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Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
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Que enspastic Offline
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Post: #1
Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
This is my second time in five years visiting Budapest and I'm floored by how clean, beautiful, artistically dynamic and well run the city appears to be.

Architecture - stunning, varied, rich
High culture - plenty of museums, numerous ground breaking contributions to mathematics
River - clean, not full of shit, superlative bridges
Bags of trash on street - minimal
Begging - minimal, passive in nature
Menacing gangs of thugs - not overtly visible in public spaces
Public transport - underground, trams, buses, regular shuttle buses to airports
Clubs - no random violence, chill atmosphere
Obesity - low, mostly tourists and old grandmas in their 70s
Heroin junkies - not visible
Dog shit - not visible
Locals - shitty Eastern European customer service and suffering depression but educated polyglots with a capacity for hard work

The average wages here are 700 EUR pm at most, so this is a poor city by Western standards.
Compare that to Dublin where wages are around 2500 EUR pm (let's say x 3.5) it's striking that Budapest appears so much wealthier (visually) on all of these measures above but actually is not.

I appreciate Budapest was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and a dual capital but also under the yolk of the Ottoman Empire before that and bombed to shit after that during WW2 and then controlled by the Soviets so doesn't appear to have had the easiest of runs.

Any insight?

Is Budapest the richest looking "poor city" you've seen? Who else is a contender?
(This post was last modified: 05-13-2019 02:24 PM by Que enspastic.)
05-13-2019 02:18 PM
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Post: #2
RE: Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
I have wondered the same.

When I was there in the late 90's it was pretty bad. The main station actually smelled like human shit. Shifty people laying about in dark corners.

The people also seem happier now too.

There was probably an uptick in investment when the Euro came to be. I am sure plenty of German and Austrian groups began snapping up cheap central real estate back then and things began to snowball from there.

Its actually a very central location in Europe and has smart people, great history and is currently going through an amazing cultural confidence. Its great to see.

I was there last in 2015 and the luxury hotels with incredible baths and spas were some of the best valued places I have ever experienced.

+1 for whatever Budapest did. It worked well.
05-13-2019 02:30 PM
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RE: Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
(05-13-2019 02:18 PM)Que enspastic Wrote:  This is my second time in five years visiting Budapest and I'm floored by how clean, beautiful, artistically dynamic and well run the city appears to be.

Architecture - stunning, varied, rich
High culture - plenty of museums, numerous ground breaking contributions to mathematics
River - clean, not full of shit, superlative bridges
Bags of trash on street - minimal
Begging - minimal, passive in nature
Menacing gangs of thugs - not overtly visible in public spaces
Public transport - underground, trams, buses, regular shuttle buses to airports
Clubs - no random violence, chill atmosphere
Obesity - low, mostly tourists and old grandmas in their 70s
Heroin junkies - not visible
Dog shit - not visible
Locals - shitty Eastern European customer service and suffering depression but educated polyglots with a capacity for hard work

The average wages here are 700 EUR pm at most, so this is a poor city by Western standards.
Compare that to Dublin where wages are around 2500 EUR pm (let's say x 3.5) it's striking that Budapest appears so much wealthier (visually) on all of these measures above but actually is not.

I appreciate Budapest was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and a dual capital but also under the yolk of the Ottoman Empire before that and bombed to shit after that during WW2 and then controlled by the Soviets so doesn't appear to have had the easiest of runs.

Any insight?

Is Budapest the richest looking "poor city" you've seen? Who else is a contender?

Varna in Summer (average wage is like 500 euros, while the city is very safe, clean, agreeable and lively).

Or Buenos Aires nowadays. Similar average wage of say 600 euros, and often a great-looking and interesting city, and cheap for the tourists.

Basically: any place without (costly) African migrants or (too wealthy and parasitic) SJW "Liberals", is great and not expensive.
05-13-2019 02:35 PM
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RE: Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
(05-13-2019 02:30 PM)Laner Wrote:  I have wondered the same.

When I was there in the late 90's it was pretty bad. The main station actually smelled like human shit. Shifty people laying about in dark corners.

The people also seem happier now too.

There was probably an uptick in investment when the Euro came to be. I am sure plenty of German and Austrian groups began snapping up cheap central real estate back then and things began to snowball from there.

Its actually a very central location in Europe and has smart people, great history and is currently going through an amazing cultural confidence. Its great to see.

I was there last in 2015 and the luxury hotels with incredible baths and spas were some of the best valued places I have ever experienced.

+1 for whatever Budapest did. It worked well.

