I'm in idiot for ending up here. I made so many bad choices and now my son is suffering from it. I love my boyfriend but I'm questioning whether or not our relationship is worth everything we've been through. My boyfriend and I just want to live our lives together and eventually get married but his family is ruining it all. I'm so mentally exhausted and I can't parent like I'm supposed to do. I don't want to get out of bed anymore. submitted by
I don't want to explain how I got here, I just can't I'm sorry. I came to live with my boyfriend across the states when I turned 18 to escape my abusive mother. I live with my boyfriend and his parents. We all used to live at his cousins house but we had to leave. I believe his parents intentionally isolated us away from the city so that we no longer had access to the resources we needed to become more independent. My boyfriend is 25, I'm 20. His parents never attempted to teach him how to drive or take him to even try to get his drivers license. He depends on his father to take him back and fourth to work. His job is 20 miles away from where we live. We had no say in where we moved to and any houses that we found online were shut down. I believe this was because the parents didn't want to pay for deposit fees on all of their cats, I don't know. We live in a trashy trailer park invested with roaches in the middle of nowhere. We don't have any family or friends around that are willing to help us in any way and all of our resources are out of reach now. It's not like I can just take the bus everywhere anymore.
They won't let me work. Every time I bring up how badly I need a job, how we have no money ever, his father tells me that I don't need to work. How I'm a horrible mother for abandoning my son to go work. How being a stay at home mother is the most important job in the world. His parents bring me down every time I try to be my own person. They've told me before that I just use my bf for his money. I'm losing my mind, I don't want this to be my life!! I want to bring in my own money! I WANT TO GET MY FAMILY OUT OF THIS MESS! This isn't the 1950s!
My bf's father makes a lot of money. So much that he can pay my bf's mother what my bf makes in a single paycheck as an "allowance." They go blow all of their money at the casino and never buy groceries but also eat everything my boyfriend buys. We don't qualify for food stamps because his father makes too much money, but we never know for sure if we're going to have enough food to last until payday. My bf makes SCRAPS compared to him. His father is always borrowing money from my bf and not paying it back half the time. The only thing his father does is pay half of the bills and rent. He never helps with the 300$ in gas money my bf has to put in his fathers car to get himself to work. If he didn't have to pay that much in gas then we could at least save some money.
My son is a year and a half old and I never wanted to regret having him but there are days where I wonder what the hell is the matter with me for bringing a child here. He has an appointment coming up and I have no idea how I'm going to get him there. I didn't know it was going to be like this. My boyfriends father promised to take him car shopping last year, but that never happened and the savings we had for a car dwindled away when covid hit. Our last hope is riding on this year's tax refund. If it's the same as earlier this year I just can't see us getting out. We plan on getting a car and leaving as soon as we can. Just entertain them and eventually we'll have an opportunity to run. I just want away from these people. They're both religious nuts who constantly claim that everything will work out if we just put our faith in god, but do everything possible to make our life miserable. I try to stay positive knowing that we at least aren't homeless, and even if it's not a lot we still have food but it's so difficult when every single day is the same torment for me. I never get to leave the house and my son is the only thing keeping me sane. I just want to be a good mom to him and not this depressed shell anymore.
Disclaimer: I am a trainee chartered accountant who works in large tax firm. My specialty is a very specific area of corporation tax; I do not prepare tax returns in my job, and I don't work with personal tax. I live and work in the European Union, but the tax issues are high-level principles, and in general I think the conclusions aren't really affected by the specificities of the US tax code. Nothing in this post should be taken as tax or legal advice in any context.
I wanted to try and put down some thoughts on the Trump tax return revelations in order to achieve some kind of catharsis in the face of what I think is a lot of misinformation and misunderstandings. I'll include headings for each issue on my mind and hopefully people can either gain some insight or engage with me to help me to understand better. Tax Planning, Avoidance and Evasion
First, let me explain with examples what each of these terms refer to. Tax Planning
is the use of tax incentives to minimize a tax bill which are contemplated by the drafter of the tax code. An example is a scheme that would allow you to pay your gym membership using your pre-tax pay: when you pay the sum out of the gross amount, you won't suffer tax on the amount paid, and as such you will pay less tax. The idea is that by incentivising the population to spend on a certain outcome, the benefits of the outcome (healthier people) will be more efficient for the system as a whole (healthcare or mental health or whatever).1 Tax Avoidance
is the implementation of aggressive or inventive tax structures in order to reduce a tax bill in a manner which is either legal or illegal, characterised by the lack of contemplation on the part of the drafter of the tax code. In other words, it means you are finding a "tax loophole" that doesn't necessarily generate value otherwise for the state and taking advantage of it to reduce your tax bill. A famous example of this is the "Dutch Sandwich": large corporations took advantage of the relationship between different international treaties in order to shift profits to a low tax jurisdiction such as Bermuda.2 Tax Evasion
is illegal tax avoidance. Let's say you rent a property and ask your tenant to pay you in cash. You then do not declare this cash as rental income, thus avoiding having to pay tax on your rental income. This is illegal because you haven't presented a fair and true set of information of your taxable income/expenses for the tax year, so you are evading the payment of tax. You could, for example, claim a tax refund to which you are not entitled.3
With regard to Trump, tax avoidance alone with respect to his personal affairs should constitute a black mark on his record as a public servant. It ought to be a huge scandal that a politician avoided tax, no matter how elusive and clever the scheme, because tax avoidance results in a deficit in the year's tax revenues that has to be made up for by the taxes paid by the public. If even a comedian has enough shame to apologise and roll back his tax avoidance arrangements, a presidential candidate should do it in a heartbeat.4 Carry-forward Losses
Carry-forward losses are a technically complicated area of taxation, and I am not at all privy to the rules in the US. This doesn't matter though, because in principle
the implementation is extremely understable. It means that when you have a business venture, and you make a loss in a given year, you can use that loss in future years to avoid paying tax on the profits.
