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

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In 2014, I had a life-changing wake-up call: I survived an opioid overdose that put me in the intensive care unit.

Hitting rock bottom made me realize how lucky I am to be alive. I spent some time in my hometown, Memphis, to focus on my recovery and staying sober. Once I felt stable, I needed to figure out my next move.

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

I spent a year teaching there before taking my next position in Budapest, Hungary.

Ferenciek Square in Budapest’s 8th District

Photo: Francis Nayan

Two years into Budapest, I grew tired of teaching and wanted to do something new. That’s when I decided to launch my career as a freelance copywriter.

I never got sick of living in Budapest, though. In fact, it has been my home for almost six years now. Here’s how I started my expat journey, as well as what my days look like and how much I spend:

Getting Hungarian residency as a US citizen

The Hungarian National Museum in Budapest, Hungary.

Photo: Francis Nayan

I’m grateful to live in such an affordable city

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

Photo: Francis Nayan

Here’s a breakdown of my monthly expenses:

  • Rent and utilities: $800
  • Traveler’s insurance (via SafetyWing): $42
  • health insurance (via Generali): $9.25
  • Groceries: $173
  • Restaurants and takeout: $186
  • Leisure activities: $100
  • Gym membership: $53
  • Entertainment subscriptions: $57
  • KATA fees: $139

Total = $1,559.25

I cook most of my meals at home, but will 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. In the past few months, I’ve visited Portugal, Greece, and even took a trip home to see my family in Memphis.

Since the cost of living in Budapest is so affordable for Francis, he gets to travel to scenic spots like Portugal’s Douro Valley.

Photo: Francis Nayan

I also save about 20% of my monthly for long-term goals, like retirement and buying a house. I use the Truebill app to track my spending and automatically transfer money into 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’ll go for a 30-minute stroll through the gardens of the Hungarian National Museum and the charming streets of Budapest’s 8th district. Sometimes, I like to go a bit further and walk past Budapest’s vibrant Central Market.

One nice thing about Budapest is that there are many English speakers, mainly young locals and expats, so getting around the city feels easy and safe.

Once I get back to my apartment, I’ll work for an hour or two before taking a break to do Muay Thai training at the gym, which is a 10-minute walk from my place. After that, I might head home to do some more work.

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

Lunch at Loyola Cafe in Budapest is around $2.97 per person.

Photo: Francis Nayan

My workday ends at 3:00 pm I spend anywhere from three to five hours per day on work. Once I shut my laptop, I’ll go for a walk around the 7th district neighborhood to look at the shops and street art.

Dinner usually consists of home-cooked meals. I’ll sometimes use the Wolt app if I feel like getting a slice of pizza or KFC delivered.

Csendes Cafe is 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 moving back to the US anytime soon. I love that there are so many affordable cities in Europe. Plus, it’s easy and inexpensive to travel to nearby countries.

St. Stephen’s Basilica (Szent Istvan Bazilika), Hungary’s second largest church, is a cultural landmark in Budapest.

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