Retire Early in Budapest

Retire Early in Budapest
Budapest Things to Do!
–>Budapest Free Old Town Walking Tour
–>Budapest Day Tours
–>Budapest Best Restaurants
–>Budapest Nightlife (Bar Hopping) Tour
–>Budapest Best (and) Cheap Places to Stay
–>Budapest Flights, Buses, Trains
–>Budapest Livability Factors
–>Budapest Cost of Living
Best Travel or Retire Cheap in Paradise Locations in the World

Retire Early in Budapest

[kkstarratings]This is Dan from Vagabond Buddha. This is my retire early in Budapest guide.

When I think of the best places in the world to live cheap or retire early, Budapest definitely comes to mind. I first came here about a decade ago. Here is my private blog from my first visit a decade ago.

I was amazed at how beautiful and cheap it was to live here a decade ago. Like everywhere else, they have experienced inflation since my last visit, but it is still a bargain relative to many other European countries. In general, the further east you go in Europe, the cheaper it is. Maybe you should retire early in Budapest?

It is not as cheap as it once was, but you can still find a reasonable cost of living value here if you are willing to wander off the beaten tourist path and find your sweet spot. You just may find that you can retire early in Budapest.

I have matured since my first visit to Budapest. I am now able to appreciate the lines in an old city’s face. Perfection at $150 per day is no longer as interesting to me as character at $70 per day. That will sound like BS to those who don’t know me. However, I would take personally defined and realized character any day before any externally defined perfection.

If that idea hasn’t populated you yet, keep paying attention. I will try to corrupt you into the appreciation of a quality that requires a more nuanced listening.

Vagabond Buddha teaches you the best places to live cheap or retire early all over the world. We catalog the best live cheap or retire early in paradise locations in the world. Subscribe to Vagabond Buddha or our Youtube Channel if you would like to learn about the beautiful cheap places to live all over the world. Qiang Hui of Hobo Ventures has been discovering the world with me. She joined me about a year ago. Here is her Instagram account. She posts great photos every day.

Why has Budapest maintained so much cultural heritage?

Many of the buildings of historical significance in Budapest survived the World Wars a little better than some in Western Europe. Interesting older buildings are often saved from being torn down. If influential leaders of a culture perceive that a smaller older building with a rich cultural heritage draws more tourism and pride than replacing it with modern buildings, they will protect that building.

Many of the buildings in the cultural center of Budapest were not bombed or burned during the World Wars. They survived the wars fairly well. Then, after the wars, Budapest was controlled by the Soviet Union for 50 years. The Soviets did not have the capital or incentives to tear down these gorgeous city centers during their 50-year occupation. By the time these buildings were under the care of a capital-rich democracy, the buildings were old enough and interesting enough to be protected by the government. By then, the city planners were wise enough to preserve the cultural heritage of this beautiful city. Time was not as kind to Western Europe.

Western Europe was bombed and burned more completely in some areas. Many buildings needed to be rebuilt after the wars. Additionally, in the west, powerful landowners have had unchecked influence over politicians after the wars. In some cases, buildings of great cultural significance have been destroyed to put up large modern high-rises. That continues to happen in Western Europe, although the value of a building to the community as a whole is considered in many communities.

A part of town that could be worth billions to a city in tourism dollars over decades could be demolished because an individual property owner could increase their return substantially by building a high rise. A large donation to a few key politicians could result in demolished cultural heritage worth billions in tourism so that an individual property owner could make a few million more on a high-rise. The total costs in tourism dollars to the community is not always properly assessed. There have been many cases when cities did not consider the wholistic costs to a cities historical character and economic system caused by destroying cultural heritage.

Much of Eastern European architecture was able to remain interesting during the decades of Russian control. There just wasn’t enough capital floating around for this purpose while Russia occupied the east. Now that capitalism has returned to much of Eastern Europe, the beautiful old buildings are being refreshed to their original appearance instead of being torn down. In many parts of the World, city planners and the general public now understand the wholistic costs of corruption in government and are unwilling to allow graft to destroy their cultural heritage. Sadly corruption still plays a role.