Let's take a super short example:
Let's say I have income in Year 1 of 100 and expenses of 120, so I make a loss of 20. I don't pay tax on my loss.
Let's say I have income in Year 2 of 100 and expenses of 80, so I make a profit of 20. The previous year's loss cancels out my profit this year, and I don't pay any tax.
The result is that you consider the entire business venture in its entirety, because it would be unfair (and unproductive) to force a business to suffer tax on its profitable years but to ignore the years it made a loss.
For me, carry-forward losses do not come close to avoiding a tax burden for 11 of 18 years, as per the NYT article. Perhaps the layout of his taxes paid is bizarre (he could have had a huge tax bill in a single year which means the lack of tax paid in the other years is explained). The reason that this is telling is in the opening paragraphs of the NYT article:5
He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made. "Largely because he reported losing much more money than he made."
This is the idea you have to grip in your head: if Trump were an investment machine, you would put a dollar in and get back 30 cents
. These facts outline the financial profile of a business operative whose extreme incompetence and lack of self control has resulted in losses for the shareholders of the businesses for which he is responsible. A capable member of management has literally one job: make money for the company's shareholders, and it is clear that in the aggregate Trump has not been able to succeed in doing this.
The article outlines further that the only area in which Trump was successful was in his capacity as a performer in the context of shows like The Apprentice6 or ads for Oreos7 or Domino's pizza.8
His only successful venture is playing the part of a caricature of the businessman he pretends to be in his professional life, whereas in reality he was a total failure. Trump's only successful business investments are companies in which he did not perform a management role: those where he invested capital and the business was ran by someone else. Quick Fire TL:DR Round
Last thing: "Maximise Present Value of Cash Flows"
- The bulky tax refund that Trump used to reduce the majority of his tax bill is the subject of an audit by the IRS. I don't know anything about this audit, and you don't either.
- Trump has personally guaranteed loans (I have never encountered this and it is an immensely foolish thing to do in any business context).
- Trump has large amounts of concerning debt, the principal (the amount he originally borrowed and has to pay back) is coming due in his second term.
- Trump has deducted questionable expenses against his taxable income (either for avoidance or embarrassment reasons), such as certain residences, aircraft and the $70,000 in hair styling.
- Something really interesting: the Trump Organisation has paid Ivanka Trump as a consultant in a manner which reduced the family's overall tax bill. This is a red flag for auditors, as the sum paid could be engineered to reduce their taxable income as the parties involved in the transaction are related.
Here's a comment that frustrated me immensely, but it's posted in an echo chamber so I couldn't reply: https://old.reddit.com/Conservative/comments/j106fp/ny_times_trump_paid_750_in_us_income_taxes_in/g6wv06i/
The argument is that the losses are sustained in order to maximise present value of cash flows:9
Not even close. Again, Amazon was a company with negative net income and worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Is that also a failed business? Amazon and Trump seem to be employing the same strategy - using their free cash flow to maximize future earning potential. All Trump's tax returns tell us is that he is trying to "maximize present value of future cash flows" - exactly what Amazon does.
This is intensely misleading and doesn't take into account the stark differences between Trump's area of operations and Amazon. Moreover, the correct comparison isn't the entity Amazon, it's Bezos, and the taxes he paid as the leader of a large & successful conglomerate over the course of 11 years or so.
In certain industries, it's common to sustain heavy losses in early operational years in order to prepare for years when you expect your business venture to generate revenues. Take a pharmaceutical company: during the years when you are researching and developing your drug, you can't sell it, so you make losses on that specific venture: but when you finally start to actually get people paying for your product, you can often command a price high enough to recuperate whatever losses you made. In the case of Amazon, Jeff Bezos devoted the company's strategy to building a robust and near-monopolistic infrastructure where Amazon inhabits so many areas of consumers' lives that they turn to it without thinking for everyday products, subscriptions etc.
The question I would love to grill this commenter on is super simple: when your businesses are casinos, golf courses and hotels, what exactly is the event or change you are expecting to take place in the future that will suddenly "maximise your future cash flows"? What is the future investment that Trump's ventures are sustaining net losses on that are going to be profitable in the future? Why are Trump's competitors in these sectors generally able to run their businesses with enough alacrity to generate a profit?
If Trump were an able businessman, there is no reason he shouldn't be able to run these businesses successfully. Questions
If anybody is curious about anything above and wants to discuss it, or just ask me to explain/give my impressions on any of this stuff, feel free to ask and if I think I understand it it would be fun to discuss.
For anyone who understands the US tax system better than I do: one issue I can't wrap my head around at all is how people keep talking about "depreciation" in the context of these revelations. If you think you understand it, can you explain to me how Trump or others think depreciation has anything to do with the information revealed in the NYT article? Depreciation, as a rule, shouldn't affect taxable income because it's an accounting entry and not a deductible/relevant tax expense. 1 https://www.unionen.se/rad-och-stod/friskvardsbidrag-fran-arbetsgivaren, for example.
8 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouG9cVhjPds; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEROWjPdCNU.
9 The use of this phrase in this context is total nonsense. "Net present value" is an investment evaluation technique that takes into account the time value of money for future investment flows. What the commenter means, I think, is effective working capital management: based on the facts in the article, Trump is an atrocious working capital steward as the losses he sustains through his businesses will have to be supplemented with additional capital in the business, either from his own pocket or shareholders he can convince to invest.
