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Old 08-05-2011, 09:20 AM   #21
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Yes, it is fascinating. My next door neighbor is a General in the Hungarian AF and his father fought against the Russians as part of the Nazi army then he became a plot in the Soviet Army and was trained in Bishkek Kyrgystan. So it does get all tangled up. I am a bit lucky here in Balatonfured as there was a large joint Soviet/Hungarian AFB in the nearby city of Veszprem which had a ton of MI-24 (Hind) and MI-8 helicopters. That base has been civilianized and all the military left but many of the pilots retired here in this area. I was a Helicopter pilot for a couple of years and still have a fixed wing commercial/Instrument license and all pilots in the world speak English so I have quite a few comrades who were pilots. Soros (pronounced shorosh here) is a US citizen now so he is your problem. Interestingly, if you do a search for famous Hungarians the majority are Americans and most are Jewish as well including Soros. Being Jewish (yeah it is strange in Hungary but we are very non-Jewish Jews) ourselves it is kind of surreal. The antisemitism here is just a fact of life. It isn't particularly negative just all Hungarians hate Jews in general (like most Germans and Austrians). It doesn't actually cause any problems for us as individuals which is why it is weird. But, most people blame whatever problems there are on the Jews as a statement of fact kind of like yes, it is a sunny day. I was complaining about the horrible charges we get at the banks (way different than the US and they charge for everything and pay no interest at all) and was told by my Hungarian friends it is the Jews. Same for all the problems in the government so I can't really understand it but it isn't an actual problem for us.

The only real hassles are the slow bureaucracies here and how much paperwork and how many steps are involved in things. Being retired it is kind of entertaining to experience especially after 28 years in the military so I am more or less used to it but it is amazing nonetheless.

All in all we really enjoy it here and are having a great time. Having used the medical a lot I can say it is excellent (although don't look for fancy hospitals or luxurious facilites) and I won't get into the hassle of dealing with TRICARE Overseas which is simply a disaster caused by the military's neglect of this system. But things are relatively inexpensive. For example my wife slipped coming out of our sauna and hit her neck on the edge of our shower when she fell. We called for an ambulance which came in less than 5 minutes took her to the County Medical Center where she was admitted, seen by the ER doctor, got a series of head/neck xrays, an evaluation by and orthopedist and neurologist then discharged all within 2 hours. The cost was less than $200 for everything including the ambulance.

I spent a great deal of my career working in the -stans including Uzbekistan, Kazahkstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgystan so am pretty used to former Soviet Republics so Hungary is an easy transition for me. I also spent 6 years in Germany so in many ways it is more German than Russian. I could live in any of those places although Uzbekistan is currently very anti-American since Bush protested when they killed 2,000 fundamental Muslim protesters (most were escaped political prisoners after a prison riot). Karimov is very anti-Muslim and successfully avoided the type of revolution that Tajikistan experienced and decimated that poor country nearly back into the stone age. Some places are better off with dictators (Iraq also comes to mind).
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Old 08-09-2011, 11:34 AM   #22
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Interesting stuff, Borchelrh.

We are living in Baku these days. It is interesting to compare your experience with ours. I can't say what I want to here because the government monitors the net.

An expat here spent several years in Croatia and would love to go back. We will be doing a little poking around maybe after the first of the year.

Please do tell us more.
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Old 08-09-2011, 11:41 AM   #23
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I can't say what I want to here because the government monitors the net.
Ours or theirs?
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FSU countries
Old 08-09-2011, 12:01 PM   #24
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FSU countries

I haven't had the opportunity to go to Azerbaijan although I hear from a friend who is doing some work there it is very nice. The same I hear is true for Georgia but that place is a bit unstable for my tastes plus my wife being Russian creates some other issues there. My wife's family has a dacha in Gelendzhik on the Black Sea so I'll see what that is like next year. Hungary is very beautiful and reminiscent to Germany in the 70's and centrally located. I am sure this will all change eventually but for now it is excellent and we live well on my pension. Once we start collecting SS then it will be even better assuming there is such a thing as social security in 4 years.
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Old 08-09-2011, 12:20 PM   #25
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Both. (I expected that question.)
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Old 08-09-2011, 03:41 PM   #26
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Hungary is very beautiful and reminiscent to Germany in the 70's and centrally located.
Are you able to handle the language? I think it would take me 50 years to learn Hungarian, and I don't have 50 years.

