If you are an EU citizen and work remotely or freelance, Bulgaria may become a new home for you. Is Bulgaria a good alternative to other EU states? How is living and working in Bulgaria for internationals?
Quite a few people in the EU are considering how to make the most of the freedom of movement in the European Union. Where can you find a pleasant place to live and work in the EU? For many, Bulgaria is an interesting consideration here:
- there are higher year-round temperatures than in Germany or Sweden, for example
- Bulgaria is located on the Black Sea with many bathing possibilities even away from the big tourist resorts
- the cuisine is tasty and healthy
- there are many recreational opportunities
- an individual lifestyle can be cultivated.
Since Bulgaria is a member of the EU, every EU citizen can easily enter the country and take up residence and work here.
Bulgaria is a wonderful country to live in, but it is not for everyone. If you are thinking of moving there, you should know more about it first. The following points will help you make an informed decision.
Basic information about living and working in Bulgaria
If you want to live more urban, you will find quite good opportunities in Varna – here you will also find universities, many stores and service facilities, a small zoo etc. Burgas invites with its long beautiful beach and park, but is also very spacious.
In its ten cities with over 100,000 inhabitants (Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas, Russe, Stara Zagora, Pleven, Sliven, Dobrich and Shumen) you will find a very well organized infrastructure with local transport. You can get all products and services for your daily life almost everywhere.
How much does an apartment cost in Bulgaria?
If you want to live in the country only for a few weeks or months, you can find good housing options in hotels or private accommodation. There are several resorts on the Black Sea coast and other tourist regions where apartments are owned by individual owners. Here you can get off-season accommodation for as little as 30€ per night.
Where did we live while working in Bulgaria?
We went to Primorje for about a month to work. Our cosy one-bedroom apartment with a balcony at the Black Sea coast in Bulgaria was pleasant and sufficient for working here. We didn’t have rental costs that we would have paid in Germany. In return we had a sea view, cooking facilities, shower, bathing facilities in front of the door and a guarded area. During the stay in the pre-season 2022, among other things, this article was written.
Buying real estate to for working in Bulgaria
Quite a few visitors to Bulgaria consider buying real estate here. Many assume that this is cheap here and rich in perspective. Especially if you like the country and you can enjoy your retirement from here or work remotely or independently, you may want to buy a property. However, there are some things you should consider.
What should you know about real estate in Bulgaria?
- There are quite a number of internationals who have purchased real estate in Bulgaria in recent years.
- However, Bulgaria is no longer super cheap in terms of real estate.
- The building fabric can be questionable even in new buildings. Many real estates were raised fast in the last years, in order to get ahead of a building amendment: As a result, there are also many unfinished buildings that have not been maintained for years.
- If you do not speak Bulgarian, it may be difficult for you to find service providers for acquisition, construction and maintenance of the properties.
- You should never expect building according to German standards in Bulgaria.
- The installation of heating is uncommon. What is common is the use of air conditioning, which can also be used as heating in winter (very expensive to buy and with running costs).
- If you need to get to your property at short notice, the cost of a flight can be quite high.
Tips for finding real estate in Bulgaria
In any case, you can of course also use a vacation or short stay in Bulgaria to look around on the local real estate market. We have the following tips for you:
- In the cities you will find a lot of real estate agents, who display current offers in shop windows. You can also find offers online.
- Always look around first for the place you like. If necessary, rent a car and drive around.
- Prices per square meter range from 300 to 1,000 euros per square meter, depending on amenities, condition and location.
- If you want to rent out the property: calculate with a rental price of about 2€ per square meter and day before taxes. Note, however, that you usually only rent out between May and the beginning of September, outside of that there are hardly any guests.
- Real estate agents will drive you free of charge to properties that are currently for sale. A tour of half a day or a whole day is no problem and you don’t have to pay anything (but clarify this beforehand!).
However, we had the impression with the real estate agents that foreigners are naturally more likely to be offered the hard-to-sell properties as well as the more expensive properties.
Therefore, never buy on your first visit to the country.
Food and eating in Bulgaria
In Bulgaria, especially in the big cities and tourist strongholds, there are a lot of restaurants. These often have a cheap and normal international as well as domestic cuisine. Really high quality restaurants can be found only in the largest cities. However, do not always expect professional service or higher cuisine here either.
Since some time there is also LIDL in Bulgaria. This establishment is extremely beneficial for consumers, as it also offers more modern European products, including fresh tropical fruits, good fruits and vegetables, household items and clothing, as well as fresh baked goods.
You can find LIDL several times in each of the larger cities. In addition, there are many small and medium-sized grocery stores, including some in the malls. In the villages you will often find only one smaller grocery store, but you can cover your most important personal needs there.
Many people are attracted to the Black Sea coast also for the fresh fish. In fact, there are quite a few fishermen and also some fish stands. However, you must know first of all that the Black Sea is not as rich in fish as other seas and also the diversity of species is surprisingly low.
