The beauty of moving to Budapest for most Europeans is the price of accommodation, and while the increased popularity for tourists and expats over the years has increased the costs dramatically, you’ll still find a place in central Pest at a considerable fraction of the price that you’d expect for somewhere equivalent in London, Paris, or Rome.
Admittedly, moving to the fifth district will cost you more than many other neighbourhoods in the city, but it’s still affordable on a Western European wage. Not only does living here mean you’ll have some of Budapest’s most iconic landmarks on your doorstep but, as the governmental and financial centre of the city, the weekends are surprisingly free of the hustle and bustle of cars and footfall.
If you’re planning on spending as much time in a bar as your own home, then District VII is where you’ll want to be. Here, you’ll be surrounded by all the bars, restaurants and nightclubs you could hope for, and you won’t need to be too concerned about the noise since you’ll probably be the one making it. It means rent prices here are typically lower than the similarly central surrounding districts, too.
Find a place just northeast of the Boulevard – or Teréz/Erzsébet körút – and you’ll have the best of both worlds. Close enough to the district that you can stumble home and near to the 4/6 tram line (important!), but in a more residential area that won’t suffer as much from the sound of revellers.
This district is very much a residential area and despite the tall tower blocks manages to somehow remain relatively quiet, though admittedly part of that is the lack of interesting things to see and do.
The further north you go, the further out of the central city you’ll be and so, too, will the prices be cheaper. Aim for somewhere close to an M3 metro stop, however, and you can be anywhere downtown within less than 15 minutes.
But if you’re particularly into exercising, then the neighbourhood of Újlipótváros closer to Jaszái Mari Square is the perfect option. It’s only a stone’s throw away from Margaret Island, a beautiful island park between Buda and Pest with a 5km running track encircling the greenery – it’s here that any city marathon ends.
The Buda side of the city is quite a bit more expensive than downtown Pest. While it does have its own access to services, shopping and nightlife, Pest is considered to be where everything is happening. If money isn’t an issue, however, and you’d rather live in a more relaxed environment then the first district, in particular the Castle District, should be on the top of the list.
Not only is it the cleanest and tidiest part of the city, but there’s a wealth of restaurants to peruse. You’ll not run dry of classy eating establishments, and the fact that the gorgeous view over Pest will be only a stroll away should make the decision to live here pretty easy.
Since Buda is a little quieter, it’s perhaps no surprise that it’s also more popular for families. If you want your own place with a garden, then heading up into the Buda Hills is your only answer. This is a pretty large district, though, so how much you want to feel like a part of the city really comes down to how far east of the district you want to live.
For somewhere more central, try to pick somewhere around (but it doesn’t have to be directly in) the Országút neighbourhood, particular for the closeness to parks and Széll Kálmán Square for key public transport links. Next door neighbourhood Rózsadomb is also a great choice, still close to those utilities but with accommodation much more spacious than equivalents in downtown Pest.
The Belváros neighbourhood of District V is a thriving place. It has the beginning of the shopping street on Váci filled with many stylish, big name brands that leads towards Vörösmarty Square where you’ll find Budapest’s Hard Rock Cafe. The upscale neighbourhood is home to countless restaurants and bars, has plenty of options for public transport and, of course, has the view over the Danube only a short walk away.
Since it is an upmarket part of the city you can expect higher prices, but the accommodation is better quality to suit. There are a lot of pedestrianised areas in the neighbourhood, too, which means it doesn’t suffer the noise, pollution and bother that comes with a lot of downtown Pest. It’s a trendy district and so free of many of the ills of Pest, but while maintaining all the benefits such as its central location, amenities and gorgeous buildings.