Moving to Bulgaria
Expats moving to Bulgaria will find a former Soviet satellite state that has had its fair share of political instability, economic upheavals and corruption since its first democratic election in 1990. However, since joining the European Union in 2007, the country has stabilised and seen a marked growth in its expat population.
Property is the driving force that brings expats from Western Europe to this Balkan state. Expats looking to purchase holiday homes on the Black Sea coast and those looking for investment properties head to Bulgaria, thanks to a low cost of living, scenic countryside and the country’s proximity to the rest of Europe.
Unemployment levels are high, and the Bulgarian government offers incentives to those who are looking to start businesses and boost the country’s economy. There is a particularly high demand for English teachers in Bulgaria. Other thriving industries include oil, translation, IT and construction. However, salaries in Bulgaria tend to be low, unless you are highly skilled or have years of experience.
New arrivals may have difficulties with the Cyrillic alphabet and overcoming the language barrier. Although the use of English is growing throughout the country, expats will find it beneficial to hire a dedicated relocation specialist for the more complicated bureaucratic procedures. Those planning on settling down in Bulgaria should also consider taking a language course, as even a basic knowledge of the Bulgarian language will help expats integrate with the local community.
Transport in Bulgaria is limited to buses and trains. While those moving to the capital, Sofia, or other major cities in Bulgaria may be able to get by without a car, expats relocating to a coastal town or rural area will find having their own car essential.
Skiing and water sports are popular pastimes in Bulgaria. Expats who are more interested in shopping and nightlife will need to head to Sofia, as entertainment facilities elsewhere tend to be somewhat minimal.
The quality of healthcare in Bulgaria is mixed. Medical staff are generally very well trained, but many expats find public healthcare facilities aren't up to the standards of Western Europe or North America. Private hospitals are of a much higher standard, and Bulgaria is fast becoming a popular destination for medical tourism because the cost of accessing top-quality facilities is comparatively low.
Ultimately, expats moving to Bulgaria will need to be open-minded and have a sense of adventure. Bulgaria’s infrastructure is steadily improving, and expats should be prepared to leave their comfort zone and initially give up a few luxuries in return for a bright future in a country that is bursting with potential.