I am excited to show you one of my favorite cities in the world, Budapest.

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Budapest Facts

Here are some interesting facts about Budapest. I am here now as I type these words. You can click on the below map and zoom into Budapest.

  1. Budapest is the largest city in Hungary with 1.8 million people and the 10th largest city in the European Union (EU). The metropolitan area of Budapest has 3.3 million people. 1 of every 3 people in Hungary lives in Budapest metro.
  2. The earliest history of what is now Budapest is the transformation of a Celtic settlement into the Roman town of Aquincum. A Roman legion of 6000 men was stationed here by 89 AD and had a population of 40,000 by the end of the 2nd century.
  3. The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote parts of his book “Meditations” as a form of self-improvement when he lived here from 170 to 180 AD. Aurelius followed the teachings of Stoic philosophy founded by Greek philosopher Zeno in the 3rd century BC.
  4. Stoics believed that a person’s philosophy should be judged by how they acted instead of what they said. The path to happiness for humans is found in accepting the present moment as it is. Not allowing ourselves to be controlled by a desire or fear of what is not presently so, during this moment. Not allowing ourselves to be controlled by a desire for pleasure or fear of pain. By working together with others to treat each other fairly and justly. Stoicism suffered a great decline after Christianity became a state religion of Rome in the 4th century AD.
  5. Hungarians arrived in Budapest in the late 9th century AD. Hungarians refer to themselves as Magyar, a name derived from the largest of the Hungarian tribes, the Megyer. Hungarians originated from the Ural Mountains about 2000 km northeast of Moscow. At the time they arrived in Budapest, they had been living in Romania in the Carpathian Mountains, about 650 km east of Budapest.
  6. Mongols invaded this area in the 13th Century. The grandsons of Genghis Khan arrived in 1241 and pillaged Budapest. Much of Europe only escaped the continued wrath of Mongolia because the Great Khan died in 1242. Upon learning of the Khan’s death, the Mongols returned to Mongolia to elect his successor. Europe was simply not prepared to defend against the high level of wrath that the Mongols visited upon them. The death of the Khan was the only thing that could have saved Europe at that moment in time.
  7. About 300 years later, the Ottoman Empire attacked, defeated, and occupied the Kindom of Hungary in 1526. For most of the 500 years following the Ottoman defeat, Hungary remained under control of foreign powers: Ottoman Empire (1525-1686), Holy Roman Empire (1686-1804), the Austrian Empire (1804-1867), and the Soviet Union (1945 to 1989). Even during the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867-1918), Hungary was never granted complete independence from Austria.
  8. The Austro-Hungary Empire was one of the world’s greatest powers until the start of World War I. It was the second-largest geographically in Europe after Russia and the third largest population after Russia and the German Empire. It was the fourth-largest machine building country in the world, after the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The Austro-Hungarian Empire dissolved at the end of World War I and crumbled into pieces. Hungary lost 70% of its territory, 60% of its population and most of its natural resources.
  9. Budapest has recovered nicely after gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1989. Budapest was called the world’s second best city by Conde Nast and Europe’s 7th best place to live by Forbes. Budapest is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

If you book my recommended flights, tours (Viator Tours, Get Your Guide Tours) or accommodations, you will pay nothing extra, but we will earn a small commission.

Budapest Free Old Town Walking Tour and Map

Here is the Youtube video of our Budapest Free Old Town Walking Tour.

Click the interactive Google Map on your smartphone to be guided on this tour.

Hungarian Parliament: This is the parliament for the country of Hungary. It was inaugurated on the 1000th anniversary of the country in 1896. The architecture is gothic and there are two identical meeting halls inside, only one is used for politics, the other can be seen on a guided tour. It is the largest building in Hungary and the dome is 315 feet tall. For non-EU citizens the entry fee is 6000 Ft., EU is 2400 Ft. That includes a tour guide in 7 different languages, each language has a set time you must attend. For the set tour times and to buy your tickets in advance, click here.

