Thursday, November 21, 2013

Expat Experience: Lee Samaha, Budapest, Hungary

Lee Samaha
Who are you?

I'm Lee Samaha, a retired investment manager who now runs his own business. I also write investment articles and am working on a book. I've lived in various countries around the world and always enjoyed it, so moving abroad was natural for me. I enjoy travelling a lot and have always found that new experiences develop you as a person.. A few years ago, I decided to set up my operations so I could work remotely, and when I was in a position to do so, I set my mind on living abroad.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

I first moved to Budapest in 2012, having fallen in love with the city on a short trip the previous year.

Budapest is a perfect mix of old-world central European sophistication combined with a vibrant youthful night life. I was looking for a well situated base with which to explore other countries in the region, and Hungary has seven vastly different countries surrounding it. Budapest is an easy city to work and play, and I've been able to mix work and travel in equal measure. Meanwhile, I've been learning about a new culture and enjoying a beautiful city.

What challenges did you face during the move?

The language can be a problem, but I find that most young people can speak English or German. Another issue is that the Hungarian Forint isn't a widely traded currency, and you may find your bank is giving you horrific rates when you use an ATM to withdraw Forints. One solution is to use the ATM near the Deak to pull out Euros, and then use one of the many currency bureaus downtown (they give good rates) to buy Forints. Another challenge is that the economy isn't doing well, and you can see signs of people suffering. I hope us expats are positively contributing in a small way, because I wish this country well...

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