Budapest is a city of grand buildings, elegant bridges, a castle on a hill, and revitalizing thermal baths. I’ve been there a few times in the last couple years but wanted to return for a longer stay as a digital nomad. I was curious about setting up a temporary life there as a location independent individual. Why not enjoy the blossoming food scene and hip bars, all while getting my daily workload done? There’s no better way to break up a day of emails and blogging with a stroll up stylish Andrássy Avenue or a wander through the trendy 7th district, or by soaking in the view from any bridge across the Danube.
Here’s my assessment of being location independent in Budapest:
WiFi and good coffee, what more could you need? Hungary averages a respectable 10.7 Mb/s connection speed. Budapest has the country’s fastest speeds, well above 10.7, while the small towns and rural areas pull down the national average. So you should have no problem doing any type of online work in Budapest. When you tire of working in your apartment, head out to one of many coffee shops and cafes that offer free WiFi. Madal, Tamp & Pull, and Kontakt are three of my favorites.
It’s not hard finding a tempory apartment in Budapest. Numerous apartments have been made over specifically for short-term rentals, especially in the center. Booking.com has a lot of great apartment options and an easy booking process. Other sites like Wimdu and AirB&B are specifically for apartment rentals. If you want to save $35 on Air B&B, here’s a link for you. It has never been easier to find short-term apartment rentals. This is the Golden Age of long-term travel and/or digital nomaddism.
Besides all the great food, atmospheric ruin bars, and tourist attractions, the best way to spend your free time in Budapest is soaking in hot water. St. Gellert Baths are the most posh and also historic. Széchenyi thermal baths will probably be your most memorable. The outdoor baths are huge and there is a healthy mix or tourists and locals. Kiraly and Rudas both date from Ottoman times and you are guaranteed a most ethereal bathing experience. Lukacs Baths are said to have the most medicinal waters and their facilities are impressive. Plus Lukacs is included in the Budapest card.
Gone are the days of Budapest being cheap. However, it remains a good value destination for travelers and digital nomads. The ratio of entertainment for money spent is pretty high; you can eat and drink well for a fraction of the cost of western Europe. Beers run about 500 HUF (€1.50) a pop. And good coffee is slightly less. A filling lunch shouldn’t cost more than 2,000 HUF (€7). Produce at the markets is exceptionally cheap and supermarket prices aren’t bad either. Anyway you look at it, you’ll save money over western Europe destinations.
Here are my estimates for a Day of Travel Expenses in Budapest.
You’ll save perhaps 30% if you head out to the provinces. Smaller cities like Egar, Gyor, Kecskemet are a fraction of the cost of Budapest. Plus they are nice, albeit quieter cities. You’ll arguably get a better standard of living in a smaller city while saving money. Of course, these towns wouldn’t have the range of eateries as Budapest and will be lacking in hipness compared to the capital but some prefer the atmosphere and authentic nature of smaller places.
Have you ever been to Budapest? Would you consider living and working from Budapest in the future?