The relatively low living costs in Budapest mean that students’ money goes much further than in countries like the US or UK, enabling students to concentrate on their studies in comfort, usually without the need to find part-time employment to finance their studies. Eating out is relatively cheap and is affordable to students on a regular basis, well-stocked supermarkets are reasonably priced, while the comprehensive public transport system connects all corners of the city for very low prices.

Budapest’s buzzing nightlife is the most exciting in the region and a night out in Budapest doesn’t dent the wallet in the same way as it does in most EU capitals. Cultural activities are abundant and available for all at remarkable prices. A night at Budapest’s awesome Opera House need not be reserved for a special occasion.

Cinema tickets remain much cheaper than in the US and UK, with many films screened in English.

Both supermarkets and small neighborhood convenience stores abound in Budapest and you will come to rely on both. Food stores usually open early and the larger supermarkets stay open into the evening, those at malls usually until 9:00 p.m. Some neighborhood grocery shops are open 24 hours—look for the Non-stop sign. Open air farmers’ markets are best to visit on Saturday mornings, although many are also open during the week. The large market hall at Fővám tér near the Szabadság hid (Freedom Bridge) is a city landmark, contains all kinds of vegetables, fruit, meats, and, fish, and is a good place to show visitors. In all types of food shopping, it is wise to have your own plastic bags in which to put your purchased foods. You can always buy a bag at a larger store, but small grocery shops and the open air markets assume you will have your own.

Overall, day to day living doesn’t break the bank in Budapest.


Transportation

Budapest is progressively becoming more bicycle friendly with a number of dedicated cycle paths opening recently. Shops selling new and used bikes can be found in abundance in Budapest. Launched in 2014, a bike rental service enabling bikes to be rented from anything from 30 minutes to a year can be found in many central locations:

http://molbubi.bkk.hu/ (Hungarian language)

For a wider range of bikes to rent check out Budapest bike: http://budapestbike.hu/

Parking rates vary around Budapest. Click for the following link for detailed information: http://www.budapest.com/travel/getting_around/parking_in_budapest.en.html


Location

Populated by the Hungarians since 896 when Magyar tribes swept in to claim the Carpathian Basin, Hungary is a treasure trove of history waiting to be discovered in the heart of Central Europe. Buzzing Budapest bounces to a modern beat in which traces of times past can nevertheless be heard all around. Budapest, one of Europe’s most stunning cities, sits astride the majestic River Danube, and actually marked the division between the cities of Pest and Buda, until they were joined in 1873. Budapest offers all the big city comforts for without blowing your budget. Baroque Eger and Pécs, the European City of Culture 2010, are other must-see cities. Balaton, Central Europe’s largest lake, offers the chance to unwind in spectacular surroundings.

A list of national holidays is available here: http://visitbudapest.travel/budapest-info/public-holidays/

Hungary is home to unique products that constitute a colourful part of your experience: http://visit-hungary.com/culture/hungaricums


Banking

OTP Bank (www.otpbank.hu) is the leading bank in Hungary, while other important banks also offering all the usual banking services include Budapest Bank (www.budapestbank.hu), Erste (www.erstebank.hu), MKB (www.mkb.hu), CitiBank (www.citibank.hu), Raiffeisen (www.raiffeisen.hu) and UniCredit (www.unicreditbank.hu).

ATM machines are available at all banks, on major streets, and in shopping malls. You will receive Hungarian forints (officially written as HUF) at that day’s current exchange rate. Always exchange currency at banks or at designated currency exchange shops. Be sure to take your passport with you when exchanging currency at banks, and keep all receipts for exchanges since you might need to show them when obtaining your residency permit.

Never deal with any individual offering to exchange money on the street—you will be cheated, since these men usually slip less or even worthless money in with the bills they are giving you in “exchange.”


Telephones/Telephoning

For their convenience and safety students are urged to buy a mobile (cellular) phone. A “mobil” (as it is called in Hungarian) can be purchased with a debit card system installed, thus avoiding a monthly contract fee. Mobile phones can be purchased in phone stores on major shopping streets and in shopping malls. There are 3 mobile networks in Hungary at the moment:

Telenor: 20

Vodafone: 70

T-Mobile: 30

Mobile numbers and Budapest landlines have 7 figures. If you want to phone a landline from your mobile or another mobile network, you have to use +36 to switch.

E.g. if you want to phone the school, you have to dial from your mobile the following: +36 1 413 3025

There are also debit calling cards for making inexpensive (in-country and international) long distance calls.  They (for example, Neophone, EZ Phone, and Barangoló) can be purchased at larger newsstands at a minimum of 2000 forints’ worth of time and can be used from either mobile or land line phones. The caller uses an access number to begin the call, enters the card’s account number, then the desired phone number.  These cards provide flexible use, but check the various rates they charge for international calls.