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What you need to know before Relocating to Hungary

Moving to Eastern EuropeMoving to Hungary

Hungary has a continental climate, with warm summers and chilly winters. While many exiles may find the colder months of the year quite trying, the warmth of the Hungarian people definitely makes up for it. Hungary is home to some of Europe’s friendliest people, offering both abundant economic opportunities and a relaxed pace of life that appeals to expats seeking a balanced life abroad.

Hungary is a wonderful migrants destination with a stable economy and a government intent on expansion and change, particularly when it comes to adopting European Union guidelines and requirements.

More and more people are moving to Hungary from all over Europe. Some arrive because of work, some to challenge themselves, some for the culture and others for the living expenses. However, it is far from easy to settle here, so please check some of the most important things that you need to look out for when moving to Hungary.

BANK HOLIDAYS IN HUNGARY IN 2020

If you run a business or you work in Hungary, you should get familiar with bank holidays, which are days when most people are not required to work. The default work days are Monday through Friday, while Saturdays and Sundays are rest days. Apart from this latter, there are 12 more bank holidays and a few extra rest days each year.

Hungarian bank holidays and rest days in 2020

  • 1 January 2020 (Wednesday): New Year’s Day
  • 15 March (Sunday): commemoration of the revolution in 1848
  • 10 April – 13 April (Friday – Monday): Good Friday through Easter Monday
  • 1 May (Friday): Labor Day
  • 31 May – 1 June (Sunday and Monday): Pentecost
  • 20 August (Thursday): St. Stephen’s Day or the Day of the New Bread
  • 21 August (Friday): rest day to make a 4 days long weekend 20 – 23 August
  • 23 October (Friday): commemoration of the revolution in 1956
  • 1 November (Sunday): All Hallows’ Day
  • 24 December (Thursday): rest day to make 4 days long Christmas holiday 24 – 27 December
  • 25 – 26 December (Friday – Saturday): 1st and 2nd day of Christmas
  • 1 January 2021 (Saturday): New Year’s Day

This year (2020), many bank holidays fall on weekends, which means no change for your Hungarian company if you and your employees work on a Monday through Friday basis. However, please note that Sundays that are bank holidays are different from regular Sundays. On bank holiday Sundays, shops are typically closed, and if you need employees to work, different wage supplements will apply.

Since in Hungary people prefer to have long weekends to having one rest day during the week if a bank holiday falls. In exchange for the extra rest day, a Saturday has declared a workday to keep the yearly number of workdays the same.

Working Saturdays in Hungary in 2020

  • 29 August (for the long weekend 20 – 23 August)
  • 12 December (for a long Christmas holiday of 24 – 27 December)

Special days that are not bank holidays

Although only the above listed days are bank holidays and rest days in Hungary, please keep in mind that there are also some “short” days, when most employees are allowed to leave early, shops close around noon and even public transport switches to night mode around 4 p.m. These are:

  • 24 December (Thursday): Christmas Eve (which is also a rest day, but shops are open)
  • 31 December (Thursday): New Year’s Eve
  • School holidays over the school year 2019/2020 Hungary
  • Autumn holidays 26. 10. 2019 – 31. 10. 2019
  • Christmas holidays 21. 12. 2019 – 5. 1. 2020
  • Easter holidays 9. 4. 2020 – 14. 4. 2020
  • Summer holidays 16. 6. 2020 – 1. 9. 2020

WHEN DOES THE SCHOOL YEAR IN HUNGARY START AND END?

Primary and secondary schools

In Hungarian primary and secondary schools, the school year starts on the 1st of September and ends on the 15th of June. The two and a half months in between are the summer holidays, where no regular teaching takes place, but many schools organize special summer courses or camps.

