Moving to Bulgaria: A Comprehensive Relocation Guide for Expats
Bulgaria is definitely among the greatest places to live in Europe. Many people around the world consider this country a desirable relocation destination as a second home due to its wonderful landscapes and thriving cities.
If you are one of those who intend to enhance their understanding and gain additional justification for relocating to Bulgaria, IMovingTo will guide you and simplify all the obstacles related to the relocation process.
Cost of Living in Bulgaria
The cheap cost of living in Bulgaria may not be as well known as it should be because of its low property prices, but it is still around one-third less than in the UK. While some items, like gasoline, are more expensive, direct price comparisons of non-imported food, clothing, electrical goods, and furniture reflect costs that are between 30 and 35% lower than in the UK. Utility costs and local taxes are even lower.
Despite the low cost of living, it is not advisable to relocate to Bulgaria without a means of support. The following information will be useful to improve your perception of the core aspects of living in Bulgaria:
- One-bedroom apartment in the city center: $326.05
- One-bedroom apartment outside of the city center: $243.94
- Basic bills (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for a small apartment: $108.39
- Monthly transport pass: $25.19
- Three-course meal for a couple in a mid-range restaurant: $32.7
- Cinema ticket: $6.55
Visa Types & Work Permit Requirements
There are 5 primary Bulgarian visas available to foreign nationals coming there from outside of Europe:
- If you have a job lined up with a Bulgarian or foreign company, a work visa will enable you to relocate to Bulgaria.
- Whoever wants to launch a firm or engage in commercial activities in Bulgaria needs a business visa.
- Foreign nationals with student visas are permitted to reside in Bulgaria while pursuing their studies there.
- A family visa enables spouses, children, and other immediate family members of citizens and residents to move to Bulgaria.
- Foreigners are also eligible to apply for this freelancer visa, which enables them to reside and work in Bulgaria.
If you are moving to Bulgaria from another European country within the EU/EEA or Switzerland, you will not need to apply for a Bulgarian work permit, student visa, or residency permit to live, study, and work in Bulgaria. You will only need to register after you get there with the local authorities.
All you require to start searching for work in Bulgaria is to register as a jobseeker at a local Employment Office. Work permits are granted for a predetermined period, usually 1 year. However, they may be extended in specific circumstances for a further 3 years.
Healthcare System in Bulgaria
The financing of healthcare in Bulgaria is a joint effort of the public and private sectors. The Ministry of Health manages and controls the operation of the healthcare system, as well as Bulgaria’s national health policy and general organizational structure.
Your income will determine how much you contribute. However, there is a very low base rate fee of about €9. Approximately 8% of your earnings will go into healthcare contributions, with 4.8% coming from your company and 3.2% coming from you.
In Bulgaria, healthcare organizations are autonomous, self-governing entities. The health insurance program provides medication for people as well as services including diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.
Private sector hospitals provide the majority of primary medical treatment, specialist outpatient care, pharmaceutical care, and dental care in addition to providing public healthcare.
The national medical centers, university hospitals, and national specialized hospitals are all under the control of the State. Additionally, they are in charge of transfusion, mental, and emergency medical care facilities.
Transporting Your Household Belongings
Since Bulgaria is a member of the EU, personal belongings and household items coming from another member state of the EU are not subject to official documentation requirements. However, the specific requirements still apply if your belongings come from outside the EU.
Because of that, you really ought to benefit from the services offered by reputable international moving companies. Consider that they often provide international moving and packing services as well. But first, let’s look at some essential details regarding importing your possessions.
It is anticipated that import duties, VAT, and indirect taxes will be imposed on household items and automobiles. Customs officials can apply import duties based on the information you provide regarding your inventory, your declared value, and the length and purpose of your stay.
The customs chief will make the ultimate choice, but in most circumstances, a tax of 5% to 20% and a VAT of 20% will be used.
How to Find a Job in Bulgaria as an Expat
Despite Bulgaria’s high unemployment rate, there are still many job opportunities available for expats. These positions are in high demand if you have expertise in engineering or medicine. Otherwise, Bulgaria’s two largest industries, agriculture, and tourism offer plenty of employment options for foreigners and professions in the English language.
Many expats establish their enterprises to manage pubs, restaurants, and hotels, while others establish successful companies that offer services specifically for the expat community. A few well-known and prosperous expat businesses include newspaper publications, the manufacturing or import of common foods that are not otherwise available in the area, building renovation, and home maintenance services.
The best way to get a Bulgarian work permit is to find a job before moving there if you intend to live and work there. This will make the process much simpler. You can take advantage of certain online search portals to find your preferred job option.
- Career Jet
- Careers in Bulgaria
How to Take Care of Finances & Taxes
In Bulgaria, commercial banks offer the whole spectrum of banking services. There are currently 28 commercial banks, of which more than 90% are controlled by foreigners and 6 foreign bank branches. The Post Bank is the most well-liked financial institution and the bank with the most locations in this country.
