In January of this year, I packed my things and got on a one-way flight to Budapest, Hungary to start my life anew after nearly two years of living in Chicago. This isn’t my first experience living abroad—I spent part of 2014 in the Philippines—but it’s the longest time. Aside from some stints in Ukraine, Serbia, Poland, and Sweden, I’ve been in Hungary for all of 2017.
Do I like it here? Mostly.
Don’t get me wrong: Hungary (and everywhere else in Eastern Europe) is a massive upgrade over the U.S. in everything that matters. The streets are clean and safe, the women are cute and loose, and the cost of living can’t be beat. But after nearly a year in poosy paradise, the bloom is off the rose. Here are some annoying realities of living in eastern Europe that you’ll just have to get used to if you’re an expat…
1. Many basic services are horrible
Despite being “poor” countries, every Eastern European country I’ve been to has better infrastructure than the U.S., Serbia being the only exception. Poland has the nicest, most modern trains and train stations I’ve ever been in. Hungary’s trains are not as modern but just as fast, and the Budapest Metro and tramways are a delight to ride, with clean stations and cheap fares. Even Ukraine, a third-world country, has trains that always arrive and leave on time, something that Amtrak can’t manage.
Unfortunately, if you ever need to mail anything, you’re in for a world of pain.
Hungary’s own postal service, Magyar Posta, is fairly decent, though blockheaded. For example, I once had to receive a new credit card that was shipped internationally, and the delivery was delayed twice because I supposedly wasn’t home to receive it, even though I had been home all day both days. Turns out that because I hadn’t posted my name on my mailbox, the mailman couldn’t figure out that yes, this was where I lived. He didn’t even attempt to ring my doorbell or knock; he just took the package and skated off.
In a bizarre reversal of how things usually work, private couriers in Eastern Europe are usually worse than government postal services. For example, if a driver from DHL can’t find a place to park near your front door when he comes to deliver your package (which is very possible if you live in the center of a major city like Budapest), he’ll just drive off and report that you weren’t home.
Your only recourse is to either schedule a new delivery (and risk the same thing happening again) or go to their logistics center—which will be located more than an hour away via public transit—to get it yourself. For example, when DHL failed to deliver a box of nutritional supplements, I had to ride all the way to the end of one metro line, take two separate trams, then walk to their headquarters for twenty minutes to pick it up.
These kinds of incidents are the norm here. Expect bad customer service, slow service at restaurants, slow food delivery, slow everything. Hungarians and other Eastern Europeans are all about doing the bare minimum on the job, a holdover from the communist era, when there was no incentive to perform well.
In another example, I once went to a Vodafone store to top-up my phone plan twenty minutes before closing time and was told that they “might not have time” to do it, even though the store was empty and topping up takes about three minutes.
2. Convenience is middling to nonexistent
Unlike Aaron Clarey, I didn’t expect Europe to be full of 24-hour Walmarts where I could wander in at three in the morning in my boxers to do my grocery shopping. However, Europe is missing a lot of the comforts that Americans take for granted. For example, Sunday shopping is severely restricted in Hungary, with most stores closed. If you’re out of food or anything else and the 24/7 convenience stores don’t carry it, you’re shit out of luck until Monday morning.
Similarly, Europeans love to nickel and dime people, and many things that are free in the U.S. cost money over here. For example, not only do you have to pay for plastic bags when you go shopping, you have to bag your own groceries like a slave. You have to pay to use a shopping cart (though you get refunded when you’re done). You have to pay for ketchup when you go to McDonald’s. You even have to pay to use the bathroom in many places, even at restaurants where you’ve already bought something (I’m told this is to keep Gypsies from falling asleep in them).
Granted, none of these expenses are very high, and once you’ve settled into a routine, you can adjust to early closing hours and other realities of European life. But there’s something to be said for convenience. I like being able to go out and buy groceries at ten at night if I need to, and I don’t like having to carry a dozen coins in my pocket in case I need to use the can when I’m out. I definitely don’t like having to bag groceries, because that’s what retail workers are for (and also because I forget to bring a bag when I go shopping half the time).
3. Degeneracy is increasing
Don’t get me wrong: the most degenerate day you’ll have in Hungary is better than an average day in the U.S. Open homosexuality is either nonexistent or barely noticeable in Eastern Europe, and women on average are better-looking and more feminine here. However, globalism’s effects are increasingly evident even in this corner of the world.
For example, in Hungary, tattoos, piercings, and cotton candy-colored hair are becoming more prevalent among young women. Budapest has an increasing number of bars and cafes with tattoo parlors on site, so you can get a dragonfly stamped on your ass while you enjoy a cup of coffee. Hungarian women are also starting to get fat, which becomes obvious if you cross the border into Ukraine: the women suddenly gain two points of attractiveness and lose twenty pounds on average.
Similarly, Tinder, once one of the easiest ways to meet women in Eastern Europe, has significantly dropped off in quality over the past year. In Budapest, women on Tinder have become increasingly flaky, refusing to answer messages and using the app to gain unearned attention from men. Smartphone addiction and online attention whoring have also been on the increase in Eastern Europe, meaning that meeting girls is only going to get more difficult as time wears on (though the further east you go, the slower these trends are occurring).
I don’t mean to sound negative: I’ve enjoyed my time in Hungary so far and would not even entertain the thought of moving back to the U.S. Despite the problems I’ve described, the quality of life in Eastern Europe is incredible and I’m grateful that I’m able to live out here. But anyone who thinks that this part of the world is all sunshine and blowjobs will be sorely disappointed.