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Moving to Bulgaria

Moving to Bulgaria People move to a new country for a number of reasons. While some move professionally to pursue their career, others move to enjoy their retirement or for a different quality of life, even to start a new life. Whatever your reasons for moving there are a number of things to consider when planning a move, especially one to a new country. For those planning a move to Bulgaria we look at what Bulgaria has to offer and the things you need to research and plan for when you are making the move.

Why Bulgaria?

At the turn of the millennium, Bulgaria wasn’t a popular choice for those looking to make a move to a new country, in fact, it was quite the opposite. Since 2007 however, when Bulgaria became a member of the EU, it has started to see stability and growth in its ex-pat population. The low cost of living and affordable property now makes it a very popular choice with those looking to move abroad and invest. Many people now move there to enjoy its temperate climate and proximity to other European countries like Greece and Romania and to enjoy the culture and other benefits that this country has to offer. Bulgaria is bordered by Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia and on the east side the Black Sea, offering many lovely beach resorts. Its location means that it enjoys 4 very distinct seasons with very hot summers and extremely cold winters. In fact, the mountains make it a popular choice for those who want to ski or snowboard. It is perhaps best known for the production of Rose Oil which is used to make some of the most expensive perfumes in the world, but it is also steeped in culture with Sofia being the second oldest city in the world. Famous for its wine and salads, moving to Bulgaria is becoming increasingly popular amongst people around the world.

When should you move to Bulgaria?

This really depends on what is feasible for you. If you are required to move at a certain time with a job move, then you won’t have a lot of choices but if you are looking to move at your leisure, then you will need to consider when you should move and indeed when you should avoid moving. Are you moving with children? Do you want to wait for the natural end of the academic year before you move them out of their schools? Also, consider the weather. With very distinct seasons arriving in the middle of a very cold winter may be a very off-putting prospect when you are trying to find your feet. Would you be better off moving in the middle of summer or spring when it looks a lot more welcoming? Another thing to consider is when your international moving company is at its busiest? During some months they are a lot busier than others with November through to the New Year tending to be less busy. Also, research when the Bulgarian national holidays take place. You don’t want to arrive when the streets are closed or businesses are closed for a festivity. For example, on the 1st and 6th May there are public holidays which involve closures of businesses and local authorities.

Where should I live in Bulgaria?

The answer to this very much depends on the lifestyle that you are looking for and your reasons for moving. If you are moving and dependent on finding work, then you may want to set up home in or near the capital city, Sofia or in other cities like Plovdiv. If you are not a fan of the city, then there are many rural villages and mountain ranges to choose from each offering their own benefits. As Bulgaria borders, so many wonderful European countries like Greece and Romania your decision may be affected by how close you are to one of these countries. If you choose to live higher up in the mountains, you will naturally see more snow and perhaps a colder climate whereas the beaches of Bulgaria offer a more Mediterranean feel. If you decide that the city life is for you there are several cities that you can consider. Moving to Sofia may be your number one choice but there are many to choose from.

Moving to Sofia

Sofia, known as the city that “grows but does not age”, is a hive of activity and as the capital city of Bulgaria, moving to Sofia is the first choice for many that are looking to find work or somewhere to live. As corporation tax is so low in Bulgaria many large institutions choose to locate their headquarters in Sofia – these include many financial institutions from across the world. In addition to ample work opportunities, there is also plenty of choices when it comes accommodation with many expats choosing to rent in the city or the suburbs. Whilst the suburbs are full of wonderful properties the roads aren’t so good given its location in proximity to the mountains. Whilst the suburbs are full of wonderful properties the roads aren’t so good given its location in proximity to the mountains.

Moving to Plovdiv

As the second largest city in Bulgaria and known as “The City of the Seven Hills”, moving to Plovdiv is another popular choice with many looking to start a new life in the country. In contrast to Sofia, Plovdiv offers the romance and culture of the old town which is situated on a hill and is famous for its Renaissance architecture, museums and galleries. The city makes its money from the production of tobacco, textiles and brewing amongst other industries so is another good location for those seeking work. The cost of living in Plovdiv is considerably lower than in other areas of Europe, in fact, the cost of living is ranked as 434th out of 509 cities across the globe (numbeo, May 2017) making it a good choice for those considering moving to Plovdiv.

