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Running costs holiday home

Running costs holiday home

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Old Oct 1st 2018, 7:25 pm
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Default Running costs holiday home

Hi all

First post, so thanks for allowing me to join.

Considering buying a holiday home in Hungary to use three or four times a year initially and then potentially use more towards retirement (quite a few years off sadly!). Really struggling to find any information about potential running costs. I realise asking this question is a bit vague, but we are thinking of buying out of the city so it will likely be a house not an apartment. Looking for something potentially 3 bedrooms (say up to 150m floor space) with mains electric, gas, water and sewage. Would want internet, but doesn't need to be lightning fast for a holiday home. Any guidance on garbage tax, council tax, costs to keep land in acceptable state would be appreciated. Wondering if there is anyone here who is in a similar situation already and can offer guidance. We would be looking to install air conditioning for the summer, but obviously it wouldn't be on when we weren't there, so only a few weeks a year of use. If anyone has installed air con and has any idea of costs for that, they would be appreciated too.

Most of the guidance I have seen of running costs currently are based on (a) apartments (b) full time residency. I'm not looking for precise costs as I realise they vary depending on use and location etc... just a rough idea of monthly outgoings to budget.

Ideally, we would be looking near Lake Balaton, but probably not by the Lake itself as budget won't really stretch that far, but would want to be within 2 hours of Budapest Airport to make the house a viable holiday home.

Any help greatly appreciated.

David
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Old Oct 2nd 2018, 7:24 am
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Default Re: Running costs holiday home

Welcome to British-Expats Hungary.
You don't mention if you already visited Hungary. Do you have a rough idea where you would like to buy a holiday/retirement home? Don't be lured by the cheap properties. Do research on the area, I.e. will you feel comfortable living there. Does it have all the amenities you need, or nearby. I've done my research where I want to live. The key factor is finding the right property, a bungalow!
I'm still living in UK but planning to move on retirement which is one year two weeks away, unless I drop dead before then.
There's a very knowledgeable bunch of people on here who I'm sure will give you some good advice.
Only question I have for you is why do you need AC? In the summer months most Hungarians can be found sitting outside under a verandah, in the shade or inside with shutters down to keep the heat out. Some properties are designed to keep cool during hot summer months and warm in winter months but then again some are badly designed so you'd need AC and good insulation. A Hungarian friend recently had triple glazed windows installed and should at this point be having very thick insulation added to the outside. I thought the costs were reasonable for Hungary but my friend has to do some work around the windows himself.

Last edited by FenTiger; Oct 2nd 2018 at 7:57 am.
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Old Oct 2nd 2018, 8:59 am
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Default Re: Running costs holiday home

HI David,

FenTiger is correct, do your reserch before buying/commiting!
I agree on the AC, as summers get more hot every year! Not everyone is confortable with that..You could get a very good AC installed around GBP 1000.

Altough we live here permanently, the monthly cost is around GBP200/ month (this is with heating in the winter included)

What kind of price range are you looking at? Around Balaton the prices are really high at the moment.
Who would look after your property while you are away?
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Old Oct 2nd 2018, 9:51 am
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It's going to depend on what you end up buying, of course. We are currently just holiday homers, having lived in Hungary previously from 1996-7 then moved back to UK, planning on retiring out there. Modest, modern 3 bedroom house in a village 50 mins from city centre. We spend about 12 weeks a year in Hungary. Only maybe 4 weeks of that require full central heating to 21C or so - though in Hungary you do need to keep the house heated well above zero all winter or your pipes will freeze. And heating from -15C to 5C is the same as heating your UK house to 20C in terms of fuel used. I think we're lucky in that the cellar is half buried 2m deep into a hill, so (with open doors) there is some natural slightly warmer air/ heat moving upwards through the house through convection in winter - not enough in itself to stop frozen pipes but helps keep the costs down. (We have another cellar in the garden and even in the depths of winter ie possibly -20C outside, it can be noticeably fairly warm in the unheated cellar, maybe above zero most of the time.)

