark-up added on top of the mid-market rate. Find out more about how exchange rates work here.
The cost of living in Hungary may be pretty low, but unfortunately its banking system is one of the most expensive in Europe.
If you’re planning to live and work in Budapest, even for just a few months, you’ll need a more cost-effective way to manage your money. Enter TransferWise, which offers a low-fee way to send, spend and manage multiple currencies – where you’ll always get the real, mid-market exchange rate.
Get a free TransferWise multi-currency account and you’ll also get virtual Hungarian bank details.
You can use these details to receive Hungarian Forints straight into your TransferWise account, getting paid and receiving money like a local without all those costly bank fees. Find out more about how it works here.
According to the Mercer 2020 World Cost of Living Ranking, Budapest is the 170th most expensive city in the world to live in.¹
This seems pretty good when you’re weighing up whether or not to move there. But what does this ranking mean in terms of actual day-to-day living costs?
Let’s take a look at how Budapest stacks up for rent, restaurant meals and transport compared to UK cities:
|Comparing basic cost of living||1 bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent)||Meal for 2 (mid-range restaurant, three courses)||Transportation (monthly pass)|
Rent aside, here’s a look at the average cost of living in Budapest if you live on your own and as a family:
|Total living expenses in Budapest²||Average cost|
|1 person, per month (without rent)||£459.02|
|4 person family, per month (without rent)||£1,565.13|
|Utilities, basic, for 85m² apartment||£131.11|
So far, we’ve seen that the cost of living in Budapest compared to UK cities is relatively low, but how much are people earning there?
The average salary you can expect to earn is a useful thing to know before your move. Here, we’ve picked out a few example jobs in Budapest and the average salary⁷ for each:
|Salary averages for Budapest||Average salary|
You may be used to a certain size and standard of accommodation in the UK, but will you be able to afford the same in Budapest?
Below, you’ll find the average monthly rent costs of small, medium and large apartments⁸ in the city:
|Rental cost in Budapest||Average monthly cost|
Hungary’s tax-funded universal health care system is affordable and up to the standard of other Western countries, but private healthcare is also available.
EU citizens are covered for emergency medical care if they have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).⁹ But for routine and all other medical care comes with a cost of around 8,000 HUF for a visit to the GP.⁹
If you will be living, working or studying in Budapest, you can access the same healthcare as Hungarian residents if you apply for a national insurance number and card (TAJ kartya).¹⁰ Otherwise, you’ll need to pay for private healthcare or take out health insurance.
Around a quarter of Budapest residents get around by car, but a further 19% use the train or metro and 18% take the bus.¹¹ You can expect to pay around £24.18 a month on public transport in Budapest, which is far cheaper than London and other major European capitals.²
The city is very walkable and ‘bikeable’ if you live and work in the centre, but the metro system can be a time-saver if you’re in a hurry.
There are a number of universities in Budapest, including Eötvös Loránd University which features in the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities 2020. There’s also the Corvinus University of Budapest and the Budapest University of Technology and Economics.¹²
Higher education in Hungary is not free, with tuition fees costing up to £10,730 per year depending where you study. At Eötvös Loránd University, you can expect to pay around £3,679 a year.¹³ You’ll also need to factor in entrance and application fees.
There are usually some scholarships and state-funded places available for overseas students.
Budapest is quite a cheap city to live in, which is fantastic news if you’re thinking of moving there.
But you should still make sure you get the most from your money by swerving Hungary’s expensive banking system and using cost-saving solutions such as TransferWise.
Open a free TransferWise Borderless multi-currency account before your big move to Budapest and you’ll be all set to send, spend and handle as many currencies as you want – including both GBP and HUF.
There are no monthly charges to worry about, and you’ll only pay tiny, transparent fees to send and convert money.
So there you have it – the cost of living in Budapest compared to UK cities such as London, Manchester and Edinburgh. We’ve covered all the essentials, from the average prices in Budapest for housing and transport, through to tuition fees if you plan to study there.
If you’re considering a move, you’ll definitely benefit from a lower cost of living as well as getting the chance to live in a fabulous European capital. Just remember that salaries in Budapest are just as low, and make sure to steer clear of the expensive banking system.
Sok szerencsét (good luck) with your move!
- Mercer’s cost of living 2020 ranking
- Numbeo - cost of living in Budapest
- Numbeo - cost of living in London
- Numbeo - cost of living in Manchester
- Numbeo - cost of living in Edinburgh
- Numbeo - cost of living in Cardiff
- Teleport - salaries in Budapest
- Teleport - living in Budapest
- Lonely Planet - health and insurance in Budapest
- Ehic.co.uk - healthcare in Hungary
- Numbeo - traffic in Budapest
- Shanghai ranking of world universities 2020
- Unipage.net - tuition fees at Eotvos Lorand University
All sources checked on October 13, 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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