It’s all a stupid waiting game at this point and I hope that everyone receives the help they need in relatively reasonable amounts of time. I got lucky in a way, because my parents (retirees on SSI with decent retirement incomes) split their $2400 with me and my sister. I can wait for whatever else might come from the IRS. Sure, I’m very disappointed the system sucks and there are no answers, but I’m ok for now. Not everyone is in the same boat. submitted by
I’m a teacher, and I spent the first two weeks of the quarantine calling to see if parents and kids had questions about distance learning. I spent the last three days making the same calls to parents, but instead of reminding them to do work, I ended up providing emotional support to at least four families that had their income completely disappear. Yesterday was the worst. So I donned a mask and took $800 of that money my parents gave me and bought groceries for several families. THAT’S what makes me so sad and upset. I live in an area where casinos are the main source of income. They’ve been shut down for weeks. This affects tons of folks, from the US citizen working as a cook at the buffet to the undocumented person from Guatemala emptying the slot machine ash trays. I don’t usually get involved in immigration issues and such, but watching and hearing parents cry about wondering about their next meal is heartbreaking. We also have a homeless camp behind my neighborhood (a consequence of Katrina, over ten years ago) and the flow of people through my neighborhood, lugging their few personal possessions with kids in tow, makes all of my concern about my lack of payment seem so selfish and inconsiderate. But for a country of such power, intelligence, and innovation, it’s terribly disappointing to see a system like the IRS fail miserably at providing help to those in dire need.
You see, a lot of our families don’t have bank accounts. Life literally revolves around tax time. When those refund checks hit, pop-up car lots selling a ten year old car with 150,000 miles spring up like mushrooms after the rain. Lots families don’t use free tax filing services because they could use a refund advance. So, they do their taxes at Walmart or wherever H&amp;amp;R Block or Jackson Hewitt is set up. Heck, I even had a neighbor let people come use her computer and internet (for $20) so folks could use Turbo Tax and get the refund advance. A great many are also considered “Pathers” and have to wait until mid February for their refund due to certain tax credits. And now, these are some of the same people that are screwed. I don’t have direct evidence, but from piecing together from Turbo Tax forums, Igotmyrefund.com, and reddit, it seems that a lot of folks taking refund advances are the same people now in “stimulus purgatory.” Santa Barbara Tax Group (SBTG) is an intermediary between the IRS, Turbo Tax, and GreenDot. When you take the advance, these folks establish a temporary account number (doesn’t appear on your tax return, read the fine print of the refund advance TOA). They “loan” you your advance, and when the IRS issues your refund, it goes to the intermediary bank. In my case, that’s SBTG. Ironically, neither Turbo Tax nor SBTG could provide any answers to clients when asked “does the IRS. Have my DD info?” Turbo Tax forums were flooded with messages and the generic response was “we are waiting for guidance from the IRS.” Supposedly, SBTG could not come to an agreement with Green Dot regarding fees. In fact, SBTGs website explicitly said that in the event payments were deposited to temporary accounts, they’d withhold fees (according to my SBTG account for this year’s tax return, $122, part of which went to Turbo Tax) then forward to the Turbo Card, as refund advance clients must receive their final refund on the card. They also mentioned returning deposits to the IRS “as quick as possible.” My personal opinion is this: 1) IRS, in an attempt to make funds available to people as quickly as possible, jumped the gun on direct deposits, assuming the DD information on file for most taxpayers was correct. 2) After doing so, realized that some deposits would go to temporary accounts, so they provided the portal to allow people to feel they’d taken the correct measures to ensure prompt deposits. Didn’t matter, see #4. 3) Meanwhile, SBTG and GreenDot couldn’t come to an agreement on fees. 4) Deposits went out, and now an unknown amount of money is sitting somewhere, possibly at SBTG, earning interest instead of fees, this benefiting SBTG. 5) Meanwhile, out here in the real world, some of the lowest earners and most in need are putting faith in the IRS that if their money went to SBTG, it’ll come back and be reissued to their updated DD account per the portal. 6) Those same folks, myself included, are not receiving any information, much less stimulus checks, because there is no way they will pay us twice. In their procedures, we’ve been paid. The fact the IRS has no way for an individual to ACTUALLY see if a payment has been made makes me believe this more. Sure, you can check the portal (but don’t do it more than once a day or whatever so you don’t lock yourself out anywhere from 24-49? hours), but it’s not going to tell you a DDD if the funds they’ve already sent are hanging around out there, like at SBTG. 7) Final verdict: I honestly believe some of us will not get this payment. At least until some government investigation or threat of litigation makes intermediaries like SBTG disclose the truth about the actual number of deposits made to temporary accounts, how long they held the money, and IF they ever returned said deposits to the IRS.
I’m tired. I’m sad. I’m confused. And I freaking pay my taxes every year. I think we all deserve an honest answer and clear information about this situation. I hope that EVERYONE gets the assistance they need and deserve. But I’m very hesitant to trust ANYONE or ANYBODY when it comes to this situation. What I can say is I will never use Turbo Tax or H&R Block, nor take a refund advance ever again. I did last year for convenience (pay off credit cards from Christmas and get a little ahead on bills), but I won’t fall into that trap again. Because it feels like some of the banks, like SBTG, wanted a little piece of the stimulus pie at the expense of some taxpayers currently unemployed, underpaid, and worrying about dying from a threatening disease.
There are a million must have items, as in I will imply we must have this or it makes you a crappy parent/son/husband (?? Isnt that up to me?? Lol) submitted by
There was a magical mystery small bill that was us unpaid but shes gone to the casino and lost a hundred bucks..twice.
It goes on but if I rant anymore I'll get too mad to function.
we are moving out soon thankfully but shes out of work for health reasons so it's not the worst thing ever imo to contribute but its downright predictable in my 6th year of tax refunds w now-DH. Plus he just got a long deserved promotion which she KNOWS will make it so that we can move out.
She is to her credit usually a jYmil. To me. She also kinda has already clearly demonstrated how that changes when her kids move out and lucky for us we would be the last of those. DH only became the GC because my BIL (sheesh acronyms) married a woman who chose to go on the absolute extreme offensive instead of grey rocking but that's a story for another time.
