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What are 7 reasons to emigrate to Hungary?

7 reasons to emigrate to Hungary
Buying a house in Hungary is often associated with the thought of emigrating. The article highlights good reasons to emigrate to Hungary. The selection is based on our own experiences and many conversations with our customers. Surely every emigrant has personal reasons that have higher or lower priority. It is often life events such as retirement or divorce, the realization of life dreams or simply frustration with the previous living environment. Whether as a pensioner a house on Lake Balaton or as a dropout a house in Hungary with a farm. Everything is possible. Here are seven good reasons to love the country and buy a property in Hungary to live there.

High quality
of life
  • Relaxed and serene life style
  • Reduced work stress
  • Family and free time in the center
Rich culture
and heritage
  • Long history with painful defeats
  • Unbroken national pride and cohesion
Conservative
values
  • Broad support for conservative politics among the population
  • Upholding Hungary's interest even with conflicts in the EU
Low
crime rate
  • Significant decrease in criminal offenses in the last 10 years due to tightening of the law
  • Significantly lower crime rate than in Germany
Moderate
cost of
real estate
  • House costs on average about 60% of Germany
  • Real estate as an investment opportunity with significant increases in value in recent years
  • Maintenance costs less than 50% compared to Germany or Austria, less than 30% compared to Switzerland
Low cost
of living
  • Cost of living about 40-60% lower than in Germany or Switzerland
  • Food prices have risen sharply in 2022/23
  • Costs for service staff are significantly lower than in German-speaking countries
Easy
integration
  • On the back of historical reference to German-speaking immigrants, these are welcome
  • Due to tourist orientation, many German-speaking Hungarians in the Balaton region


1 High standard of living

While life in Germany, Austria and Switzerland often mostly revolves around work, career and income, in Hungary one finds more of a mixture of southern serenity and appropriate wage work. On the other hand, for owners of houses in Hungary in the countryside, work for personal well-being in the garden, logging, animal husbandry are a necessary part.

For immigrants who are used to being organized, it may seem unusual at first that appointments promised by craftsmen are seen more as a possibility than as an agreement. But once you get used to the serenity, life becomes relaxed. Family, housework and personal well-being are more important than stress. It can then happen that the cleaning lady, annoyed by the well-intentioned criticism, resigns, even though she has hardly any income opportunities in the country. The main thing is no stress.

Discussions about politics or controversial social issues do not usually determine the agenda. Brussels is far away, and in the countryside even Budapest is far away. So it is hardly surprising that during the Corona phase, life in the country continued almost unchanged and hardware stores were never closed. Pragmatism is important.

In return, this does not mean that politicians in Hungary hide in their offices or do not act in the interests of the population. On the contrary, you can sometimes meet the President of Parliament at a village slaughter festival or the national political prominence at any kind of folk festival. In any case, you are close to the people and, if you wish, also approachable.

For many Hungarians, the standard of living has increased significantly in recent years. Last but not least, family policy has contributed to this by promoting young families with children, through reduced loans or credit waivers, through the abolition of income tax or tax refunds for young workers or through the promotion of home ownership for young families. 

2 Rich culture and history1

As one of the oldest countries in Europe, Hungary has a rich, albeit often troubled, history, tradition and rich culture, which to this day is rooted in pride and national consciousness.

Important historical milestones of Hungary

1000
  • Founding of Hungarian Monarchy
1526
  • Battle of Mohác
  • Defeat of the Hungarian Army against the Ottoman troops under Suleiman the Magnificent
1848-1849
  • Revolution and liberation struggle of the Hungarians against the Habsburgs
1918
  • Proclamation of the Hungarian Republic
1920
  • Signing of the Trianon Treaty
  • Partition of Hungary after World War I
1949
  • Foundation of the Hungarian People's Republic
  • Rise of the communist regime
1956
  • Popular uprising
1989
  • Proclamation of the Hungarian Free State
2004
  • Joining the European Union

The Magyars are originally a tribe from Central Asia who settled the territory of Hungary in the 9th century. They consisted of nomadic warriors led by King Stephen I, the first king of Hungary, who was first recognized as such by Pope Sylvester II.

