The daily travel pass is great for visiting tourist locations and other places of interest.Daily Travel Pass
It is valid on the metro, tram, trolley bus, bus and boat in and around Budapest city centre.
A utility bill in Hungary is normally sent in the form of a yellow cheque (sárga csekk) that can be paid at a post office or yellow cheque machine (located in a supermarket for example). It is the old system that suits the post office machinery. All utility companies use the same templated yellow cheque.
Some utility companies also allow payment via modern means, such as direct direct and/or an online account, but many utility companies still do not invest in online services at all; for whatever reason(s). This is why it is wise to check which utility companies have online services for example before signing up with them. Obviously, if there is only one electricity supplier for example in the district you are interesting in property-wise, you should look elsewhere; if possible.
The monthly utility bill system in Hungary works as follows - You pay a set amount of money each month, calculated by the utility company based on the previous owner's usage, regardless of whether or not you use that amount in electric, gas or whatever. At the end of the year the utility company either recredits your account directly (or gives it in cash via the postman) because you over paid or sends you an 'remaining balance' bill for any 'extra usage' amount you owe them. Metered radiator heating is an example.
When I first bought my apartment in Szeged (August 2014) whereby I then had new radiators installed (March 2015) because the old radiators had not been working for a couple of years prior to August 2014, I was charged 13,012 HUF (£32.53) per month (exchange was 400 HUF to 1 GBP) for the first year (2015-2016). This was because the heating company had no idea of recent/current average usage and therefore charged me an 'average price for that apartment size and number of people living it'.
On this second year of heating (2016-2017), the last three bills (September, October and November 2016) have been for a zero amount simply because they acknowledge I had been overcharged for 2015-2016. They have not recredited my account though for x amount of refund, but have instead charged me zero each month so far. So I have not had to pay 39,036 HUF (over £97) so far due to them owing me this amount in refund. They may even owe me more!
If you do not have radiators connected in your property, you still have to pay the heating company a standard bill (maintenance fee/standing charge), which in Szeged for example is 8,000 HUF (£21.33) per month (exchange is now 375 HUF to 1 GBP). This is quite a high bill to pay FOR NOTHING. For an extra 5,012 HUF (£12.53) per month (radiators fitted) it is better to stay warm in the winter!
In terms of renovation and radiator installation, you need to pay for the water company to switch off (and then on again) your mains water supply (11,250 HUF / £28.12) plus the heating company to install your radiators (31,620 HUF / £79.05).
Radiator heating is generally switched on when the weather becomes extremely cold (i.e. -1) for several continuous days; usually from 1st November to March 31st, but can be earlier or later depending on the bitterness of the weather. Either way, you are charged for an entire year of heating (month by month) even though radiator heating will be switched off from 1st April to October 31st.
To clarify: You will be charged a set monthly heating fee, of 13.012 HUF per month for example, for the first 12 months; regardless if the radiator heating is switched off during summer or switched on during winter. On the second year your set monthly heating fee will be calculated on your actual previous year's heating usage. So depending on your heating usage last winter, your next year's set monthly heating fee may be lower or higher than the previous year's.
AS A RULE: Keep your radiator thermostat on level 4 (20 Celsius / 68 Fahreneit), 3 (16.5 Celsius / 61.7 Fahreneit), 2 (13 Celsius / 55.4 Fahreneit), 1 (9.5 Celsius / 49.1 Fahreneit) or 0 (6 Celsius / 42.8 Fahreneit); if you do not want higher set monthly heating fees next year. Level 5 is 23.5 Celcius (74.3 Fahreneit) and level 6 is 28 Celcius (82.4 Fahreneit).
Having radiators installed in Hungary is NOT like in the UK. In Hungary a local plumber can NOT install radiators for you. They MUST be installed by, and switched on by, an heating company engineer.
A local plumber can buy your radiators and parts (pipework) for you, hang the radiators on your walls, temporarily fix the pipework to each radiator and even connect each radiator to the specific hot and cold water pipes (within your apartment) that feeds it; in order to test each radiator. However, once the radiator tests have been completed the plumber MUST disconnect each and every radiator from its specific main hot and cold water pipe within your apartment. Otherwise the heating company may think you were, or are, intending to use the water pipes illegally for heating your radiators.
In Hungary apartment blocks do not have separate water pipes running through each apartment for radiators simply because each apartment does not have an internal boiler. Instead, each apartment block uses a large boiler system within its basement, or somewhere close outside, whereby two of its main water pipes (hot and cold) feed all of the apartments within it. The heating company gathers individual apartment radiator usage by fixing a digital thermometer reader to every radiator within an apartment. So I have 3 digital thermometer readers because I have 3 radiators in my Szeged apartment.
