From %$&@ It! to Hungarian

Hungarian Residence Visa Card

It’s official – I’m Hungarian!

Well, I’m a resident of Hungary. And to say it was a roller coaster ride getting here is an understatement. But, taking the ride reminded me of a very powerful business and life lesson that I’d forgotten.

When we bought our apartment in Budapest I really didn’t think about having to obtain a visa. I know that sounds strange, but up to that point I hadn’t lived anywhere outside the U.S. We Americans are lucky because, for the most part, we can travel throughout the world freely; so I naively thought things would be similar if we wanted to live in a different part of the world.

Au contraire, mon frère!

Now, I wasn’t completely ignorant… I did glance at the requirements for a U.S. citizen to go to Hungary. What I read (not what it really said) is that we could stay in Hungary for no more than a 90-day period. No worries, I thought – we’d planned to travel so that wouldn’t be a problem. It wasn’t until I was corrected by our U.S. intern in Budapest that I woke up from my ignorant slumber and realized that, actually, we could only be in the region for 90 days within a 6 month period. We were about to overstay our welcome.


I had thought that once we went back to the U.S. for 6 weeks, which we’d planned to do, we’d get another 90 days. Nope. I was now totally freaked. If we were just us hanging out here for kicks, it would be easy to go to the airport and leave. But we were in the middle of renovating our apartment, we were scheduled to shoot the final part of a TV show, and – most importantly – we had our dogs with us.

To say I was whipped into a frenzy is an understatement.

We scrambled. We met with our attorney, an immigration attorney, a relocation specialist, and consulted with the U.S. embassy. They all said the same thing: “You need to leave immediately.” And on top of that, it would be difficult for us to get a residence visa. We didn’t fit any of the criteria. There wasn’t a category called “We want to live here because we really love it.”

But when had I ever fit into normal criteria?

So we postponed the TV shoot, packed our bags, and headed to Croatia (more to come on that adventure).

Spending the winter in Dubrovnik, Croatia didn’t suck by a long shot. George Bernard Shaw said, “Those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik and see Dubrovnik.” But even in paradise, I was anxious. If we couldn’t get a visa, we’d constantly be playing the country-hopping game.

At one point, I was so wound up that I started to change our plans even before we knew what the visa outcome would be. I began to second-guess myself. You know how it is when you’re in a swirl… I jumped the gun and said quickly, “Let’s just pack up the dogs and go back to our simple life in the U.S.” I’d become so attached to the situation, looking at it in only one particular way.

Now, I don’t know if it was my stunning view of the Adriatic Sea or divine intervention, but one day I experienced a burst of clarity in my storm of confusion. The clouds parted and I thought, “Let’s just go for it and take what we get. If it’s meant to be, it will be.“ This is the philosophy in life that I normally subscribe to – but this time, I’d simply lost my way.

There was such a sense of freedom and power for me when I remembered what I momentarily forgot.

With this new sense of focus and commitment, we went to work while on the road, getting together all the required documents.

(I mean, come on, what country wouldn’t want us? :))

We jumped through all the necessary hoops – no problems (other than waiting for hours and hours in the immigration office with all the other hopefuls) – and it all paid off.

My life lesson: Everything shifted when I returned to our commitment and let go of the attachment to having things look a particular way. When you think about it, isn’t that the way things always work out… exactly how they’re supposed to?

About the Author:

For 30 years, Drew Gerber has been inspiring those who want to change the world. As the CEO of Wasabi Publicity, Inc., lauded by the likes of PR Week and Good Morning America, he sparks "aha" conversations that lead to personal and business success. His PR firm is known for landing clients on Dr. Phil, Oprah, Anderson Cooper, The Wall Street Journal, Inc., Entrepreneur, and other top media outlets. Wasabi Publicity lives to launch conversations that make a difference and change the world.