Universities

At universities, the exact start of the academic year can vary a little, but it is usually divided into two semesters. The Autumn/Fall semester starts in early on mid-September depending on the university, and classes run until early or mid-December. At the end of the semester, in December and January, the exam period takes place. Classes in the Spring semester start in early or mid-February and run until early or mid-May, with the exam period taking up May and June. University students also get roughly two months of summer holiday.

Short breaks

In addition to the long summer break, there are some shorter, usually week-long school holidays in Hungary. The fall break usually takes place around the 23rd of October of the 1st of November, both of which are bank holidays in Hungary. The spring break is scheduled to coincide with Easter (which does not have a fixed date but usually falls at the end of March or the beginning of April) in most schools and universities.

Since the exact timing of the school breaks can vary depending on your school or university, always make sure to ask exactly when these are scheduled at your institution.

Be a legal alien in Hungary

If you are from a country that is a Schengen zone member, then you can stay in Hungary for 90 days without legal consequences. After that, you will need to register, which takes hours. If you are lucky enough to be working for a multinational company, then your employer will help you along the way to speed up the process. When you set out to the registration office, check your pockets: you need your passport or ID, address card or tenancy contract, bank statements proving that you can provide for yourself, 3-4 passport photos and a 1000-forint fee stamp.

Also, Hungary has a universal healthcare system funded by the National Health Insurance Fund and citizen taxes. The latter is automatically deducted from the salary of workers employed in Hungary. Some companies offer a private healthcare insurance policy to ex-pats because it covers a greater range of medical services and drugs.

All foreigners are eligible for free emergency health services. The emergency lines in Hungary usually have English-speaking professionals. Call 112 for a 24-hour English speaker.

Surprisingly, Hungary has a reputation for a recreational destination with high-quality medical services. People from all over Europe come to Hungary for its thermal springs. Foreigners enjoy a variety of thermal water pools and recreational centres all over Hungary.

Some tips for saving money on your car insurance

Although you may not like having to pay for it, when you’re involved in an accident and have car insurance, you’ll be glad you went through the rigmarole of getting it.

One thing’s for sure though, it shouldn’t cost you the world to protect your finances and car when an accident occurs. When it comes to saving money on car insurance though, you need to know the right way to go about it.

If you look hard enough, you can find discounts on your car insurance. It’s worth keeping in mind, though, that most companies don’t, with good reason, advertise their discounts widely. You need to ask companies directly about the various discounts, as they are unlikely to come out and let you know if you’re entitled to them or not.

Consider walking places, using a bike or even public transport. If you can do this, you will be able to show your insurer that you are committed to driving less and therefore deserve to benefit from a reduction in your rate.

By working hard on your credit score – paying off bills in a timely manner, avoiding defaults on existing payment schemes and just keeping your finances in the black rather than the red, you should find that the cost of your insurance is reduced.

Personal income tax in Hungary

*Taxpayers

Private persons resident in Hungary are subject to tax liability in respect of all their income whether earned in Hungary or abroad. The tax year is identical to the calendar year.

*Taxable income

Save the exemptions provided by law, all types of income of private individuals are subject to income tax. The Personal Income Tax Act (Act CXVII of 1995 and its amendments, hereinafter PIT) distinguishes between the following categories of income in the case of private individuals:

incomes to be consolidated: income from activities other than self-employment, income from activities of self-employment and other incomes to be consolidated;

incomes taxed separately: (e.g. income from capital gains, income from private businesses and income from the sale of movable and immovable assets).

Income from activities other than self-employment

Income from non-independent activity includes activity carried out in employment, the activity of the leader of an economic organization, and the activities of the private individual who is an owner of a company.

Income from activities other than self-employment includes, in particular, salary and remuneration received by private individuals in payment for such activities, and income paid for personal participation and for activities as senior officers and elected office-holders. As a rule, these costs cannot be deducted from the revenue.

Income from self-employment activities

As a main rule, outside the framework of one-man businesses, income from independent professional activity shall be calculated as the difference of all revenues and expenditures. Private individuals with an independent professional activity include primary agricultural producers, private entrepreneurs, lessors of property, appointed auditors and employees in a commissioned employee status.