What Budapest (smartly) did is, taking in German, Chinese and French investments, and taking in zero African or Islamized migrants. Sure, it worked, and works.

Recipe for success is simple, for any well-ruled country. You take in good educated foreigners and their money, while you leave out the terrorists and invasive beggars.
05-13-2019 02:39 PM
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nomadbrah Offline
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RE: Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
Yeah, I noticed exactly the same.

The main reason is that Hungary has avoided migrants and other non-European immigrants.

Just as important, Orban and associates have some control with TV and music. That means no hip hop and other degenerate influences. There is a distinct and very refreshing lack of "individuality". It's important to note this. It's the idea of youth individuality which creates most trashy conditions. Particularly music, fashion and TV from the US. It's really nothing special, just the same as other traditional countries. This one is just a white traditional country. There is also more police and military on the streets.
(This post was last modified: 05-13-2019 02:42 PM by nomadbrah.)
05-13-2019 02:41 PM
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Que enspastic Offline
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RE: Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
Another thing to point out is there are a visible number of Chinese who live here running Thai massage parlours every couple of blocks. But well behaved and hard working like Chinese in most cities.

I think something I've come to appreciate is this : "appearing rich as a city doesn't mean you are rich and vice versa".

There is no clear-cut link.

Downtown San Francisco vs inner city Budapest - gun to the head, again you would go with Budapest based on the tell tale signs of culture, cleanliness and general civilisation. Yet San Francisco avg wages are $7,250pm.

Copenhagen - appears rich like Budapest but actually is rich with avg wages of 17,000 DKK pm ($2,580pm)

You can't assess avg wages & living standards easily in many cases

One thing I left out in my original survey is police presence. Here, they spring into action on a dime and cut out trouble. Saw some people getting drunk in public get chased out of a square. If this was Dublin or San Francisco they would be shooting up heroin with no police anywhere and if by chance there were police they would not do anything even if these people started assaulting the public.
(This post was last modified: 05-13-2019 03:01 PM by Que enspastic.)
05-13-2019 02:52 PM
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RE: Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
Lol to earlier replies... You dont't know anything to be honest. I lived there for few years. The main reason that you don't see the country you visited thoroughly because you live in kind of isolated from the realities of the country you visited. You rent your flat in good area, you eat at good places, you go to best barbers, best pubs/clubs/bars etc. because the money you make at home is a fortune in budapest. Therefore, you don't truly realize whats going on.

Actually, if you compare budapest with more western cities, even with prague, you can see that its much more dirtier, much more beggars,really really more, much more bad smell in streets or in transportation etc. So long story short budapest is really a poor city, also hungary logically. Educated hungarians go to other countries to work because salaries are bad, health care is not good too, economy is not good in general etc.

To sum up, yeah budapest is beautiful city but not so much to offer in long run unless you havent been in other big cities but also its not rich as you mentioned.
05-13-2019 04:54 PM
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RE: Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
Budapest definitely looks richer than Auckland or Christchurch on the outside. The only thing that gives a clue (perhaps) is how much worse looking Budapest's airport is compared to NZ airports.

I'm definitely willing to do whatever it takes to get by since it's a much better country than NZ however it is surprising how much worse (30% or so from a cost of living site) purchasing power is here, given how Kiwis charge so much for everything.

I can speculate/come to a conclusion that huge amounts of wealth may not actually be that important. Or maybe that Hungary is still recovering from communism, so that's their excuse.
05-14-2019 03:22 AM
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RE: Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
As mentioned above Orban and his people improved the situation overall a lot.

One important aspect is that they are not so reliable to imports as others. Also on a mental sphere.
So while the average salaries are comparably low, the costs are even lower. => relatively more wealth than people in Germany, France etc.


I also wonder if they really spend so much on military as published, or if that's a statistics trick.
05-14-2019 04:16 AM
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RE: Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
(05-14-2019 03:22 AM)The Catalyst Wrote:  Budapest definitely looks richer than Auckland or Christchurch on the outside. The only thing that gives a clue (perhaps) is how much worse looking Budapest's airport is compared to NZ airports.

I'm definitely willing to do whatever it takes to get by since it's a much better country than NZ however it is surprising how much worse (30% or so from a cost of living site) purchasing power is here, given how Kiwis charge so much for everything.

I can speculate/come to a conclusion that huge amounts of wealth may not actually be that important. Or maybe that Hungary is still recovering from communism, so that's their excuse.

Budapest airport was shockingly bad, especially considering how many tourists and direct flights they recieve from all over. Have they done any upgrades recently?

