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Budapest: a multicultural city

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Budapest: a multicultural city

According to the results of the last census, the number of foreign nationals living in Budapest as well as Hungary has been growing steadily over the last 20 years. In some of the more popular districts, almost a quarter of the residents are foreigners. Hungarian residency remains simple and transparent compared to EU standards.

Budapest, the heart of Hungary

The population of Hungary is roughly 10 million – 9.6 million, to be precise, according to the census of 2022. Out of this, about 2 million people live and work in the capital, Budapest. While the current number of residents is 1.69 million, showing a decrease of almost 100,000 people over the last 20 years, the number of people working in Budapest increased by almost 170,000. This is because more and more people move out from Budapest to the neighboring towns and villages, most of them looking for a calmer, quieter environment. Many of them still commute to the capital to work every day, although remote work has gained traction over the last few years.

At the same time, 5.8% of the residents of Budapest are foreign nationals, meaning almost 100,000 people. Some parts of the city are visibly more popular than others. It might not come as a surprise that the most popular areas are the 5th and the 6th districts of the city center, where almost a quarter of the residents are not Hungarian nationals (23.5% and 24.8%, respectively). In celebration of this, the latest issue of the local magazine of the 6th district (Terézváros) had a special supplement in English, while the district mayor said they will do their best to make information more accessible to locals speaking English.

If we consider the number of expats instead of just the ratios, we will find that the 8th and 13th districts are even more popular among foreigners, with almost 10,000 residents each. This is probably still no big surprise either, since these areas are still very close to the city center. In line with this, the less popular areas are those further away from the center, especially in the southern part of Budapest. The least popular areas considering both ratios and numbers are the 21st, 22nd, and 23rd districts (Budafok-Tétény, Csepel, and Soroksár).

Expats in Hungary

The data from the census confirm that the obvious presence of foreign nationals in the city center is not simply due to tourism, since the census questionnaires were to be filled in only by people who had been living in Hungary for at least 3 months. Since the census took place in October, it probably excluded students who came only for the year (as the academic year starts in September), meaning that the number of expats might be even higher due to these international students.

The statistics published by the Immigration Office shows that the number of residence permit applications is steadily growing every year (after a visible decrease in 2020, due to the outbreak of the pandemic). Since then the number of residency applications every year increased from below 100,000 to over 135,000, while the number of foreign nationals living in Hungary increased from 350,000 to almost 430,000.

EU citizens and third-country nationals in Hungary

It is interesting to note that the ratio of EU citizens and third country nationals is somewhat different in the capital and in the whole of Hungary. While it is 30:70 in Budapest, it is 40:60 if we consider the entire territory of Hungary.

The most EU citizens are from Germany, Romania, and Slovakia, while in Budapest there are also many French, Italian, Polish, and Spanish citizens. From other European countries that are not EU member states, most of the residents are from Ukraine, which is probably due to the current war in Ukraine, although the government made various efforts over the last 10 years to make work permit application easier for Ukrainian nationals.

If we leave Europe behind, most third-country nationals arrived from China and Vietnam, whose numbers doubled over the last 10 years. Hungary seems very popular among the Chinese, as currently more than 18,000 Chinese people hold Hungarian residency. The number of Vietnamese nationals is less than the third of this. There is also a notable number of residents from India, Iran, South Korea, Mongolia, and the U.S., with more than 2,000 Hungarian residents from each.

The future of immigration to Hungary

According to the latest results of the Hungarian Central Statistical Office, the number of empty positions in Hungary is around 80,000. This leaves plenty of room for bringing foreign talent to Hungary. Since Hungarian residency and work permit application is relatively fast and straightforward compared to EU standards, more and more employers are reasonable to choose to fill positions with immigrants from all over the world, offering each position to the best person, regardless of nationality.

Nevertheless, the Ministry of National development recently announced that new legislation is in the works, introducing stricter regulations for immigration. At the same time, the new guest worker residence permit approved in June, intended to become available starting from November 2023, was also abolished. There are no indications currently what the Hungarian government is planning, but it will surely be in line with EU directives.

Let the Helpers Team help you

Our team at Helpers Hungary handles Hungarian residency and citizenship applications on a daily basis. Our main focus is on working with employers looking for business setup and residency application for themselves, their employees, or their family members, while we do our best to make navigating through bureaucracy as stress free as possible for everyone.

This article originally appeared at

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