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10 Tips for Living in Bulgaria

By Joshua Wood

Summary: Expats living in Bulgaria can have all kinds of experiences while living abroad there. The capital city of Sofia offers a much different experience compared to what expats will experience in a Bulgarian village. These tips will help you understand what it means to live as an expat in Bulgaria.

Expats in Bulgaria - 10 Tips for Living in Bulgaria

Expats in Bulgaria live in a country in southeastern Europe. Bulgaria is bordered by Romania, Serbia, Greece, Turkey and the Black Sea. Expats move there for many reasons. Some expats go there to work, while others go there to retire or find a more quiet or simple life than what they might experience in other parts of the world.

Basics For Living in Bulgaria

The capital and largest city of Bulgaria is Sofia. The economy of Sofia is based in large part in manufacturing, metallurgy, utilities, among others.

Expats routinely describe very different experiences depending upon whether they live in one of the cities or in smaller towns and villages. When people describe villages in Bulgaria, they describe "horse and cart" type of villages. So make sure you are willing to live in that kind of environment if you are considering a rustic existence in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria is part of the European Union and NATO.

Cost of Living in Bulgaria

One expat shared her cost of living expenses in Bulgaria. She paid 4,420 euros for groceries, 3,070 euros for her rent, 794 euros for her electricity, and 161 euros for her cell phone, among other expenses.

Health Care in Bulgaria

The Bulgarian government requires expats to have health insurance:

Medical Insurance - Upon entering the country the visitor must have travel/medical insurance, covering emergency medical expenses, repatriation, transportation of mortal remains, funeral, hospitalization. The coverage should amount not less than $40 000. If the visitor has an insurance of this type, valid for Bulgaria, a copy of the policy (with legible policy number, company name, duration of validity and sum of coverage) or a letter from the insurance company containing these data, should be submitted upon application. If the applicant has no such insurance, he/she can apply for a visa without it, but the insurance should be obtained after the Consular Officer informs the applicant that the visa request is approved.

Expats in Portugal can use International health insurance, such as what is offered by Cigna Global Health.

Real Estate For Expats in Bulgaria

In a forum discussion about buying real estate and finding housing in Bulgaria, one expat wrote: "we moved to Bulgaria 10 months ago and haven't regretted a moment. We bought a very cheap renovation project for £1,800 (yes that's right!) in the North Central plains in a good sized village. We now have pigs and are about to get chickens. We are growing most of our fruit and veg this year and have assimilated into the Bulgarian community."

Another advised: "yes, I would definitely do it. There are heaps of properties within an hour of sofia. Yes, there are some good schools and the Anglo-American has a good reputation. Bit expensive though. We have a villa north of sofia, near to the border with Serbia, and an apartment in Veliko Tarnovo."

Public Transportation in Bulgaria

When asked about public transportation in Sofia, an expat answered that "yes it's definitely better to get around sofia with out a car. drivers are horrendous there and the are many potholes. We lived there for two years and only considered buying a car once we were assigned to work out of town.

"There are buses, trams, trains, [and taxis], of course.

"The only disadvantage is if you like to stay out till the wee hours as they don't run regaularly 24hrs, after 11pm it's good to know what's running as most close up until 5am. But taxis are plentiful then and if you get street wise as to the prices and make sure you have correct change to hand over they are manageable... the best help is a decent street map as it has all the routes on it.

"We live in Pazardjik now, much quieter and not so many potholes and crazy drivers, we have horses and carts instead!"

International Schools in Bulgaria

Expats in Bulgaria wrote that international schools are found mostly in the larger cities, so expats with children should be well aware of that.

In Sofia, options include the Anglo-American School of Bulgaria and Zlatarski International School of Sofia.

Bulgarian Cuisine

Bulgarian Cuisine is essentially south Slavic, but diverse due to its geographic locations, with influences coming from countries such as Greece, Russia and Italy, as well as others in the northern part of the Middle East.

Many of the best restaurants in Sofia reflect this diversity.

Expats Should Watch Their Gestures in Bulgaria

One expat reported that "I forgot that in Bulgaria shaking ones head from side to side is YES and up and down is NO. I ordered some drawers to fit under a bed and when they did not arrive found that I had nodded (NO) when asked if I wanted them! You live and learn. Lucky for me I was not looking at expensive cars!"

Culture Shock in Bulgaria

One expat reported about culture shock in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria, writing that the culture shock was "not too bad actually. I make a habit of going to the local village bar and sitting with the people there. No English is spoken. They kindly put up with me and I nod and shake my head not knowing what I am agreeing to. I recently had a long conversation with an elderly Bulgarian for a good ten minutes. I did not understand a word and my English speaking friends were in stitches as I was nodding and shaking my head vigorously."

Another expat agreed, writing that, she experienced "Zilch. Zero. None." when asked about culture shock in Varna, Bulgaria.

Residency Permits for Bulgaria

There are Bulgarian consulates in the United States and Bulgarian consular services can be obtained there. Here is information on official Bulgarian Residency Permit information for U.K. Citizens (and other EU nationals).

Need more information on living in Bulgaria?

Login or Register and visit our Bulgaria Forum. Talk with other expats who can offer you insight and tips about living in Bulgaria.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood joined Expat Exchange in 2000. His areas of responsibility include creative aspects of the community, research, sales and business development. Joshua received his Master's Degree in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University and graduated from Syracuse University with a BA in English Textual Studies.

CIGNA Expat Health Insurance

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First Published: Apr 18, 2017

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