I’ve been living in Budapest for three weeks. By no means is that long enough to get a true sense of a city, but my understanding of what life is like here, now exceeds the typical tourist experience. Over the course of my time here, friends from back home have been asking me about what my life in Hungary is like. Many of the questions have been recurring. Here are a few of the most common ones with my answers below:
What is your apartment like?
I live in a large, furnished, studio apartment that is in a fairly central location. It is tastefully decorated, features a Samsung Flat Screen TV with an extensive cable packaged that I never use. The internet speed here is blazing fast, probably the fastest I’ve ever had. I play a flat rate, renting from month to month, all utilities included. I even have my own washing machine, which is something I’ve never had before. I’d estimate that my housing costs are down by about 30 percent as opposed to what I was paying living in central Ottawa.
How easy is it to get around?
Public transportation here is phenomenal. As I mentioned, I live in a central location. I can get to just about anywhere worth visiting by walking for 20 minutes. But the public transit options here are just too convenient to pass up on. A monthly pass costs around $45. There are trams and buses that run frequently for 24 hours a day. There’s also a Metro system that now features four lines, each of which are unique in their own way.
Metro Line 1 is the oldest metro in continental Europe, opening in 1896. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 2002. Line 2 was recently upgraded and features modern carriages. Line 3 has old Soviet built cars from the 1970s. The brand new Line 4 just opened last summer and features stunning new stations, with great architecture.
In terms of the city layout, it’s very easy to find your way around. Most of the action happens on the Pest side of the Danube river (East, flat side), which is where I live. On the Eastern side (Buda) is Castle Hill and the hilly vistas that offer great views of the city. I’ve been able to find my way around without the use of a map on my phone. Budapest is much easier to navigate than many other European cities.
How is the language barrier?
Hungarian is generally considered to be a difficult language for outsiders to learn. Even Hungarians themselves admit that it isn’t easy. I’ve made an effort to learn the basic phrases and polite essentials, which seems to be appreciated. With the huge influx of tourists the city experiences, English is regularly spoken. I hear it all the time. From what I can tell, most of the people under 30 seem to understand and speak English. The language barrier has impacted my day-to-day life much less than I expected.
What are your days like?
Living in an apartment has allowed me to get into a routine pretty quickly. A typical day goes like this: I wake up in the late morning, usually around 11am (I don’t set an alarm). Get up, make a coffee, have some breakfast, read the news, check my emails, do a bit of work, etc. Then I go out in the early afternoon. I go to a local gym every second day. On other days, I run errands. I come home to work through the remainder of the afternoon and into the evening and nights. At night I usually go out. There is a thriving nightlife here, it doesn’t matter what night of the week and the drinks are cheap. It’s easy to meet people. Rinse and repeat.
Those are some of the more common questions I’ve received so far. If you’re wondering what Budapest is like to visit as a tourist, I was here last year and wrote about it. If you’ve got any questions about life in Budapest that I haven’t answered, leave a comment and I’d be happy to answer.