by Radoslaw Fenc
In a series of short articles, I am going to give you some advice on what to do before and after the arrival in Budapest for studying. As a former beneficiary of the Erasmus student exchange project, I spent the whole semester in this beautiful city. Obviously, I am offering my point of view as an Erasmus student, but some information may be useful for other people such as students or tourists as well.
As soon as you are accepted as an Erasmus beneficiary in one of Budapest’s universities, it is time to think about the accommodation. First of all, it is good to estimate the amount of money you are willing to spend on accommodation there. Of course, you are going to get a grant from your uni, but the sum varies. It is safe to assume that the money you get from the programme is just enough to cover all your accommodation expenses. This way, you are able to start looking for a suitable place to stay.
There are several ways of finding an apartment/room/place in a student hostel. I started from the social media. It is the easiest way since the information about vacancies is given right to you. Some people often leave their flats/rooms and they recommend them to others, sometimes including also some photos.
It is a safe way to find a flat and you can also have the opportunity to talk to the people who used to live there, so you get the first-hand information about the place you are probably going to spend some time in. So, the best way to do it is to find the relevant group on Facebook and start writing posts on the group’s timeline. You can also follow the current events on the group because there is always a possibility that something pops up. You might also want to check out the ESN, or the University’s Facebook group since they always have some nice offers.
Dormitories: Not too good but very cheap
There is a possibility to get a room in a dormitory. In this case, there are two options: a state-owned dorm, with rather poor standards, but are very (I mean it!) cheap (around 80 Euro per month). But, as I said, the conditions are quite poor. The other option is private student hostels. The living conditions are very nice, but the prices are similar to those of a single room in the city centre. The other flaw in general is that the halls of residence are usually on the outskirts of the city, and you have to commute to the University. You may also apply for a place in a room with greater advance. On the bright side, you do not care about the bills.
The favourite option: Private rooms and flats
The last, but in my opinion, the most chosen option is private rooms/flats. There is a number of websites in English which give you all the necessary information and contact details of the flat owners. Unfortunately, the sites in English normally give higher prices for the same type of room than similar sites in Hungarian. Thus, if you know somebody who speaks Hungarian, ask him/her to help you with finding a flat.
A normal, down-to-earth price for a single room is around 170 Euro plus media expenses. The owners usually want a two-month advance deposit as payment for the first month and cover for eventual damages or unpaid bills. Normally, the deposit is returned after the contract, but you have to be aware that some of the flat owners may not be very honest.
Let us recapitulate the main points. First, you estimate the amount of money you are willing to spend on accommodation. Second, you use the Internet (social media, ESN, or other) to find a flat. Take into consideration the need to commute because it may save you a lot of time (though the public transport in Budapest is magnificent). Next, contact the flat owner/agency or the manager of the student hostel and talk about the details. It is very important to ask about the final price you will have to pay each month. The Hungarian ESN website or its facebook page may help you find an attractive place to stay as well as the following websites:
To give you a general idea, student living costs are estimated at a minimum of 540 EUR/month in 2018 in Budapest.