Cost of Living in Budapest- Beautiful Riverside Views In Hungary’s Capital City for $1500

07/04

MINUTE READING TIME

QUICK SUMMARY- COST OF LIVING IN BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

  • Monthly budget in Budapest for a Single Person = $1,500 <skip to budget details>.
  • Shop at local farmers' markets for low-cost produce and organic meats
  • Enjoy an inexpensive culture and arts scene with low-priced opera tickets and museum admission
  • Walkable city and cheap public transit saves you $$$ on transportation costs

The Hungarian capital is one of the most popular European cities, and for a good reason - and I’m not just saying this as a biased Hungarian. Living in Budapest means unique architecture, beautiful sights, culture, fantastic nightlife, and an affordable high-end food scene - that’s Budapest. 

I moved to Budapest with my family because the capital city had more and better-paying jobs than my hometown. In the six years I lived in Budapest, I mainly worked in the hospitality/events industry and served in most of the city’s high-end hotels and restaurants.

 I had loads of fun living in Budapest, and working in hospitality allowed me to truly get to know the city inside out.

This post may contain affiliate links. I may get a commission if you purchase something using my link. Please note, there is NO ADDITIONAL COST to you. For more information, please see my disclosure.

Looking back, the cost of living in Budapest is the most affordable I’ve experienced in Europe compared to Naples, Italy (where I spent significant time), and London (where I live now).

Hungary uses the Forint (HUF) for currency. At the time of this writing, the exchange rate is 1 US Dollar = 309 HUF. For reference, 1 Euro = 368 HUF

What Is The Cost Of Living In Budapest?


$1500- Cost of Living in Budapest Hungary Details [HIDE]

Total Monthly Expense$1539
COST PER MONTH
Rent- 1-bedroom in District XI, the Buda side583
Water/Sewer/Trash/Electricity85
High Speed Internet13
Cell Phone- 1-Year contract Unlimited with Vodafone36
Total Housing Expense716
Home Cooked Meals 19 times per week236
Mid-Priced Restaurant 1 Time per Week57
High-End Restaurant Splurge Lunch 1 Time per Week109
Total Food Expense400
Opera Night- 1 Time per Month23
Aperitifs with Friends- 1 Time per Week29
Night Out Dancing with Friends- 1 Time per Month60
Thermal Spas 2 times per Month26
Total Entertainment136
Monthly Transportation Pass31
Taxi 2 time Per Month District XI to VIII14
Total Transportation Expense45
Expat Health Insurance100
Health Care Expense100
Cleaning service 1 time per week64
Weekly Manicure and 1 Massage per Month59
Personal Care (Shampoo, etc.) & Household Items (Soap, etc.)20
Total Personal Care and Misc Expense142
Exchange Rate to $1 USD to Forint (HUF)309

My monthly budget in Budapest is roughly $1500, including all living expenses (housing, utilities, transportation, food, entertainment, etc.), non-essential extras like a cleaner, dry cleaning, and personal grooming. and some travel around the country. 

How Does The Cost of Living In Hungary Compare To The US?

When comparing European capitals, Hungary is not as cheap as low-cost Eastern European countries, Bulgaria and Romania. However, Budapest is very affordable compared to US or Western Europe.

Look at the cost of living comparison below representing the Top 4 essential expenses in the US: housing, food, transportation, and healthcare. These 4 expenses make up 68% of the average living costs in US cities.

Essential Living Costs

US-

Portland

HU-

Budapest

HOUSING

$962

$716

FOOD

$313

$400

TRANSPORTATION

$862

$45

HEALTHCARE

$353

$100

Total Average Per Month

$2,490

$1,261

Save 50% on Major Monthly Expenses

Even when comparing the most expensive city in Hungary (Budapest) to a medium-cost city in the US (Portland), the low monthly costs of living in Budapest saves a single person almost $15,000 a year.

It's easy to see why Budapest has become a popular location for digital nomads and expat retirees looking to reduce their monthly living expenses.

What Kind of Lifestyle Can I Afford On $1500 Per Month?

Vaci Street is the main pedestrian thoroughfares. It's bustling with tourists, but it's worth taking a coffee break to people watching at least once.