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05-14-2019 05:17 AM
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RE: Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
(05-13-2019 02:30 PM)Laner Wrote:  I have wondered the same.

When I was there in the late 90's it was pretty bad. The main station actually smelled like human shit. Shifty people laying about in dark corners.

The people also seem happier now too.

There was probably an uptick in investment when the Euro came to be. I am sure plenty of German and Austrian groups began snapping up cheap central real estate back then and things began to snowball from there.

Its actually a very central location in Europe and has smart people, great history and is currently going through an amazing cultural confidence. Its great to see.

I was there last in 2015 and the luxury hotels with incredible baths and spas were some of the best valued places I have ever experienced.

+1 for whatever Budapest did. It worked well.

Joined the EU in 2004. Inflows of EU development money and investment.
05-14-2019 06:03 AM
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RE: Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
I’m in Budapest airport now - no different from one of the many airports ringing London that have been done up recently - even has the same wood features as Heathrow Terminal 5, bourgeois eats like Uppercrust & Camden Food and your standard Irish pubs

Took the bus to the airport and it was super quick, efficient and clean. Not disgustingly dirty and filled with dodgy characters

See here :
https://imgur.com/gallery/xU2JY4G

I don’t think that post about people getting low pay but even lower cost of living is true. If you’re getting 200k HUF you lose 1/3 in tax. Apartments here are cheap but probably going to eat at least half of post-tax pay. I think we spent around 75k HUF on just two dinners (obv not local prices) - clothes are the same price if not slightly more in Zara and H&M here in Budapest; so they really don’t have much money left over at the end of the month. They genuinely are poor based on cost of living even adjusting for how cheap it is

Whoever said I’m just basing my observations on the central well to do area, it’s nicer than the central areas of a lot of Western cities that’s my point. There’s a lot of nice inner city districts in Pest, not just 1-2. And Buda is beautiful too, reminds me of leafy genteel hills in SF and beyond. I’m not comparing suburbs and exurbs, it’s like for like observations of inner city Budapest vs West
(This post was last modified: 05-14-2019 07:35 AM by Que enspastic.)
05-14-2019 07:35 AM
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RE: Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
It's a primate city which has the overwhelming majority of the nation's wealth. When a country only has one big city, it's pretty easy to making things look pretty.
Debrecen, the 2nd largest city has like 200k people.

But being white and xenophobic helps a lot as well.
05-14-2019 07:42 AM
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RE: Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
Is it really that easy though?

Ireland has only one big city, next biggest is 400k, Dublin is not xenophobic but overall fairly white.

Dublin had more funds from EU vs Budapest, probably invested them less corruptly, has had more money flowing in, citizens are by and large wealthier.

Yet Budapest still looks far richer despite being far poorer

Bangkok is a primate city, most of Thailand’s wealth concentrated there, avg salary 25k THB ($800 USD), similar to Budapest actually, yet Bangkok looks like the third world albeit with first world shopping malls and Ferrari car parks. Stinks like sewage in many central places, crappy public parks, amputee beggars covered in dirt scratching some coins under the blazing sun
(This post was last modified: 05-14-2019 08:04 AM by Que enspastic.)
05-14-2019 08:01 AM
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RE: Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
Let's not forget Budapest was the 2nd capital of the Austro-Hungarian empire, as such, lots of buildings, monuments and avenues were built. I personally even prefer Budapest to Vienna in terms of arquitecture.

Dublin has never had much relevance in European history, it has a few nice streets and buildings but that's it. When the Brits were there they didn't invest much in the city, either.

Lots of EU money have been pumped into Hungary and the government knows the main attraction for visitors is Budapest so they make BP look good, even if many areas look run down, District 8 comes to mind now.

What I'm trying to say it's BP has all these fantastic buildings like the parliament, the fishermen's bastion, the square of the kings, the opera building, the chain bridge and others, if you can maintain them, the city is going to look amazing. Other cities may have more money but have nothing really in terms of landmarks.

I agree with other posters, for a local, BP is not that cheap and yeah, foreign brands are as expensive as in the west or even more, and I don't think Hungary produces many things other than salami, palinka and porn stars.
True story, years ago a friend of mine who lived in BP took out a loan to buy a car. The loan was in HUF but someway it was fixed to the USD-HUF exchange rate, suddenly the HUF went down big time and couldn't keep paying the loan to the bank and lost the car. Just an example of how weak the economy in Hungary is.
While the city center in BP looks really nice and people seem to be doing quite well that's definitely not representative of the whole country.
05-14-2019 08:46 AM
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RE: Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
Look at old pictures from the 1950s of western capitals.

