Hungarian immigrants in Great Britain

You may recall György Matolcsy’s infamous CNN interview in which he extolled the economic achievements of the Orbán government, which adopted his “unorthodox”  policies. Matolcsy’s English is somewhat halting and while he was madly looking for words to describe the glorious Hungarian situation, he stumbled upon the phrase “fairy tale.” Well, the description of Hungary as a country that lives in circumstances resembling a fairy tale has been a standing joke in Budapest ever since.

Earlier this year Matolcsy promised the arrival of an earthly paradise within a year, but two weeks ago the date changed dramatically. This time he promised real change by 2030. But it doesn’t matter what he promises, Hungarians don’t  believe him. And they are leaving the country in great numbers. According to government estimates, currently at least 300,000 Hungarians are working in western Europe and the United Kingdom. I heard just this morning from a member of parliament that there might be as many as 100,000 Hungarians living in Great Britain alone.

Doctors, nurses, and computer scientists find jobs easily. In fact, the shortage of health professionals in Great Britain and in western Europe prompts hospitals to recruit in Hungary. But ordinary folks also pick up and start a new life abroad. Originally they may plan to stay for only a couple of years, either to make some money or to learn the language well, but in the end they stay for good. Often they manage to make careers for themselves, often they get married to locals. These people will never return to Hungary.

Although Viktor Orbán is convinced that his government with its nationalistic fervor is defending Hungary and Hungarians from the evil attacks of the outside world, it seems that more and more people want to leave the country of fairy tales and live with Hungary’s alleged “enemies.” According to Tárki, a well-known pollster, since 2010 the number of people who are planning to emigrate or simply move abroad in search of work has grown one and a half times. More and more people want to leave the Eden that is shaping up in Hungary where the “numbers are too good”—at least according to András Giró-Szász, the government spokesman—and therefore the IMF may not even be interested in giving the country any money.

Wanderer

HVG in late July began a series of portraits of “successful” Hungarians in Great Britain. The people they interviewed live in London or in Brighton. From an interview with a former English teacher we learn that in Brighton there are so many Hungarians that she now has a job with the municipal government helping immigrant Hungarian children adjust to the English-language curriculum. She planned to go to England for a year or two to improve her English skills but instead got married to an Englishman and now has two children. She finds that her fellow countrymen know practically nothing about the country they decided to settle in. Most of them look down on the natives and think that they are smarter than the Brits. Our former English teacher finds this difficult to understand, but I’m more sympathetic to these people’s plight. This “superiority complex” is actually a defense mechanism to cope with their present subordinate positions in society.

Another young man at the very beginning toiled 90 hours a week on a farm for £120, but then he moved to London and worked in several bicycle shops where over the years he learned a lot about both the mechanical and the business sides of the trade. Today he owns a bicycle shop called Cycle Lab. He even has a few employees, but he doesn’t hire Hungarians because “the Hungarian mentality doesn’t work here. Here people work much harder. If necessary they work six days a week and every Sunday. The English accept this, the Hungarians don’t.” And he talked at length about the simpler tax system, honesty, and investing money and time into good material. According to him, people in Great Britain don’t expect instant riches. They appreciate quality.

Another man who had been a sous chef in Hungary had enough of badly equipped kitchens behind glitzy exteriors and left for better working conditions. Today he runs the kitchen and is also in charge of  the menu in a well known hotel.

But perhaps the most interesting story is that of a young woman who has been living in London for the last eleven years. When she came to Britain on a student visa she was still a college student who hadn’t manage to pass her German examination and thus couldn’t finish up her studies for another two years. So, she decided to spend those two years doing something useful. She became an au pair and, when her time on that job ran out, she worked in a pub. After many odd jobs, including cleaning houses, she was hired by the London Underground where they trained her as a driver. The pay was good: over  £40,000 in addition to free transportation for two members of the family, which means another £2,000.  In addition, employees get eight weeks of vacation. By now she is a “duty train staff manager” at one of the stations of the Victoria Line Seven Sisters. She owns her own house and since that interview was conducted she became a British citizen.

None of these people is thinking about going back to Hungary. And not necessarily because of money. They prefer the attitude of the English. Our Underground duty train staff manager claims that she needed no “connections” to get her job. The chef also said that he got his job because he was considered to be a good worker. He needed no friend or relative to help him. And this is what they hated in Hungary. They feel that what they achieved is due solely to their own accomplishments. And that is a good feeling.