Imagine you’re living in a thrilling city in the heart of Europe. Your mornings start with a beautiful tram ride around Budapest, passing by the Danube river with a view to the Buda Castle, maybe Vig Theatre, and the Parliament.

In the afternoon, stop at a local market for a quick shopping run. Afterward, lace up your sneakers for a refreshing run or a bike ride on Margaret Island. After a quick shower in your apartment, you’re getting ready for the evening.

Kiraly Street is the  liveliest spot in the city. Perfect when you want a fun night out with friends

Evenings are the best, it doesn’t matter if it’s a Friday or Tuesday night; you’ll find the right buzz at any time. A delicious Hungarian dinner followed by some cocktails or a glass of wine on one of the standing boat places, then a ride home with a taxi. You’re recharged, but there is still more waiting for you next week. Or the next night, who knows.

What makes Budapest memorable is all the hidden treasures waiting for you to discover.

What Does An Apartment Cost In Budapest?

If you are looking to live in a bustling city, Budapest's city center is always buzzing. 

Housing Costs

$716

The average cost of an apartment is between 120.000 HUF (~400 USD) to 190.000 HUF (~650 USD) in rent per month for a flat between 35-55 m2. The lower price range of apartments is liveable but in poor condition or in a less desirable area.

Here is an example of apartments on the higher-end of that price range. The flat is in District XI, which is on the Buda side of the Danube river. It’s a one-bedroom apartment with a living room, kitchen, and a bathroom with shower, in a lovely neighborhood, in an excellent location, close to public transport and shops, and recently refurbished to a fashionable urban style.

If you are an expat family or need a bit more space, the average rental cost for two-bedroom apartments with similar quality and in district XI is around $800. 

One-bedroom, one-bathroom, with lovely neighborhood

Refurbished to a fashionable urban style

The kitchen in a $600 apartment District XI

Total Rental Costs Including Utilities

I pay 180.000 HUF / $600 in monthly rent for fully furnished accommodations. Price does not include utilities. 

The average cost of utilities per month for a one-bedroom apartment:

  • Gas: 8000 HUF (~27 USD)
  • Electricity: 5500 HUF (~18.5 USD)
  • Water: 3500 HUF (~12 USD)
  • Internet: 4000 HUF (~13.5 USD)
  • Local government tax: 9000 HUF (~30 USD)

 INSIDER TIP : Upfront Accommodation Costs- Getting a flat is relatively easy, money talks, landlords might ask you to pay 1-3 months deposit and 1-month rent in advance. Don’t go with anyone who doesn’t offer a tenancy contract- common knowledge, but worth mentioning.

Agency Fees, Real Estate Commission, and Other Additional Charges-  The owner pays fees to real estate agents for help renting the apartment. Tenants shouldn't pay anything. If a landlord asks you to pay any additional fees, consider it a red flag that you might be getting charged a "Foreigner Tax."

The only fee you might be charged is a deposit to hold the flat. Request documentation and a receipt for everything- I'm sorry to say, but Hungary can be occasionally sketchy. I'm not saying be negative, only to be vigilant.

What Is the Best Places For Expats To Live?

I love living in beautiful civilian homes with super high ceilings where you’ll find all sorts of architectural surprises: open galleries with sleeping opportunities or, if the inside of the property is high enough, a stand-up gallery for an office or home library. 

These downtown apartments are located mainly in the city center Districts: V, VI, VII, VIII, and IX. These are all lovely and safe districts apart from district VIII, an up-and-coming area with a central location and a mix of new buildings and dodgy areas.

Other good districts are (area and facility-wise) district I, II, XI, XII, XIII, and XIV. These recommendations come from personal experience, but there are hidden gems all over the city. Like any major city, the central locations are in higher demand and there are expensive streets in popular locations where prices seem overinflated. But, if you are moving from the US or a more expensive European country, you'll find real estate prices to be comparatively affordable wherever you look.

 INSIDER TIP : Apartment Hunting Tips From A Local- Best place to start the search is on Hungary's most popular real estate website.

Unfortunately, the website does not provide English translations. See the my screenshot from their website with some translations, to help your search.

