Fully renovated with New Solar Panels, Double-Glazed Windows, Shutters and Paint.
When looking for an apartment always check for additional fees such as renovation fees because it could mean an extra £30 per month for example.
Our balcony is 2 Metres long by 1.2 Metres wide, enough for a small table and two chairs to fit comfortably.
The balcony also has a lamp and plug socket, so you can use your electrical equipment (i.e. laptop) in the night time.
Our apartment block stairwell was newly renovated years after the initial exterior renovation.
The main entrance has double-glazing to keep the cold out.
Below are some of the things to look out for and be aware of, exterior-wise, when looking for an apartment in Hungary. Things such as paintwork, entrances and their doors, stairwells and so on.
When viewing the apartment I knew it had been recently renovated by the housing association that owns/runs the apartment building and therefore knew the exterior brickwork, walls, entrances and roofing had been resealed and painted whereby all I needed to do was change the old windows for double-glazed windows, install shutters in the lounge and bedroom (balcony) and retile and paint the balcony.
Not every apartment building in Hungary has solar panels, to help reduce electricity bills, so it is worth investigating when searching for a property online for example whether or not a particular apartment block uses solar power as part of its energy source.
The solar panels on the apartment's roof help keep the electricity prices down
With energy in general you also need to look at what the companies offer. For example, every apartment owner in Hungary has to pay for their radiator heating (about £16 per month) regardless if they use (have connected) the radiators or not; which seems unfair, and is unfair! However, when the radiators are in use, depending on your housing association and situation with solar panels and so on, you might get a reduction of up to 60% in your heating bill each month; as I did when I had no radiators connected.
When looking at the exterior of an apartment block, perhaps via photos online but preferably in person, you need to see whether or not that apartment block has been painted; normally in overall beige with orange, green and/or grey stripes and squares. This is an indication of an apartment block that has been renovated, within the last ten years. The most recent (within the last three years) of renovated buildings usually have double-glazed entrances and solar panels.
Signs of a new renovation - new beige paint, new double-glazing and new shutters.
Also look for new double-glazed windows throughout the entire apartment block and shutters as many apartment owners will not invest in these until their apartment block has been renovated by their housing association.
In some cases new double-glazed windows come as part of a renovation whereby the cost is spread over the monthly maintenance fee instead of being a separate/outright payment. In other words, the apartment owner waits to see what is included in the renovation before spending on new shutters for example.
Signs of an unrenovated apartment block - old windows and raw stonewash walls
Some renovated apartment blocks still have their old entrances
Some renovated apartment blocks still have their old entrances and stairwells, which normally means only the exterior of the apartment block was afforded. What normally happens in these cases is that the interior (entrance and stairwell) is completed months or years later when the housing association has made enough profit to afford it.
Depending on your preferences, when looking for an apartment you should not rule out a balcony apartment simply because although they take out some of the bedroom space and need shutters and mosquito nets (blinds) to keep out mosquitos, pigeons, cold weather and bright sunlight for example they are great for renting purposes. Tourists love to sit within a sunny balcony drinking and smoking in the late evening, as do standard tenants. I paid 65,723 HUF (£175) for my balcony shutters and mosquito nets (blinds).
In Szeged the dustbin man comes around once a week. Although there is, technically, no limit to the amount of rubbish you can put into YOUR DESIGNATED DUSTBIN each week common sense tells you not to be greedy! Saying this, people do put into neighbouring dustbins when theirs are full.
With the same token, the poorer people of Szeged come and scavenge the dustbins for anything recyclable. They will take away things like paint, tiles and metal objects; things you should not put into the dustbin. If you need to dispose of these kind of items you should consider a skip (container) or a visit to the local dumping ground.
TIP: In Szeged the rubbish disposal company has a dedicated day, twice a year, whereby you are allowed to dump old baths, sinks, toilets and cupboards for example without charge. Also, each household is allowed around 2 square meters of rubbish that they can dump for free at the local dumping ground. Just go there with your address card and passport and they will allow you to dump paint, baths, etc as part of that yearly 'dumping of household rubbish' allowance.
In Szeged you are allowed to park where ever you like, even a few streets away, just like in the UK in the 1970s (these days you need permission from the UK council). This means there is no designated spot for your particular vehicle. As an example: In my area there is a primary school that by 3pm a certain area of the car park is always full of parents cars waiting to pick up their children. This means you cannot get a parking space at that time of course and so have to look for an alternative space or wait for them to leave.