Millennium Underground Railway: This is the oldest underground railway on the continent, inaugurated on 1896. Only the London underground is older. This museum presents the history of the underground museum in an authentic setting, part of the underground decommissioned in 1955.

St. Stephen’s Basilica: The basilica is named after King Stephen who ruled Hungary in the 11th century. King Stephen’s incorruptible hand is housed in the reliquary. Hungarian law forbids building anything in the Budapest city limits higher than 315 feet. This basilica and the parliament tower are the only two buildings that reach 315 feet.

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Gresham Palace: In 1904, Gresham Life Insurance of London England built this Art Nouveau building and it was named after the 16th-century founder of the Royal Exchange in London. I remodel was completed in 2011 and now it is the Four Seasons Hotel in Budapest.

Széchenyi Chain Bridge: This bridge was completed in 1849 as the first permanent bridge across the Danube River in Hungary and connects the west Buda side to the east Pest side t form Budapest. At the time of construction, it was considered one of the modern World’s engineering wonders. It is called the Chain Bridge locally. The lions were carved in stone and installed in 1852. Nazi Germany destroyed the bridge during World War II and it was rebuilt in 1949.

Matthias Church: This is a Roman Catholic Church in front of the Fisherman’s Bastion. It was built in Gothic style in the late 14th Century. The previous version of the church built in in 1015 was destroyed by the Mongols in 1241. During the Ottoman Empire starting in 1541, this church acted as the main Mosque for Budapest. In the great siege of 1686, a wall of the church collapsed and there within was a statute of an ancient Virgin Mary. The morale of the Muslim soldiers collapsed and they lost Budapest to the Holy Roman Empire, the next day.

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Fisherman’s Bastion: This is a neo-gothic terrace built on castle hill in Budapest in 1904. The seven towers represent the 7 Magyar tribes that settled in Carpathian Basin in 895 AD. This is one of the best views in Budapest. It was given the name Fisherman’s Bastion because the fisherman’s guild protected the Buda side castle walls.

Buda Castle: This is the palace of the former kings of Hungary. It was first completed in 1265, about 20 years after the invading Mongols returned to Mongolia to elect a new Khan. The present manifestation of the castle was completed in about 1769 when Budapest was under control of the Holy Roman Empire. However, there are remnants of several intermediate versions that can be seen on the grounds. There is a circular bastion from a renaissance era villa built by King Matthias Corvinus in the 15th century. The balance of the medieval castle was destroyed in the siege of 1686 when the Holy Roman Empire took control of Hungary from the Ottoman Empire. The latest version of the castle built in 1765 experienced major improvements during the great economic expansion of Hungary ending in 1912. The castle suffered great damage during World War II but was finally restored in 1966.

If you book my recommended flights, tours (Viator Tours, Get Your Guide Tours) or accommodations, you will pay nothing extra, but we will earn a small commission.

Best Budapest Day Tours

Guided Tours

Viator Tours:

  1. Budapest (Danube) River Cruise
  2. Budapest Full-Day Trip From Vienna
  3. Wine Country Tour with Dinner from Budapest

GetYourGuideTours:

  1. Skip the Line: Széchenyi Spa Full-Day
  2. Budapest Day and Night Sightseeing Cruise
  3. Budapest Parliament 45-Minute Guided Tour
Self-Guided (Cheap Bastard) Tours

If you are an adventurous sort, you should try one of my self-guided (cheap bastard) tours.

Weekend in Bratislava, Slovakia: While in Budapest, you are just a 2.5-hour bus ride to Bratislava. Buy your roundtrip bus ticket to Bratislava here. Then jump on the subway to get to the Budapest Bus Station. Just click Google Maps here to find the subway station nearest to where you are staying in Budapest. Visit the Vagabond Buddha Weekend Getaway for Bratislava to find out where to stay and what to do in Bratislava. You can even go on my free walking tour while you are in Bratislava.