(I cant figure out flairs on mobile..but no advice needed?)
I was furloughed from my job at a local casino in Kansas. I haven’t had any money coming in for two weeks as the Kansas unemployment system is completely overwhelmed and keeps crashing. I was able to put a weekly claim in last week but it hasn’t paid out yet, and I have not been able to put in a claim this week due to the systems catastrophic failure (the site is down and the phone lines are flooded with calls). To add insult to injury, the extra 600 a week isn’t available to us yet either. Im not sure when the stimulus check will arrive, as I filed through turbo tax and got a debit card through them to have my tax refund deposited on. I was barely able to pay this weeks bills and next week I have no idea what I can do. I can’t sleep due to the constant state of panic that I’m in. Does anyone have any suggestions about what I can do to avoid getting evicted or missing any other payments? submitted by
So I, being a poor UK student, decided to buy my first serious guitar online. Long story short, I’ve got a gorgeous looking Epiphone Casino looking guitar, called an Oscar Schmidt. But it’s got quite a few problems with it. The strings are at different heights due to the nut not being level, and the guitar neck is dead straight even with the truss rod tightened as much as it safely can be (not too knowledgeable on the technical side of things so I probs got some of the terminology wrong). Anyways, the two techs that looked at it basically valued the fix to be just under what I was supposed to have paid for it, so I considered sending it back for a refund, but to do that I’d have to pay the £90 shipping back to the US. I already got boned by postage and import tax so what was supposed to be a £220 guitar ended up being upwards of £350, which I could’ve just bought an actual Epiphone with. However it looks unique and really pretty (Edit: and it sounds really nice, decent bluesy tone) so I’m loathe to get rid of it, I was thinking just replacing the neck, any suggestions? submitted by
Free 30+ page travel guide about Budapest, Hungary and bits of Central Europe. Enjoy!
Information correct as of summer 2020. If you find anything incorrect or would like to make requests, suggestions (or just want to say hi), please do that here
! You should also drop by in /budapest
to see past questions and to get advice from multiple people.
I would also greatly appreciate your post-trip feedbacks about whether my recommendations worked out for you or not! Restaurants, clubs can undergo radical changes and it's not always possible to keep track of every single one.
The local charity I support is the Hungarian Food Bank Association
. For every €1 donated they are able to save €30 worth of perishable food and have it reach underprivileged Hungarian families. If you find this guide useful, please consider donating to them!
Some links use URL-shorteners, so I could track how many of you are using this guide. Nothing fishy waiting for you behind them.
See my suggestions in the comments below about: ===CORONA RESTRICTIONS===
The situation is subject to change momentarily, this information is current as of September 2020
. Eastern Europe as a whole has largely been spared from the worst of it, including Hungary, and the risk of transmission is low. Presently foreigners are banned from entry altogether.
Exceptions are in place for people with ties to the country (family members, studies, work, those holding residence permits), and people transiting by car on designated highways.
The situation will be revised monthly, with experts saying the second peak is expected for December-January.
In the country, you need to wear a mask on public transport, inside shops, malls, cinemas, museums. You don't need to wear them inside restaurants, cafes, bars, but they must close by 23.00. Social distancing rules are in place, but largely ignored. ===END OF CORONA RESTRICTIONS===
Hungary has a continental climate with 4 seasons. Summer is the main season, a slightly less busy time to visit is April to mid-June and September to October, but the weather is less predictable. Those uncomfortable with 30+C (>85F) temperatures should visit around then as 35+C (>95F) is not uncommon in the summer. November through March has -5 to 10 (20-50F) and possibly gloomier weather – but fewer tourists.
Currency: the Hungarian Forint (HUF, Ft). Fair exchange rates for Euros is around 330-335Fts, for US Dollars around 300. Only use currency exchanges where the buy/sell spread isn't greater than 5-6Fts for these two currencies!
Citizens of 62 countries
do not require a visa to enter the Schengen Area and can stay for maximum 90 days within a rolling 180-day window. See here
if you don’t know what that entails. EU member countries that are not members of the Schengen Area are Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania, and the United Kingdom, visits to these do not count toward your 90 days. Non-EU countries part of the Schengen Area are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, visits to these do count toward the cap.
Because we both know you want to do your own research
- WeLoveBudapest, the definitive city magazine in English, from top lists to current events,
- Offbeat Budapest, a new site with the author’s finger very much on the city’s pulse,
- Spotted by Locals, for even more local insight. Their offline city guide is worth $3.99.
- TripAdvisor, a small number of reviews might be bought, but no other site competes with their sheer volume of input. Be skeptical of places with unbalanced (90+% 5-star) reviews, the remaining ones should be accurate.
- Foursquare, with more local input than on TA,
- Wikivoyage, for your encyclopedic knowledge needs,
- Most threads on budapest and a couple more on hungary, which you can search like this,
See the city in 4K
, or with Rick Steves
However nothing beats having a physical guidebook in your hand! Lonely Planet
has the best and most recent issue.
Read up on the concept of coconut and peach cultures
, as sometimes the reserved and distant behaviour of locals can be misinterpreted by ‘peach’ visitors as rudeness – nope! This is a comprehensive itinerary
, but leaves out the best museum of the city: the House of Terror, a solemn museum of the Nazi and Soviet occupation and crackdowns (get the audio guide or be prepared to peruse dozens of pamphlets). There's an attendance limit, so you might need to wait up to 30-45 minutes to get in when it's the busiest. When you are around Deák Ferenc tér, drop by in the Tourinform office
(Sütő utca 2., the small street near the church) to stock up on free maps, printed guides of the city. WeLoveBudapest prints a comprehensive and free one every year around June.
