The Inside Scoop: Teaching English in Hungary

We often interview colleagues and graduates of our TESOL program about what life is like abroad. This month for The Inside Scoop we will hear from Peter about living in Hungary. If you live abroad and have information you would like to share, feel free to contact me or leave a comment on the blog!


Here is what Peter has to say:

“The country offers good working conditions, and while the salaries are lower than many other countries, so is the cost of living.  I teach everything. General English, Business English, Medical English, Military English, Exam preparation, young people/ old people. If you are a good teacher and prepared to learn yourself and be versatile then the possibilities are endless.

Most people want lessons Monday to Friday at either 8am or 6pm. Barely anybody wants lessons in the daytime. English is popular for a variety of ages and purposes. There are numerous positions teaching English to public school children, university students, adults and business professionals. Most English teaching positions are in government schools. Most English conversation schools offer only part time work, because adults generally study only after work or school. I must say I do actually love my job, and almost all my students are lovely. The downside is having to travel a lot, wait around between lessons and being left out of pocket when people cancel at the last minute. Nothing is guaranteed, but then this is much the same with all freelance work.

The best time to look for a teaching job in Hungary is in mid-September and January to February. Most of the language schools in Hungary are in Budapest, the capital city, but there are also other positions in smaller cities throughout the country.

It is possible to find teaching work after you arrive in Hungary, however visas are a little complicated so this is not the recommended path. One of the best ways to find jobs is by contacting schools directly or browsing through classified ads. I found my job by emailing as many language schools as possible and basically hustled them until they gave me work. Many schools advertise for teachers in the English language publications in Budapest and these can be found in the main train stations or other popular foreigner hang outs. Full-time employment can sometimes be difficult to find, but you can likely line up several part-time jobs to provide you with a livable salary. A lot of language schools are pretty disorganized and you may need to call them several times or knock on their door with a resume if you are already there before you get a straight answer.

Once you get a job, read your contract thoroughly. Discuss every detail with your employer. Most schools in the country offer open contracts. This allows you to look for another job, such as private tutoring, to collect additional income. Print up some cheap business cards and let everyone you meet know that you are looking for private students.

Most schools require teachers to be native English speakers with at least a bachelor’s degree and a year’s experience in teaching. A lot of schools simply won’t even look at your resume unless you have a TESOL Certificate. To legally teach in Hungary, you need to find a employer that will apply for a WORK PERMIT on your behalf. Once a work permit is issued, it will be sent to you together with your contract and a work visa application. You will then have to apply for a WORK VISA at a Hungarian consulate in your country.

Once your work visa is approved, you will then need to apply for a RESIDENCE PERMIT. This is a requirement for those who intend to visit Hungary for more than ninety days. If approved, you will be allowed entry to Hungary.

The following documents are required to apply for a residence permit:

  • valid passport
  • reason for entry and stay
  • proof of means of transportation in coming and departing from Hungary (airplane ticket, reservation, etc.)
  • medical certificate stating you are free from hazardous diseases
  • proof of housing arrangement (hotel, accommodation provided by potential employer)
  • proof of financial means (you could present your employment contract that is issued by a Hungarian employer)

(NOTE: Hungary has a particularly confusing visa system. This information is thought to be accurate but you should verify the required permits and visas prior to going to Hungary.)

If you can, try to find an employer that provides accommodations. It is difficult to find reasonably priced apartments in Budapest. Expect to pay about half of your salary just for rent. Prices vary depending on location, but even a small apartment outside of downtown can cost 60,000 HUF (US$375) or more. I pay about 150 Euros per month. Electricity bills in winter can be almost as much as the rent, but in summer are next to nothing. Your best option will be to share a larger apartment with other teachers.

You can live pretty well off 50 Euros per week, but strangely, buying food in the shops is almost as expensive as eating out. Eating out in Budapest is probably half or even a third of the cost of other European capitals like Rome, Paris and London. Typical meals in good quality restaurants cost around 2000 – 4000 HUF (US$12-24) and 400 – 600 HUF (US$2.50 – $4.00) for a local beer. Very good local wines cost around 1000 HUF ($6) at supermarkets. If you are teaching in a smaller city, costs will drop drastically.

A typical visit to the doctor will cost you about 300 HUF (2 USD) with the rest being paid by state insurance. Health insurance premiums are deducted from your salary. Having your teeth cleaned and polished will cost you 5000 HUF (US$31).

The average monthly salary of a teacher in Hungary is 150,000 HUF (US$930) for a 20-25 hour  work week. Hourly rate is roughly between483 HUF – 1935 HUF (US$3-12) and may vary depending on your location. This is enough for you to live a comfortable life in the country. Hungary has some great wine and great live music. Be sure to check out the Sziget music festival on Margit Island on the Danube every August. Another must visit venue is Old Man’s pub in Downtown Budapest. The best musicians in Hungary regularly play there. I would definitely recommend teaching in Budapest. The people are lovely and the city is beautiful. Moving here was one of the best decisions I have made.”



2 Comments Add yours

  1. Rick Onorato says:

    I’m a bit confused with the whole visa thing. As a US citizen, if you are in Hungary on a tourist visa looking for a job and manage to find one, do you actually need to fly all the way back to the US to apply for a work visa at an embassy? That can’t be right, can it? That would cost a fortune…

    1. Autumn says:

      Hi Rick, Firstly, as Peter mentioned you should do your own research on the Hungarian visa system as it might have changed. We got this information from him a year or so ago, so please double check everything.

      Peter was writing this post from the perspective of someone who wanted to find a job before traveling to Hungary. If you are already in Hungary, you will most likely have to leave the country and come back when switching your visa from a tourist one to a work one, but you shouldn’t have to go back to the US. Usually you can take a fun vacation to any nearby country, visit the Hungarian consulate there and get everything done. However, please double check this with your own research.

      I hope this answered your question :).


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