View Full Version : Living Costs in Hungary - transporation, accommodation, banks etc..

06-06-2011, 10:08 PM
Hi all,

Just wondering if anyone has some idea or some links on the living costs in Hungary. What I am concerned about is the following:

1. Transportation
- I understand there is an intercity train. Does this travel from the college to most major points? What other ways of transportation are there and what are the cheapest methods of getting from your apartment to the college? Anything else about buspasses or student passes?

2. Accommodation
- I've done a bit of research and found that the average apartment price is around 250-350 euros. Is that a competitive price? Where is the best place to live if you want to get to Semmelweis easy by transporation? If they charge you 300 euros for a person can you share this cost by having a room-mate? Where is the best place (website, paper) to look for apartments.
- Do most of the apartments come with appliances and furniture? If so, then is there anything else that I should bring from my home country?

3. Food
- I'm not the best cook, but I can probably make a passable meal. I was just wondering if food is very expensive; fresh fruits and vegies, dairy, meat etc. Is it cheaper to cook yourself or eat out. Approximately how much will food cost a month? Does the university have a meal program?

4. Phone Service
- How does cell phone/mobile service work in Hungary. Is it a monthly plan thing or do they have prepaid as well (phone cards)? What are the typical costs for phones and phone usage? Any student discounts?

5. Access to Finances and Banks
- For those of you who are international students, how do we pay for tuition and living expenses? Do students generally use visa cards or should someone from back home send they money to a bank account in Hungary? What are some low fee options to sending money for use in Hungary from out of the country?

6. Miscellaneous

- Is there anything else not on this list that one should be concerned about? I hear internet, washer, dryer and stuff are usually provided for by the apartment.

Please add your input and anything I may have missed so we can have a discussion.

Thanks! :)

06-07-2011, 01:58 AM
Hi Panda,
How's your preparation going? Hope great :)
I really wish I could help you about the cost of living (everything you mentioned above and much more), but unfortunately(or fortunately :D) I DON'T study in Budapest. The cost of living in Budapest is TOTALLY different from the countryside (Debrecen, Pécs, Szeged etc). Hence I'm gonna refrain from quoting costs based on stuffs I know in Debrecen.
However, a few months ago I gave a detailed break down of the expected expenses to a fellow user in this forum (about Debrecen). I think I still have that infomation somewhere in my messages folder. Let me know if you MIGHT want to use it as a pointer just to have a general idea of how things cost over here. AGAIN, THEY ARE ONLY FOR DEBRECEN!!!!!! NOT BUDAPEST!!!!...LOL. (everyone please take note of the emphasis:))
BTW, one of my most cherished advise to 1st year students as regard studies in HU medical schools is be serious from day one! Try to keep up with the hectic semester and score good enough scores in your intra-semester tests to GET EXEMPTIONS (you'll learn more about them in your orientation.) EXEMPTIONS make exam periods less hectic and you can travel back home early.
Wish you luck buddy and would like to welcome you to the exciting, hectic albeit frustrating world of HU medical schools :)

06-07-2011, 03:37 AM
ah african_child you have been most helpful during my time in valuemd. I will try looking for your posts on the matter of expenses, but yes like you said it might be slightly different.

Preparation has been going great on my part, but I guess I won't truly know how Budapest is until I actually get there, thus I will be leaving early to Hungary just to sort matters out.

I'm hoping for a lot of exemptions ;) since most of these curriculum consists of courses I have already taken in my degree.

I was just wondering how you manage to pay your tuition and living expenses? Do you use Visa or perhaps send it from your home country's bank account to a Hungarian account?

Thanks for your help! Keep in touch.

