The emergency situation caused by the coronavirus epidemic has drawn our attention to the importance of the viability and resilience of our cities. The lives of our towns and villages need to be shaped along new concepts that allow for faster, easier and less harmful adaptation to future shocks. Locality, local and micro-regional actions are getting more and more important, which poses new challenges and opportunities for Hungarian districts and their seat towns. These settlements are expected to offer a high quality of life with many opportunities for family and community life that can be sustained even in the event of a permanent emergency.

Following the introduction of the district system in 2013, the range of tasks performed by the district seat towns became wider, which affected both the quality of life and the competitiveness of these cities. The District Seat Town Monitor 2020, compiled by HETFA experts, therefore examines the quality of life of Hungarian district seat towns. It reviews the period of 2012-2018 that can be described as an advancement phase with regard to the development of urban networks. The Monitor also explored the strengths and weaknesses of seat towns, and the impact that development projects have made on the life of the locals.

The analysis examines the quality of life of cities along eight dimensions covering their social and economic situation, infrastructure and the range and quality of opportunities and services available. The study focuses on the 2010s – therefore excludes the effects of the pandemic – presenting on the difference between the quality of life before and after the introduction of the district system.

HÉTFA experts ranked cities on the basis of their quality of life, categorizing settlements into five groups: towns of outstanding, high, good, medium or lowest quality of life. In addition to Szentendre, Gödöllő, Paks and Dunakeszi, we can find several county seats at the forefront of the ranking, such as Székesfehérvár, Győr and Veszprém. According to the results, the quality of life offered by district seat towns can be quite different in some large regions of Hungary. In the wider area near Budapest, as well as in Northern Transdanubia and on the shores of Lake Balaton, we can find towns of mostly outstanding and high rankings, proving that a strong network of medium-size cities has developed in the recent years. The overall picture is extremely mixed in the southern parts of the country – in addition to many cities with a good and medium quality of life, we can also find district seats that received the outstanding and the lowest ranking according to the Monitor. Finally, the eastern third of the country has a majority of district seat towns of the medium and the lowest category.

You can access the entire report in Hungarian on this link.