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Living in Hungary - A Guide for Students

by Dr Nathalie Mather-L’Huillier

What's it like to study abroad in Hungary?

At the crossroads between central and Eastern Europe, Hungary combines many of the attractions of both regions, although Hungary is very distinctive from its neighbours. Hungary’s strong culture spreads over several disciplines such as classical music, poetry, literature and folklore. A relatively small country, Hungary still has much to offer visitors, from the architectural and cultural delights of its capital city Budapest, to rolling hills and historic castles.

If, as many international students, you are planning to do a Masters delivered in English, you may think that you do not need to speak Hungarian. While this may be true for academic purposes, it will make your life much easier if you acquire some rudiments of Hungarian for your day-to-day activities. Any language skills you develop will be valuable so don’t dismiss it, especially as Hungarian universities often offer Hungarian courses at low or no cost.

Key facts for Masters students in Hungary

  • The academic year in Hungary usually runs from September or October until the following autumn or winter.
  • Around 17,500 foreign students study at Hungarian universities.
  • Hungary spends approximately 4.9% of GDP on education as a whole, with 1.0 spent on tertiary education specifically.
  • The majority of Hungarians speak Hungarian, though English and German are also spoken by significant numbers.
  • The currency of Hungary is the Forint (Ft).
  • Hungary has a population of around 9.8 million, about 1.7 million of whom live in and around the capital, Budapest.
  • Hungary is a representative democratic republic, with one parliamentary chamber.
  • Hungary has no official religion, but maintains a substantial Christian population and a strong associated heritage.

Culture, leisure and everyday life for Masters students in Hungary

There is much to be enjoyed in Hungary during your spare time. Café culture, museums and galleries will also be within your reach in all the cities where universities are present. Further afield, the vineyard-covered hills and historic sites make for great days out or weekends away. You can go hill walking, spend time by the Lake Balaton (one of the largest in the region) or even ski (don’t expect very arduous slopes though!). And Hungary is a great place to visit neighbouring countries, notably Austria with which it shares a cross-border rail network, and Slovakia – Vienna and Bratislava are readily accessible from Budapest.

Where to find out more

Your university should have ‘welcome guides’ for international students so it is worth consulting those when you are choosing where to study in Hungary. Equally, the city or region of your chosen university will have a website (although not necessarily in English) so you can get information about local services such as public transport or sports facilities. Once you’re in Hungary universities will offer support and advice to international students so don’t hesitate to contact them.

In terms of sources of information, other students can also provide a more personal view of their experience in Hungary. For formal information on visas, driving or legal issues, it is best to access official sources of information but if you are after a general view of the day-to-day living and studying in Hungary, then student forums or blogs can be useful.

Accommodation and living costs for Masters students in Hungary


Various types of accommodation are available to students studying a Masters in Hungary. Their availability will vary depending on the provisions at specific universities and the size of the local student population. As a new Masters student in Hungary you may find it useful to contact your university in advance and see if it's international office can assist you with finding accommodation. Some universities may maintain lists of local landlords with suitable student housing, or even reserve some of their own halls of residence (if available) for international students. Getting in touch with current students - or student societies - may also be helpful.

As a rule, you can expect one of three types of accommodation to be available to you as a Masters student in Hungary:

  • University accommodation, sometimes graduate residences will be available. It is unlikely that there will be provision for couples or families.
  • Shared private accommodation is quite common. It can be more expensive but depends on the area of the city you live in. You can expect to pay between 40,000 and 65,000 HUF (for a room in a shared flat) plus utilities.
  • Living on your own is the most expensive option but if you are bringing a spouse or family to Hungary whilst your studying, it may be the best option. Expect to pay around 65,000 HUF (plus utilities) upwards for a one bedroom flat.

If you are a non-EU student and are living in a privately-rented flat, make sure you ask the landlord for a Certificate of Property Ownership (issued within 30 days) from the Land Registry Office. This document costs HUF 6250 and it will be required when you apply for a residence permit at the Immigration Office (see below).

Cost of living

By European standards, the cost of living in Hungary is on the low side, which makes it an affordable place for postgraduate study. Hungary is not part of the Eurozone and the Hungarian Forint (HUF) is the official currency.

The Central European University based in Budapest has a handy cost of living guide on its website, and although it is mainly for Budapest, Hungary’s capital, this will give you an idea of what to budget.

As an indication of your budget for the duration of your studies, students requiring a visa to study in Hungary must demonstrate that they have at least 160,000HUF/month available to support them. This is the recommendation of universities too, although the amount you need will depend on your individual living standards.

If you are on a budget, remember that as a student, you can get discounts in university restaurants and cafeterias, public transport, cinemas etc. In your financial planning, it is best to exclude any predicted part-time employment income because it can be hard to get one if you do not speak Hungarian.

Other useful information for Masters students in Hungary

The above information should hopefully have given you a good idea of what to expect whilst living and studying in Hungary. Your choice of study abroad destination may seem adventurous to friends and family, but you won't be the only student taking advantage of one of Europe's growing university sectors and the many excellent postgraduate programmes it has to offer. There are a few other details you may want to read up on before setting off to study a Masters in Hungary. Click 'read more' for a brief guide to banking and transport for international students at Hungarian universities.


As a Masters student you do not need to have a Hungarian bank account. However, it can make your day-to-day life easier, especially if you are paying bills or if you are in receipt of a scholarship. There are several banks operating in Hungary. You are recommended to check what types of services are available to you as an international student, although your choice of bank may be largely influenced by the availability of English-speaking staff.

Each bank will have an application procedure but you are likely to need your passport (and visa, if applicable), proof that you are registered with the local police/town hall, proof of address and your university enrolment documents. You will most often be given a debit (ATM) card which allows you to withdraw cash and to pay for goods and services. Having a debit card is not free and you will have to pay an annual or quarterly fee. Note that if you withdraw cash from a cash dispenser which does not belong to your bank you may be charged a small fee.


Within cities, buses and trams will be the most prominent ways of travelling. Budapest is the only Hungarian city to have a subway network. Around the country, the railway and motorway networks are fairly well developed. The main airport is in Budapest, although there are a total of five international airports in Hungary.

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