Retiring to Bulgaria
By Maria Thermann

Retiring to Bulgaria

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A burgeoning economy, low inflation, low cost of housing and living, make Bulgaria an attractive place for European retirees. Why spend thousands on fuel costs in wintery Britain, if you can live cheaply and pay only £200 a year in Bulgaria? Buying an apartment or house in Bulgaria can be as little as 20,000 euros. The country's economy is strong, with a GDP of 3.8% and inflation at just 1.8%, according to the European Commission ( If you're thinking of relocating to Bulgaria with your family, there are plenty of jobs for those willing to learn Bulgarian.

Apart from the attractions of Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, there are places like Sozopol, Varna, Golden Sands and Albena at the Black Sea Coast that offer excellent value for money when it comes to renting or buying a home. Bulgaria's ski resorts Bansko and Borovets, or Vitosha, which lies just 10 km from Sofia, or Pamporovo in the central Rhodopi Mountain Range, are great alternatives too, especially if you like an active outdoor lifestyle. In summer you can enjoy days at a spa hotel or play a round of golf, go hiking or mountain climbing, while in winter there's cross country and regular piste skiing. Bulgarian ski resorts enjoy roughly speaking a 15 week season.

Things to consider before retiring to Bulgaria

You will need to arrange for private health insurance, which is not too expensive at around 200 euros a year. There are several international health insurance companies that offer expats comprehensive cover.

It's a good idea to rent a furnished apartment or house for a few months, before making a decision to buy. It will allow you to see what life is like during the off-peak season. Property prices are likely to rise in 2018 and 2019 due to the country's strong economic performance and low unemployment rate. Some estate agents predict appreciation of Bulgarian house prices of around 5% for 2018. Sofia news agency reported that house prices rose by nearly 10% in 2017, even more in the capital. According to the National Statistics Institute, the national house price rose by 2.41% in the second quarter of 2017 and the trend continued throughout the year. All factors to consider buying a Bulgarian property, either as a retirement home or investment.

Renting an apartment in Sofia is far more expensive than in, for example, the city of Bourgas at the Black Sea coast. While in Sofia you might pay 650 to 700 euros a month of a furnished 2-bed apartment, in Bourgas a furnished apartment of a similar size will be around 250 to 300 euros a month. The same is true for renting shops or offices: in Sofia an office or shop might be 800 euros a month in somewhere like the Buxton Quarter. Go to Bourgas, and a retail or office space of the same size will cost from 5 to 10 euros per square metre, or 300 euros a month.

Bourgas at the Bulgarian Black Sea Riviera is a good base from which to explore southern Bulgaria, when you're starting your house hunt. The city has plenty of attractions during off-peak season: there is a charmingly old-fashioned Natural History Museum, an Ethnographic Museum celebrating Bulgarian folk culture, a lovely maritime garden with statues, wide promenades, a Summer Theatre and lovely walks. Several wonderful restaurants, good shopping and plenty of sunshine in the summer make Bourgas an excellent alternative to Sofia.

To integrate as an expat it is best to learn at least basic Bulgarian, even if the locals are good at speaking English! There are numerous language schools offering Bulgarian lessons alongside other languages. Bulgaria is neighbours with both Turkey and Romania, so these are two of the other languages taught locally. Here are some language school you might like to contact:

Iliyana Dimitrova,
Bulgarian Lessons in Bulgaria's old capital Veliko Tarnovo,
Tel 359 89 898 5021

Berlitz International
language training for children, teens and adults
Tel: 00359 2 851 7090,

Sofia Language Centre
Bulgarian for expats and Business Bulgarian
Tel: 00359 888 603 027

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