06-07-2011, 05:04 AM
My family pays my tuition fees directly into the school's bank account from home (my country). And the charges I pay along are reasonable. I make sure I get the confirmation telex/record and come along with it to show as evidence of my payment during registration. I've been using this method for the past 3 years and it has proved most convenient for me.
I know a couple of guys, however, that come along with their money in cash and pay in the school's bank account while here in Debrecen.
Another friend of mine pays via his Visa card.
In the end, the method you choose to use doesn't matter. The most important thing is to get your confirmation to show during registration. The school scrutinizes it during the semester. If your attention is needed, you'll be notified.
I like the fact that you choose to go a few weeks before school resumes. You'd use the opportunity to shake off the jet lag and also familiarize yourself with your new environment. You can also enroll in the Hungarian crash programme (which is run free in Debrecen). Another advantage you get when get there early is the choice of accommodation. I don't know what obtains in Budapest or what your plans are, but should you choose to live off campus in a rented apartment, it's advisable not to rush it. Take your time to see at least 3 different apartments before you commit. Of course your choices will be narrowed as soon as students start coming back. In my experience, your relationship w/ your landlord matters also. If you're using an agent (which is very likely) ask them to have an appointment w/ the landlord if possible and try to assess his/her personality. Trust me, it helps a lot to have an approachable and understandable Hungarian as a landlord. Unfortunately, some Hungarians (especially the ones in Debrecen) are dishonest and may try to rip you off on certain stuffs. However, some are quite angelic :D
If something comes up, I'll put it here.
Have a pleasant day ahead :D

06-08-2011, 02:38 PM
Hey, I'll try to answer these for you

1. Yup there's a metro with 3 lines. You'll be riding the blue line (which goes N-S) for most places you'll need to go. It intersects with the red and yellow lines at Deak Ferenc Ter which is downtown (and a great place to live, actually where I am). I get around with a 100 day student pass that costs me 11 550 forints (roughly 60 CAD). You can also ride buses and trams with it. When you get here you can't get one straight away cause you'll need a student card. A lot of people I know don't live on the metro line (maybe a block or two away) and have found their own system of trams (the 4 and 6 get to most of the popular places to live near school) and buses. The metro unfortunately only runs til 11:30, but the bus and trams run later than that (sorry don't have an exact time). If I'm coming home late from the library or movies (11:30 - 1 ish) I'll just get the bus. If I'm coming home from a bar late, I'll just walk or take a cab. One thing I noticed about the city compared to Canadian cities, is that it's small in real life compared to what you see on a map (if that makes sense). You'll be walking a lot more here, and you'll also find that it's not that far to walk places either.

2. Most people I know live near the school or Deak or somewhere on the yellow line. There are of course a few people in random parts of the city. Near the school is a little more run down. It wasn't a great place years ago, but they're doing lots of construction. There's a new mall (Corvin) with nice apartments near it at Ferenc korut (a blue line metro stop). Take a look at a map and look at the metro stops. Kalvin ter is where the 24 hour school library and a regular hour public library are. Klinikak is where the anatomy building is and a lot of your main classes/practices will be. Nagyvarad is where biology was and occasionally an exam or two will be. The closer you live to school the cheaper your rent will be. But, a lot of people who lived near the school this year are now moving to Kalvin or Deak. Deak is downtown. It's where fashion street is, bars are nearby, etc, just the centre of it all. I leave my place 20 mins before class and can get to klinikak on time. It is more expensive though. The yellow line is another option. It travels under Andrassy street, aka the Champs Elysee of the East (....haha it's really not) which is a nice street with some nice apartments (but can be expensive). It's really all about location, looking and your own preferences.

Just search budapest apartments for rent and email the representatives. I recommend looking yourself and not going with the school apartment service.

Oh yeah, you can ask for furnished apartments (plenty out there). Mine has all the cooking utensils I need, fridge, chairs, desk, vacuum, sofa, bed, washer etc. Don't lug anything here. There's an Ikea for anything you might be missing.
3. I'm a lazy cook, thank goodness food is so cheap! There's an website that you can order food from that has a lot of different restaurants listed (netpincer.hu). There are some bigger grocery stores, but there are are smaller ones on every corner. There are cafeterias at the school building, but no meal plan. I haven't really kept track of how much I spend on food....but I eat out a LOT. It's definitely cheaper to cook for yourself, but there are plenty of reasonable options for eating out.

4. I don't know too much about this. If you have an unlocked phone then you can just bring it over and use it. I have no idea about what plans there are because I'm currently on just a prepaid plan right now that I'll change for next year.