Weekend in Vienna, Austria: While in Budapest, you are just a 2.5-hour bus ride to Vienna. Buy your roundtrip bus ticket to Vienna here. Then jump on the subway to get to the Budapest Bus Station. Just click Google Maps here to find the subway station nearest to where you are staying in Budapest. Visit the Vagabond Buddha Weekend Getaway for Vienna to find out where to stay and what to do in Vienna. You can even go on my free walking tour while you are in Vienna.

If you book my recommended flights, tours (Viator Tours, Get Your Guide Tours) or accommodations, you will pay nothing extra, but we will earn a small commission.

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Budapest Best Restaurants, Street Food, and Surprise Experiences

Dang Muoi Pho Bistro: This is delicious Vietnamese food for about $6 USD per entree. They have meat and Tofu dishes.

Duran Szendvics: These are little sandwiches that cost $2-3 USD. They make a great cheap snack or lunch.

La Trattoria: This place has a nice lunch special. A slice of pizza and a beer for $4 USD.

Padthai Wokbar: Respectable Thai food for about $8 USD per entree.

Tüköry Étterem: This is traditional Hungarian Food for around $8 USD per entree. Make sure to

Vagabond Buddha’s Kitchen: We stayed with friends while in Budapest. Qiang Hui and Renee cooked some traditional Chinese dishes. I made a few pasta dishes and a few omelets. Here are the markets where we shopped: Lidl, Spar.

Budapest Nightlife (Bar Hopping) Walking Tour and Map

We were able to wander freely at night in Budapest on our walking tour without any issues at all. This walking tour will walk you by 30 of the best places in town to people watch and have fun. The last stop on the tour is in a “ruins” bar. The building itself is not restored. They just remove the debris, add a few tables and lights, a DJ booth, and a dance floor. Ruins bars are the avant-garde thing to do now in Budapest. Just click the below map or ==>this link<== on your smartphone to get started.

If you book my recommended flights, tours (Viator Tours, Get Your Guide Tours) or accommodations, you will pay nothing extra, but we will earn a small commission.

Budapest Best (and) Cheap Hotels

You should stay in the old town area of Budapest, if possible. The following recommendations go from most to least expensive.

Aria Hotel Budapest: Super luxurious with amazing quality and location.

BpR Universo Paralello Apartment: Budget price, but great location and ratings!

Hostel The hostels are getting pricey in Budapest.  This one is still cheap.

Airbnb House Share:  We stayed with freinds in Budapest.  But this Airbnb seems like a nice combination of location at reasonable price.  (If you are new to Airbnb, use this code http://www.airbnb.com/c/dbell50 for a big discount).

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Budapest Flights, Buses, Trains

Buses: Get your bus tickets to Budapest online here. You can use Google Maps here to find directions to the closest subway stop to where you are staying in Budapest.

Train: You can also check to see what trains are available from various parts of Europe on Google Maps and on Eurorail here.

Budapest International Airport: You can fly to Budapest and take a taxi to your accommodations in Budapest. It takes about 25 minutes and costs about 7900 Ft ($30 USD). I have provided a list of 5 places to stay in old town Budapest, see above. You can also use Google Maps to take a bus from the airport to your accommodations for about $2 USD.

Flights (International or Domestic): I always use Skyscanner to book domestic and international flights. If you allow a range of dates to fly and return, you can sometimes save hundreds of dollars. Get a local SIM card for your smartphone when you land in Hungary. Get your phone unlocked before leaving your home country.

Please book using my recommendations. 🙂 If you book my recommended flights, tours (Viator Tours, Get Your Guide Tours) or accommodations, you will pay nothing extra, but we will earn a small commission. This is why we are able to keep creating these travel guides.

If you would like to live cheap or retire early in paradise, learn how to make money online, or how to live internationally possibly with less money than you spend at home, please subscribe to Vagabond Buddha or get a free copy of my Ebook.

Budapest Hungary Livability Factors

This is Dan from Vagabond Buddha. These are the factors I use to decide the desirability of living somewhere. They are my livability factors. A factor can be rated high, medium, or low. High is the best possible rating for a factor.

Walkability: High. I love being able to walk to get my daily needs. Budapest is totally walkable. You won’t need a car. There is also a great subway and bus system so you won’t need a car.

