Budapest is a popular place for many backpackers and expats to travel through. There are many different accommodations available depending on what you are looking for. You can score a cheap stay at a hostel or enjoy a nice night at a swanky hotel. Cost-of-living plays a part so make sure you compare prices and options to ensure you get the best deal available.
Hungary is not super cheap, but it is a good value for people who want to live a good life for less in Europe. Anyone moving to Budapest from a similarly sized city in Europe, North America, or Australia can easily cut their expenses in half. Other cities in Hungary have an even cheaper cost of living than Budapest.
Hungary's official currency is the forint (FT, HUF). It is best to pay in the local currency for most everything: services, food, shopping, tours, museums, etc.
Prices quoted in Budapest are based on 220 to the dollar, but it has been as low as 198 and as high as 250. Be sure to check the current rate in case of changes.
The cheapest way to eat in Budapest is from street food, fast food chains, and the cafes. You could get a cup of coffee from as little as 300 Ft ($1.12 USD). If humble, quick, and affordable places are more up your ally, then you could have a bowl of soup for 300-400 Ft ($1-2 USD) and an entrée for 800-1900 Ft ($3-7 USD). If you are looking for something a little more fancy and want to sit down and enjoy your meal, then you can do so for as little as 4,000 Ft ($15 USD) and have a nice cloth-napkin dinner with wine.
When you shop at the street markets, prices are on the low end for Europe. You can get bread from 26-67 Ft (10-25 USD cents) or a huge baguette for 270 Ft (less than $1 USD). Milk runs at 190- 240 Ft ($1 USD or less). 100 grams of cheese runs for about 270 Ft ($1 USD), sausage for 535 Ft ($2 USD), and pickled vegetables for less than 270 Ft ($1 USD). For less than 270 Ft you can buy 100 grams of any of these products: raisins, seeds, dried fruit, peanuts. You can also get a kilo of seasonal fruit, peppers, potatoes, radishes, cabbages, or carrots for the same price.
Good wine is celebrated all throughout Hungary, especially since it's so tasty and so affordable. You can find a decent table wine in the store for 535 Ft ($2 USD) and something of an even better standard at 1000-2100 Ft ($4-8 USD). You can also score a bottle of beer for 200 Ft ($1 USD or less).
The average cost of groceries for a family will range from 21,400 - 26,700 Ft ($80-100 USD) a week, which a steal for most expats.
One of the many perks of Budapest is the affordable housing cost. You won't find single people or couples who pay more than 134,000 Ft ($500 USD) a month. This is for a nice apartment right in the city. When you venture a little outside the city you could purchase a large house at the same cost. Most people in Budapest on average pay in between 40,000- 81,000 Ft ($150-300 USD) a month for an apartment. A four-bedroom single standing home outside of Budapest city limits: 250,000 Ft plus utilities. A four bedroom single standing home in district 12: 750,000 - 1,500,000 Ft monthly plus utilities
Cost of utilities varies depending on the size of the apartment and how much electricity is being used between the people living there. On average the monthly cost of utilities such as gas, electricity, heating, etc. can start at 40,000 - 50,000 Ft for a 2-person apartment. Internet can run an average of 3,838 Ft a month. A prepaid mobile tariff runs an average of 34 Ft a month.
There are many shopping areas in Budapest and you can definitely find a deal. Shopping centers sell everything you need in everyday life from food, cosmetics, clothes, books, and souvenirs. Budapest Markets are the best place to get authentic Hungarian gifts.
There is a wide range of different stores you can go to that are either name brand or family owned. If you are looking for a deal, then your best bet is shopping at second-hand shops that are all around Budapest.
Budapest also has a popular mall which host trendy fashion retailers such at Levis, Nike, Adidas, H&M, and more.
As far as costs go for clothes in Budapest, it ranges on where you are shopping. For a pair of Levi's it will cost 25.000 Ft, for a pair of Adidas trainers it will cost 20.000 Ft, and for a pair of average business leather shoes it will cost 18.000 Ft.
The housing market in Budapest is still rather low, which means it's a bad time to sell but a perfect time to buy. Before you search for a home in Budapest be sure to think about where you want to be. Is it close to the city center? Is it close to your work? Do you want to live on a lively or quiet street?
What kind of accommodation are you looking for? It is easy to find a nice two-bedroom apartment in the city for a fair price. If you are looking for a house you can even find a cheaper one just outside of Budapest. Is being near a school important to you? Are you interested in walking everywhere or do you prefer to drive or take public transportation?
It is also a good idea to map out where all of the local super markets, doctors, and schools are located near you if that is of interest. If you are looking for more of social experience, then it would be best to find a place near the restaurants, theatres, and clubs. Do you have a pet or children and want a backyard for them to play in? Then maybe a house in the more suburban areas will be a best fit for you.
Evaluate these factors in helping you understand the possible issues involved with accommodations in Budapest, and to find the home for you.
Since the cost of housing is so affordable in Budapest, it is not very common to have to search for a flat mate. However, students or short-stay visitors often search for flat mates to cut costs and share expenses.
You could find a relatively nice place at an even cheaper price if you share the flat with a flat mate. The cost will depend on the location and size of the house or apartment.
If you are looking for a flat mate then stay active and post of the Budapest Flatshare Facebook page. Roommates Budapest is another great place to find a roommate in Budapest and see if they will be the best fit for you.
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