Costs? You'd factor in how much time you'd need the expensive bits ie gas/ elec - though they are cheaper than UK. Household water is metered & quite expensive, maybe same as UK depending on your UK region. But meters mean you'll end up being quite frugal, I think. The pleasant surprise is 'council tax' - which in the villages is nothing like as bad as in the UK. Not that you get much for your tax - street lighting, a bit of road / village maintenance, contribution to running the mayor's office (village administration) and pretty village flowers seem to be about it. Rubbish collection is another cost, keep 'em sweet with a few cold tinnies every now & then and the binmen will let you chuck a lot more than your contract 110 litre bin's contents in the back. If you run a car, the basic compulsory insurance is cheap enough plus our village charges another car tax (by weight, ISTR) so that's another cost. Regarding utilities, I'd say that for our 12 weeks/ 52, you could equate that in proportion to the UK costs of running a similar size house & deduct a %, wild guess -25% = 75% vs UK - bit more maybe for gas low background central heating Dec-Feb - but then there are savings on 'council tax' and car insurance. There are a few odds & sods such as compulsory chimney sweep/ inspection but when they miss us out (because we're in UK) they don't come back. Internet & phone line are no worse cost than a cheap UK deal, though most people keep costs down with mobiles (landline phone minutes are more expensive; EU roaming means you can use your UK mobile minutes free of charge in Hungary for calls to UK or within Hungary). House insurance is cheaper than UK - but rebuilding costs are lower, too.

I can't face the cost of running our 2 AC units and they are no longer functional (probably need re-gassing), the inside heat in mid summer doesn't bother us too much as you can manage it with curtains/ open windows at night etc. I measure the heat in our upstairs living room, the hottest part of the house - generally 25-30C July - Aug by afternoon, which goes down to a more pleasant 20C or so with the windows open after about 6pm. I understand 20C would be too stifling for many Brits, but doesn't bother us. My long-standing Hungarian mate is very proud of his AC, though - this year he got a top of the range Hitachi unit that cost about £800 but runs silently & is cheap to run.
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Old Oct 2nd 2018, 1:12 pm
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Default Re: Running costs holiday home

An alternative to running the heating to keep the temp above freezing (usually maintained at +5) is to put antifreeze in the CH and to drain all other pipes. If you are not sure of the proper draining then it is quite usual to blow through with an air compressor. It is a bit of a faff but it saves on heating all winter and modern boilers won't run without electricity so if you get a power cut or a circuit breaker trip then no heat and the pipes and boiler freeze up anyway.

Our council tax is cheap to the point that we can't remember how much - less that 100 GBP/year and dustbin collection is about 15 GBP / quarter and we have not found it necessary to bribe them. If you are away for 3 or 6 months you can cancel (in advance) the bin collection.

We don't have A/C, in the summer when it is hotter out than in we close the windows and draw the curtains and when hotter in than out (over night) we open everything up. But our house is insulated.

When buying a property you should remember
1 The housing market is not like the UK. Outside of Budapest and a couple of other large towns there is a housing surplus so don't expect any property you buy to gain value as per the UK. Often you will not get back the cost of renovations you may do or CH you may install. Depending upon the location houses can take years to sell - like 4 - 5 or more.
2 There is not the consumer protection that you get in the UK and estate agents work first for themselves, after that the seller and the buyer is seen as the cash cow and all foreigners are rich. So do your own research regarding prices because often the price goes up when a foreigner shows interest.
3 Only one solicitor is used with house purchase, paid for buy the buyer but does not normally act for the buyer, rather their job is to ensure that the sale and purchase is legal, that is not to say fair - but legal.
4 Searches are not done by the solicitor but are the responsibility of the buyer. If you want searches done you will have to find someone to do them and you will have to detail what you want. e.g. property encumbrances, right of ways, easements, local plan, road plans etc.
5 Builders are fairly cheap - if you are on UK pay scales /company pension but don't expect them to work on your property if you are not present to urge them on. (Oh and like builders anywhere if the owner is not on site then shortcuts are taken and quality suffers). For various reasons trades people are becoming difficult to find. (So I expect prices to go up)
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Old Oct 2nd 2018, 6:14 pm
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Default Re: Running costs holiday home

We intend to make multiple visits before committing to a property but our intention is clear , firstly a holiday home that could be made or is already a permanent home.
Some very good points and gives a little insight into costs , a lot less than UK my council Tax is £200 per month which does not include water at £60 pm or the bin at £58 half year and as for value for money , I don't think I want to go there .
I think the fact that there is only one solicitor looking after only the legalities is a potential minefield one that I shall watch very carefully now forewarned , I wonder do people have medical insurance and how about dental are they more expensive than UK ?
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Old Oct 2nd 2018, 6:59 pm
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Default Re: Running costs holiday home

Dentist - some things are similar to NHS costs if you pay NHS rates in UK - eg at our decent private practice in a neighbouring village - cleaning & descaling is about £30, an X-ray is £5, a proper filling (ie white not amalgam) is £30, I had root treatment and crowns fitted about 3 times over the years a while ago now & I guess that was about £60 a pop. But the quality is extremely high if you find the right practice. My dentist spends half the week in Bp & half the week in the village practice, she's highly skilled and I think a lot cheaper in the village than in Bp.