Zip codes- A little trick when searching for flats; the postcode is a four-digit number, and the two middle numbers indicate the district, e.g., 1021 would be district 2, 1195 district 19, 1119 district 11, etc.

Unfurnished Apartments- Furniture varies on the owner. In my experience, you won't save much money on rent looking for an unfurnished flat. 

For long-term accommodation, skip Airbnb. Look for apartments like a local.

What Is Your Food Budget In Budapest?

Hungary's Markets aren't just for groceries. You can find delicious authentic Hungarian meals for cheap. 

Food Costs

$400

I eat three meals a day and (maybe fruit snacks in between). I'll homecook 1-2 meals. Breakfast is kept simple: cereals, porridge, eggs or perhaps a pancake.

With no dietary restrictions and typical purchases of meat, fish, organic fruit, vegetables, and twice-weekly dining out and food delivery - a $400 food budget still accommodates my eating habits.

Grocery Shopping and Food Prices At Markets

See my grocery shopping in the picture? All that food cost me 11.837 HUF (~40 USD). It's mainly meat and some snacks. I bought 7kg of various pork and chicken products - enough to last me the whole month.

I also love seafood, so my diet includes lots of fish and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables from the local markets. If you a budding chef, the city's markets make home-cooking the tasty and most cost-effective meals. On top of the low food costs, Hungarian wines are renowned for their bold flavors and affordable prices. A bottle of wine (mid-range) would only cost ~$5-$8.

 INSIDER TIP : Markets in Budapest- One of the things I LOVE about Budapest is the quality of food and selection when shopping at farmers' markets. You will find organic produce, high-quality meats, and authentic Hungarian spices sold in locally-owned stalls. Here are some favorites loved by residents and visitors alike:

One of Budapest's most popular locations is the Great Market Hall built in the 18th century. 

Central Market Hall- This market is a prime example of the unique ambiance of a European indoor market. While drawing more than its fair share of tourists, experiencing the bustle of this massive market h is still worth your time. 

For more local and less crowded markets try Hold Utca Market Hall (District V), Lehel Piac (District XIII) or the Fény Utca Market Hall (District II).

How Much Does Eating Out In Budapest Cost?

The affordable living costs in Budapest opens up an array of social options for expats. You have the financial flexibility to go out and enjoy one of Europe's most beautiful cities. Eating and going out is not a luxury here. You could enjoy a meal in a nice restaurant or aperitivo in one of the cool bars 3-4 times a week, and 2-3 deliveries if you’re not in a mood for messing up the kitchen -  at least that’s what I’d done while living there.

For a meal out in a local restaurant, you could pay anywhere from 10 USD/person (with a main meal plus a side and a glass of wine included) to 50-70 USD/person depending on how fancy you like it.

Snack $2- Langos with sour cream and cheese. Think of a fluffy pizza crust, then deep fry it till golden and delicious. Langos can be made sweet or savory.  These Hungarian treats can be found on street stands everywhere in Budapest. 

Budget Meal $6- Goulash with homemade dumplings. The quintessential Hungarian dish made with beef and dumplings. Goulash can be found as street food snacks all the way to high-end restaurant meals. 

Splurge Meal $25- Veal cutlet three-course lunch. Splurge on a bit of luxury with a meal at Gundel Étterem. Order lunch to enjoy upscale dining for less. 

Langos with Sour Cream and Cheese $2

Goulash with Homemade Dumplings $6

Splurge Meal at Gundel Étterem $25 Photo Credit

How Much Money Do You Spend For Entertainment?

A late-night cruise with dinner, drinks, and dancing on the Danube for $30.

Entertainment and Sports

$136

The wallet-friendly cost of living in Budapest allows you lots of entertainment option. Expats looking for an active social life will find going out doesn’t cost a fortune and you'll get more bang for your buck.