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Internet Reliability: High. The WIFI in our Airbnb was 7.3 MBPS download speed and 0.9 MBPS upload speed. Speed Test. That is the wireless connectivity within our room at a friend’s house. You will get about double that upload speed if you are closer to the router.

Food: High. Budapest has all of the major foods of the world so food shouldn’t be an issue for you. Example pricing is below under cost of living.

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Weather: Medium. July is the warmest month with an average high of 80F, 27C, and it cools down tonight to 62F, 17C. This means you may not need to run your AC at night to sleep on many days. January is the coolest month with an average low of 29F or -2C at night and it warms in the day to an average of 37F or 3C. The rainy season is May through August and the month of November when it rains about 2 to 3 inches (45 to 63 mm) per month. Because the average low for the day is less than 50F, 9C for 8 months of the year, I am labeling Budapest as merely medium for weather desirability. This could be high or low for you depending on your comfort zone,

Things to Do: High. You will not get bored here if you are a city person. You are also a short distance from all the summer sports in the summer and winter sports in the winter. You are also right in central Europe so everything is a short flight away if you love to travel.

Social Considerations: Medium. You can get away without learning Hungarian but you will be living a sheltered life. We have been here a few weeks and have been able to do whatever we wanted because all businesses in the tourist area were we are staying have at least one person that speaks English. If you want to live in a more moderate area you will struggle without learning Hungarian.

Expats Penetration: High. There are English speakers from all over the world here.

Real Estate: Medium. One Bedroom apartments in Budapest are priced starting around 100K Euros and the sky is the limit. You might be able to find a fixer-upper for cheaper but you will more likely end up spending over 150k Euros up to 300k Euros depending upon location. You should rent for the first few years before deciding to buy. Make sure you love the place and want to stay before buying. You can find studio apartments for rent starting around 500 Euros per month plus utilities.

Budapest Desirability Score: If you are a person who would like to live in a larger culturally rich city with a moderate cost of living, Budapest is a good pick. I love Budapest so I would give it “High Desirability.” But that is only because I would fly south for the winter. If I wanted to spend 9 or months per year in one spot. I would rate this medium desirability.

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Budapest Hungary Cost of Living

If you try to rent over the Internet speaking only English, you may not get the best prices. I guesstimate $550-660 USD for a decent 1 bedroom apartment in Budapest, Hungary.

Monthly Cost of Living, Budapest, Hungary ($USD)

Expense

Cost

Low

Medium

High

Airbnb House Share

$23.00

0

14

30

Moderate Hotel

$35.00

0

12

0

Backpacker Hostel

$9.00

30

3

0

High End Restaurant

$16.00

1

4

8

Neighborhood Restaurant

$8.00

30

44

48

Food Cart

$4.00

30

12

4

Subway/Train/Metro

$1.30

20

26

8

Bus

$1.30

20

10

0

Taxi/Uber

$5.00

6

10

20

Total

Per Month

$728.00

$1,329.80

$1,328.40

Total

Per Day

$24.27

$44.33

$44.28

The above table is just my notes from my time here. The above numbers are for one person and do not include alcohol, tours, or extras. I do not guarantee these prices for anyone.

For more information about how the above “Cost of Living Monthly Multiplier” works, please visit the bottom of this page at Vagabond Buddha.

Please subscribe here or on our Youtube Channel if you would like to receive the costs of living estimates for our next Hungary stop, or for other countries in the world.

Please book using links the links to my recommended flights, tours (Viator Tours, Get Your Guide Tours) or accommodations, you will pay nothing extra, but we will earn a small commission. That will allow us to keep making these travel guides and videos for you.

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This is Dan of Vagabond Buddha. Thank you for stopping by. The world is your home. What time will you be home for dinner?

Warning: I am not offering you these prices.  These are just my notes and estimates from the time of my visit and this post.  Your costs will likely be drastically different if significant inflation or deflation occurs or the market changes after this post.  I will not update these numbers until I am on the ground again here, if ever.   

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