When we lived in Bp my wife & I used to go a to great dentist who eventually had to refuse to treat us any more as he had educated/ trained further to be one of the top orthodontists in Hungary - so basic dentist work didn't pay anything like enough! There are a lot of superb dentists around.
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Old Oct 2nd 2018, 7:10 pm
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Default Re: Running costs holiday home

Another way of looking at it is that we spend 12 weeks in Hungary. Whilst I'm incurring costs in Hungary - eg Xmas/ New Year 2 weeks, thinking of gas central heating - I'm not doing the same in the UK. Living in Cornwall, there's no worry about pipes freezing so the central heating can stay off.

So at any one time, as regards utilities, you're only paying for 1 of the properties. In the other property, everything gets turned off. Obviously not true given what I said above about keeping some background warmth going over winter in Hungary to avoid frozen pipes - but largely true.

I can't be doing the dishes/ clothes washing in 2 countries at the same time!

So it's not as if you have to think: I'm getting a 2nd home/ holiday home - that means double the costs. Some things double up, yes, other things no.
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Old Oct 2nd 2018, 7:48 pm
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Wow its nice to know about dentists , it is something that I had heard so nice to be confirmed . My NHS contribution runs a little over £900 per month and I pay full cost of dental repairs/work , I had a filling about two months ago which was £54 and £30 for the consultation which I didn't think expensive , where we get let down is at the doctors its not easy to get an appointment my wife managed to get one recently and that was two weeks for the appointment but took at least a week to get them to give the appointment in the first place and the doctor whichever one I've had is not particularly good to say the least , so if one should need to see a doctor we tend to go to a walk in centre with everyone else , sit and wait , with a lot of others . It would be absolutely fantastic to be able to see a doctor in the same week of illness but at least its free , sort of . How are the Doctors in Hungary and is medication expensive ?
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Old Oct 2nd 2018, 7:54 pm
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Default Re: Running costs holiday home

Originally Posted by man of yorkshire View Post
My NHS contribution runs a little over £900 per month
What do you mean your 'NHS contribution'? What are you paying £900 per month for, do you mean private medical? If so that's crazy expensive!
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Old Oct 2nd 2018, 9:57 pm
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Default Re: Running costs holiday home

Dear all

Wow, thank you so much for the responses so far. There is some really good advice here. I'll try to respond to those who have commented, here goes:

FenTiger: Thank you for your thoughts. Yes I have visited Hungary several times, at different times of the year, actually mostly in winter, so aware of the climate, but also during a very hot summer May and June/July hence the thinking around Air Conditioning. I would say that's more a personal preference than something everyone would want. In terms of area, we want to be close enough to Budapest to make it not too far to travel for a holiday. The Balaton area seems to tick a lot of boxes, ideally to the East side as its closer to Budapest, but possibly more South East due to cost. Relatively new to that part of the country so any advice is always appreciate about specific areas. Loving the countdown to retirement!

Szentgal: Thanks for the info on the Air Con, it is useful to get a rough idea what we'd need in the pot to get that put in. Although depending on the time of year we buy, that could wait a few months. When you say you live there, could you give me an idea of your property size. £200 a month doesn't sound too bad compared with UK costs, so I would assume a holiday home would be less. We have seen properties that look to be in good condition around £10-15k, but obviously are cautious about whether they are too good to be true. We choose Hungary because compared with Portugal (our second choice) the condition of property is generally better for our budget, and living costs seem better. In Portugal, we were looking at property management companies to keep an eye on the property, I'm assuming these are more sparse in Hungary, but other posts appear to suggest that there may be locals or ex-pats looking for a few extra quid who might be willing to help out. Again would love to hear ideas on how others manage this and what they pay.