General administration (filing of tax returns, payment of taxes)

The completion of tax returns is based on self-assessment.

The filing of tax return is based on self-assessment. The tax authority prepares a plan for the tax return of private individuals who are not entrepreneurs on the basis of the available data. This plan becomes final if the private individual accepts it or he/she does not file the tax return in any other way.

Employers and payers are obliged to deduct taxes and/or tax advances from wages and other payments. Private individuals are obliged to pay income tax and/or income tax advances themselves if their income is from sources other than payers or employers.

Private individuals must file their annual tax returns by the 20 May of the year following the given tax year, private individuals required to pay VAT and individual entrepreneurs must file by the 25 February of the following year. The possible outstanding taxes are also to be paid by these dates, taking the already withheld tax and paid tax advance into consideration.

It is always fun to meet new people and to explore new places where you can have fun. If you prefer the old-fashioned way of meeting people while out for a drink, you can head to the ruin pubs, one of the main reasons why tourists come to Budapest.

After accommodation, the next largest expense for most people in Hungary is food, which accounts for approximately a quarter of the average Hungarian resident’s monthly salary. Expats longing for a taste of home may well find something to satiate their cravings at a Hungarian supermarket but imported goods can be very expensive. Ideally, expats should buy only local goods as this can bring the final grocery bill down drastically, as can shopping for fresh produce at local markets.

There are many good restaurants in Hungary tailored to a variety of budgets, so the amount spent on eating out really depends on which choice of restaurant. It’s entirely possible to eat out on a small budget, though this will, of course, cost more than cooking at home.

Remember that tipping is mandatory in Hungary and should be taken into account when budgeting to eat out.

Imported wine and beer is pricey, but expats fond of a drink or two will be pleased to know that Hungarian wine and beer is of good quality and is much friendlier on the wallet.

Understanding the Hungarians

An expat in Hungary knows real Hungarians when he meets them. They’re always polite, even in the most casual occasions. For example, someone who is already in an elevator will push the right floor number for the one who has just entered. Love of family is another endearing thing about the people of Hungary. They particularly enjoy family gatherings, especially when everybody has started to become busy and to enjoy each other’s company has become almost impossible. During these parties, they like to drink beer and be merry, although they are also known for being wine lovers.

Although they like the idea of merrymaking, Hungarians can also be hot-tempered. It is said that Hungarian emotions always come in extremes – one can be very cheerful one moment and furious the next. It is important for those moving to Hungary to know about these common traits among the locals, so they know what to expect and how to react.

To make a decision related to the relocation, it is better to investigate the pros and cost of moving to Hungary first. Thus we have prepared advantages and drawbacks of living in Hungary reported by Hungarian nationals and expats.

Advantages

  • Low cost of living.
    Expats and foreigners moving to Hungary will find out that the prices for both products and services are really affordable whether it concerns food in supermarkets or the apartment rental.
  • Superb connection with other European countries.
    Budapest hosts the head office and the main hub of Wizzair, one of the largest low-cost airlines in Europe. Thus, there are many flight destinations to almost any part of Europe.
  • Fantastic sightseeing opportunities.
    Apart from Budapest, Hungary offers multiple UNESCO protected historical sites and numerous thermal spring resorts all over the country.

Disadvantages

  • Language gap.
    Hungarian is a genuinely unique language, so it is difficult to learn and understand it. Expats who immigrate to Hungary need to consider learning at least an alphabet and basic phrases in Hungarian.
  • Low salary rates.
    The average pay rate in Hungary is almost twice lower than in developed European countries. While the cost of food and accommodation is not high, imported goods could be really expensive for both local people and legal residents.
  • Crime and poverty.
    Unfortunately, many people in Hungary live on the verge of poverty, while Budapest hosts an enormous number of homeless people.

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