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petofi
Guest

“…needed no friend…”

Yes, a world of difference from Hungary past and present. Yet the future will be even worse as Merit will be much less important that your Fidesz credentials. This is what I can’t understand about our in-laws who are staunch Fideszers: “Don’t they care about the sycophantic world that Orban is creating?
Is that what they want for their seven grand-children?”

But, never mind. Arguments do not move
the true Fideszer. “Here comes the train,”they say,”let me lay my life down for
Viktor!”
(Not knowing, all the while, that the Viktator is busy calculating the interest on 30 million…)

Kingfisher
Guest
I know I am sometimes a bit rude about your credulity when it comes to the Gyurcsány and find the unrelenting negativity of your blog frustrating, but let me take my hat off to you for choosing to feature this extremely series in HVG. I actually made a pilgrimage to meet the bicycle guy recently and a very decent guy he is. Actually, there aren’t many Hungarians in the UK. When I last checked, I think only about 15 000 have claimed a NI number and I very rarely bump into Hungarians, as oppose to other nationalities, so I’d be very surprised if the 100,000 claim is remotely true. When I first went to Hungary, I thought bizarrely I’d arrived in the promised land, having decided I didn’t like the UK. People seemed friendlier, the everyday chaos and corruption was actually rather charming and it was fun. But with time, the endless hassle with bureaucracy (I remember having to stand for 10 hours at the police station with 300 other people, no toilet and in 30 plus degrees to submit some residency permit papers) ground me down. Running a small business was a huge headache and one lived in permanent… Read more »
Guest

London Calling!

Yes there are many Hungarians here in London – and Hungarians are hard working and friendly – and can do well in our ‘meritocratic’ society.

My partner is working in the Health Service here and they ensure that she receives training and is treated – and respected – well.

I am surprised at the ‘superiority complex’! I have never witnessed it here – but then again I might just be impervious to it.

Whenever we visit Hungary – it is not just the young who are so interested in my partner’s experiences – some, even with children, want to work here too. One of my partner’s friends is still considering ‘sending’ his wife to London.

We recently went on a Bat night walk with Bat detectors – and one of the Park Wardens was ….. Hungarian! They are everywhere!

Calling Hungarians! (Average pay 220,000Ft) Come to London! (Average pay £25K – 730,000Ft):

Study how real democracy is done – and then show ’em back home! – But leave your ‘superiority’ complexes behind!

Regards

Charlie

Fidel_funk
Guest

Brilliant, Eva, brilliant.
Here in Copenhagen i know Lajos whos build a succesfull little geschäft moving stuff from Hungary to Denmark and the other way around (a lot more stuff goes hu>dk than dk>hu), I hear quite a few guys speaking the lingo in the streets here (refurbishing flats) – and then of course my wife who is in the art/museum bizz…
And,- naturally – all the magyar chicks that married danes when bizz was sweet in Hungary before the credit crunch and Orban – and joined the Exodus when time came….

petofi
Guest

Gyurcsany…brilliant politician?

I’ll go along with Gyurcsany as a brilliant man but not a brilliant politician. Isn’t a good politician someone who gets things done?
Wouldn’t that be Bajnai who in one year righted the country?

But, not to have Gyurcsany in the next government would be a waste. Like I said before, he’d make a good Minister of Justice; and the country will certainly need one after the mess that’s been created.

Louis Kovach
Guest

Dr Balogh: “HVG in late July began a series of portraits of “successful” Hungarians in Great Britain. The people they interviewed live in London or in Brighton.”

When they move “up” to Hove, then they really arrived in England.

It would be equally interesting to post how many foreigners are working or settling in Hungary, besides the ex-Israel police officials whose favorite retirement place is Budapest.

Member

Louis Kovach :
Dr Balogh: “HVG in late July began a series of portraits of “successful” Hungarians in Great Britain. The people they interviewed live in London or in Brighton.”
When they move “up” to Hove, then they really arrived in England.
It would be equally interesting to post how many foreigners are working or settling in Hungary, besides the ex-Israel police officials whose favorite retirement place is Budapest.

