7 reasons to live in Bulgaria

Historically, Bulgaria has been a country of emigration more than immigration, and this is a trend that mostly continues today. Each year, thousands of Bulgarians seek their fortune in Western Europe and North America, mostly due to economic dissatisfaction.

However, after living abroad for two years, first in Chilean Patagonia and then in north Germany, I’m moving back to Bulgaria in about a month and I intend to live there for the foreseeable future. So what reasons might there be for people to make Bulgaria their new home?

From the delicious local cuisine to the lowest income tax in the European Union, kashkaval tourist presents 7 reasons to live in Bulgaria!

1. Mountains and beaches: Bulgaria’s nature is diverse and attractive

Mountains and beaches: Bulgaria’s nature is diverse and attractive

Mountains and beaches: Bulgaria’s nature is diverse and attractive

Switzerland is world-famous for its breathtaking mountains and Portugal is undeniably a great beach destination. However, you’d be hard-pressed to find a decent beach in Switzerland and Portugal isn’t exactly a top hiking place either.

Bulgaria is one of very few countries in Europe (and indeed the world) which offer awe-inspiring mountain sceneries next to a sunny and sandy seaside in a very compact area. You can be leaving the lush Alpine forests of Borovets after lunch and still make it in time for a late afternoon Black Sea swim in historic Sozopol on the very same day!

2. Local gourmet: Bulgaria’s cuisine is fresh and delicious

Local gourmet: Bulgaria’s cuisine is fresh and delicious

Local gourmet: Bulgaria’s cuisine is fresh and delicious

With outstanding regional vegetables, fragrant spices and quality barbecued meats, Bulgarian cuisine is an absolute Balkan jewel. Add a glass of aromatic rakia (or why not some well-aged Bulgarian wine?) and you’re in for a memorable Bulgarian meal.

Now imagine having this variety of tasty local food and drink available to you every day. Freshly baked pastries and the world’s best yoghurt for breakfast, a rich salad with white cheese for lunch and a nicely seasoned Bulgarian mixed grill for dinner. Doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

3. One euro beer: Bulgaria’s prices are unrivalled

One euro beer: Bulgaria’s prices are unrivalled

One euro beer: Bulgaria’s prices are unrivalled

Admittedly, salaries in Bulgaria are quite low by European standards. But to counter that, the country has some of the most affordable prices on the continent. In many cases, goods and services are several times cheaper than in Western Europe!

A nice cold beer, for example, will set you off around one euro at a normal bar or restaurant and a hearty meal will typically not exceed 5-6 euro. A public transport ticket is no more than 50 euro cent and looking at rents and accommodation, you’ll find some of the most reasonable prices in all of Europe.

4. Southern hospitality: Bulgaria’s people are warm and welcoming

Southern hospitality: Bulgaria’s people are warm and welcoming

Southern hospitality: Bulgaria’s people are warm and welcoming

Bulgarians have a reputation as social, naturally curious and warm-hearted people who know how to have a party and share a good laugh (very often at their own expense!). A friendly smile and a few kind words and you’ll be making new friends in no time!

Of course, people are all different and this cannot possibly apply to everyone, but you’ll notice that social life plays a greater role in the Bulgarian day-to-day than in more northern places. Bulgarians like to spend their time among others and physical interaction is very commonplace too.

5. Winter snow and summer heat: Bulgaria’s climate is perfect for outdoor activities in all seasons

Winter snow and summer heat: Bulgaria’s climate is perfect for outdoor activities in all seasons

Winter snow and summer heat: Bulgaria’s climate is perfect for outdoor activities in all seasons

Northern Europe is rainy and cool all year round and the Mediterranean doesn’t boast the Christmas delight of a snowy winter. How about a proper hot summer and a cold, snowy winter, with pleasant spring and autumn in between?

Bulgaria’s climate gets the best of the north and the south. It’s usually dry and sunny, but temperatures vary greatly between seasons, unlike Germany or England, where seasonal temperature differences are much smaller. So you get to enjoy skiing on those awesome mountains mentioned above and a few months later it’s time to head to the coast and chill in the refreshing waters of the Black Sea!

