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Living rural as non Bulgarian-speaker

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8/29/2017 13:00 EST

If I move to a rural town in Bulgaria, say for example Parvomay which is 25 minutes from Plovdiv, am I likely to struggle to get by without being fluent in Bulgarian?

Local services I expect to be provided in Bulgarian but are there any English-speaking communities or businesses in the small towns?

(Please don't say 'learn the language'... this is of course a given but one has to get on with life and that sometimes means arriving in a country where one is not fluent in the local language on arrival.)

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8/30/2017 01:03 EST

Hi there, we moved to Bulgaria 18 months ago, to a rural village on the Pleven/Veliko Tarnovo border. I had a handful of Bulgarian words and my partner none. Google translate helped a lot in the beginning as did Google images! My partner especially has been slow to pick up the language but if he is stuck he gets Google images up and hands it over to the building yards etc he frequents to order goods. Our Bulgarian neighbours have been fantastic as have the shop keepers and villagers. Now that I have a better grasp of the language they tell me that they think the Brits in the village are lovely and that they are sad they can't communicate better with us. Of course there are moments when not being able to speak or understand can be super frustrating but they are few and far between. I listen to Bulgarian radio when I can as the repetition of words is quite high so I can pick up new phrases. What I would say is bring your white goods/electronics/sofas/cookware with you. For some reason they simply aren't of the same quality here. If you are a gardener or a renovator bring your tools too. I have yet to find an area that doesn't have ex pats somewhere and Facebook, if you are a user, has a fantastic number of Bulgaria related groups that are just a heaven sent resource and communication tool. Living in Bulgaria, The Pavlikeni Post, Expats in Bulgaria etc etc. All of these pages have links to other useful pages. Car boots are held and even Facebook pages such as BG Bay for the sale of used goods. Do not be put off by your neighbours in the early days popping around and talking Bulgarian at you. They desperately want to help you and it is wise to listen to their advice because believe you me they will make themselves understood. They will bring you gifts from their garden and Rakia endlessly. Accept them graciously. I have found that making a UK style cake as a thank you goes down very well. When we moved here having bought a year earlier we gifted our nearest neighbours (3) with a bottle of whisky and some chocolates. I stood us in good stead. As you settle in to life here your Bulgarian neighbours will stop popping around on such a regular basis once they feel sure you are managing. All in all it has been a fantastic experience thus far and we are looking forward to the rest of our life in this wonderful country

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8/30/2017 01:32 EST

We arrived in a small village near Montana 6 years ago without knowing a word of Bulgarian. The Bulgarian people are very friendly and welcoming and so with nothing more than a phrase book and the translate app on our phone we managed no problem. We still speak only basic Bulgarian but the people love it when you point to yourself and say 'Angliski, ne rasbirum' which means English, don't understand! They always love it when you struggle to communicate. You will find many people speak English and we have countless memories of how helpful people are in BG!

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9/1/2017 07:38 EST

Thanks for that, britsabroad.

Appreciate the advice.

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9/1/2017 07:39 EST

Thanks, johnners,

That sounds like useful advice.

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9/1/2017 14:34 EST

We moved to a village not far from Parvomay a couple of years ago. We are both hopeless at languages but a combination of Google translate, sign language and a few key words hs sufficed. Also, you'll find that in the shops in Plovdiv many folk speak English. English is compulsory in schools. In our village the old folks only speak Bulgarian but my wife and the lady next door are the best of friends!

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