Many people have asked us this question, sometimes in awe that we were actually moving abroad but sometimes because we had not chosen the usual popular Spanish destinations that most English Expats retire too.
Boasting epic castles, volcanic mountains, spectacular lakes and fragrant lavender fields, Hungary’s enthralling landscape is straight out of a fairytale. Amid picture-perfect scenery, you’ll find plenty to do that exhilarates and rejuvenates in equal measure, from unwinding in thermal spas to sipping the wine region’s fiery reds, travelling back in time at romantic ruins, or trying watersports on the lake.
I read this description of Hungary recently and absolutely agree with all these points but there are so many other reasons to love and live in Hungary.
My husband and I were fortunate enough to be able to leave England before retirement age, have sufficient financial stability and also a sense of excitement to embark on a new adventure. We also agreed that if we did not move when we did, we never would. Many people have dreams but not many people are brave enough to carry them out.
We did extensive homework, researching different countries, exploring what would work for us. Everyone has different needs and expectations and it took us quite a while to agree on what we both wanted. Our research was around Montenegro, Bulgaria and then finally Hungary. We focused on European countries mainly because residency would be easy and travelling backwards and forwards to England to see family would not be a mammoth task.
We both agreed we wanted to live in the countryside, although I took a bit of persuading as I had always been a ‘city’ girl and never experienced the rural life. Eric visited Hungary many times on viewing trips to get an idea which part of Hungary would be best for us, I visited too but later when we had finally decided on which area.
The deciding factors that confirmed Hungary was ideal for us are listed below:
- The incredible low cost of living compared to England. Our pound goes much further here.
- Crime appears to be non-existence in rural areas, although pickpockets in Budapest are a problem.
- Health care and dentistry is excellent as we have both discovered from first hand experience.
- The climate is extremely favourable with definite seasons throughout the year. Amazingly hot summers and cold snowy winters.
- There is an Expat community in Hungary which was and still is invaluable. We have made many good friends and exchange tips and advice about all things Hungarian.
We obviously came across stumbling blocks along the way but have managed to adapt to our new lifestyle easily. A few issues we encountered and resolved are as follows:
- Leaving family in England was hard but with the help of Whatsapp, Facetime and Social Media we can stay in regular contact.
- Hungarian language is notoriously difficult to learn but with the help of Duolingo, Mondly and Google Translate we manage quite well. Practise, Practise is the key.
- Transferring money from England initially was expensive until we discovered cheaper alternative, Transferwise is a good online option or currency exchange bureaus offer good rates too.
- Hungary likes paperwork and every procedure requires mountains of form filling (residency, driving licence, healthcare etc). It is wise to enlist the help of a translator (which we did) to help with this.
- Foods are different here, but we like that, some may not and the adjustment can be hard. If you are really missing ‘home’ foods you can buy most things online (The British Pantry) or get your visitors to bring them over for you from England.
In conclusion, we are extremely happy we choose Hungary to spend our retirement years. Friends visit us and agree we have made the right decision and love where we live. Added to that the food and wine is good, the farmers markets are awesome, the weather is glorious, the heritage and culture is fascinating and life here is certainly a lot slower than living in busy, always raining England!
Are you an Expat living in a different country? How did you decide where you wanted to live? I would love to read your comments.