6. Tax haven: Bulgaria’s taxes are the most favourable in the EU

Tax haven: Bulgaria’s taxes are the most favourable in the EU

Tax haven: Bulgaria’s taxes are the most favourable in the EU

Since 2008, Bulgaria has enjoyed a flat income tax rate of just 10%, the lowest in the European Union. With relatively low health and pension insurance costs and a cheap and simplified process to start a business, you’ll be making sure you’re handing as little of your income to the government as possible.

With Bulgaria’s membership in the European Union, living, working and travelling in most of Europe has become simpler than ever before. And the local currency, the lev, is handily tied to the euro at approximately 2 leva for 1 euro, which will make your life easier too.

7. Shop around the clock: Bulgaria is full of 24/7 shops and supermarkets

Shop around the clock: Bulgaria is full of 24/7 shops and supermarkets

Shop around the clock: Bulgaria is full of 24/7 shops and supermarkets

24/7 supermarkets, restaurants working seven days a week and convenience stores on pretty much every corner… in many Bulgarian towns, all of this is the norm. And there’s even some bank branches open on weekends!

It may not seem like a big deal to you unless you’ve ended up with no groceries on a Sunday afternoon in Germany ever before. But the chance to shop however and whenever you want gives you the freedom to live your life according to your own terms and not have to plan every little step in advance.

34 thoughts on “7 reasons to live in Bulgaria

  1. Interesting article and info. I’m curious to know what the standard of living is like. Would you say it’s possible for a Western retiree to have a reasonable and realistic retirement in Bulgaria? For example, rent and accommodations, cost of living (groceries, day to day costs). How would these measure up to “western” standards? If you can email me, that would be appreciated.

    • Dear Julia, Bulgaria is actually a popular retirement destination for Westerners because of all these factors. A Western pension would typically amount to a very high Bulgarian salary, so you can live comfortably, travel and enjoy a very high quality of life with ease. In recent years many Western retirees have bought village houses for cheap, renovated them and settled there, growing veggies, learning more about the culture and getting to know the locals… all in all, having a pretty good time!

      • Thank you Todor for the reply. We are currently living in South America but I was born in Sofia and immigrated to Canada long ago, where my children were born and we are now contemplating returning to my homeland. May I ask what city in Bulgaria did you move to? Would you strongly suggest we consider making the move back to Bulgaria? My email address is grace.924@hotmail.com.

        Mnogo pozdravi
        Julia

  2. As I lived in Bulgaria for 6 years, yes u will find good honest food wine at good prices, proper seasons winters very cold, but there is no work and the nhs so to speak is non existent , if you want help you have to pay, health service is the same. But if you live by the rules no one will bother you. Away from the coast in the inland villages it’s very poor indeed, there is some beautiful sights to see, but beware it’s not taken care of. As for the people for the most they are nice and friendly. In the time we were there the ups and downs we had were to us part of the enjoyment, be aware the gypsies are not to be trusted we never found 1 Bulgarian that did not hate them. The reason we came back to the uk ……. Health, and first grandchild . Thank you for reading

  3. “Portugal isn’t exactly a top hiking place either”. Sorry, have you been to Portugal? ahah Just google Serra da Estrela, Serra do Marão or Gerês. And I’m just naming a few top hiking mountains there. 😀 Anyway, thank you for the article about Bulgaria. It was helpful.

  4. I would like to move to Bulgaria as I have nothing holding me here in Ireland and I need a change.
    I like the idea of living in the lower mountains in a touristy type village or town..
    I’m looking online for a nice house to do up as I am a Stone Mason and general builder
    Any advice would be great
    Danny

    • Hi, Daniel. I am already one foot in BG ( another one is still in Ireland ). I am in the last stage of preparations for departure to BG for good. I have traveled extensively all the Balkan region, including Bulgaria, over past six-seven years in search of the best place for landing somewhere around there, spending there all my holidays. It all has gained a fruit eventually. A couple of years ago I have bought a small apartment in the best spot of one of the most comfortable towns in BG, in my opinion. The house is the next step. I can provide you with tonnes of practical information about what, where, why etc. in Bulgaria in general, as well as about my region and town. So, feel free to contact me via e-mail irishkazak@mail.bg If you are in Dublin we can meet for a pint. Cheers.