I suggest 4 full days
to discover Budapest, or 3 faster paced ones. Make it 5-7 if you'd like to make a few daytrips (Szentendre - open-air ethnographic museum, cobblestoned, quaint center, Esztergom - Central Europe's largest cathedral and religious center, Visegrád - medieval castle, Eger - medieval castle and wine region). Most of Hungary’s highlights can be visited in 2 weeks. For more details on countryside and international trips, see my comment below
. Meal times
and habits are typical to central Europe: breakfast is usually done at home, not much of a culture of eating out in the morning. But a large number of new wave breakfast places
have popped up in the past years, which offer ample opportunities for visitors, normally from 8am
. Lunch is at midday, after 1pm most places are going to be fairly empty and many will stop serving lunch after 2pm. The standard time for dinner is 7pm
, bookings for later than 8pm are unusual. Lots of restaurant kitchens close at 10pm (with the restaurant following suit 30-60 minutes later), finding a meal after that hour is challenging for anything other than street food. Baths
Gellért is the most aesthetic, Széchenyi the largest and most popular among foreigners (Sparty
can get crazy with lots of drinking, puking and sex going on in the pools, but it is wildly overpriced and 100% aimed at visitors). Rudas is a Turkish hamam with swimwear optional, single-gender weekdays (women-only on Tuesdays, coed and swimwear-mandatory on the weekend). Lukács is plain and personally I’m not a fan of it – tourists only visit it because it’s included free with the Budapest Card. For more details on the baths, see this
For off the beaten path sights, ride the D11 or D12 public boat lines for a cheap alternative to paid cruises (travelcards only valid on weekdays, otherwise 700Ft), check out the Pinball Museum, Hospital in the Rock or check out this section
for a lot more off the beaten path ideas
Hungary has the world’s highest effective VAT (=sales tax) at 27%. Non-EU/EEA tourists are eligible for VAT refund on their qualifying purchases if they complete the paperwork (min. €175 value per transaction, passport+reclaim form stamped by customs official).
The most popular and best accessible mall of the city is WestEnd on Nyugati tér. Arena Plaza is larger by floor area and carries a couple brands that can’t be found elsewhere, but is less centrally located (10min walk from Keleti train station). Don’t expect to find bargains on clothing or electronics, prices are similar to Western Europe and over North American or Asian ones.
For more information on shopping and VAT refund, see here
. Paprika Market
is a decent souvenir shop in the sea of overpriced, terrible quality crap on Váci utca. Magma Gallery
for contemporary and affordable jewelry, ceramics and home decor items by local designers is just one street over on Petőfi Sándor utca.
Check out the antique bookstores alongside Múzeum körút between Astoria and Kálvin tér, some have Socialist-era posters available for sale from 30€ and up, that could be a unique gift/home decor to take home. Ecseri road flea market for more antiques, go early on Saturdays. Hungarian cuisine
is hearty and filling, with a heavy use of meats. Must-try foods are:
- goulash: a beef soup with potatoes and carrots!
- Hortobágy crêpes: Hungary's more sophisticated answer to enchiladas, these savory crepes filled with either stew or minced meat covered in creamy paprika sauce make excellent starters or even entrée.
- pörkölt/paprikás: a thick stew without or with sour cream mixed in and what the rest of the world incorrectly believes goulash is – my favorite is catfish with curd cheese&dill noodles, though beef, chicken and the inferior pork are more commonplace
- roast sausage and blood sausage (hurka-kolbász): the breakfast of champions! Ideally eaten at an authentic butchershop like Pinczi or Balla with a side of pickled veggies, mustard (or horseradish) white bread and cold beer at 8am on a Saturday.
- everyone’s favorite street food, lángos: Hungarians only eat it with salt, garlic, sour cream and/or cheese, the Frankensteinian concoctions with sausage or kebab toppings are 100% aimed at tourists
- Somló trifle: a scrumptious walnut sponge dessert with chocolate sauce and whipped cream
- Chimney cake: a sweet, spiral pull-apart bread baked over charcoal, rolled in the topping of your choosing (typically nuts, cinnamon, vanilla sugar, cocoa, coconut flakes)
For authentic recipes, recommendations for recipe blogs or cookbooks, tips for cooking traditional Hungarian meals, see here
For edible souvenirs to bring home with you:
- Pick winter salami: only choose the original, typically ~6000/kg, comes in sizes of 380, 800 and 1250g and in trays (100 and 250g). The brand has a deli & store (working with regular prices) on Kossuth tér, next to the Parliament, open from 7am on weekdays for breakfast and lunch.
- Tokaji dessert wine: aszú being the premium product with the at least 4 puttony varieties suggesting quality, but they make regular whites as well, so check the label. Should cost at least 3-4000 per bottle. Suggested wineries: Disznókő, Oremus, Dereszla. Avoid: Royal Tokaji
- Premium pralines in lovely, traditional packaging from Stühmer.
Grocery stores include Spar, Tesco, Aldi and Lidl. Avoid CBA and Coop, low quality for high prices. Small convenience stores, many 24/7, also dot the city at higher prices.
The most popular and best accessible mall of the city is WestEnd on Nyugati tér.
Alcohol is sold at every one, but some (mostly residential) districts enact a ban on the sale between 22.00-06.00. The central Pest districts don’t have such limitations in place.
Tobacco is sold at tobacconists (‘nemzeti dohánybolt’
). These shops are also exempt from the evening alcohol sale ban if you find yourself in such a district. Flavored cigarettes are banned in Hungary, so no Black Devils or Sobranies. Budgets (per person)
For reasonable comforts, I would suggest aiming for at least €50 per day excluding accommodation. Hotel prices significantly vary in and outside high season.
