If you are planning to move to Bulgaria, or you’ve already arrived we hope that you will find this expat guide helpful. Moving to a new country can be difficult but with a little time and a lot of patience you will soon be feeling at home. Bulgaria is a beautiful country and we’re sure you will love it! We are also happy to try and help with any questions you may have so feel free to contact us.
The first thing we recommend to expats in Bulgaria is that you go along to an Internations event in Sofia. Internations is a global expat community and is a great way to make friends as soon as you’ve arrived. Everyone there has been in your position once before so it’s really useful to get tips and advice from them over a few drinks. For the ladies, there is the International Women’s Club in Sofia too. The club organises lots of great events which include tours, cooking demos, charity events and wine nights. You can find out more about them and how to join the IWC here.
You should also check out the free tours and activities on offer with Free Sofia Tour and Free Plovdiv Tour. They offer free English language walking tours! What a great way to see these cities and maybe even meet some new friends!
Banks & Transferring Money
Your employer may tell you which bank you should open an account with as it will often be the same as the bank they pay you from. It should take about a week to get everything set up. If you set up an account in lev for your salary don’t forget you can also open another account in Euro too. This may make it easier when travelling etc.
You may also need to move money around to pay bills back at home, especially when you’ve just arrived. Sending money via international bank transfers can be very expensive and slow. We use Transferwise and suggest you try them out too. It’s reliable, fast, and they cut out all of the fees! Once you’ve used their service you’ll never send money through your bank again! Read about Transferwise here.
Accommodation in Bulgaria
If your employer isn’t helping you to find accommodation try to get the help of a local or fellow expat before you sign any contracts, you’ll want to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into! Rent can be anything be between 200-2000 Euros per month depending on location and facilities and you can sign a 6 month contract paying a 1 month deposit upfront. Bills will usually be additional but shouldn’t be more than 100-200 Euros. You may also be required to pay an agents fee of 50 percent of the monthly rent when you sign a contract. Find out more about renting in Bulgaria.
You will need to get some documents organised to work as an expat in Bulgaria, even if you’re from Europe. Biggest tip here is to make lots of photocopies of your employment contract, rental contract, passport and every other official document you have! When you submit your application for an ID you will be asked for many copies of everything so be prepared!
If you live in the centre of Sofia you may not need a car. Taxis are cheap and there’s also plenty of trams and buses. If you live outside of Sofia however you will probably need a car as the public transport may not be as well connected as you need. Long term rental is one option, you can check here for car rental rates, or, if you’re planning on staying long term you can buy a car. Again, try to get the help of a local before buying a car, especially if it’s pre-owned. You won’t be familiar with the local rules and scams around second hand cars so it’s better to be careful.
Eating out in Bulgaria is very cheap and enjoyable so you don’t need to worry about food at all. The choice is incredible and you will easily eat a nice lunch for 3-5 Euros. Check our restaurant guide.
Shopping in Bulgaria is great too, there are plenty of malls and markets so whatever it is you need, you will find it! Read more about shopping in Bulgaria.
You’ll need to get registered with the National Health Service and find a doctor. You can read more about the Bulgarian Health system here. You can also find information on hospitals, clinics and dentists.
Gyms & Keeping Fit
If you like to go to the gym you will find so many to choose from in Bulgaria. Gyms are always busy here but you can pay as you go so it’s good to check out a few and decide which one you like the most. There’s also plenty of great places to train outdoors if you prefer to get some fresh air while you work out! Find a gym in Bulgaria here.
If you’re an expat in Bulgaria and would like to share your story with us, get in touch, we’d love to hear from you! You can read some of our recent expat interviews here.