Bulgaria has a population of 7,205,677 people and is 23rd in Europe in this respect. It is a relatively small country, and the largest city is the capital Sofia. Other big cities are Varna, Burgas and Plovdiv. One of the first things you will notice in Bulgaria is the higher percent of aging population. Even in bigger cities such as Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna, you will find much higher percent of elderly people than in other European countries and cities. In some smaller settlements is sometimes almost impossible to find young people in their 20es.
What languages should I speak if I want to live in Bulgaria?
If you are planning to settle down in Bulgaria, Bulgarian for sure will be the most useful language for you.
If you are fluent, you will be able to find more friends, to start business easier, to visit courses in some university, and generally to communicate with people everywhere, including in the supermarket.
However, many people move to Bulgaria without speaking the language.
Another useful option is English, which enjoys a growing number of speakers in the country.
However, English is useful mostly if you speak with younger people and if you are in a bigger city or in some of the tourist centers.
Also, if you speak Russian, you will be able to lead basic conversations with many people because of the strong similarity between the languages and the large number of common words.
About the prices
Is it expensive to live in Bulgaria?
Absolutely not! Bulgaria is for sure the cheapest place to live in Europe.
The prices of most goods and services are far lower than those in the other states in EU. Food, rent, taxes, dental services, properties and many others are much cheaper than they are in any other country on the continent.
It is not uncommon for a household of 3 or 4 members to live on between 500 and 1000 euro per month.
In addition, most of these people even set aside money for a summer or winter vacation.
For comparison, in many countries of Western Europe this is not enough even for a single person to cover their basic expenses.
The only exception is the capital Sofia, which over the last few years has gradually melt the distance with the other big European cities.
What are the most unpleasant surprises of living in Bulgaria when it comes to prices?
As a whole, in Bulgaria nothing is too expensive. Probably, the only exceptions are the electricity bills, which are among the highest in Europe, as well as the price of gas and oil.
Although the properties are quite affordable, the luxury market is not very well developed and such apartments and houses are very rare in Bulgaria.
That’s why they are sometimes too expensive.
Where is the cheapest place to live in Bulgaria?
For sure, if you are interested in finding the cheapest places to live in Bulgaria, you have to search far from the cities of Sofia and Varna.
They are both the most expensive places in the country. On the other side, you will find the lowest prices in the province.
All small villages, no matter if in the interior of the country, in the mountains or along the coast, are very cheap.
However, if we are only talking about the bigger cities, then we should mention first the old capital of Veliko Tarnovo.
This is a great option, which offers a combination of good infrastructure and transport connectivity, better options for a social and cultural life, a number of bars, restaurants and hotels, numerous historical monuments and many others.
About the life in Bulgaria
Main areas to live in Bulgaria
Over the last few years Bulgaria has become a popular destination for people from around the world because of the low prices, good weather, high-quality food, beautiful nature, beaches, rich culture, growing economy and flourishing property market.
There are many places to settle down on the territory of the country but for sure their level of attractiveness is too different.
It all depends on what is your budget and what are your expectations. Let’s see some of the most popular destinations, which attract the biggest number of foreigners.
Black Sea coast
The most popular places to settle down in Bulgaria are concentrated along the Black Sea coast.
The combination of mild climate and beautiful beaches acts as a magnet to people of different ages and different lifestyle.
Other popular places along the coast is the city of Burgas, which is often considered as the smaller version of Varna. Indeed, the cities are very similar and equally attractive.
We have to mention also Sunny Beach, which attracts with its low prices property buyers from across Europe.
The mountain areas attract many people from other countries, especially from the United Kingdom. The most popular place is the Rhodope Mountains, which is located in the southern part of the country.
The most famous mountain town to live in is Bansko, which is a small mountain resort town and an attractive destination to invest in a property.
One of the advantages of the Rhodope Mountains is the close proximity to the great beaches in Greece.
Similarly to the Black Sea coast, Sofia also attracts people from other countries.
However, the city is mostly famous because of its business opportunities and universities.
Historical towns and cities
In Bulgaria there are numerous historical towns and cities.
Most of them are not very popular places to live but some of them could be surprisingly attractive for you, especially if you love history, architecture and if you pay attention to the spirit of the place you live in.
Some of the cities to think about are Plovdiv, Melnik, Batak and Veliko Tarnovo.
Where is the best place to live in Bulgaria for gay people?
Bulgaria is one of the least gay friendly countries in the European Union.
However, the life of gay people here is much easier than in other countries like Russia or Chechnya, where gay people are prosecuted by law and society.
On the other side, in Bulgaria, as of April 2017, there are no gay marriages, civil unions or register partnerships.
The situation in the country is gradually improving, together with the social and educational status of the society.
Where is the best place to live in Bulgaria for retirees?
Bulgaria is a very popular place to live for retirees. It attracts people with its beautiful nature, nice climate, rich history, good food, nice and friendly people, low prices and slow pace of life.
Most people who come to live in Bulgaria in the years after retirement usually prefer to settle down along the sea coast or in the mountains.
Varna is a good choice and popular destination for retirees because it combines mild marine climate, beautiful parks, numerous places to visit, rich culture, Mediterranean pace of life, and in addition, it offers good hospitals and good health care services.
The city is safe and clean, with numerous restaurants and in addition is really affordable. It is a great place to invest in a property.
If not, rents here are really good, and you could find an attractive property at the cost of 250 – 300 euro per month. Another attractive places to retire on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast is Burgas.
Cons of living in Bulgaria
To live in Bulgaria has its positive and negative sides. If you visit the country as a tourist, you’ll probably notice only a small part of the drawbacks.
As it is with many other places in the world, you will see the negative aspects of the life in Bulgaria after you spend some time in the country.
Cold winters and changeable temperatures
Bulgaria is known for its good weather, and it’s probably one of the reasons you’re here.
Indeed, the summer season is very long and stable, with constantly high temperatures and 99% chance of sunny weather. During the winter months, however, the situation is quite different.
Temperatures can vary dramatically from very mild and pleasant to freezing.
It is not uncommon within one week to see temperatures of around (-15) °C and only 2-3 days later to enjoy spring-like weather and temperatures of around 15°C.
This could be extremely stressful for the body, especially for the chronically ill and elderly people. It could have also a negative effect on the emotional state of a person.
Stray dogs are one of the long-term problems of Bulgaria.
After nearly 3 decades of attempts to solve the problem, the country is still struggling with this problem, and it is still possible to see huge homeless dogs to sleep on the square alongside the fancy restaurants in the central part of otherwise modern cities like Varna, Burgas, Plovdiv and Sofia.
While many people enjoy the dogs, talk to them, caress them and even give them some food, the life of these animals is not easy.
Many of them suffer from various health problems and even if they are really cute sometimes, their behavior can be unpredictable.
Relatively low standard of living
If you are planning to work in Bulgaria, it is good to keep in mind that the average income per capita in the country is relatively low, especially compared to the other countries in Europe.
Exceptions are some areas of the economy such as the fast growing IT sector, which offers the same conditions such as the countries in Western Europe.
For most people, however, is hard to maintain a good standard of living, to pay rent or mortgage, to travel and sometimes even to take care about their families.
Since Bulgaria is a country with the so-called family culture, it could be very difficult for a foreigner to make new friendships here.
People in most cases have a small circle of closer friends.
Also, if you want to find a partner here, you should know that here the percent of single young people is much smaller than it is in any other country in Europe.