Pilis Nemzeti Park Fella: Your post was also really helpful, especially considering heating issues while we are not there. Do you leave your heating on while you are not there, your post seems to imply you do? Again your comments around costs are really helpful. We would not be using the place that much, but it appears that potentially the costs would be lower than for the UK when all things are factored in. Like the idea of keeping the bin men sweet. Hopefully modern AC is not so expensive to run and considering we would be 'saving' the cost of a holiday rental the weeks were in Hungary, hopefully the bills wouldn't make us too distressed. I agree with you that every week is Hungary is a week of saving in the UK, so its not double the costs. Again, thank you for your very detailed response, it is greatly appreciated.

Peter_in_Hungary: Thanks for the suggestion re: heating and draining the pipes. Thats something I will look into as the idea of leaving gas and electric turned on for months at a time while we are not there doesn't seem like something I want to do unless it is unavoidable. Thanks for the info on the Council tax and bin tax. It may well be that we can cancel collection for blocks of 3 months at times in the year. We don't see buying as an 'investment', but rather as a 'saving' in the long term on holiday costs and a mortgage free property in retirement. I think that is probably the only way to approach the market in Hungary, unless its in Budapest. Would be interested if anyone has any good experience of working with property agencies who work on behalf of the buyer and also whether anyone had surveys etc... done prior to purchase and where these can be sourced? Some really useful advice at the end of your post about buying in Hungary, thank you.

man of yorkshire: Great to see someone else in the same position. Hope you manage to find a property that works for you. Some interesting discussion on medical and dental costs as well, which while not necessarily relevant to us while it is a holiday home, might be in the future. Thank you.

Once again thank you. Would love to hear from more of you on running costs and any other general wisdom you have for newbies, especially contacts who have been useful to you in the buying process.

Greatly appreciative of all your responses.

David
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Old Oct 3rd 2018, 8:04 am
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Originally Posted by christmasoompa View Post
What do you mean your 'NHS contribution'? What are you paying £900 per month for, do you mean private medical? If so that's crazy expensive!
Sorry if I'm generalising but N I contributions as you know everyone who works pays N I contribution , primarily is for NHS but originally was to provide a state pension and of course this is being fazed out with the push for private pension , it will take time but the writing is on the wall . It seems to me our government is very good at calling things other than Tax like a contribution or a licence but after all it is taken from everyone's salary at source so to me it is a Tax either way it is a cost in the UK that some other countries do not charge because there is a different system .
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Old Oct 3rd 2018, 10:07 am
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Originally Posted by davidcarne View Post

Do you leave your heating on while you are not there, your post seems to imply you do?

David
Yes - take this year, we're out again last 2 weeks of October, When we depart I'll leave the gas central heating on its minimum setting 5C plus 2 back up electric oil radiators. Would normally do that end of summer hols as October half term is a rare treat. There CAN be a very cold snap in December, though pretty rare. So the central heating won't actually come on much, if at all, before Xmas. Our central heating system is both radiators and underfloor - both parts have the option to keep the water in the pipes circulating continuously, so I usually leave those pumps turned on to further minimise the likelihood of pipes freezing & bursting. Boiler failing is always a bit of a worry now the system is over 20 years old.

Some years I keep a record of gas & elec usage in our absence 2nd Jan - Easter hols and it can be very minimal, house is well insulated, we have big south- and west-facing windows and as I said earlier, there's naturally some slightly warmer air moving up from the cellar to the top of the house.

Always feels like living in a freezer for a day when we arrive at Xmas! But in reality it will typically be 5C+, just take an age to warm up, all that concrete in particular stays cold for ages! Hungarian housebuilders do like their concrete!
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Old Oct 3rd 2018, 10:55 am
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Default Re: Running costs holiday home

Originally Posted by man of yorkshire View Post
Sorry if I'm generalising but N I contributions as you know everyone who works pays N I contribution , primarily is for NHS but originally was to provide a state pension and of course this is being fazed out with the push for private pension , it will take time but the writing is on the wall . It seems to me our government is very good at calling things other than Tax like a contribution or a licence but after all it is taken from everyone's salary at source so to me it is a Tax either way it is a cost in the UK that some other countries do not charge because there is a different system .
Ah, I see. That's still a huge amount, you must be earning a small fortune! NIC's pay for all sorts of other things, not just NHS btw.
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Old Oct 3rd 2018, 6:14 pm
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So does man of yorkshire mean that £900 per month is his total tax bill i.e NI plus income tax?
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