  1. Shara May 16, 2013 at 10:23 am - Reply

    How exciting! Congratulations on your new home and successful move. I loved my visit to Budapest … more than a decade ago though. Look forward to reading more about your adventures. Cheers!

    • Drew Gerber May 16, 2013 at 12:36 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Shara!

  2. Johnny Delirious May 16, 2013 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    Budapest is beautiful, besides Switzerland it remains my favorite place in Europe. I wish I could spend more time there. Keep us posted

    • Drew Gerber May 16, 2013 at 12:37 pm - Reply

      Will do, Johnny! We love Budapest.

  3. laura fenamore May 16, 2013 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    while we miss you here in America, so glad you are settled in citizens now. love this piece and I do hope to come and visit sometime. You have a place to stay when you come to the bay area for sure. xolaura

    • Drew Gerber May 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the place to stay, Laura. We may need to take you up on that at some point!

  4. Kay May 16, 2013 at 1:58 pm - Reply

    Hi, Drew, So glad it turned out so well for you. Just proves that we often have to free ourselves from certain outlooks, and that often turns out to be a better decision. Enjoy your stay in Budapest, I think my grandfather was born there…Looking forward your future reports, and keep on opening new doors in life — that is great! I practice that as often as I can…

    Warm regards, Kay

    • Drew Gerber May 22, 2013 at 2:51 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Kay! Opening new doors right now… 🙂

  5. David Leonhardt May 16, 2013 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    Congratulations. Budapest is a lovely city. I’ve been there twice and wish I could be there now. I took my daughter with me when she was 7. Her major goal was to sit ion the lions in Vörösmarty Ter, so I had her bring her homework with her and do it on the lions.

    Enjoy your stay.

    • Drew Gerber May 22, 2013 at 2:57 pm - Reply

      That’s so great, David. Vörösmarty Ter is almost a direct shot down Andrássy Avenue from our apartment.

  6. Marla Martenson May 17, 2013 at 11:29 am - Reply

    Congrats! How exciting. I love eastern Europe!!!

    • Drew Gerber May 22, 2013 at 2:58 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Marla!

  7. Zorica May 17, 2013 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    Congratulation Drew, I am sure you be happy there.

    • Drew Gerber May 22, 2013 at 3:01 pm - Reply

      Hi Zorica. Yes, we are so happy here that we just bought a farmhouse near your old stomping grounds! I’ll have a post up about that tomorrow 🙂

  8. Jan Sherman May 19, 2013 at 2:24 pm - Reply

    What a powerful reminder that when we trust, and remain unattached to the outcome, the universe conspires to give us what we desire and more! Thank you for sharing and for the important reminder!
    Love, Jan

    • Drew Gerber May 22, 2013 at 3:02 pm - Reply

      Amen. Here’s to remaining unattached!

  9. millie May 21, 2013 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    Contacts so moving to Hungary! Look forward to hearing more about your adventures! Maybe you will run into zoli’s family!

    • Drew Gerber May 22, 2013 at 10:38 am - Reply

      Thanks Millie!

  10. Julie June 10, 2013 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    I’ve never been there, but it looks so interesting, you now have me curious. It takes a lot of guts to make a huge move like that, especially if you’ve never done it before. Now we all know a friend in Hungary. I’m sure one of us will visit some day. Best of luck in your new home!

    • Drew Gerber June 10, 2013 at 1:38 pm - Reply

      Julie – Hungary is amazing. We love it here. Thank you… we love visitors!

  11. carol smart October 9, 2014 at 1:48 am - Reply

    Loved the journey from Budapest to Croatia, but look what happened to us we met accidently one sunday at the flea market in Budapest, and now followed and copied you with a home in Stara Morvica.
    Our dreams and memories are mingled, but we cant wait to return, hope you enjoyed the marrows, speak soon in October, pegs and Carol

    • Drew Gerber October 10, 2014 at 9:28 am - Reply

      Looking forward to seeing you in the village, Carol and Pegs!

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