      • Sounds good Robby
        So I was in veliko turnovo ,Sofia and Elena
        All nice but I’d rather somewhere in south east with a nice mix of cultures..
        Still bought nothing but heading out again soon
        It’s hard to find a house with a foundation..I think I’d prefer a Stone house just outside a busy town with a bit of land
        Tried emailing you but didn’t didn’t send
        Cheers
        Danny

        • Hello I have a big barn with stone rooms under top need full restoration big space for a large room about 50 sqm sitting room lovely views + lake near by near30km near veliko turnovo next road to Sofia less than 5000 UK pounds .kind regards
          iko turnovo

    • We have two farm houses with lots of land – situated nr plovdiv in Granit let me know if you are interested in buying!

  5. I’m interested in living in Bulgaria, and wondered how life would be without a car? Could we get around on public transportation? Is the bus only really available in the cities, or would they also run through the smaller towns/villages?

  6. I am living in Bulgaria since January 2014, from the beginning in Burgas, which is in the only strip of the country which has Mediterranean climate and plants outside, and several times won the price of the best city to live here. If I had not moved here, I would now be bankrupt in Germany. I felt home here from the first minute of arrival and I am thankful for any minute of being here. As I work over the internet, this was the only joker and the only advantage of my profession as freelance translator which I had, now I work here with my founded Bulgarian company. Only I should have more courage to speak Bulgarian, but since I have too much work, it is lacking time to attend a course, and I only speak when I am sure what I speak is perfect and without accent.

    • Blagoevgrad – is still the best ! It is full of Blago, soaked with Blago and Blago is all over the place over there 🙂

  7. I am Bulgarian and I live in Netherlands now. Before that I used to live in Spain for almost 3 years. I regret every minute that after Spain we chose the Netherlands instead of Bulgaria. I work in IT , working in that field in Bulgaria you can have a very good life, not to mention the nature, you can ski in winter, going to the beach in summer. Yes there are many poor towns, but I think that it is getting better.
    One of the reasons to come to live in Netherlands was that it was rated as one of the best countries to raise a child. From my personal experience I can say that it is worse than Spain and Bulgaria. It is extremely expensive, there are no benefits for children, plus the climate is horrible.
    I hope that my daughter grow in Bulgaria and will enjoy the nice nature there.

  8. There is no mediterranian climate in Burgas. They try their level best with palms in pots, but you can’t compare it even with any part of northern mediterranian landscapes.
    Bulgaria is only worth going for people who can’t afford holiday in other countries.

    • Bulgaria is beautiful and I traveled and in many countries .sure Bulgaria is not for snobs.if you appreciate peace nature nice food great prices some old Town veliko.plovdiv koprivitshisa and others are great.appreciating is better than judging.

  9. Hi, Danny. It has been a while since I placed a reply comment on your post here but for some reason it didn’t get trough. My e-mail is still valid. If it still doesn’t work you can also post me on alternative boxes with the same name “irishkazak” on @mail.ru or @hotmail.com services. Do not hesitate. Cheers. Robby

  10. Yes ! It went trough at last ! So, Danny ( using this chance I will brief you while it works )/ The name of the magic place is Blagoevgrad, South-Western Bulgaria. The placefitting your expectations are also in that region. They are such: Bansko ( and Bansko Valley: Banya, Razlog, Bansko, Dobrynishte. May be Gotze Delchev on the southern limits ), Sandanski ( and, may be Petrich, but the latter one is peculiar), then Kyustendil, then Velingrad and Sapareva Banya. That’s it. There is nothing really neither in Veliko Tarnovo or/and in Plovdiv. Would be most likely waist of time, money and effort and will lead to disappointing emigration experience. Go to Blago ! It is truly blessed town, real gem ! Everyone notices that once visiting it ! Just go there, don’t waste time ! You can rent there an apartment for 100 euro a month ( or less ). The place is gaining in popularity already and the expats community is steadily growing. The small grouip of Scandinavians is the most resent attachment to the towns expats community. A few Brits and Americans have already settled and been living there for some while. Even a couple of Irish were encountered… so, hurry up, before the place will get swarmed and packed 😉 There gonna be music festival held on 22-25 of this month. Ireland will be represented by Roisin Murphy. Good occasion to visit 😉

