So why Budapest? Canadian Expat answers!

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Views From Budapest Eye
Views From Budapest Eye

Everyone seems to be moving away from Hungary looking for work, school or a new life. It’s true, we get asked everyday why would anyone choose to move here if given the options between Canada and France?

Well the answer is surprising. Many people with Hungarian backgrounds are moving back to their heritage even generations after their families have moved away. The main reasons are the opportunities for entrepreneurs to start up business and if are you are a native English speaker like ourselves; the doors seem to open.

We left Canada in 2011 searching for a more balanced life. What many people don’t know is that life in Canada is incredibly expensive, when you consider the price of owning a home in Vancouver in the millions of dollars for a starter home, and an organic apple costs about 1€. Many people live to work and spend long periods of time each day driving to and from work. The people I know had a hard time paying their bills and have more than one job, working in the evenings and weekends to makes ends meet, and many people had a hard time sitting together each day for even one meal.

Our life was busy, and not always easy making work schedules and day-care mesh. The only reward was the money we had to spend on things. And once the novelty of shopping for things wore off, and we drank as many Starbucks as we possibly could, we were left with the realization that life had very little meaning above your triple macchiato with pumpkin scone. Of course this is a metaphor for commercialism, the empty over spending that North Americans are known for. Gluttony of over consumption, something in Europe they seem to have a better handle on; at least for now. As the western ideologies creep into Europe, eventually they will all be under the spell of shopping as the national sport.

So we sold off our life. My husband’s business, the cars and the house, I quit my job after twenty years and we packed up the children ages 5 & 7 to search for a life based on more time together. In an ideal world we would work from home, and have plenty of time to show the children Europe and all the things we read about in books.

After months of researching and exploring Europe, we ended up in southern France. We had the dream to open a bed and breakfast, and rent out part of our home to tourists and live in the warm sun near the beach. We bought and renovated a villa. We both went back to school, and learned to teach English as an alternative language. We learned about tourism, and started businesses in the field; my husband in the wine industry and myself in the linguistic homestay business. Life was very good for five years. The kids learned French like the natives, we made friends and enjoyed our new life.

Nonetheless there was something about being Hungarian that kept drawing us back to Budapest and our roots. Every chance we got we were back exploring, and for the kids and myself we were learning the difficult Hungarian language and discovering our heritage as people who live here not just vacationing. It’s very different visiting a beautiful city, and imagaining to live there. Once you live in a country you can see the similarities of people, and how the customs play an important role in the culture.

I loved the healthy high quality food readily available to us. In North America there is GMO, something banned in the EU entirely. Here there are reasonable food prices so even the poorest can afford high quality foods.

So again, we sold everything off. Our villa, our cars, our furniture and we packed it all up again to move to Budapest. The idea was to bring our English language business here and help Hungarians learn through immersion. Our LivEnglish program is nothing new in other countries all over the world, but it is new in Hungary.

We welcome students one – three week at a time, maximum 4 students, to live with our Anglophone family. We teach them English with morning lessons that are created to their needs, and in the afternoons we go on fun activities learning by subject-based language. In the evenings we have English movies with subtitles. I make all the meals from scratch, and quite often the students like to learn how to cook and bake with me. Throughout the day the students are always with us, talking, communicating and living English. That’s where the name LivEnglish came from. They are immersed in an intensive setting just like going to the US or the UK, except they remain close to home.

After a week their improvement is remarkable.

Since we started our homestay program in 2011 we have welcomed hundreds of children into our home, and have created a learning system that truly works with all children using technology, innovation, projects, grammar, and writing lessons.

Hungarian and French school systems are both very academic, and our program is complimentary in getting students up to their levels quickly. We treat our students with great respect, and they become part of our family environment. Many students come back year after year, and our memories with them continue as they grow and keep in contact with us. Our program keeps growing, and eventually we are going to need more Anglophone families who live in Hungary to work for us. We have been completely full hosting students since our arrival in 2016.

This is our third year in Hungary and I have no regrets. Hungarians are amazing people with generous hearts and my experience with them has been nothing but positive. I would recommend Hungary to any expat looking for a home.

My Expat life – That’s Hamori! Eva.

For more information on our homestay business here in Hungary please follow the link to our website LivEnglish  


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2 COMMENTS

  1. Andrea, First, HUngary is a great place to live, but it is not at all like Canada or even France. I arrived with low expectations and had visited here many times visiting family and friends, so I did not have culture shock like so may do. I knew the areas, the food, had a good feel of different neighbourhoods I liked etc.. Work might be the trickiest bit, because most Hungarian firms only recognise Hungarian diplomas, unless you find a headhunter in your specific field of expertise. Starting business here too can be a whole lot of red tape, so firm understanding of the language is a good idea, but if you do not have that, at least a little to get by. Our life here is rich, full of lovely people, lots to do, and forests, lakes and parks at every turn. It is close to other places, central to travel, and the food is of very high quality f you can afford it. If you have more specific questions I am always around! Thanks Eva x

  2. Hello, my boyfriend and I are seriously considering moving to Hungary, my family is Hungarian and I have always been drawn there, we too have realized that besides always shopping for something, working and getting the next bigger thing life is passing us by with no joy. Are you able to provide me with any tips and advice on how to start the process of moving there? Who to speak to where do I start basically 🙂 Any advice would be much appreciated.

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