Furthermore, at the fish stalls it often remains unclear where the fish comes from and how fresh it is. A similar Mediterranean cuisine as in Italy, Spain or Greece is therefore already difficult to implement. In case of doubt, you are better off with fish from the local LIDL in Bulgaria.
How is the medical care in Bulgaria?
As an EU citizen, you can receive medical care through your national state health insurance. Clarify beforehand what and how you can be billed here. As with other Eastern European countries, the state health care system is sufficient to cover the most urgent care. If you want better, faster and more modern treatment, you should go to a private clinic.
In these private clinics in Bulgaria, usually several doctors work together, so you get all the services under one roof. You have to pay directly on the spot. You may be able to settle this via your existing statutory or private health insurance – for this you must consult them beforehand.
Questions and answers about living and working in Bulgaria
Is Bulgaria cheap for living?
Life in Bulgaria is much cheaper compared to other EU countries. The cost of food is at a level you know from other EU countries. Housing is slightly cheaper, as well as gasoline, taxes and especially services.
Are internationals welcome in Bulgaria?
People in Bulgaria are often very hospitable and open to internationals. Even though English is not spoken in most places in the country, they are usually happy to help you.
How good is the internet in Bulgaria?
We used mobile internet from our German provider (EU roaming) at the same price as in Germany. It was reliable and fast enough for all computer work, video conferencing and streaming.
Which parts of the Black Sea coast are particularly attractive?
If you want to settle on the Black Sea coast in Bulgaria, the following regions seem to us the best:
- north of Varna in the area around Baltschik
- the area around Nessebar and Pomorie
- about 20 minutes south of Bourgas in the area of Chernomorets.
Here we like that the areas are not as crowded as in the tourist strongholds. They are quiet little towns. Just outside these small towns there is still rural-natural life with lots of nature and beautiful quiet beaches.
However, you have to keep in mind that even these small towns on the Black Sea coast are deserted for about half a year:
- many hotels and restaurants as well as almost all resorts are closed
- service providers such as car rental companies are closed for most of the year
- you will find little service staff because they are working in Germany and other countries in winter.
For some this may be a disadvantage – especially if you have children and teenagers with you. However, if you want peace and quiet, seclusion and time for yourself, the off-season in Bulgaria is perfect for this.
Life with children in Bulgaria
Playgrounds or rather playgrounds according to western standards are rare in Bulgaria. Schools are taught in Bulgarian and secondary schools are only in the larger cities, which can take up to an hour to get to.
In the season there are lifeguards on some beaches. Out of season you are on your own with your children.
Traffic and Transportation
There are quite cheap flights to the capital Sofia all the time. The railroad network is weak and difficult for internationals to understand. Therefore, most people travel to the Black Sea coast from Sofia by car or bus.
To the Black Sea coast to Varna and Burgas there are quite a few cheap flights – but only in spring, summer, autumn. As soon as the season is over, most airlines hardly offer flights. One of the providers is Ryanair.
In Bulgaria it is quite cheap to rent a car. For about 10 euros per day you can rent this comfortably in the low season. For Western Europeans there are few surprises in the traffic. Even in the bigger cities you can get along well. The only surprise is that individuals with larger cars take it upon themselves to drive like hell.
For many things in Bulgaria it is very advantageous to have a car. Depending on where you live, you may have a further way to the next nice beach. Or the supermarket is further away. Step by step, highways and expressways are also being built in the country. However, single lane roads are still the rule on the Black Sea coast. Speed measurements take place frequently.
Public transport is good and cheap in the cities. Overland, mainly smaller buses (marshrutki) travel. These are generally modern and comfortable.
Working in Bulgaria: How to find a job
How to find a suitable job in Bulgaria
Search in search engines.
First, you should probably use a search engine and search for the keywords jobs in Bulgaria on Google or Bing, for example. Also search for jobs plus the names of the largest cities. Pay particular attention to the language requirements.
State Employment Service
The website of the State Employment Service is completely outdated, empty and dysfunctional. Therefore, switch to private providers.
Go to the EURES job portal
Another possibility is the European job portal EURES: Here you can find job offers for Bulgaria and the whole of Europe. You can search by industry, profession and region. There is also the option to search for resumes, which employers can use to find job seekers.
View local magazines and newspapers
You can also find job advertisements in trade magazines and daily newspapers in Bulgaria. So if you’re ever in town for a vacation or orientation to the country: check out the magazines at the kiosks or supermarkets.
Contact private employment agencies
You can also find a number of private employment agencies in Bulgaria. Search for them on the web and see what they have to offer. Providers are for example: Recruitment, Headhunting, Employer of Record – Horizons Bulgaria, Adecco Bulgaria – Job seekers | Adecco Bulgaria or Leading Bulgarian Recruitment & Hiring Agency (skills-provision.com).
