Considerations on Moving to Bulgaria
Thinking of Relocating to Bulgaria?
What Should You Consider When Moving to Bulgaria?
Moving to another country is a big decision and not something to be taken lightly. I am often contacted by people who are thinking of relocating to Bulgaria and yet they have never even visited the country and know nothing of the different regions, the culture, the attitudes and the way of life there. I am asked to recommend an area, a type of property, how to go about finding a job in Bulgaria and other such things.
Below are a number of important considerations for anyone considering moving to Bulgaria:
Income & Employment – Whilst it may seem obvious, many appear to think that just because property in Bulgaria is relatively cheap, they can live off ‘thin-air’. You WILL need an income of some sort – be it a UK pension, maybe one family member going back to the UK every now and then for work, savings or investments that pay a monthly sum…….If you are intending to get a job in Bulgaria then consider what type of job you could get. Most expats speak no or very little Bulgarian so working in a ‘normal, everyday’ job will be out of the question. Most expats work for other expats – be it building, renovating, gardening, property management or the odd shop or cafe aimed at the Brits.
Children & Education – If you have very young children, then it is not so much of a problem as they will be easily able to pick up the language if they socialise with Bulgarian children at kindergarten (make sure your village has a kindergarten close by), however, if you are moving across with slightly older children then consider how difficult they will find it to fit in, to make friends. In Bulgaria children start primary school at around 7 years old, having attended kindergarten for 3 or 4 years before that. Many people intend to home school but again consider how your children will socialise with people their own age if they are homeschooled and in a rural village setting.
Health & Medication – If you have any pre-existing medical conditions you will need to make enquiries as to whether you can get your specific medication in Bulgaria. The state health care in Bulgaria is fairly basic in many places, although the private health care is excellent and cheap.
Town or Country – Do you wish to live a rural, quiet life in a village, where most of the other inhabitants are elderly but it is wonderful and peaceful with goats and sheep wandering the streets and donkeys plodding along pulling carts? Or do you want to be in a town or city where you can pop out to a local bar, mix with expats of different nationalities, go to the cinema………
Pets & Animal Welfare – Bulgaria has a very poor attitude to animal welfare. You will see stray dogs and cats everywhere and dead dogs lying on the side of the road is a common sight. In general they believe castration is cruel so there are a huge number of unwanted puppies and kittens. It can be very distressing, although many expats are trying to do what they can and have set up charities and rescue centres. It is not unheard of for expats dogs to be poisoned and you will need to keep a careful eye on your pets.
Boredom – It may seem like the dream life to move to a country where the sun shines for much of the year, to grow your own veggies and pick your own fruit, but with a restricted circle of friends and often meaning you socialise with people you would avoid back in your home country, living in Bulgaria can become very isolating and lonely at times. Winters can be very cold and mean long periods couped up inside. There are many instances where expats have ended up with drink problems, and relationships are put to the test, many ending up breaking down. The internet becomes VERY important when living in a foreign country. Consider what type of mental stimulation you will require and how you will keep yourself and your family entertained.
Culture & Attitudes – In general Bulgarians are not particularly westernised in their attitudes. For example as a couple, they will always defer to the man and ignore the woman. Customer service barely exists, beuocracy is a nightmare, the legal system is slow and corrupt, the local mayor still wields a fair amount of influence………that said most villagers are incredibly friendly and will give you vegetables from their garden, home-made wine, be very curious about their new neighbours….