NOTE - A plumber will need permission from the heating company before any radiator tests can be performed. Furthermore, permission from the housing association will be needed in order to switch off/on the apartment block's two main water pipes. A housing company will normally charge a small fee simply because they have to pay the water company to come out twice; to switch the water mains off and then on again.
The hot and cold water that feeds into your apartment's bathroom and kitchen (for washing and washing machine use, but not for radiator use) will be metered via two water meters (hot and cold) in your apartment, usually in the bathroom/toilet.
If you live in an apartment block that is NOT run by a housing association, you will need to visit your local water company office in person with the relevant paperwork and identifications in order to Set Up An Apartment Water AccountSet Up An Apartment Water Account whereby your water meters are read once a month and you are billed once a month.
And if you live in a house, as opposed to an apartment, you will need carry out the same process but Set Up A House Water AccountSet Up A House Water Account; which is basically a 'change of ownership'. This is because a house property has its own mains water pipe whereas an apartment shares a mains water pipe with other apartments within its apartment block.
If your apartment block is run by a housing association, usually determined by extra benefits such as solar panel energy and/or insulated walls, you will pay them a set monthly fee for your hot and cold water usage whereby your water meters are only read once a year. This means the housing association pays the water company on your behalf. It also means you don't have to set up a separate contract with the water company.
Throughout the 11 months of the year it will be the housing association who calculate your monthly hot and cold water usage, calculated by units and not by checking the water meters each months. When you first visit the housing association to inform them of your new ownership, they will ask you "How many units do you want to be charged each month?". They will explain that normally 1 unit is for a single person, 2 units are for a couple, three units are for a small family and 4 units are for a large family.
If you say 1 unit because only you will be living in your apartment, your monthly usage will either be included as part of your monthly maintenance fee or will be billed as a separate fee whereby you receive a separate yellow cheque for your monthly water usage. And if you have lodgers, tenants and or guests in the future whereby you use 2 or 3 units per month, you can either tell the housing association to increase your units or just leave the units AS IS and pay the difference each month. I recommend the latter.
At the end of the year the water company will read your water meters regardless of housing association or individual owner. If you have over paid throughout the year, the housing association or water company directly will recredit your water account. But if you owe the water company some money, because you have under paid, the housing association or water company directly will send you a bill for the amount due.
Gas is split between three connection types in Hungary. One with a Gas Cooker supply (cooker pipe) only, one with a Convector Gas supply only (one pipe that feeds the entire property with branching gas pipes) and one that does the same as a convector gas supply whereby its supply comes directly from the street (in village properties for example). So in a 48 Square Meter apartment for example you might pay 3,000+ HUF (£8) per quarter for a Cooker Pipe whereas in a house you might realistically pay between 8,000 HUF (£21) and 24,000+ (£64) per month for Convector Gas.
Electricity in Budapest and Hungary in general varies on property size, family size, light bulbs, electrical equipment and therefore usage per month. If one person lives in a 48 Square Meter apartment you might pay as little as 2,000 HUF per month, but if two or three people live in that apartment the monthly bill might go up to 3,000 HUF (£8). Realistically look to pay between 3,000 HUF (£8) and 5,000 HUF (£13) per month in a small property; especially if you are single or a couple.
A family in a 65 Square Meter house might use between 6,000 HUF (£16) and 9,000 HUF (£24) per month whereas a family in a 150 Square Meter farmhouse might use between 15,000 HUF (£40) and 20,000 HUF (£53) per month.
If you live in an apartment within an apartment block, more than likely your monthly rubbish disposal bill will be included in your monthly maintenance fee. However, if you pay a separate bill, perhaps because you live in a house, you could pay between 1,500 HUF (£4) and 3,000 HUF (£8) per month. Again this does not sound too bad, but the bills will still mount up.
As Hungarian utility companies are not really with it when it comes to paying bills online, because they prefer the yellow cheque post office system, you will need to find someone to pay your monthly yellow cheques promptly when you are out of Hungary. Hungarian utility companies do not give weeks and months for a bill to be paid, even if it is as small as 1,000 HUF. They will send you a 'Reminder Letter' but then will not hesitate to cut your supply.
I once owed EDF (the electric company) around 6,000 HUF (£16) whereby they threatened not only to cut my electric supply but also to go to court to put a restraint (marker) on my property. This means you cannot sell your property until the debt is paid.
Also note. If the gas company ever comes to inspect your meter, even without notice, take a photo of the meter and workers. And do not sign anything unless you understand what you are paying for. Many Hungarians have stories whereby the gas company came to inspect their meter, took it away and later said the reading on it meant they owed the gas company money; a debt which quickly doubles as the months go by.