Why don’t you start your own blog about it Louis? I am sure I speak for many of us when I wish you the best of success in your own adventure on reporting how the Jews try to infiltrate Hungary, and how others try to become rich in Hungary for the expense of Hungarians (and then you did not even talk about Fidesz). But, please visit and let us know the number of visitors you get and the quality of the reader’s comments. You go Louis!!!

Member

Louis Kovach :
It would be equally interesting to post how many foreigners are working or settling in Hungary

Right. We could also chat about the sexual life of raccoons. It would be equally relevant to the subject, that is the relation of the Orban government’s policies to the mass exodus of talented Hungarians. Unless you are suggesting that foreigners are flooding the country for a better life …

Member

Kingfisher :
and find the unrelenting negativity of your blog frustrating

You just called yesterday Lendvai discredited because she is in a party that could not get things done in 8 years and lost the elections. That pretty much means that all Hungarian politicians are discredited. I can’t really imagine more depressing thoughts than this.

Can you suggest something that would be positive? The beautiful fireworks on St. Stephens day perhaps? Your home country frustrates you not the blog. Don’t shoot the messenger.

Miklos
Guest

Fortunately, there are many of us who choose to return to Hungary just like the returning salmon do to spawn or die.

I moved to the US and lived there for 17 years. Now the US has some huge huge problems. Eg. health care, education, racial problems etc. All these are pretty bad and unlikely to change soon especially in the southern states. Ku Klux Klan is alive and increasingly powerful. Jobbik, Magyar Garda are just a bunch of amateur boyscouts compared to KKK. And it’s not just blacks. Behind closed doors, white families more and more often whisper about the Jews. Expect this to increase if the economy worsens. The same in the UK. Expect London burn again.
Compared to that Hungary is a safe place. A good place to retire. A good place to raise children.

Eva, you are mesmerised by Gyurcsany. It’s funny to watch. There is no reasoning with you though. That mean Orban is making your Gyurcsany Feri cry? How about writing 2 blog entries per day bashing Orban and his cruel Hungarian dictatorship?

J
Guest
OK…. I have lived in five countries so far, and was working at the intellectual levels in these societies. I lived in three anglo-saxon countries too. I am returning home and will never leave again. Here is my conclusion: Hungary has a far more traditional, intelligent, spiritual, and rich culture compared to any of these countries. It’s just not comparable. The difference is so big, that you will never even get close to understanding the sophistication of Hungarian culture. Your society is hierarchical, and Hungarian society is based on equality. Your goal is money, our goal is life itself. And I am talking about Hungarians and NOT the foreigners who were born there and are disguised as Hungarians. These people have funny sounding names often derived from their original German family names if you know what I mean. They are the core staff of ultra liberal, communist, anarchists movements you are so keen on. These individuals actually work on ruining values rather than creating them. Still, our values are unerodable. Can you imagine that we have more than 200,000 folk songs catalogised (and probably ten times more never heard because of the Trianon treaty)? Compared to the 5,000 in Germany… Read more »
Jano
Guest

Oh those German sounding names… born in Hungary disguising as one… I just love that cute evil German sounding smile on their faces right after being born…

I was going to write about why after living 3 years in the US, I honestly feel that in any other terms than professional life, Budapest is a far better place to live (for me at least) than anywhere else around here, but I’m definitely not joining the club of this fine gentleman above me so maybe some other time.

Lutra lutra
Guest

I didn’t think the debate isn’t about whether Hungary is a better or worse place than (say) the UK – I think that the quality of life in Hungary is far better, providing you have a secure and fairly well-paid job. Many young Hungarians doubt if they can find one so they leave.

Every government minister should leave their homes each morning with a lackey reciting “it’s about the economy, stupid,” whacking them over the head as they do so, to remind them to keep on topic and quit yapping about Horthy, Trianon, electoral reform or the evils of comminism.