  11. Hello I have a big barn with stone rooms under top need full restoration big space for a large room about 50 sqm sitting room lovely views + lake near by near30km near veliko turnovo next road to Sofia less than 5000 UK pounds .kind regards
    iko turnovo

  12. Bulgaria is beautiful and I traveled and in many countries .sure Bulgaria is not for snobs.if you appreciate peace nature nice food great prices some old Town veliko.plovdiv koprivitshisa and others are great.appreciating is better than judging.

  13. Thanks Paul
    Great info
    I will defo go to all of these places when I get back over again
    I hear Apriltsi is also a great place to live so will have a look there also..
    I just got email about your reply so just seeing it..
    Blago here I come!
    Any property with concrete foundations in any of the areas Paul has mentioned with land would be good to hear from you!!
    Cheers Paul!
    Danny

  14. Hi, Danny. Go to Blago without hesitation ! “Blago” translated from Bulgarian means “boon” ( you can check it on google translate ) and it is hard to find a better place ! But general advice is repeated: DO NOT RUSH INTO B YING ANYTHING – UNTIL GETTING FIRM FEELING OF THE PLACE !!!! ESPECIALLY HOUSE AND EVEN MORE SPECIALLY THE RURAL TYPE OF PROPERTY !!! Many foreign Bulgaria’s enthusiasts did and still do this very mistake and nd up getting stuck with unsalable “property portfolio”. Just go to Blago for starter, stay there for a couple of weeks and get vibes of the place. Best to go there in the second half of September, when students are back, and it is not too hot, but the aquapark is still open. Then travel around a bit ( the car can be rented there and very cheaply ), to Bansko, Razlog, Banya, Dobrynishe, Sandanski, Sapareva Banya, Kustendil and towns/villages alon Rila river valley: Kocherinovo, Porominovo, Barakovo, Stob and town of Rila itself. May be combining this trip wit visiting Aegean Sea coast in Greece which is 3 and a half hours away from Blago, at Kavala and the island of Tassos. You can stay in the Officers Club in Blago town. It is centrally located facility ( right behind the Opera House/ Music Theater ), very convenient and the cheapest in town place to stay for short/medium term. However, it is absent in the internet due to the military restrictions and stuff doesn’t speak any language except Bulgarian. Good luck, stay in touch. My name is Robby, btw, not Paul.

  15. Generally speaking, your idea of buying ruins or foundation coming with the land plot is rationally perfect, taking in account all Bulgarian circumstances. Most importantly, you will not need planning permission for it as it will already have all the paperwork there, therefore any activity with it can be classed as “renovation/restoration” or “completion” of the structure and it will be hassle free. There is also a few cost reducing tricks, but the are not for public display. All in all, the main ingredient of success with property in Bulgaria is as in Ireland: location, location and location once more. V. Tarnovo is a hype, with descending bias. There are loads of properties in and around V.Tarnovo on the market currently – from disillusioned Brits and other foreigners. Blago is unbeatable by all means. 🙂

  16. To stay for longer than a month it is more rational to rent an apartment in Blago ( or room ). they are plentiful there and incredibly affoordable. It is in no way like mad Dublin.

  17. Cheers Robby
    That is great advice and I am defo heading over to Blago in September and will stay for a few weeks..
    I have taken all your info on board and I am sure anyone else reading your comments will be feeling a lot more secure.
    I will be careful with property but from what you are saying I will probably love Blago and use it as my base so hopefully get somewhere in that area..
    Yes Veliko Turnovo was nice but the houses are build badly and being on sites my whole life ..if there’s no foundation or damp course it’s a toilet.
    You should do a Blog as it would make a great read I’m sure!keep it real don’t leave out the juicy bits ha!
    Don’t know where I got Paul from I’m sorry about that Robby..
    My mother’s from Raheny and though I love the Dubs I find driving in Dublin a balls these days it’s a nightmare at night the lighting is crap..in saying that my eye sight isn’t as good as when I was growing up there ha
    Cheers Robby!

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