Although internet banking is becoming more and more popular in Bulgaria, the country’s weak communications infrastructure continues to be a barrier. Many banks provide online banking services. However, each bank has a different service offering and price.
In Bulgaria, 10% income tax and 13% social security contributions are paid at the source at a fixed rate. While employers also contribute, to make these payments, you will need a social security number, which your company will typically obtain for you.
Getting Accommodation in Bulgaria
Bulgaria offers a variety of accommodation options for all price ranges. Depending on your family status and available funds, you can choose from a variety of housing options, including apartments, studios, and houses.
An increasing number of foreigners relocating permanently to Bulgaria prefer to buy a small home or apartment, with prices ranging from 20 000 to 30 000 euros depending on size and location.
If you’re considering renting an apartment in Sofia, centrally located apartments cost between 300 and 500 euros per month.
If you are searching from abroad, you can explore housing offers on both regular and special websites. But if you’re already in the country, you can also look through the classified ads in your local newspaper. As a result, you’ll know more about the many housing options and rent costs. Finally, working with a real estate agent will speed up the process of searching for a home that meets your requirements.
What Does Bulgarian Social Life & Climate Look Like?
Bulgaria shares borders with Greece, Turkey, and Macedonia, as well as Romania and Serbia. It boasts a beautiful Black Sea beach to the east. Bulgaria, although relatively small, contains a wide range of natural features, including lowlands, hills, mountains, canyons, and deep river valleys.
The vibrant blend of centuries-old folk customs and a more formal culture that was essential in the growth of national consciousness during Ottoman rule and the creation of a modern state makes up contemporary Bulgarian culture.
Despite initially appearing more serious than the majority of Europeans, Bulgarians are incredibly hospitable, pleasant, and helpful. Since many of them are multilingual and like visiting people from other countries, they make excellent company.
Bulgaria has an exceptionally variable climate as it is positioned between the arid continental and mild Mediterranean climates. During the winter, the strong continental impact generates a lot of snowfall, while the summer is hot and dry due to the Mediterranean influence.
While it is usually hotter than 30°C in the south during the summer, it is still colder towards the coast. The highest temperature ever recorded was 45°C in the town of Sandanski.
Things to Consider Before Moving to Bulgaria
- Having a bank account at a Bulgarian bank is a requirement, regardless of whether you have a visa, work permit, or residency.
- Bulgaria uses the BGN (Bulgarian lev) as its official currency. The only places that might accept payment in EUR or USD are hotels, thus we advise bringing Bulgarian leva just in case.
- Before traveling to Bulgaria, you should learn some basic Bulgarian as store names and other signage are written within this language.
- Smoking is not permitted in enclosed spaces. Therefore, it is advised to refrain from smoking in enclosed areas as the police may impose a fine.
- After 5 years of continuous stay, you are qualified to apply for permanent residence. Except for the right to vote, having permanent residence entitles you to all of Bulgaria’s rights.
- Nevertheless, tap water is only suitable to use for washing dishes and watering plants in rural regions, in urban areas, mains water is safe to drink.
Pros & Cons of Moving to Bulgaria
High standard of living
All the positive aspects of living in Bulgaria are summed up in this. The hot summers, which naturally make you happy; the fresh food; the customs; the clean country air; the endless starry skies; the numerous nights spent sharing a glass of wine with friends and neighbors; the celebrations at every opportunity; the hospitable people; and, of course, the affordable cost of living — all combine to provide an exceptional quality of life.
Bulgaria has an exceptionally low crime rate. You can unlock your door, let your kids play outside alone, and explore the city at night without fear. While burglaries and car thefts are both extremely uncommon, antisocial behavior and public violence are completely unheard of.
Tens of thousands of hectares are covered by 14 national parks, which are home to hundreds of different animal and plant species.
Then there are many lakes and waterfalls to explore, many of which you can swim in, go fishing in, or engage in watersports. Moreover, there are gorgeous mountain ranges, which allow Bulgaria to offer some of the best ski resorts in Europe at a fraction of the expense of their more well-known European competitors.
Any task you undertake in Bulgaria requires paperwork. Since each department will only address one component of your inquiry and is likely to take a break for lunch in the middle of the procedure, you will need to wander between them. You’re still likely to obtain contradictory answers from the same person even if you ask identical questions.
The highway code is considered a recommendation rather than instruction in Bulgaria, so the standard of driving is low. Be ready to encounter vehicles traveling on the wrong side of the road in tight turns, horse-drawn carriages on dual-lane highways, or turkeys being herded through country lanes.
Whenever it comes to stunning scenery, a laid-back way of life, hospitable locals, or expanding employment prospects, apparently, Bulgaria has plenty of advantages to offer expats.
So, don’t hesitate to take advantage of IMovingTo’s services for international relocation, and we’ll ensure that your relocation to Bulgaria proceeds smoothly.