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Expat Exchange - Pros and Cons of Living in Bulgaria
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Pros and Cons of Living in Bulgaria

By Joshua Wood, LPC

SJB Global
SJB Global

Summary: If you're moving to Bulgaria, it's important to learn about both the Pros AND Cons of living in Bulgaria.

Living in Bulgaria - Pros and Cons of Living in Bulgaria

Are you considering a move to the beautiful country of Bulgaria? Nestled in the heart of the Balkans, Bulgaria is a country rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. But like any country, it has its pros and cons. In this article, we will delve into the advantages and disadvantages of living in Bulgaria, providing you with a comprehensive overview to help you make an informed decision.

Pros of Living in Bulgaria

One of the most significant advantages of living in Bulgaria is the cost of living. Compared to many Western countries, Bulgaria offers a much more affordable lifestyle. Rent, utilities, groceries, and dining out are all significantly cheaper. For example, a meal at an inexpensive restaurant in Sofia, the capital, can cost as little as 6 euros. This affordability extends to property prices as well, making Bulgaria an attractive option for those looking to buy a home.

Bulgaria's geographical location is another major plus. It's situated at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, making it a great base for exploring the rest of the continent. The country is also home to diverse landscapes, from the sandy beaches of the Black Sea to the snow-capped peaks of the Rila and Pirin Mountains. Nature lovers will find plenty to enjoy here, with numerous opportunities for hiking, skiing, and wildlife spotting.

The country's rich history and culture are also a draw. Bulgaria is one of the oldest countries in Europe and has a wealth of historical sites to explore, from ancient Thracian tombs to medieval fortresses. The country's cultural scene is vibrant and diverse, with a strong tradition of music, dance, and visual arts. Bulgarians are known for their hospitality and love of festivals, so there's always something happening.

Finally, Bulgaria's healthcare system is generally good, with a mix of public and private providers. The country has made significant strides in improving its healthcare infrastructure in recent years, and many doctors and nurses speak English, making it easier for expats to navigate the system.

Cons of Living in Bulgaria

While there are many advantages to living in Bulgaria, there are also some downsides to consider. One of the main challenges for expats can be the language barrier. Bulgarian is a Slavic language written in the Cyrillic alphabet, and while English is increasingly spoken, particularly among younger people and in tourist areas, it's not as widely spoken as in some other European countries. This can make everyday tasks like shopping or dealing with bureaucracy more challenging.

Another potential downside is the country's economy. While the cost of living is low, so are wages, and job opportunities can be limited, particularly outside of the major cities. The economy is growing, but it's still one of the poorest in the EU, and corruption can be a problem.

The country's infrastructure can also be a challenge. While the major cities like Sofia and Plovdiv have good public transport and are well-connected by road and rail, this is not always the case in more rural areas. Internet and mobile coverage can also be patchy in some parts of the country.

Finally, while Bulgaria's healthcare system has improved, it still lags behind some Western standards. Hospitals in the major cities are generally good, but the quality of care can vary in more rural areas. It's also worth noting that while public healthcare is available, many expats choose to take out private health insurance for more comprehensive coverage.

Despite these challenges, many expats find that the benefits of living in Bulgaria outweigh the downsides. The country's low cost of living, beautiful landscapes, and rich history and culture make it an attractive option for many. However, it's important to do your research and consider your own personal circumstances before making the move.

Expats Talk about Pros & Cons of Living in Bulgaria

"The U.S. Embassy in Sofia! The Bulgarians who work there are "down right snotty"! They give the impression that they are doing you a big favor and are sometimes just "rude". I am a retired U.S. citizen and I pay a lot of income tax, some of this tax goes to pay these embassy employees. So I do not feel that it is too much to expect a more professional attitude from them. However, the Americans I have dealt with at the embassy have been quite the opposite. They are polite, professional, and helpful. And...I continue to thank them. ," commented one expat living in Varna, Bulgaria.

"I like living in Bulgaria, for the most part. It is not an old country...it is an "ancient" country with a rich history. Walking and traveling through this country is a real experience and I do it often. My only negative experience is when I have to visit the U.S. embassy. The American citizens who work there are helpful, polite, and professional. However, the Bulgarian citizens who work there tend to be quite the opposite. Some are "downright snotty". For the most part, they are unprofessional and act as it they are doing you a favor. This is irritating to me as I still pay a lot of income tax which pays the salaries of these people. On top of that, I always felt that visiting my embassy was like visiting the land of my birth," mentioned one expat living in Bulgaria.

"My biggest complaint is with traffic and parking. Regardless of the posted speed limits, they drive as they wish. Parking is anywhere and in any way even on the sidewalks. Banking seems to take longer than I would expect. Likely because I have U.S. dollars sent to my bank here which seem to take longer to withdraw. Also, one branch bank I have used, which is closer to my home, many times does not have dollars. Then I have to go downtown to the main bank. Try to find a parking space, then I take the dollars and go to a currency exchange where I always get a better rate than at my bank. Banking in Varna is not a big problem but at times it is irritating," said an expat in Bulgaria.

"The worst problem is the pollution from the oil refinery, it seems to affect most of the city and suburbs. There aren't enough waste bins or public toilets, leading to rubbish around and people defecating in public. There are many pavements that need repairing. The sewer system isn't good as you can very often smell sewage near the manholes. The beaches are not cleaned as regularly as necessary. Many of the apartment buildings are not well maintained. Many people just discard their rubbish anywhere and the worst offenders are smokers, cigarette butts can be found everywhere. Some people allow their pets to defecate on pavements all around the city and suburbs. The people don't seem to be proud of their surroundings. The Sea Gardens are beautiful as is the centre of the city. There are a lot of improvements being made to facilities. The people are generally very helpful. It's very safe at all hours (compared to other places I've lived). The internet is good and cheap, and the service is excellent. ," remarked one expat in Bulgaria.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


SJB Global
SJB Global

SJB Global
SJB Global

SJB Global
SJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
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SJB GlobalSJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
Learn More

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