The defeat at the Battle of Mohác is undoubtedly one of the low points in Hungarian history. The defeat in August 1526 against the Ottomans was the main reason for the subsequent conquest of large parts of Hungary by the Ottoman Empire.

March 15th is a public holiday each year to celebrate a historical highlight - the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. What began as a series of mass protests and uprisings in the spring and early summer of 1848 aimed at gaining greater freedoms from the Austrian crown to obtain, culminated in a solid war of independence between Hungarian troops and the Habsburgs. After several victories against the Habsburgs, Lajos Kossuth declared Hungary's full independence in April 1849. But in August he had to step down again after powerful Russian units came to the Habsburgs' aid. On October 6, 1849, 13 Hungarian generals were executed in Arad, although they were guaranteed safe passage. October 6th is also a national day of remembrance for the Arad martyrs in Hungary. Because the Austrian generals celebrated the event by clinking beer glasses, clinking beer glasses remained banned in Hungary for 150 years, which is still considered impolite among older Hungarians today.

In 1918, in the course of the disintegration of the Habsburg monarchy, the Republic of Hungary was proclaimed under the leadership of Mihály Károlyi. Károlyi was a prominent Hungarian statesman who led the Hungarian Revolution of 1918-1919. Although King Charles IV renounced all shares in state affairs, the Hungarian military did not succeed in keeping the still formally existing Hungarian kingdom together. One reason for this was the chaotic political situation and the dissolution of the army, which subsequently weakened Hungary. The Czech Republic and Romania occupied parts of Hungary, and the Croats joined Yugoslavia. Parts of Old Hungary came under Romanian and Serbian control.

As part of the losers of World War I, Hungary was forced to give up two thirds of its territory in the Treaty of Trianon in 1920. While the Hungarian delegation was largely excluded from the peace negotiations until the signing, benefiting countries were able to manifest fortunes in their favor with secret negotiations. This confirmed, in addition to the facts already established, that parts of Hungary fell to Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia. as a result, German West Hungary was also given to Austria. To this day, the treaty is considered one of the greatest thorns in the wound of history - the bleeding heart of Hungary. In contrast to Germany, however, Hungary continues to regard its Hungarian citizens abroad as belonging to Hungary in addition to the Hungarian national territory. You can hold a Hungarian passport and also vote in Hungary.

After the Second World War, most of the parties were dissolved and finally only the united party of socialists and communists MDP stood for election. In August 1949, the constitution based on the Soviet model was adopted. A Stalinist course was followed by those in power until 1953, before a slow liberalization took place after Stalin's death.

In 1956 there was a popular uprising in Hungary, which is considered one of the most important events in modern Hungarian history. The uprising began on October 23, 1956 in the Hungarian capital of Budapest and quickly spread throughout Hungary. Five Soviet divisions bloodily crushed the uprising. As a result, the Hungarian Prime Minister was sentenced to death and hanged. 100,000 Soviet occupation soldiers remained in Hungary. 200,000 Hungarians left the country.

The first opposition groups formed in Hungary in 1988, and at the same time Hungary continued to slide into economic difficulties. While complete freedom of travel was introduced in 1988 and the maintenance of the border fences was discontinued, probably due to economic constraints, in 1989 the dismantling of the border facilities began. With joining the Geneva Refugee Convention in mid-1989, refugees no longer had to be deported to their home countries. Thousands of East Germans took advantage of the liberal tendencies in Hungary to first occupy the West-German embassy and also to hang out en masse on the campsites and await the events with feverish anticipation. On August 19, 1989, the time had come. The border gate between Hungary and Austria was symbolically opened at the Pan-European Picnic. What was intended as a symbol became the spark for the demolition of the Iron Curtain, the collapse of the communist systems and the reunification of West and Central Germany. [At this point the author, as a former occupier of the Permanent German Representation in East Berlin and political  prisoner, gets teary-eyed]

Then, on October 23, 1989, the Republic of Hungary was proclaimed, and the age of socialist Hungary ended.

In 2004 Hungary joined the European Union after a popular referendum. True, the participation was only 45.6%. However, 83.8% voted in favor of joining, which corresponds to 36% of all eligible voters.

3 Conservative value base2

The conservative values ​​in Hungary are reflected in politics and everyday life. National identity and patriotism go hand in hand with an emphasis on the family as the fundamental unit of society and the preservation of a long tradition of Christianity. While the world seems to be breaking away from all traditions and values, Hungarians are aware of their long and also painful history and know why they have found their way back to their conservative roots after years of socialists and communists.