Moving to Varna

Situated on the coast of the Black Sea, Varna is the 3rd largest Bulgarian city in terms of population, although it is much smaller than either Sofia or Plovdiv. With an economy based on shipbuilding and tourism, it is a cosmopolitan city with many expats choosing moving to Varna as their first choice. Many choose to live here because of the coast and, owing to its tourism, English is a widely spoken language here. So what can you expect from moving to Varna? Well, the summers are beautiful but the winters are cold although unlike other popular tourist locations the tourism remains buoyant in the winter. It is more expensive than other Bulgarian cities and it is advisable to find a job before moving here. On the whole, though the cost of living and quality of life is much more rewarding than other countries in Europe.

Carry out thorough research

Moving to Bulgaria or indeed any new country is a big move whatever your circumstances and you want to ensure that you carry out your research before you make any life-changing decisions. Your first step may be to visit the country and see for yourself. It is much easier to make a decision based on your own experiences than the recommendations of others however if this is not feasible then there are lots of expat websites and forums online which give you an insight into the various areas. Plovdiv for example, while recommended as a good place to find work, is also labelled as having a big pollution problem. Not good if you are looking for clean air. Also research the crime rates, schools, levels of education available, property prices etc. When researching the crime rates in Bulgaria, you will see that they have low to moderate levels with expats not being targeted and most crimes occurring, as in many countries, in more urban areas.

Administration

Once you have made your decision to move and have started conducting your research, you need to ascertain what administration and paperwork are involved. To live in Bulgaria you will need to apply for a visa – depending on where you are moving from will depend on the cost and admin fees involved. First of all, you apply for a D-type visa which is a single entry visa valid for 6 months – you cannot leave within 3 months once you have your D-type visa and are in the process of applying for permanent residency from the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In addition to visas and work permits, you will need to ensure that you sort out your healthcare insurance, any bank accounts etc. Don’t forget to inform your tax authorities that you are leaving your current country of residency and fill out any necessary paperwork if you are planning to be paying tax in Bulgaria. In addition to the paperwork, you will need to arrange removal of your furniture, belongings etc. which can be done by enlisting the services of a reliable international moving company. Make sure you choose one that has various options available to you including storage if you are not planning to take everything with you.

Language barriers

Now Bulgaria has moved on tremendously since it became a member of the EU and things like broadband and cable are now available in large parts of the country, however, there may still be a language barrier. Unlike Spain and Italy, Bulgaria hasn’t spent decades catering to English-speaking tourists who flock there in their thousands to enjoy a summer holiday. The requirement to speak English hasn’t been as great. That said with around 60,000 expats now living in the country there will be a greater proportion of English speaking people than previously. In any case, it may be a good idea for you and your family to enrol in some classes or start learning the language before moving to Bulgaria so you can at least understand the basics and communicate on some level. Google is great though in an emergency if you need a quick translation.

Getting around

Are you going to be working in the city or residing in the countryside? How will you get around? From commuting to work to making the trip to the local supermarket, you will need to establish how you will travel around. If you are really determined to enjoy the rural life, then you may want to invest in a bike. If you are living a bit further out then a car may be a wise idea. For those living and working in the city Sofia, then you will be pleased to discover that there have been massive improvements in the transport system. You will find trams and buses now running for which you can buy daily, weekly or monthly travel cards for. There are also 2 underground rail lines – one which runs east to west and another south to north. Be warned though – if you don’t have a ticket you could receive an on the spot fine. Now while we appreciate that we can’t cover absolutely everything in one article we hope that this guide to Moving to Bulgaria provides you with at least some of the necessary information that you need to make your move less stressful and to aid you in your deeper research. Whether you are making the move alone or with a family, then ensure that you carry out as much research as possible to try and make your move as enjoyable and hassle free as possible with little or no surprises.
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