Getting around Do not buy the Budapest Card
- Shoestring: <€50 (hostel dorm €10, attractions €5+, meals and entertainment €10+)
- Mid-range: €75-150 (1/2 of hotel room or great Airbnb €30+, attractions €20+, meals and entertainment €25+)
- In comfort: €150+ (1/2 of comfy hotel €75+, attractions €30+, meals and entertainment €50+)
, it is not a bargain, even if every travel blogger seems to think otherwise! You would need to visit at least 3-4 museums a day to break even and the free visit to the pretty plain Lukács Baths could mean you’d deny yourself going to the much more interesting mainstream alternatives, such as Gellért or Széchenyi. The discounted museums are second-rate and typically not what most visitors choose to hit up on their own. Do buy a public transport travelcard
, the 1, 3 or 5-day unlimited options require no validation or ID (common reasons for fines). For week-long stays, the 7-day travelcard needs an ID number and that you have the document on you at all times. Please do not try to get around by using single tickets
The travelcards are economical (from €5/24h to €15/week) and easy to use: no validation, you just show it to the controllers. Validity starts immediately by default, or you can select a later starting date (always from midnight). 7-day and monthly passes require an ID/passport number, and you must have the ID on you whenever you travel, otherwise you risk getting fined!
Groups of 4 or more can also buy the even more economical '24h group travelcard', but all persons must travel together using that. Common reasons for fines
- Forgetting to validate single or transfer tickets
- Entering the subway station without a valid ticket
- Not having the ID on you for the 7-day travelcard or monthly passes (if you are fined for this, you have 2 business days to present it to the central BKK office for a reduced fine)
Ticket inspectors (must have an anonymized badge and armband
) are notoriously brash, speak subpar English. Paying on the spot lets them give you a discounted fine of 8000 instead of the regular 16000 through postal order or wire transfer, they aren't looking to scam you if they offer you that. Fines are pursued internationally through collection agencies, multiplying the original amount once their fees are added.
Cheapest way to get to the city from the airport
is by public transport
. I suggest paying the 900Ft supplementary ticket for the 100E bus. The southern portion of the M3 subway is under reconstruction, during that period the 200E buses go beyond their usual terminus, Kőbánya-Kispest and take you to Nagyvárad tér station, where the subway runs from. The purple ticket machines at the airport and all over the city take chipped cards. Shuttle bus
is a good compromise between price and comfort and depart when full or close to.
Ignore touts walking up to you offering cabs
in the arrival hall, use the official Főtaxi booth
immediately outside the building. Rates are centralized: flagfall 700Ft, 300Ft/km, 75Ft/min
waiting. The fair price to the centre is around 7-9.000Fts. Rides inside the centre are typically under 3.000. All taxi companies have passable reputations with a few horror stories about each, Főtaxi (+36-1-222-2222), 6x6 Taxi (+36-1-666-6666), City Taxi (+36-1-211-1111) are a few. There are some stories of even company cab drivers trying to rip off naive-looking tourists, especially around train and bus stations, so consider legal Uber-alternative Taxify/Bolt (Android
). Uber is banned.
Most companies have apps, but they have terrible design and might set an unchangeable pick up location 5-10 minutes away from you. It’s much better to order by phone, they have English-speaking operators. If you must use an app, choose Taxify. Scams
Cabbies are the only ones eclipsing the ticket inspectors in notoriety. I cannot emphasize enough: DO NOT USE THE ONES WITH ‘FREELANCER’ ON THE FRONT DOORS!!!
These drivers are nicknamed 'hyenas', work independently, they always have rigged meters and are known to sometimes assault customers who don’t comply with their ridiculous demands. If you hail on the street, be absolutely certain you’re getting into a company cab (logo on the front doors).
A known scam by the hyenas, fraudsters and illegal street exchangers is giving you worthless currencies
with similarly high denominations as the Forint – namely the Indonesian Rupiah or the old Belarusian Ruble. Bag handlers at the airport steal from unsecured luggage
. Never put any valuables in your checked luggage!
Overly friendly, attractive women approaching you in broad daylight 'to practice their English' and taking you to scammy cafés where you'll be charged €300 for a bottle of bottom-shelf champagne are also to be avoided. Recently a Redditor reported the same happening to him through Tinder, so be very suspicious of anyone insistent on going to a particular establishment. The scam café was Hajós Café
on Hajós utca. Another known scam location is Café Fidelité
on Révay utca.
Otherwise general safety cautions should be exercised: watch your valuables in crowded spaces for pickpockets, be wary of overly friendly strangers approaching you and introducing the idea of going to a club or bar by their 5th sentence or of people pretending to be authority.
Policemen typically wear dark blue uniforms
and white shirts
, sometimes with a visibility vest and can be identified by the numbered metal badges on their chest and their separate police ID card which you can ask to inspect before complying with their orders. Scammers use fake police IDs to part you with your cash under the guise of inspecting the notes for counterfeits. Always ask to see it first: this
is real, this
is fake – notice where the real one has a serial number, the fake says POLICE. If the issue is anything halfway serious, ask to be escorted to the nearest police station – it will scare away scammers playing dress up.
The emergency number is 112
for police, ambulance or firefighters, there are English-speaking operators (works throughout the EU).
If you get pickpocketed, notify both the police and in case of losing your travel documents, your embassy. Thieves are usually courteous enough to leave papers near trash bins, so walk around in the neighbourhood to see if you can recover them. If you find someone else’s, hand in to the nearest police station. Getting around
the city is easy, Budapest has one of the best public transport systems of the continent. Use Google Maps
for orientation and getting around! Tickets and passes with rates are listed here
All EU/EEA citizens aged 65+ travel for free
on all Hungarian public transport, including trains, distance buses. Picture ID and administrative 0 Ft ticket required. Age 65 is not included. Student discounts are available to full-time students in EU/EEA countries
with a valid student ID. If it doesn’t have it, also carry a picture ID. EU citizenship not required, you only need to study there full-time (not applicable for exchange students unless they get ID issued). The monthly student pass (3450) is cheaper than the 72h travel card (4150) for identical benefits.