The ruling party in Hungary, Fidesz, promotes conservative policies aligned with these values. In alliance with the Christian Democratic People's Party, it won 2/3 of the parliamentary seats in the last four election years of 2010, 2014, 2018 and 2022, and its policies are thus confirmed by the broad masses of the population.

Significant steps have been taken in family policy in particular in order to cope with demographic change. Numerous programs were set up to support families and benefits such as child benefit, free childcare and tax breaks for families with children were introduced. Kindergartens and schools were built and renovations of apartments and houses were supported.

As a result, the birth rate per woman rose from 1.23 to 1.59 children between 2011 and 2020.

4 Low crime3

The crime rate in Hungary has generally decreased in recent years. According to the Hungarian Central Statistical Office, the crime rate in 2020 was about 3,201 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, a decrease of 2.3% compared to the previous year. In 2010, 3,840 cases per 100,000 inhabitants were registered. According to the Federal Criminal Police Office, the number of cases in Germany increased from 7,118 in 2010 to 5,753 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the same period.

A tightening of criminal law in 2013, together with an increase in the maximum penalties for certain offences, have contributed to this development in Hungary. For example, the maximum sentence for theft was increased from 3 to 5 years and in 2018 a mandatory prison sentence was introduced for thefts worth more than EUR 400 and burglaries. Also in 2013, the so-called 3 offenses rule was introduced, according to which a person who is convicted three times in 5 years automatically receives a significantly higher prison sentence. In 2019, the limitation periods were also extended. The zero-tolerance policy and strong deterrence is then clear from the verdicts where, as in 2013, a homeless person was sentenced to 11 years in prison for repeated theft and robbery in the last case worth 9 EUR.

At the same time, more resources were made available to the police for law enforcement and increased border security has helped to reduce cross-border crime in recent years.

Everything contributed to the fact that, for example, the number of thefts has almost halved in the last 10 years. Conclusion: Your house in Hungary is safe.

5 Moderate real estate prices4

Whoever wants to buy a house in Hungary is interested in real estate prices. The comparison of real estate prices is always somewhat limping, since the specific locations in two countries are hardly comparable and the average values ​​can hardly be applied to individual cases. If you want to compare average prices, you can at least roughly differentiate between urban and rural locations. In both cases, Hungary is around 60% below the prices in Germany. If I compare Braunschweig with Veszprém, then Veszprém is 30-40% cheaper. Budapest, on the other hand, would be 9% more expensive than Braunschweig in the city center. The differences to Switzerland are even greater. Here Hungary is on average 80% cheaper.

In particular due to the increasing foreign demand in preferred regions, the price for a house on Lake Balaton and in Budapest has increased significantly in recent years. From 2010 to 2020 there is an average price increase of 183% for Hungary. From 2020 to the first quarter of 2022, it went up another 56%. The price trend for houses in Hungary, especially in the preferred locations, is unbroken, but this also entails a certain investment protection.

Where Hungary is still significantly cheaper, despite persistent inflation, is the cost of maintenance for a house. Here Hungary is about half the average cost compared to the EU. For Germany and Austria, the household maintenance costs are around 46%, compared to Switzerland only 26%.

6 Low cost of living5

Compared to Germany, the cost of living (excluding rent) is about 37% lower. Restaurant prices are about 40% lower and grocery prices are about 30% lower. Similar values ​​apply to Austria, albeit somewhat below the German brands. Compared to Switzerland, the cost of living (excluding rent) is about 64% lower. Restaurant and food prices are around 68% below Swiss values.

On the other hand, it should be noted that in 2022 food prices in Germany increased by 20% and in Hungary by an enormous 50%, while prices in Switzerland remained stable with a 4% increase.

It is common in the Hungarian countryside to cultivate your own garden. Small animal breeding and regular slaughter in the village can also be found. With a bit of diligence, at least in rural areas, both help to cushion the rise in food costs. Local weekly markets are also usually cheaper than the numerous grocery chains.

Due to the high VAT of 27%, some electrical household appliances or work equipment are sometimes more expensive than in Germany or Austria.