  • Gym Membership $30 per month-  Gym lovers will be happy in Budapest; fitness centers and group classes are available all over the city. For a decent gym, you would pay about 30 USD, but if your prefer more amenities (pool, jacuzzi) or newer equipment, dues can climb to $70 - $80 per month.
  • Aperitifs with Friends $3- You a decent glass of wine or a half-liter of beer for about 800-1000 HUF (~2.70-3.50 USD) in several wine bars downtown. 
  • Thermal Baths $13- An absolute bliss if you are into health and wellness, is the therapeutic thermal baths around Budapest. With prices starting at an affordable 3900 HUF (~$13), thermal spas are a great way to relax and invest in your health. There are enough spas around Budapest for you to explore, but the must-see baths are Gellert, Rudas, Szechenyi, and Kiraly.
  • Night Out Dancing $60- There are many options for a night out on the town. If you want an active social calendar, your social life could be very busy. Team up with other expats or locals, or take on the city on your own, you won’t be disappointed in that case either. Jazz clubs, ruin bars, night bars in hotels with live music, party boat cruise on the Danube; the choices are endless.
  • Opera Tickets $23- I am opera fan and theater is really popular with the expat community, especially since the ticket prices are irresistible low. Theater tickets sell for as low as 7000 HUF (~23 USD), depending on your seats.
  • Museums $6- If you are into museums, you’ll find lots to choose from, for example, the Budapest Pinball Museum, House of Terror Museum, Hungarian Railway Museum, and the Zwack Heritage and Visitors’ Centre, just to mention a few. The ticket prices start from 6 USD.

How Much Does Transportation Cost?


Transportation

$45

Budapest is high walkable. Sidewalks are wide and safe. The city center will have more traffic and subsequently poorer air quality than in the outer districts, but it’s still great for getting around on foot.

Public transport is well established and cheap, full-price monthly travel pass costs 9500 HUF (~32 USD), and student or pensioner passes are 3450 HUF (~12 USD). You can use the metro, trolleybus (electric bus), HÉV, buses, or tram. 

 INSIDER TIP : My Favorite Local Transport Option- With stunning architecture everywhere you look, and a scenic river cutting through Budapest's heart, my daily commute by tram is basically a free sightseeing tour of one of Europe's most beautiful cities. Tramlines 4 and 6 cross several bridges with breathtaking riverbank views.

Other than public transportation, you can reasonably rent a bike, car, or take taxis. Bike rental starts from 200 HUF/hr (0.7 USD), and car rental from 20 USD/day.

Taxi Cost In Budapest

If you opt for taxis, note that there is no Lyft or Uber in Hungary due to a taxi drivers’ strike a few years back when they banned all outsider cab companies. The best and most well-known cab company is Fotaxi, they are reliable, and prices are ok, too, but always make sure the meter is on before you start your journey.

In Budapest, there is a uniform fee structure for all taxis: the pick-up rate 700 HUF, the per-kilometer you'll pay 300 HUF, and waiting time is 75 HUF per minute. 

International Flights

One international airport, Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD) serves Budapest. Hungary is also home to low-cost airline Wizz Air. 

You can reach 10-20 other countries from Budapest for a $20 airline ticket.

Other Costs When Moving To Budapest


My $1500 budget includes all essential living expenses and affordable luxuries like:

  • Maid Service $5 per hour- A cleaner once a week for about 1500 HUF/hr (~5 USD)
  • Spa Services $6 - $30- A weekly manicure for 2000 HUF, women's haircut $25, and even a massage once or twice a month for 10.000 HUF/60 mins (~30 USD).
  • Mobile Internet Plan $37-  Mobile phone, 12-month contract with Vodafone, unlimited data, minutes and SMS: 10990 HUF (~ 37 USD)

How Much Does Hungarian Healthcare cost?

Healthcare

$100

If you are an American moving to Hungary Health Insurance for expats is always a hot topic. The Hungarian health care system is interesting. While doctors are highly skilled, the equipment in government hospitals is insufficient and outdated compared.

private health insurance

The expat community usually opts for private healthcare coverage. With expat health insurance, you get better medical services or emergency treatment. Access to private hospitals or clinics offers a different level of medical care with a lot shorter waiting times.

There are a lot of different insurance companies with many options for an expat living in Hungary. Estimated cost for decent health insurance is ~$100 per month.

Will My Home Country Health Insurance Cover Me?