Guest
@J: You really made my day – what a lovely parody you wrote! “… funny sounding names often derived from their original German family names …” You know that Franz List never spoke Hungarian ? And of course all relevant advances in science were done by Hungarians – what a pity that all or at least most of those scientists had to leave Hungary to get their Nobel Prizes. You remember that most of them were Jews , don’t you ? Now back to the start: I’ve also thought and written about that Hungarian brain drain before. Someone in my wife’s family is a science professor now in the southern USA (he doesn’t like those rednecks either, but the job is really good, not only the pay – he gets to travel to conferences in Europe several times a year so he can visit his parents and friends) – but his children speak less Hungarian than I do, they have become 100 % US teenagers … So they’ll only return as tourists or maybe pensioners. And I know a few Hungarians who came to Germany after 1956 – all of them have no intention of returning to the “Fatherland”. Right… Read more »
G
Guest

Hi J – This is G. Yeah I hear you. That’s my plan as well that, when I reach 70, having lived abroad for decades and secured financial stability for the rest of my life, I’ll return to Hungary (if it is still there), sit out on my porch with a bottle of Villanyi and write no doubt true but otherwise pointless remarks about the past greatness of my country. Don’t think you can hold it against those hundreds of thousands who are leaving that they are aspiring for the same.

Thomjez (@Tomjez)
Guest

Anecdotal evidences here in Brussels. 6 years ago, my (hungarian) wife and I were startled when we heard Hungarian in the metro or in the street. No we don’t pay attention anymore. Numbers have grown, not only in “EU Bubble” jobs, but also in terms of independant workers trying to make a leaving here, working 60 hours a week. Now there is a hungarian beauty salon, a hungarian kindergarten, 2 hungarian butchers / grocery shops… many retired hungarians with family in Belgium also come occasionaly for “black market” jobs as plumbers, carpenters…

It was just not the case before, where the main “eastern” communities in Brussels were Romanian and Polish. They still are, but Hungarian have gained much visibility, and they all come for one reason : find a decent leaving, and go back to Hungary when the time is right.

I was myself offered a job in Budapest in 2010, with a decent salary (comparatively). My wife refused to go back although she misses the Hungarian quality of life. It was just not the right move with Fidesz just coming in power. No regrets 2 years later…

oneill
Guest
“Actually, there aren’t many Hungarians in the UK. When I last checked, I think only about 15 000 have claimed a NI number and I very rarely bump into Hungarians, as oppose to other nationalities, so I’d be very surprised if the 100,000 claim is remotely true”. The Uk’s national statistic office said there were 25,000 Hungarians in the Uk at the end of 2008- a NI number is theoretically needed to work but I have…er…;) heard that it is not always requested by employers particularly in construction or agriculture. The big surprise for me is that so few Hungarians, in comparison to Poles, Slovaks and the various Baltics, moved over in 2004. Now there are many more working especially in the service sector in London but that wave of emigration started post the 2008 economic crisis and has been helped greatly with the expansion of the various fapados airlines flying between the two countries- there are still the stag crews flying over to Budapest on Friday night but more and more of the seats are taken up by young Hungarians flying back for the the weekend. Also, unlike in 2004 almost everyone now knows of a friend of a… Read more »
petofi
Guest

Mutt :

Louis Kovach :
It would be equally interesting to post how many foreigners are working or settling in Hungary

Right. We could also chat about the sexual life of raccoons. It would be equally relevant to the subject, that is the relation of the Orban government’s policies to the mass exodus of talented Hungarians. Unless you are suggesting that foreigners are flooding the country for a better life …

Yes, foreigners are flooding the country to take away jobs from those hard-working Hungarians who, by 3pm,
are on their 3rd beer in the neighborhood kocsma, swearing at jews and multinationals.

petofi
Guest

Eva S. Balogh :
Miklos, too bad but I know that you don’t live in the United States. Why are you lying?

Methinks that Miklos lies like a rug…

Bowen
Guest
@ Louis Kovach: “It would be equally interesting to post how many foreigners are working or settling in Hungary” It would actually. You might be disappointed though, that it correlates with the out-flux of Hungarians leaving the country. Well, I’m a (British) foreigner, who has ended up in Hungary. I know that there are far fewer native-English-speaking persons living and working in Budapest these days, compared to around 10 years ago. One of my clients (a British company operating in Budapest) is having serious problems recruiting native-English teachers. They just aren’t around any more. Yes, there is the odd British or Australian ex-pat knocking around who’s been here for decades, but there certainly isn’t the sizeable community there used to be. So, this British company is mostly hiring Hungarian teachers, who happen to speak very good English. But not all of these Hungarian teachers are quite proficient enough to teach the IELTS exam to a high level, which is this company’s main business at the moment. I think I’ve mentioned on this blog before that a great number of Hungarians are now seeking to take the IELTS and CESOL exams as a way to leave Hungary and work or study… Read more »
Karl Pfeifer
Guest

.
It would be equally interesting to post how many foreigners are working or settling in Hungary, besides the ex-Israel police officials whose favorite retirement place is Budapest.