They look exactly like Budapest now.

People dressed sharp, walking around, cycling, being considerate of each other.

Budapest is simply white European society if not deliberately sabotaged. Not even trying to be hyperbolic here, having a society like Budapest is so easy and simple for white Europeans, they can do it with very little money.

What do I mean by this exactly? Well, it doesn't require wealth to be considerate and emphatic, those are just personal qualities. If you have a society which are considerate and emphatic, then your society will look like Budapest.

Practical example, you have a plastic bottle,no one is around to see you, what do you do with it? White Europeans have a guilt based morality, so even if no one is around, the European is more likely to act in a considerate and emphatic manner, to avoid feeling guilty.

Shame based cultures such as Asian countries are very fit and proper where acting badly might reflect on yourself. Asians are always impeccably dressed, but throw their trash in the street with no concern.

Budapest then seems now like an almost mirage, you don't quite dare to believe it. You want to ask "is it really this easy to have a safe and clean society"? If you ask that question, then you must ask yourself, "why are we deliberately living filthy and having filthy people live among us"?
05-14-2019 09:17 AM
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RE: Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
Most young Hungarians want to get their education and leave the country to earn money.
Loads of them in the UK, who aren't dreaming of going back.

I dated one and she took me there to stay with her people, they were poor despite the father being a retired engineer.

What you are seeing is the leftovers from the Austro-Hungarian empire, which ended a century ago.

London has five airports, Heathrow has five terminals and is massive. Lets not carried away, it's no comparison to Budapest airport,

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(This post was last modified: 05-14-2019 09:31 AM by rudebwoy.)
05-14-2019 09:30 AM
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RE: Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
I am not an expert on the city but I think Polero is the only person that got it right.
EU money + a strong place in history and the government that spends money in keeping the capital a jewel.

This is the same that happens in Andalucia where average wage is like 1000 euros but infrastructures and building are great thanks to EU money and no organised crime.

Now compare that to Southern Italy where the mafia controls most of the constructions contracts so you end up with third world infrastructures and filthy streets due to underfunded garbage collections etc.
05-14-2019 09:41 AM
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RE: Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
There are two main reasons for this - 90% historical, 10% present time.

For the historical reasons, this mostly comes down to 18th and 19th century architecture. In the British Empire this was the Georgian and Victorian housing and public building style, in Paris Haussman's rebuilding. This European imperial period is what most people associate with "grand" city architecture, as it defines most of the great European cities and their wealthy cores - London, Paris, Vienna. During this time period Budapest was firstly the second city of the Austrian Empire, and secondly then the joint capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Huge amounts of wealth flowed to the city from the provinces. This resulted in the building of large parts of the nicer parts of the modern city, and grand works like the renovations of Buda Castle and the construction of the Hungarian parliament buildings.

In direct contrast, to use your example of Dublin: Dublin was a provincial backwater city for most of this time, that received very little funding from Britain. Ireland had a form of Home Rule with Grattan's Parliament from 1780-1800 which was a period of prosperity, which led to the nicer parts of the city being constructed - Harcourt Street, Leeson Street, Merrion Square etc. But when this ended with the Act of Union in 1801 the city went back to being a minor regional city, from which money and people flowed to London. For rest of the 19th and 20th centuries Dublin deteriorated architecturally. Its a very wealthy city now, but this has only occurred since the end of the 1990s - a 20 year window. And there was a 5 year gap in the middle of that with the 2008 financial crisis. So Dublin has only really had 15 years in the last 220 years of wealth - hence why it looks so bland/run down for the most part. Give it another 50 years of being wealthy and it should look a lot nicer, architecturally.

For the 10% present time issues - its the broken windows theory. The Budapest police take a far harsher approach to minor vandalism and petty criminality than most PC/being sued conscious Western police forces (ie the Gardai/police in Dublin). This keeps anti-social behaviour far more contained to dodgy areas, rather than spread across the city.
05-14-2019 10:20 AM
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RE: Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
(05-14-2019 07:35 AM)Que enspastic Wrote:  I’m in Budapest airport now - no different from one of the many airports ringing London that have been done up recently - even has the same wood features as Heathrow Terminal 5, bourgeois eats like Uppercrust & Camden Food and your standard Irish pubs

Took the bus to the airport and it was super quick, efficient and clean. Not disgustingly dirty and filled with dodgy characters

See here :
https://imgur.com/gallery/xU2JY4G

That looks good. I was talking about the airport for arrivals- it looked a lot more run down than that. I'm surprised the airport for departures looks so much better. The bus was good too. But my mind was focused on trying to understand everything around me as there was minimal English.