Most likely no. Most health insurance will not cover you for any injuries sustained outside your home country. To get protection while living abroad, there are two options:

  • Travel Health Insurance- This will cover you for unexpected medical issues while living in the Philippines. This insurance requires you still maintain insurance in the United States or your respective home country. I pay roughly $50 per month for complete coverage with no deductible.
  • Expat Medical Insurance- If you retire abroad, expat health insurance is a more complete option. Expat Medical Insurance is the "normal" insurance you are familiar with to from home. Coverage is built for people who live in a country versus traveling. While more expensive than Travel Medical Insurance, premiums are still cheaper than the US. 

Will I Have To Pay Taxes Living In Hungary?

You are considered a tax resident in Hungary if:

  • your only permanent address is in Hungary, or
  • your center of vital interests is in Hungary and you do not have a permanent home or has a number of permanent homes in one or more countries as well as Hungary, or
  • you spend at least 183 days in Hungary in a calendar year and you do not have a permanent home or a number of permanent homes in one or more countries as well as Hungary, and the center of vital interests cannot be determined.

Hungary has a double taxation treaty with the US. 

If you are considered a Hungarian tax resident, then your personal income tax (PIT) is assessed on:

  • Income from Hungarian sourced, even if it is paid from abroad
  • Income sourced outside of Hungary , whether or not money was electronically transferred or brought into the country in cash.

To avoid any complications, penalties, and fines,  speak with a tax advisor for details.

What Is Not Included In The Monthly Budget?

Expat Taxes

If you stay longer than 183 days, many countries will consider you a tax resident. Being an expat may help you save money on your taxes. Talk to a tax professional to see how tax residency applies to you. I partnered with a firm specializing in expat taxes to secure a special deal for Nomadic FIRE readers.


Use the promotion code "Nomadic25Consultation" for $25 off a tax consultation to get you started. 


Even better, use their experts prepare your tax return, the entire consultation is FREE.

Moving Costs

Between customs, freight, packing costs, and ground transportation, figuring out how to move your stuff overseas can become complicated.  Partner with a certified international moving expert to ensure competitive rates and no hidden fees. 

What Are The Visa Requirements For Hungary?


Hungary does not require a visa for US citizens visiting for up to 90 out of 180 days. Hungary is in the Schengen agreement. Foreigners looking to visit strictly for vacation or tourism can enter Hungary as part of the Schengen Visa. Schengen is expressly for tourism and is not ideal for retirees or digital nomads looking for long-term options. 

Citizens of other countries can check here to determine what visa is required to enter Hungary.  

What About A Hungary Retirement Visa?

Hungary does not have a retirement, pensioner, or passive income visa. Expatriates and retirees looking for long-term residence permit will need to look at other EU countries like SpainItalyCroatia, or Bulgaria for long-term residence options.  Unless you plan to work for a Hungarian company, start a business, or study here, the country is only suitable for short-term stays.

Tips From The Budapest Expatriate Community

Some additional tips for foreigners starting expat life in Budapest:

  • Use the expat community as a resource. Find some local expat clubs and groups on Facebook. People will be happy to help. 
  • Locals are friendly people. Mix in when you can, especially when you are out in the city center (more chance that they speak English, although many know English in general)
  • If you are only in Budapest for a short time, come in the summer. Life is busier, the weather is better, and there are many more things to do and see (lots are even free).
  • You will save significantly on rental costs by signing a one-year contract for an apartment vs. renting on Airbnb.
  • Beware of the pickpockets on public transport (this applies to any big city, to be honest) - you wouldn’t believe how resourceful they can be.
  • Research all the things you can do for free - there are a lot of them!
  • Try local markets' food stalls - they may look oldie but are still goodie!
  • It’s a weird one but here goes: fix your teeth while living there; Hungarian dentists are fantastic and dental care is cheap! I used to work for and highly recommend Vital Europe.
  • Discovering Hungary- Budapest is an ideal home base to tour the country. Exploring lovely beautiful cities and small towns like Eger, Visegrad, Esztergom, or Siofok at Lake Balaton can be done as a quick day trip or a relaxing weekend getaway. 