5. I just use my Visa to withdraw cash to have on hand and to pay my rent/utilities with. Some banks charge a handling fee that's some ridiculous percentage so you have to send more..which is why I do it this way. I set up a bank account at the beginning of the year, but I don't use it. I use a combo of my visa (at the grocery store, restaurants, stores) and cash to get by. My parents deposit money into my account at home if I'm r

6. Anything in particular you want to know?
random tips
Don't bother bringing any textbooks at all from any previous studies. I did that and just took them all home in January. The only class I use any kind of book for is Anatomy. Everything else you can get here/will need to get here (like the school published lab books).

You can get all school supplies you need here. The standard paper/notebook size is not 8 by 11 so don't bring binders or loose paper. School supplies are cheap, and the notebooks are great.

I don't know anyone that has a dryer. Most places come with a drying rack. Dishwashers are pretty rare too.

Things people from Canada stock up on:
peanut butter, ranch dressing, sour candy, favourite shower products

That's all I can think of...but hope this cleared some stuff up for you!

06-08-2011, 04:29 PM
Sydd that list is really helpful thanks so much. I have lots of questions but I'll just ask a few.

What should I be paying for an apartment? I really just want to pay no more than 300 euros and maybe even split that cost in half if I share with my room mate.

When do you have breaks between semesters? I would like to know when is the best time to go back home and visit my family.

You mentioned the visa card, did you get the visa card from canada? do you just withdraw money from a bank with that visa card and your parents pay of the card purchases from back home? Is there a limit on your Visa card? How much cash are you allowed to take out at a time and what about big expenses such as tuition and textbooks (hard to pay if there is a limit on the visa right?)

If you don't mind I might ask a few more questions once they pop into my head lol. Thanks again.

06-08-2011, 05:32 PM
You're welcome!
It's really hard to say. The area I'm in, the people I know are paying between 400-600 euro a month. Farther from the metro, maybe 300. I don't know about people who are rooming together though (what they're paying). To be honest, rent doesn't come up much...plus not too many people I know have roomates they didn't already know from before. Sorry, I can't even ballpark a price for a 2 person place. You could try posting here or on fb or something about looking for roomates/look at roomate search listings. It might be easier to just research the places people have picked out/work with another person to search.

Yes, there's sort of a break during winter exams. What I mean by 'sort of' is that you make your own exam schedule. They have several different dates for each exam. You sign up for them yourself so you can spread things out as much as want and plan your flight home. The problem is, if you fail an exam, you'll need to retake it. When I was doing the winter exams (which start from around the 2nd week of December til the end of January), I didn't book my flight until I had 1 exam left. Several friends have had to push flights back. People will be going home ridiculously early, or not at all. It's hard to generalize because of exemptions (which make a huge difference).

There's a a few long weekends around national holidays (this year they were: oct 22, nov 1, march 11, march 15, april 13) and a spring break mid April for a week. Best time to go home is just once in the winter. You most likely won't make it home for Christmas, but New Years is possible. So get your exams done, and go home. You'll definitely need it at that point.

I just have a canadian bank VISA card, the same I've had for a a few years. I pay it off myself with my other accounts online. My parents are there as a safety net, they can deposit money in if I've run low. Most ATMs here let you take out make 100,000 ft at a time, OTP banks lets you do 150,000. I don't use my card to pay tuiton. But I do for textbooks. I do have a limit, but I pay it off monthly (or sooner). I always try to keep in mind how much I've spent.

06-09-2011, 01:54 AM
great tips sydd, it seems like there is a lot of flexibility with the exams, but that can also be troublesome when choosing vacation.

Perhaps I should just think about going home for summer vacation which is probably a couple of months long?

I have heard about these exemptions from african_child who goes to Debrecen, sounds promising

As for the apartment i have a friend who will be living with me so lets say we get a 2 bdr for 400 euros then that should only come to 200 euros each which doesnt seem too bad at all

06-09-2011, 04:05 AM
great tips sydd, it seems like there is a lot of flexibility with the exams, but that can also be troublesome when choosing vacation.

Perhaps I should just think about going home for summer vacation which is probably a couple of months long?

