Budapest: history, fine art, classical music and umm… black culture?
Meet Starr. Born and raised in the US, she fell in love with a Hungarian guy in LA, and from there they decided to relocate to her husband’s home country. Finding little information on relocating to Budapest, and even less about the black culture there, she founded her blog, Black Girl in Budapest.
Here she shares her tips on life in the Pearl of the Danube:
My daughter and husband are citizens and have the country’s free health coverage called TAJ. I personally have to pay out of pocket.
Although I’m a resident, I’m not eligible for the free healthcare program. When I’m a citizen in a few years I will be.
As an expat, I prefer taking my child to private clinics which don’t take the TAJ card. This makes things more expensive.
l just became aware that one of the top private clinics that cater to expats charge us 50% more than Hungarians. While they claim it’s very clear of on their website, it is not transparent. So yes we are receiving top notch care, but it’s at our own cost, because we don’t speak the language.
In the end, I personally love getting my daughters transcripts in English, but we make Hungarian salaries and should be charged as such.
I always say travel smart. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s not right.
Don’t go down that dark alley if it doesn’t feel right. If there’s gambling happening at a major monument in the city, don’t join in. It’s most likely a scam.
While I always feel safe in Budapest, there are things you must know. Taxi drivers will rip you off. So use the app taxify-bolt which is like uber. It’s state regulated and they give you the price before you ride.
Pick pocketing does happen, even to locals. Don’t put your phone in you backpack in front of the entire train, or sling it on your back during rush hour.
Because I’ve traveled smart, none of these things have ever happened to me. I feel safe because I am safe! But that’s the rule of thumb in any city, even in my home country.
Cost of living
The average monthly wages are $1,000 USD. This generally covers rent, public transport passes, food, phone bill, and can include some events, like going to the opera or even hitting up the cool Budapest ruin pubs.
While this is low, most people manage well enough to live a full life.
As a tourist, your money will go far…
A cappuccino and pastry will cost you about $2 USD.
A restaurant’s daily lunch menu will set you back about $3-4 USD and include a soup and an entree.
Then for dinner my husband and I can have a cocktail, appetizer, main course and a dessert for about $30 USD. Of course that’s not something we do every night, but in the states this would be $100 USD, easy.
You can find a great Airbnb or a hostel from $25-$50 USD a night.
My mom once looked at her bank statement after a week of visiting and was shocked that she had only spent $75 USD. Of course I’m not a tourist and I took her to the best places to eat that weren’t in the city center, she stayed with me for free and I cooked a few meals at home. But you get the picture… the dollar goes far.
The expat community is the best. So many events, classes, gatherings and outdoor spaces for families to visit.
My daughter and I do ‘mommy and me’ classes every morning. It’s a great way to get the day started and connect with other moms.
We come home for lunch and in the afternoon I either have a babysitter so I can work or we schedule play dates with other moms.
The weekends are dedicated to family time where we either bike up and down the river or visit a park. We also love to travel around Hungary as well.
It’s a family oriented city.
Hungary is split up into two different subcultures. The older community that lived under the communist regime is more reserved, old fashioned and often doesn’t speak English. The generation of 40 years and under are more liberal and generally speak English.
And people work hard here, but they also play harder.
The expat community is great.
We expat moms can relate to the older person yelling at us in Hungarian that our child needs a hat if there is the slightest breeze. We can laugh at how different things are in this country.
Plan how you will get to the city center before you arrive.
The service industry has some of the rudest people ever. Laugh it off. Remember, they’re not making enough to serve you with a smile. Lol!
Walk everywhere!! You’ll fall in love with this city.
What would take three steps in America, takes about 15 more steps here. This goes for the simplest thing like depositing money in your own bank to filling out paperwork at a government office. The country is changing, but it’s still behind the times in most ways.
Finding what you need can be challenging. My friend joked that she felt like a hunter gatherer when she moved here. You hunt for the simplest tool or item and when you find it, you stock up.
The expat groups are good for this. You ask for something and often someone knows where to find it.
Best things about life in Budapest
It’s surprising how multicultural it is as a city. I meet people from countries I’ve never heard of almost every week.
People love to visit or move to Budapest. As an eastern European country it’s one of the best places to live.
I love every minute of living here! The city lights up in gold at night. There are so many events to attend. There is something for everyone.
Follow Starr’s adventures in Budapest at blackgirlinbudapest.com