Bulgaria: while it may not leap off the tongue as the expat destination of choice, this unique country has dozens of things to offer expats, and those who have settled here regard it as an excellent place to live, work, and raise a family. If you’re considering moving to Bulgaria for work, play, or leisure, this guide is designed to help you get your ducks in a row and start the moving process as efficiently and naturally as possible.
While Bulgaria doesn’t get the expat attention of places like Sweden or Denmark, it’s a beautiful place with more than enough to offer would-be residents. With that in mind, here are the top ten reasons to move to the country
1. Bulgaria has a very healthy IT community
For the expat who currently works in IT, Bulgaria might just be a dream community. The country has an extensive population of IT specialists who have created so-called “IT villages,” wherein IT employees live and co-work together. Ideal for anyone who wants to live in the tech sector and work remotely, these IT villages are a welcoming and tech-savvy place to spend some time.
2. Bulgaria is not a consumeristic society
For expats who are leaving deeply consumeristic societies, Bulgaria will be a breath of fresh air. Here, it’s easy to find unique, local shops and restaurants that aren’t facing competition from big box chains. What’s more, Bulgaria is a society that genuinely values the things that make it unique, and supports local businesses heartily. This means two things: if you own a local business, you’ll likely fare well, and if you like shopping at local businesses you’ll love this small-company pride.
3. Bulgaria offers ample opportunities for innovation
According to some sources, Bulgaria is currently sitting on the bottom portion of Europe’s innovation charts. While this may seem like a bad thing, it represents an opportunity for enterprising expats willing to bring their innovative ideas to the country. Since there is so little competition in Bulgaria right now, people who want to come in and change the country for the better have a very real hope of doing so.
4. Bulgaria has one of the most unique languages in the world
People who enjoy learning languages will love learning Bulgaria’s alphabet and immersing themselves fully in what many expats call “the language of love.”
5. Bulgaria has beautiful weather all year round
People who like the sunshine will love Bulgaria. While it may not strike you as a place where sunny days abound, the truth is that the country enjoys more sunny days than virtually any other type, and even the winters and falls are crisp and bright. This leads to improved mental health and a brighter outlook on life.
6. Bulgaria is very uncrowded
Bulgaria’s population has been decreasing in recent years, which means that the country currently offers more than enough space for expats to spread out and enjoy the feeling of being unfettered. Property prices are currently low in the country and expats who want a quiet, peaceful place to raise their family will find quiet towns and cities and relief from the crush and bustle of busier areas in the world.
7. Many Bulgarians speak English
If you’re worried about a language barrier, Bulgaria is the perfect place to be. Many of the country’s residents speak English, and learning Bulgarian doesn’t have to be the priority to get by in this beautiful and unique place.
8. Bulgaria is a very safe place
Rightfully so, many expats have safety concerns when moving to a new location. While these are warranted in many places around the world, Bulgaria is a very safe place. Police in the area take crime very seriously, and criminals suffer harsh punishments. This makes Bulgaria a safe place to live and work and helps to put expats’ fears to rest.
9. Bulgaria offers beautiful skiing
If you like skiing but don’t want to contend with the crowd in places like the Alps, Bulgaria is an excellent alternative. Featuring snow and world-class skiing in the mountainous regions of the country, Bulgaria is a dream-come-true for winter-weather aficionados.
10. Bulgaria is breathtaking
In addition to its ski resorts, Bulgaria also offers seaside attractions and gorgeous natural vistas. This makes Bulgaria an in-demand destination and secures its spot in the hearts of outdoor enthusiasts around the world.
While Bulgaria offers a variety of different visas, people who want to go there for good will likely need to apply for a long-term residence visa. This is the type of visa that is offered to individuals who want to settle for a temporary or permanent spell in Bulgaria. As a general rule, these visas are valid for one year and need to be renewed annually after the fact. While it’s always wise to check the website of the Bulgarian government regarding immigration requirements, people applying for long-term residence visas will generally need to display things like proof of social security in their country of origin, evidence of a travel health insurance policy, and proof of adequate financial means to tide them over during their stay in Bulgaria.
Because Bulgaria’s population has been declining recently, finding housing in the country is currently quite easy. Expats who move to the country will be able to enjoy a wide selection of apartments, homes, and flats, and will be able to look forward to paying low prices and enjoying short wait times on vacancies. For best results and a simpler process, people who recently moved to Bulgaria or are considering doing so should hire a Bulgarian real estate professional to help them locate a property. In addition to having an in-depth understanding of local markets, a Bulgarian real estate professional will also be able to help you identify a fair price and avoid overpaying. Finally, a real estate professional will also be able to help you determine which properties fit your desires and budgets, and which are simply too much work or not a good match for your wishes.
If moving to Bulgaria is on your immediate “to-do” list, consider taking up residence in any of these five towns:
Sozopol is one of the oldest cities on the coast of the Black Sea, and it’s also one of the most beautiful. Once a thriving fishing village, Sozopol is now a vibrant resort community that swells with tourists during the on-season. With roots back to the 6th century BCE, Sozopol still features vestiges of its ancient heritage, including a temple for Apollo and plenty of ancient architecture and sites to tour and admire. Ideal for anyone who wants to enjoy the beauty of the Black Sea or secure a job in the tourism or service industry, Sozopol is the answer.
Plovdiv is Bulgaria’s second-largest cities and is best-known for its old town, which dates back more than 6,000 years. Including attractions like an ancient Roman amphitheater and cobbled streets, Plovdiv is an interesting mix of modern Bulgaria and its ancient, yet still present, roots. Visitors and residents alike love the colorful, vibrant homes and the Bulgarian Renaissance buildings that sit on virtually every corner. Beyond its architecture, though, Plovdiv is also a center of culture and heritage, boasting many excellent museums, entertainment venues, and restaurants for residents and visitors alike.
Known throughout the country as “The Pearl of the Black Sea,” Nessebar is a historic town that dates back to the times of the Greeks and the Romans. The scene of various inhabitations by groups ranging from the Ottomans to the Byzantines, Nessebar still features some modern-day proof of its ancient roots, varying from cobbled streets to old brick churches. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Nessebar is a beautiful, historical, ancient town that offers a laid-back pace of life for expats who want to enjoy Bulgaria’s beautiful weather and seaside vistas.
4. Veliko Tarnovo
One of Bulgaria’s most popular tourist attractions, this ancient village offers stunning hillside vistas and ancient buildings ample enough to delight any history buff. Easily one of the most picturesque cities in the country, this resort and tourism town is ideal for people who work remotely or have secured a job in any of the city’s offices or establishments.
While Melnik is Bulgaria’s smallest cities, it is the home of many of its best wineries. Ideal for anyone who wants to live among Bulgaria’s stunning peaks and verdant wine valleys, Melnik offers an ancient feel mixed with some decidedly modern features, like delicious restaurants and large vineyards.
Bulgaria, like all other countries around the world, offers a selection of pros and cons, and expats who understand each side of the coin will be better able to make a smart moving decision:
While Bulgaria is certainly not the right fit for everyone, it is a beautiful country that is currently on the cusp of a revitalization. Ripe with opportunity for tech-trained expats and people who want to work in the tourism or service sectors, Bulgaria offers a beautiful landscape, plenty of unique cities to explore, and enough history to make anyone feel grounded and a part of something bigger than him or herself.