No problem, glad it's helping you!
It's definitely hard to do vacations, but then again, the pressure of needing to get out of here by a certain date may help you. It really depends what kind of student you are. I seem to recall reading somewhere that you have a science undergrad degree already? In that case, you obviously know how to study and have good work habits. I really, really don't recommend staying the whole year until the summer. If you don't go home, at least get out of the city for a bit, just to get a mental break. After weeks and week of exams, darkness (it got dark at 4:30 pm in the winter), cold, you absolutely need a little vacation. Take a long weekend (and spring break) to get out of the city for a bit when you can as well. It's hard here, but don't forget, you're also in europe!

Exemptions were different between medicine and dentistry (and also we have some different classes). For the first few weeks, that's all that anyone really talks about, and it shouldn't be difficult to figure out what you need to do/who you need to see.

As for the apartment i have a friend who will be living with me so lets say we get a 2 bdr for 400 euros then that should only come to 200 euros each which doesnt seem too bad at all

That sounds really good. Hope you can find something you like!

06-10-2011, 04:06 PM
To Sydd or anyone else who can answer this question:

The moment I land in the airport in Budapest what is the first thing I should do? Where should I spend the first night, hostel, hotel? Do I arrange this in advance and who may I contact? What else should I get done in advance before landing in Budapest? Any personal experience would be great.

I think I would feel lost once I land there since I dont know the language or the place.

06-12-2011, 02:38 AM
Ok, book a hotel/hostel like you would for a normal trip, it's of course possible to just show up and find some place, but a lot easier on yourself with all your luggage to do it before you arrive. I guess the tricky part is deciding how long you want to book your room for, cause when you find an apartment, you'll want to move in right away. You could always just book it for a short amount of time and ask if you could extend your stay if you need it. Pick somewhere central, or at least a very short distance to the metro.

Other than that, I guess just make a copy of important documents. Arrange something with a real estate agent/company to meet and view apartments.
If you're lacking supplies when you arrive you, some big malls (all on the pest side) may have what you need:

Westend mall - at Nyugati palyaudvar (a blue line stop) - has an electronics store, media markt
Arena Plaza - a little bit of a walk from Keleti Palyaudvar (a red line stop) - has a big tescos (like smaller walmart) - has groceries
Corvin mall - at Ferenc korut (blue line) - mostly clothes, has a CBA, a big grocery store

Ikea is at ors vezer ter on the red line

there's a grocery store at pretty much every corner, but the mall ones have more selection. each mall also has a 'papir' store for school supplies.

You don't have to worry about language too much. Everyone working in a position that might deal with tourists (ex. taxi, hotel services) can usually speak english.
Hope that helps! You'll get the hang of budapest pretty quickly.

06-12-2011, 04:02 PM
Thanks a lot man, yeah I was mainly worried about the English thing. But I guess like you said I can ask any of the workers. The street names are very strange too, don't know if I can remember or pronounce those. I'll make a list of these places so I can show someone in Budapest to get directions.

06-13-2011, 04:29 PM
Sry to jump in the thread but just wanted to say thanks too. I will be coming to Budapest this summer to persue the Dental Course at Semmelweis the coming September. I have personally found the information on this thread very useful!!

Thanks for your help!!

06-13-2011, 04:58 PM
Same here sydd... Nice tips, even tho i got 2 bros studying at semmelweis already :P

06-15-2011, 04:31 PM
You're welcome guys! Glad to help.

08-24-2011, 09:00 PM
Hi guys, just a couple of questions I'd like to add to this thread before I arrive in Budapest:

1. Does anybody know which mobile phone company has the best plans? Which plan is best and most affordable? I'm looking for unlimited texts, a decent amount of minutes, and perhaps data plan. Do Semmelweis and McDaniel students get discounts if they show their student card?

2. Which hotel is good to stay at near Budapest Airport, and which is the best way to get there? Free Shuttle, Paid Shuttle, Taxi? I am arriving very late in the night at the airport so I wonder if the shuttles run that late, and if there is access to room booking at this time.

08-30-2011, 05:10 AM
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09-28-2011, 03:03 AM
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