Ha
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Old 08-09-2011, 10:18 PM   #27
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Are you able to handle the language? I think it would take me 50 years to learn Hungarian, and I don't have 50 years.

Ha
It was a little buried in an earlier post from him:

Quote:
The language is an issue but not that hard to overcome.
I was in Budapest for two weeks earlier this year with a buddy of mine. So this thread is very interesting to me.

Outside of restaurants and shops that would deal with more than just locals, English was not something you could count on, even in this large city. I can usually pick out some meanings in German and the Latin based languages, but all I could do is try to memorize key Hungarian words. It made no sense to me at all. Even some English translations on menus would be poor, and I'd look at the German to get a few more context clues. I'm afraid it would be very hard for me to pick up Magyar.

Food & drink were definitively lower cost there (a very high end meal with drinks and dessert is no more than a low-end meal here w/o any extras), but I didn't get around to compare too many long-term costs.

The Spring Music festival was on when we were there, so we got plenty of culture (also inexpensive). I think it would be an interesting place to take an extended visit, but it sounds challenging too. There was another poster from Hungary here a while back, but I haven't seen anything from her in a while.

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Old 08-09-2011, 11:22 PM   #28
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Thanks for quoting that . However, I cannot tell if the language is not an issue because he is a linguistic genius, or because it just doesn't concern him. It seems like an incredibly hard language for an English speaker.

I used to collect Hungarian postage stamps in the early 50s. Many beautiful stamps-"Magyar Posta".