Compare Cost Of Living In Budapest, Hungary

Still researching the best cities for retirement? Check out our extensive Cost of Living collection for the best expat destinations. Get insider information and real examples of expat life from people who have spent years living abroad. I've compiled all the information you need: cost breakdowns, insider tips to save money, and detailed examples of the quality of lifestyle you can enjoy. 

Final Thoughts: Life in Budapest

I loved living here! Budapest has so much to offer, and on $1500 per month, you can truly enjoy a comfortable and exciting lifestyle. Budapest is a hot spot for any expat who’d like to relocate to Europe, enjoy a high quality of life while saving money at the same time.

Resources for Working and Living Abroad

Start Speaking A New Language In 30 days

Pimsleur is the best method I have found to get to "Survival-Level" quickly when learning a new language. With Pimsleur, I can ease the stress of arriving in a new country and start speaking with people in my neighborhood. Ordering food, getting directions, haggling prices, and making friends is 10X easier when you can communicate in the local language.

Achieve better results using Pimsleur's short classes and organic learning methodology vs. the mindless repetition, endless verb conjugations, and tedious memorization of other language courses. 

Transfer Money Internationally

For expats and nomads, Wise offers an International Bank account for your money transfers. It's an easier and cheaper alternative for paying your bills while overseas.

Looking to buy property abroad, Wise has a Large Transfer Rate for even bigger savings. 

Get A Free International Household Moving Quote

Figuring out how to move your stuff overseas is both exciting and nerve-racking. Partnering with a one-stop shop international moving company simplifies the hardest part.

Suddath provides you the peace of mind in knowing a relocation specialist is personally managing your international move every step of the way.

Get Your US Expat Tax Questions Answered

US Expat taxes are the most complex in the world. However, living abroad comes with potential tax advantages, but mistakes are very easy to make. It is no wonder many expats are frustrated. 

Avoid complications, penalties, and fines, Taxes For Expats is here to help.

Protect Your Health While Abroad

Your home health insurance is unlikely to provide coverage for you while overseas. Get premium health insurance designed for expats and digital nomads that protects you anywhere you are in the world, even during a pandemic.

Use A Virtual Mailbox To Keep A Permanent US Address And Receive Important Documents and Packages

Get a US street address you can use while you are overseas. Use a digital mailbox with a REAL physical location to receive mail from USPS, FedEx, and UPS.

A virtual mailbox can receive and forward all your important documents and packages, replace credit cards, maintain state residency, get checks deposited, or file business and tax applications. Prices start at $6. 

Travel Tools and Resources

Skyscanner- My favorite airline search tool to find all the cheapest flights in one place.
Airport Pick-Up Service- Arrive at your destination stress-free with a private car cheaper than most taxis. 

Loctote- My favorite day pack. Secure your belongings while walking around town.

First Time Moving Abroad? Check Out My Advice For New Expats

EXPAT INSIGHTS

I have traveled to over 40 countries to give you the best ways to save, invest, and live overseas for less cost than in the US. After five years of traveling, my list of places to live keeps getting longer. To give you more information on the best places to live abroad, I partner with experts from the expat community.

You want insider information from people with feet in the street? I only work with expats with real-life experience living in countries you want to know about. Together you get updated info on the best neighborhoods, detailed Cost of Living examples, money-saving advice, and recommendations on the local places to eat, drink, and see.

Are you a travel blogger with information you can share on living in another country? Contact me and let's talk about collaborating on a guest post. 

EXPAT CONTRIBUTION BY: Timi

Timi is a blogger, Londoner, self-confessed travel junkie, and lover of all good things. She helps you to travel like a local so you can live the real experience and learn something new and unique everywhere around the globe. Learn more.



About the author

Hi, That's me. I'm Marco Sison. I am a survivor of the corporate rat race. I started Nomad FIRE to show you an alternative to the stress and grind of 70-hour weeks to pay off a mortgage, student loans, and countless bills. After getting laid off in 2015, I said screw it all and retired early at 41 years old. I have traveled the last five years to over 40 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries for 70% less cost than the US. I have been featured in: US News & World Reports, Huffington Post, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, Best Life, CW Network, Dr. Wealth, and others. [view press...]

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
>