The 4 subway lines
are coded by numbers and, unofficially, colour (1-yellow, 2-red, 3-blue, 4-green). The busiest, M3, is under renovation until 2021, but remains in partial operation, see details here
. The entire line shuts down after 8pm and all day on weekends (replacement buses operate), and one section of the line is always out of service. For 2019 it’s the southern segment, between Kőbánya-Kispest and Nagyvárad tér. During this time the 200E airport bus will take you to the more central Nagyvárad tér stop (from where the subway runs) instead of its regular terminus of Kőbánya.
In Budapest driving is not recommended
for the perpetual lack of parking spaces, congestion and because there's really no need to. If you must arrive by car, pick a hotel with parking, use the free parking lot at Kelenföld subway station
, street-parking by StarPark at Podmaniczky utca
at ~€8/24h, or opt for a more central location (such as one of CarE Park’s garages
) at ~20€/24h, €100/week and do not use it for getting around in the city. Public areas are metered in the entire centre, typically charging 1.5€/h with a cap of 3 hours on a ticket.
The Bubi city bike system
is available for anyone’s use. The rates are very favourable (500Ft for 1-day, 1000 for 3 for the pass), but a deposit of €80 will be docked when you register and might take a few weeks to release. First 30 minutes are free, after it's 500Ft/30min on top of the daily pass' price.
Two e-car sharing systems compete in Budapest. I suggest using MOL Limo
, as you can complete your licence verification remotely (do it before arrival, they might take a day or three if they are backlogged). Despite the name, the cars are tiny, automatic VW up!s, the majority electric and all automatic. Age limit 18, min. 1-year old national licence, foreign ones accepted, €20 registration fee and €0.25/min rate. Coverage includes basically every area of note to tourists in the centre, except the Castle and underground garages (as well as the airport). Expansion is planned for the future. You cannot park (leave the car) outside the coverage area, but you can drive through. Sightseeing
The best rated tour bus
company is Big Bus
, Giraffe (aka. the red Hop On Hop Off ones) tends to get mixed-to-negative reviews. Segway tours
also available. Free thematic walking tours
of the city depart in front of the lion fountain on Vörösmarty tér daily. A tip of 2000-2500Ft/person suggested, but they're are chill about it, you can give less if you're on a budget.
River cruises run during the day and the evening, including dinner (usually not great, save for one) or party in the latter case. The most popular is Legenda
, partiers choose Boat Party
One standout cruise is Pannónia Gastro Boat
that goes above and beyond the standard quality of service of other operations and often host guest chefs from innovative countryside restaurants.
Public transport alternative is the D11 or D12 boat lines between Boráros tér going up to Népfürdő utca (or getting off at Jászai Mari tér or Margaret island 1 or 2 stops prior). Tram 2 between Jászai Mari tér and Boráros tér hugs the Danube on the Pest side and loops around the Parliament for a similarly nice experience. Seasonal operations, normally from March through October. Money
The currency of Hungary is the Hungarian Forint (1EUR=330HUF, 1USD=300HUF in November 2019), but I’ve listed prices in Euros (€). Check for current rates here
. Don't exchange Forints at home
, bring USD/EUGBP in cash or a chipped card with you – the withdrawal fee is far smaller than what you’d lose by the atrocious rates available to you at home (exception: neighbouring countries).
With cards, Visa, Mastercard are best, Maestro acceptable. Avoid Amex, Diners Club and other uncommon non-European issues.
CAD/AUD/JPY/CNY will be exchanged at slightly worse rates, but still much better than if you’d exchange Forints at home. I don't recommend bringing currencies other than the ones I've mentioned and those from neighboring countries, but if you do, Tichi Change
exchanges almost every valid currency in the world at as good of a rate as you could realistically hope for. When the ATM asks you if you want to be charged in your home currency, say no and opt for Forints
or you'll lose up to 30% due to the poor conversion rate! Learn more about the rip-off of dynamic currency conversion here
and steer clear of the ATMs operated by Euronet
. Besides the dynamic currency conversion ripoff, they will also prompt you to withdraw ridiculously high amounts of money (equivalent of $500 or more) that you will not be able to spend in 3-4 days. Don't exchange any money with bright orange Interchange
they use ripoff rates (>30% spread). They hava e monopoly at the airport and are also present throughout the city in premium locations, such as Váci utca. Street exchange is illegal and a good way to get scammed.
Tons of fine currency exchanges around the city, the best USD and EUR rates are at Gold Change
but use your eyes: the buy/sell spread shouldn’t be more than 1-3% apart for these, or 2.5-5% at banks. Exchange offices and banks do not take cards! You may only use them for ATM withdrawals. Phones
Make sure to bring an unlocked phone
, ideally a dual-SIM one.
The 3 main carriers are Vodafone, Telekom (T-Mobile) and Telenor. The best prepaid package is Telekom's Domino Fix with the 1/3/30-day unlimited 4G add-on
, costing 990+9900Fts (€32) for the 30-day option. SIM cards need to be activated after purchase, so buy them at brand stores where help is available instead of supermarkets or gas stations.
Roaming fees within the EU have been abolished in 2017, you will be able to use your SIM in any EU member country, but not as if it would be local. I.e. a Vodafone Hungary-issued SIM will be roaming on Vodafone Austria’s network. Some 'reasonable' data caps remain in place, which are determined by the cost of your service.