Look directly on company websites
If you want to search in a specific city, you can easily click through on Bing maps or Google maps and click once along the streets and search for keywords related to your desired job.
Studying in Bulgaria as a foreigner
It is affordable!
There are many reasons why Bulgaria is an attractive destination for foreign students. Firstly, the country offers a high-quality education at a relatively affordable price. Secondly, Bulgaria is a relatively safe and welcoming country for international students. Finally, the country is home to a number of world-renowned universities, which makes it an ideal place to pursue higher education.In terms of cost, studying in Bulgaria is more affordable than in many other Western European countries.
For instance, annual tuition fees at the prestigious Sofia University are just over EUR 4,000, which is significantly lower than comparable institutions in other countries. In addition, living costs in Bulgaria are relatively low when compared to other Western European countries. As such, Bulgaria represents excellent value for money for foreign students who are looking to get a high-quality education at an affordable price.From a safety perspective, Bulgaria is generally a very safe country for international students.
The crime rate is relatively low and there are no major security concerns that foreign students need to be aware of. In addition, the Bulgarian people are generally very welcoming and hospitable towards foreigners, which makes the country an enjoyable place to study abroad.Finally, Bulgaria is home to a number of world-renowned universities, such as the Sofia University mentioned above. These institutions offer a wide range of degree programs that cater to the needs of international students. As such, studying in Bulgaria provides foreign students with access to some of the best universities in the region.
Sofia is central city for studies
If you’re considering studying in Bulgaria as a foreigner, there are a few things you should know. First, the education system in Bulgaria is heavily centralized, with most universities being located in the capital city of Sofia. This can be a bit of a culture shock for students coming from countries with more decentralized education systems. Secondly, Bulgarian is the predominant language spoken in the country, so students will need to have at least a basic level of proficiency in the language before enrolling in any courses. Finally, tuition fees at Bulgarian universities are relatively affordable compared to other Western European countries. So if you’re looking for an affordable and culturally enriching study abroad experience, Bulgaria may be the perfect place for you.
There are a number of reasons why studying in Bulgaria as a foreigner can be attractive. One key factor is the relatively low cost of living and tuition fees when compared to other European countries. In addition, Bulgaria offers a wide range of interesting programs and courses for international students, as well as a vibrant and welcoming culture.Bulgaria has a long history as an academic center, dating back to the 9th century when the country was known as the First Bulgarian Empire.
Variety of universities
Today, there are over 20 universities in Bulgaria, many of which offer excellent programs for international students. In particular, the capital city of Sofia is home to a number of top-ranked universities such as the University of Sofia and the New Bulgarian University. What makes Bulgaria particularly attractive for foreign students is its low cost of living. Prices for food and accommodation are very reasonable, especially when compared to other Western European countries. In addition, tuition fees at Bulgarian universities are also relatively low. As a result, studying in Bulgaria can be an excellent way to get a high-quality education at an affordable price.The Bulgarian culture is also very hospitable and welcoming towards foreigners.
This is evident in the country’s festivals and events which celebrate diversity and multiculturalism. For example, Sofia Pride is one of the biggest annual LGBTQ+ events in Eastern Europe and attracts visitors from all over the world. Similarly, the International Folklore Festival in Plovdiv is another popular event which celebrates traditional Bulgarian music
If you’re looking for a unique study abroad experience, Bulgaria may be the perfect destination for you. As a foreigner, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the country’s rich culture and history while also getting a top-notch education.Bulgaria has much to offer students of all disciplines. For example, if you’re interested in archaeology, you can visit some of the world’s oldest standing structures – including the Thracian temple complex at Kozi Gramadi and the 4th century Roman ruins at Plovdiv. Or, if you love nature, you can explore the Rila Monastery – a UNESCO World Heritage site located in picturesque mountains.No matter what your interests are, you’re sure to find something that appeals to you in Bulgaria. And, with tuition rates that are much lower than those in other Western countries, studying in Bulgaria is an affordable option for many international students. So why not give it a try? You might just fall in love with this fascinating country.
Living and working in Bulgaria: Conclusion
Living in Bulgaria is definitely an alternative for freelancers and remote working people. However, the coast is crowded and hot in summer and cold and empty in winter. Therefore, from our point of view, living and working in Bulgaria is recommended mainly for temporary stays in the low season (March to June) and the off-season (September to October). In this time there are enough flights as well as open infrastructure and possibilities for swimming.
It is certainly best to travel to the country for a limited time (for example one month) and see how you get along. You have to like a country and mostly it is the personal impressions that are more important than an article about living and working in Bulgaria.
In any case, trying out life in Bulgaria is easy, because as an EU citizen you can reach the country easily and without problems, and you can get along in the country even without knowing the language.