(05-14-2019 09:17 AM)nomadbrah Wrote:  Look at old pictures from the 1950s of western capitals.

They look exactly like Budapest now.

People dressed sharp, walking around, cycling, being considerate of each other.

Budapest is simply white European society if not deliberately sabotaged. Not even trying to be hyperbolic here, having a society like Budapest is so easy and simple for white Europeans, they can do it with very little money.

What do I mean by this exactly? Well, it doesn't require wealth to be considerate and emphatic, those are just personal qualities. If you have a society which are considerate and emphatic, then your society will look like Budapest.

Practical example, you have a plastic bottle,no one is around to see you, what do you do with it? White Europeans have a guilt based morality, so even if no one is around, the European is more likely to act in a considerate and emphatic manner, to avoid feeling guilty.

Shame based cultures such as Asian countries are very fit and proper where acting badly might reflect on yourself. Asians are always impeccably dressed, but throw their trash in the street with no concern.

Budapest then seems now like an almost mirage, you don't quite dare to believe it. You want to ask "is it really this easy to have a safe and clean society"? If you ask that question, then you must ask yourself, "why are we deliberately living filthy and having filthy people live among us"?

I feel this way also. But it's also surreal hearing expats complain about how dysfunctional, slow, inconsiderate etc Hungary is when I don't feel that way at all(so far).

Yeah, being insanely wealthy is probably not super important in the grand scheme of things. I feel a sense of normalcy here which just isn't present in NZ and to a certain extent in many parts of the west.

I think the ideal is a rich version of Budapest. Having so low wages is a struggle. I'm not complaining because it's an amazing place(only have frame of reference to NZ though). I don't know if Hungary is destined to be poor, that is, if they can continue living free from the yoke of communism would they continue to grow?

I do have to get used to dressing up more, and acting more proper too. Surprising because in NZ people are actually richer but it's more of a casual, slob, degenerate culture.

As an Asian I can imagine the temptation to just be selfish and dump my stuff everywhere. But this place has given me so much that I just don't want to intrude or not give back. Admittedly I never littered or anything like that in NZ, so I don't know if it means anything.
05-14-2019 11:18 AM
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Post: #21
RE: Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
I haven't been to Budapest in many years, but capital cities always look good, although one exception off the top of my head is Chisinau. That place looks like shit.

It's sad to see formerly great cities crumbling. I really like Odessa and walking around you can see what a powerhouse it was in the 19th century, but now it's a shadow and most of it is falling apart, although not as bad as Chisinau.

Same with Kaliningrad. Formerly Konigsberg, capital of the Kingdom of Prussia, now it's mostly forgotten.
05-14-2019 11:48 AM
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RE: Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
Agreed with nice's post.

Try getting health-care, education for your kids, buying clothes and groceries, etc and doing it on a local's budget. You will soon end up shaving costs by finding cheaper, lower quality places- an apartment in the bad side of town where most of the population is stuck living, poor service and doctors, buying used clothing or cheapest Chinese imports.

It's good to spend money in poor countries but earn it in wealthy ones. Not so good to fully integrate.

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05-14-2019 12:31 PM
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Post: #23
RE: Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
It's an important historical city that preserved a lot of its architectural charm - it's not much more complicated than that.

If you get by the art, Budapest is poor looking by Western standards. Budapest is incredibly run down, chances are one is using selective memories of some nice looking structures because much of Budapest needs serious maintenance and cleaning.
(This post was last modified: 05-14-2019 01:33 PM by Heart Break Kid.)
05-14-2019 01:31 PM
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superschalk Offline
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Post: #24
RE: Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
Heart Break Kid is totally right BP looks wealthy thanks to some amazing historical buildings not more and not less.

There is a lot of EU money coming into Hungary but that money ends up in the pockets of Viktor Orban´s friends and family members. Just Google Lorinc Meszaros and Istvan Tiborcz.
05-14-2019 04:20 PM
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RIslander Offline
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Post: #25
RE: Why is Budapest so poor but looks so rich?
Isn't Soros from here? ((((((((((((((((((((((()))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) could be a reason.

“There is no global anthem, no global currency, no certificate of global citizenship. We pledge allegiance to one flag, and that flag is the American flag!” -DJT
05-14-2019 04:48 PM
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