This 29-year-old left the US for Budapest. Now he makes $120,000 – and pays $800 a month in rent

In 2014, I received a life-changing wake-up call: I survived an opioid overdose that sent me to intensive care.

When I hit bottom I realized how lucky I am to be alive. I spent some time in my hometown, Memphis, to focus on my recovery and stay sober. Once I felt stable, I had to think of my next move.

My friends knew that I always wanted to live abroad and suggested that I look for a job abroad. So in 2015, I enrolled in an online program for my English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification, which is often required by schools that hire English teachers. I applied to 50 schools before finally getting an offer from a school in Barcelona, ​​Spain.

I taught there for a year before taking my next position in Budapest, Hungary.

Ferenciek Square in Budapest’s 8th District

Photo: Francis Nayan

When I was in Budapest for two years, I got tired of teaching and wanted to do something new. Then I decided to start my career as a freelance copywriter.

However, I never got tired of life in Budapest. In fact, it has been my home for almost six years now. This is how I started my expat journey, what my days look like and how much I spend:

Get Hungarian Residence Permit as a US Citizen

The Hungarian National Museum in Budapest, Hungary.

Photo: Francis Nayan

I am grateful to live in such an affordable city

Francis rents a 1,000-square-foot apartment in this building for just $800 a month.

Photo: Francis Nayan

Here’s an overview of my monthly expenses:

  • Rent and utilities: $800
  • Traveler insurance (via SafetyWing): $42
  • Health insurance (via Generali): $9.25
  • Groceries: $173
  • Restaurants and takeout: $186
  • Recreational activities $100
  • Gym membership: $53
  • Entertainment subscriptions: $57
  • KATA costs: $139

Total = $1,559.25

I cook most meals at home, but eat out about two to three times a week. Since my monthly expenses are affordable, I have enough money to travel whenever I want an adventurous escape. For the past few months I have visited Portugal and Greece and even made a trip home to see my family in Memphis.

Because the cost of living in Budapest is so affordable for Francis, he is allowed to travel to scenic spots such as the Douro Valley in Portugal.

Photo: Francis Nayan

I also save about 20% of my monthly amount for long-term goals, such as retirement and buying a house. I use the Truebill app to track my expenses and automatically transfer money to my savings accounts.

Budapest: what a typical day looks like

I start my day at 5:30 am. The first thing I do is make coffee for myself and my girlfriend.

Then I will take a 30 minute walk through the gardens of the Hungarian National Museum and the charming streets of Budapest’s 8th district. Sometimes I like to go a little further and stroll along Budapest’s lively Central Market.

A nice aspect of Budapest is that there are many English speakers, mainly young locals and expats, so it feels easy and safe to get around the city.

When I get back to my apartment, I work an hour or two before taking a break to do Muay Thai training at the gym, a 10-minute walk from my house. Then I might go home to do some more work.

For lunch, my girlfriend and I cook at home or eat at a nearby restaurant. We love going to Loyola Cafe which is a popular place among the locals for its authentic Hungarian food. The bill usually comes out to about $2.97 per person.

Lunch at Loyola Cafe in Budapest costs about $2.97 per person.

Photo: Francis Nayan

My working day ends at 3 p.m. I spend three to five hours a day at work. Once I close my laptop, I go for a walk through the 7th arrondissement to check out the shops and street art.

Dinner usually consists of home cooked meals. I sometimes use the Wolt app when I feel like having a slice of pizza or KFC delivered.

Quiet Cafe is also a popular ruin bar in Budapest, Hungary.

Photo: Francis Nayan

Moving abroad was the best decision of my life

At 29, I don’t see myself going back to the US anytime soon. I love that there are so many affordable cities in Europe. In addition, it is easy and cheap to travel to nearby countries.

St. Stephen’s Basilica (St. Stephen’s Basilica), the second largest church in Hungary, is a cultural monument in Budapest.

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