Ha
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Old 08-10-2011, 07:17 AM   #29
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Yes language can be an issue but generally we don't have any problems. It is claimed that Hungarian is the hardest language in the world but that is only for English speakers. Foreigners believe English is the hardest so go figure. I have learned just enough to get by and to be able to pronounce things so at least I can ask some questions. I lived in Germany for 6 years and learned a lot although it has been 25 years since I used it so I find myself very rusty. In our area (Lake Balaton) this was the official and only place for East and West Germans to get together during the Soviet years. So, most people here speak German quite well (far better than me). But, the tourist business has shifted to having a majority of Hungarians so there is little call for anyone to learn German any more so that is also changing. English is the official language of the EU so Hungarians under age 25 nearly all speak some English and many quite well. In fact the local university in Veszprem has many classes taught only in English and I am contemplating doing some teaching there part time. That is another story and involves a lot of tax issues which is why I didn't leap on it last year. People over 50 nearly all speak a little Russian. My wife is Russian and I wouldn't say I am very good at it and to me Hungarian and Russian are about the same. I was learning Russian but when we decided to move to Hungary I stopped and started working on Hungarian. I have Hungarian friends and a Hungarian gardener who all speak fluent English so if I get into real trouble I just call them up on the cell phone, tell them what is going on, and hand the phone to whomever I am trying to communicate with. I have only had to do this a couple of times though. So far the is no negative stigma to being an American though which is nice. I experienced terrible anti-American discrimination during the Vietnam War in Germany, Sweden, and Norway but so far haven't experienced it here in Hungary. I did get a bunch of BS (very aggressive) for being a snowboarder in the Alps though as that is still considered being on the dark side here.
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Old 08-10-2011, 08:50 AM   #30
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We are very fearful the US is about to collapse and possibly disappear as a Nation and I may not have a pension any longer (in the worst case scenario the US totally defaults and collapses) _________
You are seriously very fearful about the US disappearing as a Nation? Im sure people thought the same thing when we had gas lines, during the Bay of Pigs, the depression...ect. Relax.
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Old 08-11-2011, 10:44 AM   #31
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Is Hungary part of the EU? Are they interested in joining the Eurozone?
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Old 08-11-2011, 01:13 PM   #32
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Is Hungary part of the EU? Are they interested in joining the Eurozone?
Yes to the EU, No to the Eurozone and I don't know if they wish to join - probably advantageous if they did.
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Old 08-12-2011, 04:22 AM   #33
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Hungary is in the EU and in fact our Prime Minister Viktor Orban was the recent President of the EU (they serve 6 month terms and it is a joint Presidency with always having 2 Presidents with joint powers). But it is not in the Eurozone and no it would not be advantageous to do so at least until the world's economic problems are fixed. Hungary carried a lot of debt to Switzerland in the form of mortgages and business loans. Because the Hungarian Forint has fallen dramatically since 2008 against the Swiss Frank the borrowers have seen their payments double which caused a huge problem. Only about 30% of homes here carry mortgages but that is enough to cause a crisis. Consider that only 5% of US Mortgages were sub-prime and likely to default and it caused the entire economic collapse in the US (but all because of fraudulent ratings by S&P and Moody's as well as what should be illegal CDO's such as Credit Default Swaps (a pyrimid scheme where each bank insures the others for a fee) The loans from Switzerland were inspired because the IMF made it a condition for entry in the EU and the IMF is "advised" by JP Morgan and in fact they are the ones that instructed Greece to lie about their debt so as to gain entrance into the EU. Nonetheless, Hungary was faced with a similar problem as the US with toxic mortgages. So, what do you think Hungary did (as compared to the US)? The put a freeze on foreclosures and the government has now purchased all eligible (the majority) mortgages in arrears lowered the payments back to what it was before 2008 and has wrapped the debt into the mortgages for a period of 5 years. This may be extended as needed. The end result is it calmed the nation. permitted everyone to stay in their homes, paid off the Swiss Bankers, allowed businesses to continue to operate and thus provided stability to the country. At the same time they have levied a bank tax of 100% on bank profits to all banks in Hungary. Hungary has also implemented a severe austerity program though which may be causing a different problem. Unemployment hovers around 11%. Approximately 37% of working age Hungarians do not work either due to early retirements or disability compensation (which is extremely hard to get here and must be renewed every 6 months but still approximately 30% of Hungarians are on disability...a result of poor safety standards under the Soviet Union). After the collapse of the Soviet Union Hungary reduced the military by approximately 80%, the national police by the same, and firemen as well. Many of these workers were retirement eligible (they have different formula than we use in the US but it ends up being approximately the same and I'll speak to that further down). The new Fidez Government won the last election by a clear majority and as a result has the power to do pretty much anything they want which included writing a new constitution. The bummer here is that because it is in the constitution a lot of the changes are retro-active. For example all early retirements are cancelled as of next Dec 31 and all those retired people must go back to work. They have made disability even harder to get so the result is an additional 300,000 people are going to be looking for work in January in an already overcrowded unemployment scheme.. As to the previous retirement system for the military you earn credit for time served 1 year of service for each year served. But, deployments count double as do training periods. So, for instance pilots who fly every day are earning double credit and it builds up fast. You can easily get to 100% in 15 years if you spend a lot of time deployed or in the field. But, here is the big difference. The percentage is from a single fixed rate which applies to everyone regardless of rank. I believe it to be 350,000 Forints or approximately $1750 dollars at the 100% rate. For disability it is much the same except it is based on the Hungarian minimum wage of 80,000 Forints (roughly $400) so it isn't all that much when compared to the US. Unemployment is also based on the 80,000 Forints so you can see how this will cut costs at the expense of the military, police and firemen . The ironic things is that it was this same Fidez government that forced them to retire in the first place now they are cutting their retirement benefits. They will get them back though at age 57 but a lot of these guys are less than 50 years old.
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