Mr. Kovach how many ex-Israel police officials have been settling in Budapest?

Ivan
Guest

It’s just easier, practically, living in the UK, particularly as a freelancer. No need to set up a company – with all the enormous legal costs that requires. No need to pay huge monthly fees to an accountant just to work for a minimal wage. No ID cards. No address cards. No (unsaid) requirement and pressure to have all work carried out without proper receipting. No horrific pressure to pay doctors’ bribes (in addition to paying health insurance), with implied threat against life-and-limb if one doesn’t. No state expectation that the family will provide where the state doesn’t – too bad if you haven’t got a family. No loss of over half one’s salary, even at very low levels, in the form of huge flat taxes and contributions. CUSTOMER SERVICE, TOO! Most of all, no need to hear disgusting amounts of race-hate and holocaust denial from even otherwise very nice people on a daily basis – this last is very exhausting when one is just trying to work hard and enjoy life here. Just easier, in every respect. The UK has many problems, but its problems are utterly unrelated to anything that crops up in Hungary.

Ivan
Guest

And no need to read headlines on mainstream newspapers at all newsstands stating ‘The Blacks Are Coming! With Their AIDS And Their Death’ … the kind of hateful phenomenon – barely remarked upon anywhere – that makes me wonder how Hungary ever joined the EU, and despair at the prospects for the people here, who either shrug, or buy said paper.

petofi
Guest

Karl Pfeifer :
.
It would be equally interesting to post how many foreigners are working or settling in Hungary, besides the ex-Israel police officials whose favorite retirement place is Budapest.
Mr. Kovach how many ex-Israel police officials have been settling in Budapest?

Ahh, the suggestive genius of a Hungarophile like Kovacs:

Ex-police official…guilty…finds Hungary a safe haven…(no anti-semitism there)…many of them (high rate of corruption in Israel; also, the corruption is brought to Hungary by jews)…etc

Ok, Kovacs, you qualify–the KGB will accept you to their accelerated course on mass deception.

Miklos
Guest

Eva S. Balogh :
Miklos, too bad but I know that you don’t live in the United States.

You’re right. Not anymore. I moved back where I belong.
There is no fooling you though but still I kind of like you for your soft, romantic side (love of Gyurcsany). Don’t be ashamed. We all have a weakness.

Before moving back I met an old Hungarian lady in the Hungarian community center. She was at least 80 years old. She left Hungary in 56 much like you did I believe. Anyway, she was old and sick. She was utterly lonely. Her husband died and they had no children. She was very excited, she told me she was planning to move back to her village in Hungary. She said, “I’d rather live 2 months at home than 5 years here”. Well she died pretty soon after that and she never made it back. She waited too long to return.
Why am I telling you this? Well, I don’t know. Some people wait too long and never make it back. And it’s pretty sad.

petofi
Guest

Some interesting comments here about Hungary and its superiority over other countries. (I was going to mention England, but that’s really laughable.)

Well, my wife and I thought so, too, back 2.5 years ago. We already knew that Budapest was the most beautiful city in the world; that the Hungarian language is father to some great poetry and writing; that a great tradition of hospitality existed. Sad to say–with the exception of the city’s beauty…though removing
some famous statues did not help–we had some rude awakenings. Hospitality in holiday spots is less than acceptable.
The language heard in the streets are peppered with foul language. And neighbors are frequently jealous, mean-spirited, and all too often, blindly anti-semitic. Hungary of 2012.

But above all, what immediately disqualifies Hungary as being remotely comparable to other places as a ‘haven’ is the degree to which the individual has been shorn of his rights; and the degree to which society has lost its stability and security. A burgeoning,
Kafkaesque state can hardly be considered ‘ideal’, can it?

Miklos
Guest

petofi,
it’s not too nice to denigrate a country, people or culture. It just shows who you are. Put any country under the microscope and there are issues everywhere. Even in your beloved England. Or even in the US.
Anyway, I’m glad you like it there. Why are you commenting on a blog about Hungary btw? There are no such blogs about England? Or you just don’t really give a sh..t about England?

Love or hate, at least you care and that’s all it matters.

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