In 2014, I had a life-changing wake-up call: I survived an opioid overdose that put me in the intensive care unit.
Hitting rock bottom made me realize how lucky I am to be alive. I spent some time in my hometown, Memphis, to focus on my recovery and staying sober. Once I felt stable, I needed to figure out my next move.
My friends knew I always wanted to live abroad and suggested I look into teaching jobs overseas. So in 2015, I enrolled in an online program for my Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification, which is often required by schools hiring English teachers. I applied to 50 schools before finally getting an offer from a school in Barcelona, Spain.
I spent a year teaching there before taking my next position in Budapest, Hungary.
Ferenciek Square in Budapest’s 8th District
Photo: Francis Nayan
Two years into Budapest, I grew tired of teaching and wanted to do something new. That’s when I decided to launch my career as a freelance copywriter.
I never got sick of living in Budapest, though. In fact, it has been my home for almost six years now. Here’s how I started my expat journey, as well as what my days look like and how much I spend:
Getting Hungarian residency as a U.S. citizen
After my teaching contract in Budapest ended, I returned to Memphis to grow my copywriting business. As soon as I built a solid network of clients, I moved back to Hungary under a temporary tourist visa.
To live and work in Hungary long-term, you must apply for a Residence Permit for the Pursuit of Gainful Activity. The visa process can be difficult to navigate, so I worked with a small team of immigration consultants that I found through the Hungary Expats Facebook group. For $1,000, they helped with translations, guided me through the required documents, and represented me when submitting paperwork.
First, I had to register as a sole entrepreneur under KATA, a flat-tax system where you pay a fixed monthly amount — I pay $139 — to cover all your Hungarian tax obligations as a self-employed person. I also had to provide documents like proof of accommodation, health insurance and a business plan.
In January 2018, after three months of waiting, I was approved.
The Hungarian National Museum in Budapest, Hungary.
Photo: Francis Nayan
I’m grateful to live in such an affordable city
Currently, my average income in Hungary is $10,000 per month. In addition to my copywriting business, I sell eBooks and consult people on how to become a …….