Expat Exchange

Varna, Bulgaria

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William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Sep 17, 2022

Summary: Expats, digital nomads and retirees talk about what it is really like living in Varna, Bulgaria. They offer advice about meeting people, cost of living, finding a home and more.

What are the pros and cons of living in Varna?

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Expats, digital nomads and retirees living in Varna responded:

"Bulgaria is a very historical country. Lots of interesting things to see, but you have to seek them out, so read travel books! Bulgaria is also a very traditional country where traditions are respected. "Martenitsa" is celebrated March 1st all over Bulgaria. Look it up, interesting! The major thing I do not like about Bulgaria is the car drivers who park anywhere and in any position as well as do not seem to respect speed limits. The Bulgarian staff at the U.S. Embassy in Sofia are, for the most part, "snotty", unprofessional, and act as if they are doing you a favor. I guess that living under socialism for so many years had influenced their behavior. I have dealt with embassies in other countries and have not been treated as "shabbily" as the Bulgarian staff at the U.S. Embassy in Sofia. On the other hand, the U.S. citizen employees I have dealt with at the embassy have always been polite, professional and helpful. Fortunately they have never had to live under socialism...yet," explained one expat living in Varna.

"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. ," said another in Varna.

"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," explained one expat in Varna.

"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," explained one member in Varna.

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"Most people you have to deal with speak a little English. So this is not a big problem not knowing Bulgarian," said another expat in Varna.

What advice to expats in Varna have about housing?

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"At first, I would rent and when I am satisfied with living in the country, then possibly buy. Always be represented by an attorney when buying," said another expat in living in Varna, Bulgaria.

"I married a Bulgarian woman who has a nice house (complete with dogs and cats). This is where we all live, so the previous questions about housing might not have valid answers," added another expat in Varna.

"My wife is a Bulgarian and has her own house. So the questions on housing mostly would not apply to me. Anyway, I ansere them to the best of my knowledge," explained one expat living in Varna.

What do expats in Varna appreciate most about the local culture?

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"Vinitsa, a "modern" village 12km above Varna is the most delightful place I've lived. #1 is the beautiful simplicity of life. #2 the blue skies and rolling hills overlooking Cherno More. #3 My apartment is like a miniature palace and I feel like a queen in my home. #4 the fresh air #5 the Romani, who in stark contrast to the over-serious Bulgarian are quick to smile, chat, laugh and run barefoot in the rain! #6 the fact that I have every single possible convenience from transportation to veterinarian care; food, restaurants, post, hospital, optician, riding stables, etc..., etc..., etc..., within walking distance - and I mean a few blocks, not kilometers! #7 for me, it is perfect," said another person in Varna.

"The traditions that are observed most of which are centuries old. One of which is "Martinitza" (probably not spelled correctly). March 1st which celebrates the coming of spring and you wear something red and white. Everyone seems to participate even the dogs and cats. Coffee shops...Bulgarians love to sit inside or outside, talk and drink coffee...very good coffee," remarked another expat in Varna.

What do expats find most challenging?

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"Trying to understand Bulgarian "humor" - they seem to have lost that somewhere along the way. :)," remarked another expat in Varna.

"Putting up with terrible drivers. Streets in many cities are very narrow and cars are parked every which-way on sidewalks or wherever. Speed limits for the most part are not observed and very seldom enforced. I will admit that the new government is trying to crack down on speeders with cameras," explained one expat living in Varna.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

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William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

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William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

Expats VarnaExpats in Varna

Expats, digital nomads & retirees talk about what it's like living in Varna.

Bulgaria Index Varna Index
An index of all of our site's Varna information.

Bulgaria Forum Bulgaria Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in Bulgaria on our Bulgaria forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

Contribute to Bulgaria Network Contribute
Help others in Bulgaria by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Bulgaria.

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