Outside the EU there are punitive data rates. I once managed to rack up a $90 bill for 5MB by accident. Sleep
Rates are for high season (late April through September, Christmas, NYE), might be 50+% lower on other dates
- For 0 hours (party hostels, from €10): Grandio, Retox, Carpe Noctem Vitae
- On a budget (well-reviewed hostels, dorm, private rooms €10-35, apartments €40-60): Lavender Circus, Maverick City Lodge, Pal’s, The Groove, Loft, standard Airbnbs
- Mid-range (€80-150): Mamaison, Cortile, Memories Oldtown, Casati, upscale Airbnbs
- In style (€150-250): Palazzo Zichy, Bródy Studios, Moments, Prestige, Corinthia, this palatial Airbnb
- Lavishly (€250+): Aria, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons (the gold standard), Kempinski
Location: if you plan on sleeping, the party district (VII., inside the ring road) should be avoided, as well as VIII. outside of it and around Keleti train station for safety reasons/because you can get nicer digs elsewhere. An under the radar gem of an area is VII. between Múzeum körút and the ring road. Buda is nowhere as dead as tourists collectively imagine it to be (especially around Széll Kálmán tér), don’t shun it if you find someplace nice there. Eat at
- Rosenstein (best traditional Hungarian restaurant in the country)
- Két Szerecsen (cozy Hungarian)
- Olimpia (casual fine dining)
- Borkonyha (business casual fine dining, Michelin-star)
- Stand25 (Bib Gourmand bistro - don't miss the goulash and the layered potatoes!)
- Kispiac (modern Hungarian)
- Vén Hajó (restaurant ship with amazing panorama and well-done Hungarian food - touristy, but still memorable!)
- Petrus (French-Hungarian, Bib Gourmand)
- Dobrumba (Arabic)
- Tüköry (traditional Hungarian on a budget)
- Ruben (traditional Hungarian on a budget)
- Bors (soups & sandwiches with a cult following)
- Manu+ (authentic Neapolitan pizza).
For more detailed restaurant recommendations, see this comment
. August visitors, check the restaurants' websites
and Facebook to see if they aren't on holiday!
The quality of service is a common source of complaints, don't take it too hard if it happens to you. Tip is 10% most of the time, unless you’re really dissatisfied or find yourself absolutely elated. Many top end restaurants add a ~12% service charge to the bill, tipping on top of that is not expected, though naturally it will be appreciated.
Neither regular, nor ost fast food restaurants do refills. The only exceptions are all KFCs and a few Burger Kings.
Smoking is banned at all restaurants, bars and basically every facility open to the public. Designated smoking areas can be found outside on the street.
(~40% ABV fruit brandy), Unicum
(herbal bitteaperitif, like Jäger), bikavér from Eger and Szekszárd (lit. ‘bull’s blood’, a full-bodied red), Tokaji aszú
(similar to white Port, made of hand-picked berries with noble rot, named the "wine of kings, king of wines" from the 18th century) or fröccs (spritzer, white or red wine mixed with seltzer – a lifesaver in the summer)!
More details in the shopping section
Or get really
local and ask for ’fény’
, carbonated vodka foam over raspberry syrup. You’ll see the fény
(=light) at the end of the tunnel in no time!
Eat a freshly fried lángos
at market halls (acceptable toppings: sour cream, garlic, cheese, perhaps ham and cabbage - certainly none of that tourist stuff with nutella, Hungarian sausage or kebab...) and fried sausage
from a butcher shop such as 1951 establishment Balla Hús
in Városház utca or the more contemporary Belvárosi Disznótoros
eatery. The gallery of the Hold utca market hall hosts quality street food vendors, Karaván
food truck yard right next to Szimpla. Nightlife
For more detailed recommendations, including strip clubs, casinos and more, see this comment
A casual evening
- Doblo - wine bar
- Élesztő - craft beer pub
- Csendes - bohemian hangout
- Nappali - neighborhood bar with great whiskies
- Mazel Tov
- Pótkulcs (low-key, occasional folk concerts)
Techno Rock and miscellaneous
- Raqpart (seasonal only)
Gay bars Get out
- Dürer Kert
- A38 (a converted Ukrainian barge – a unique experience)
- Barba Negra Track
See train schedules on Elvira
, check for buses on menetrendek.hu
(this site combines bus and train schedules, but has no English version, check for the orange or blue icon on the left side to see which is which). Daytrip
- Szentendre: a bit different from its Scottish peer (lit. 'St. Andrews') quaint, cobblestoned artist town, chock full of galleries, art museums, restaurants – and tourists. The biggest attraction requires a short cab ride out of town, the open-air ethnography museum, Skanzen, with authentic recreations of functioning village clusters (open March through October). Best restaurant, oddly enough, cooks up a Caribbean fare at the hand of the Curaçaoan owner and his Hungarian wife: Mjam. Reachable by the H5 suburban railway from Batthyány tér (requires extension ticket for segment outside city limits - that's after Békásmegyer station, you need a 15km extension)
- Visegrád and Esztergom: a Renaissance castle with a panorama in the first, Central Europe’s largest cathedral in the second – and all this can be done on a scenic hydrofoil or boat trip in season!
- Eger: the location of a key Hungarian victory over invading Ottoman forces, this popular excursion destination is famous for its medieval castle, Baroque center, random museums (Beatles, firefighting and marzipan to name a few), its reputable wineries producing full-bodied, cabernet-like reds (bull’s blood, bikavér) and the limestone terraced natural spa of neighboring Egerszalók. Suggested wineries: St. Andrea, Tibor Gál, Demeter, Bolyki. Eat at Macok restaurant (by the castle entrance), they are excellent!
- Etyek: the nearest wine region to Budapest, they focus on whites. Although not as spectacular as the previous examples, it's a worthwhile visit for wine aficionados in the summer and autumn. Typical varieties include Irsai Olivér, királyleányka and Muscat Lunel (sárgamuskotály).
For multi-day excursions
, including to lake Balaton
and detailed information on car rental, countryside and international tourism opportunities, click here
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