Congratulations: you picked the perfect spot for your Erasmus. Budapest is one of the most student-friendly capitals on the planet. It’s big enough to keep discovering for month after month, but small enough to stay navigable and loveable. Also: AFFORDABLE. Yum-yum!
So Budapest Erasmus students, prepare to live in downtown, within walking distance of the best parties in the city, super close to all the cool Budapest events throughout the semester. With this post we’ll help you get ready for the experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
Budapest has a lot more layers than you realize
Did you know that Northern Buda was a Roman settlement founded in 89 AD, and still has the ruins of a beautiful little amphitheater and the Roman military barracks? Or that the conquering Turks built amazing Turkish baths on natural spring water wells, some of which operate to this day? Or that the gigantic Communist statues that ruled the landscape 50 years ago have been relocated to a really cool Statue Park? You’ll never feel like you’ve seen everything even if you stay here for a whole year or more! Read our post on the best places in Budapest as a teaser.
Apart from almost 20% of Hungary’s own population, Budapest today is also home to a large expat and exchange student community – students especially love the low prices, and its fast-changing cultural and party scene that caters to every taste. There are over 30 universities and a student community of almost 100 thousand in Budapest – you can get by with English in most aspects of daily life, although locals really appreciate if you learn a little Hungarian! Learn to say Köszönöm [ˈkøsønøm] – = Thank you, and you’ll definitely begin to make friends on day 1.
Study in Budapest: Erasmus accommodation in Budapest
Erasmus Budapest should start out with a place to stay. Usually finding the right place for the right price takes 5-10 days, but it’s best to get started before everyone else (mid-August for the fall semester and late-December or early January for spring). Nowadays for foreigners and locals alike, Facebook groups are the best options for flat-hunting: here are the top recommendations. Usually plenty of people who search for Erasmus student accommodation look for roommates, so no worries even if you arrive alone, you’ll have no problem finding the right people. Most apartments in the groups are near the most popular universities, and also close to all the fun bars and clubs in town!
Don’t forget: studying abroad will change you as you grow as a person. To go the right way, you have to find the right people you want to share your journey with. Take enough time to set up the perfect environment for your life-changing time abroad. You can also contact the university in advance for help – they usually assign buddies for incoming Erasmus students, who volunteer to help you with logistics, making friends and taking your first steps at the university and the city.
Hostel for Erasmus in Budapest
For the first few days, we recommend Maverick Hotel and City Lodge, right in the heart of the city. As you’re looking for the best place to rent, our staff will be happy to give you insider tips about locations and prices.
Getting around Budapest: Transportation
The pass may be cheap compared to other cities, but this doesn’t mean the service sucks. In fact, Budapest has a pretty impressive system of buses-subways-trams-trains and even loveable red trolley buses that are all covered in the monthly pass and can get you anywhere in the city.
Getting a student job
OK, so life will be much less expensive, but I still need a student job. Actually, your best bet may be to capitalize on your language skills: teaching or tutoring languages pays a lot better than regular student jobs. Teachers often charge 3-5000 HUF or more (10-16 euros and above) an hour depending on the language and their experience. You don’t want to know how the wages at McDonald’s compare to that.
What’s going on in the city?
A lot. And even more. It’s highly recommended that you should look beyond the Erasmus network, to make good Hungarian friends, maybe through student associations like AISEC, or through exploring the city in search of great people and good fun. For a start, read our post on must-see places in Budapest, and find out about the best events on the biggest Facebook groups for international exchange students in Budapest: ErasmusPest as well as some others. Watch out: if you take part in all the cool events, you won’t have any time for sleep (let alone study!). Whatever way you take, we’re always looking forward to meeting you during your Erasmus Budapest!
Beware: pickpockets and overcharging cab drivers
It wouldn’t be fair to leave out the things that you have to be careful with. As in any city with so many visitors, busy streets and crammed subway trains, pickpocketing happens in Budapest too. Don’t count money in public or leave your wallet or valuables in sight.
Also, some cab drivers have a tendency to overcharge. The city sets the official price, which everyone has to adhere to, but some cabs (especially the ones you hail and not call by phone) try to cheat. Hint: always call an established taxi company such as Fő Taxi, 6×6 Taxi, or Taxi 4 (this one is actually easy to remember: +36-1-444-444, where 36 stands for Hungary and 1 for Budapest).
How much will life cost?
You’ve just fallen in love with Budapest and you know you want to spend every night out – so you start wondering how much your stipend will be enough for. We have good news: life in Budapest will be much cheaper than anywhere in Western or Northern Europe. Cheap beer starts at 500 HUF (or 1.5 euro) at a bar, and quality craft brands on tap range between 6-1500 HUF (2-5 euros). A monthly student pass for public transport costs 3450 HUF (11 euros), and you can get a decent lunch for 1200-1500 Forints (4-5 euros). Fancier meals can cost 10 euros and above in good restaurants. You can find an even more detailed list below.
Prices in Budapest: the ultimate guide
Hungary is part of the EU, but still uses its own currency, not the euro. (Forints are abbreviated as Ft. or HUF. We converted the prices to euros too for easy reference.)
- Meal in inexpensive restaurant 1500 HUF/5€ Lunch menu deal, 2100 HUF/7€ Regular meal
- Domestic beer at a store 220 HUF/0.7€ Regular lager, 350 HUF/1.2€ More sophisticated brands
- Beer at a student-friendly bar, from 500 HUF/1.5€
- One-way transportation ticket 350-400 HUF/1.3€
- Monthly pass with student discount (you have to have a valid student ID) 3450 HUF/11€
- Taxi 300 HUF/1€ / km + 700 HUF/2.3€ fixed fee per ride (don’t hail cabs, remember to call an established company that will charge the official price!)
- Fitness club monthly membership 9000 HUF/28€
- Cinema ticket 1400 HUF/4.5€
- One bed at Maverick Hostel: From 8€/night
- One double bed room at Maverick Hostel: From 34€/night
- One bedroom apartment in city center 500€
- One room in shared flat in city center 220€