All costs associated with manual service work are massively cheaper in Hungary, especially in rural areas. A statistical indicator is the level of the minimum wage, which in Hungary is a little under 60% compared to Germany. For example, you can employ simple unskilled workers for about 5 EUR/h. Craftsman prices have risen sharply in recent years because good craftsmen are hard to find. Many work abroad. Nevertheless, hourly costs of 10-20 EUR are still much cheaper than in Germany, Austria or Switzerland.

If you are a bit flexible, you can live much more cheaply in Hungary using a good mix of shopping in Hungary and Austria combined with own production of food and local market shopping. 

7 Easy integration6

The integration of German-speaking foreigners in Hungary is usually relatively easy as there are historical, cultural and linguistic ties between Hungary, Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

The ethnic Germans in Hungary date back to the late 17th century when farmers and craftsmen from various areas of Germany, Austria and Switzerland were invited to resettle areas depopulated by the Turkish wars. The second major wave of Danube Swabian immigration was in the 18th century, when they were recruited by the Habsburg monarchy to settle in the southern regions of Hungary. As a result of these waves of immigration, many German-speaking settlements developed in Hungary that still exist today.

After the Second World War, many Danube Swabians were expelled. Those who remained often transferred their estates to Hungarian relatives, integrated and maintained the legacy for many years. Today, the proportion of the German minority is estimated at around 10,000 people, whereby the answer to the question is optional in the statistical surveys, so the value should be higher. In the meantime, unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer people of German descent who keep the culture alive with German choirs or events, especially in some village districts.

Finally, the cultural similarities between Hungary and the German-speaking countries are remarkable. Both countries have a rich tradition in music, literature, art and science, which facilitates exchange and cooperation.

According to official statistics from the Hungarian Central Office, around 9,500 people from Germany, Austria and Switzerland live in Hungary. Since this number reflects only the officially recorded residents, the real number is likely to be significantly higher.

From personal experience, you can get by in Budapest more with English and in the country and at Lake Balaton because of the tourist orientation with German to make ends meet. In the Balaton area in particular, there are not only restaurants but also a number of craftsmen who speak German.

My recommendations to start with:

1. Get acquainted with some cultural customs and traditions to understand life better

2. Learning a few words of Hungarian before you come to Hungary will make it easier to understand your Hungarian neighbors. Just a few words show the other person that you are trying, despite the difficult language

3. Every good real estate broker has a network of craftsmen and the necessary contact points to make the start as problem-free as possible

4. Socialize with locals and other expats

In summary, it can be stated that Hungary, in addition to being the country of emigration by heart, can also rationally bring forward some notable positive points. We can only recommend everyone who wants to emigrate to put Hungary on their list of favorites.

Author: Dr. Peik Langerwisch

After studying business administration with a degree in business administration and a magna cum laude doctorate in management theory, the author worked in global management consultancies and banks for twenty years and has now used his expertise as a real estate agent for real estate in Hungary for several years.

Career and Expertise
 
Sources1)  
Wikipedia: Königreich Ungarn
Wikipedia: Ungarische Revolution 1848/49
Wikipedia: Asternrevolution
Wikipedia: Vertrag_von_Trianon
Ungarn Heute: Trianon: Das blutende Herz Ungarns
Wikipedia: Volksrepublik Ungarn
Wikipedia: Referendum zum EU Beitritt Ungarns
 
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Statista 2023, Statista 2023: Fertilitätsrate in Ungarn
 
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Központi Statisztikai Hivatal
Pesterlloyd.net: Obdachloser 11 Jahre Haft
 
4)
Numbeo2023: Property investment country comparison Germany and Hungary
Numbeo 2023: Property investment city comparison Braunschweig and Veszprém
Numbeo 2023: Property investment country comparison Switzerland and Hungary
ungarn-immobilien.ch 2022: Entwicklung der Immobilienpreise in Ungarn im Vergleich zu DACH Ländern
 
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Numbeo 2023: cost of living country comparison Germany and Hungary
Numbeo 2023: cost of living country comparison Austria and Hungary
Numbeo 2023: cost of living country comparison Switzerland and Hungary
Eurostat 2023: food price monitoring in the EU
Eurostat 2023: Monatliche Mindestlöhne in der EU