Moving to Bulgaria
|Europe property market - Bulgaria|
Relocating to a new country always has its challenges. Every country has its own unique set of obstacles that expats will have to overcome before they can settle into their new home. That is why if you are considering moving to Bulgaria, it is best to be completely informed and aware of what life in your new town or city is like; otherwise you may move only to find that you were happier in your old home.
Although for stays of 90 days or less there is no visa requirement for travelling to Bulgaria, if you plan on staying for an extended period of time then you will have to acquire a “D” visa before arriving in the country. New legislation has closed the loop hole of being able to upgrade from a tourist visa to an extended stay visa after arriving in the country. Applying for a “D” visa can take anywhere from two to four weeks.
The Bulgarian medical system, while boasting many fine and highly trained physicians, suffers from a serious lack of funding and inadequate hospital and clinical facilities – especially in the more rural areas of the country. The health system is also one where money is often expected up-front for services. Before leaving your home country make sure to find out from your insurance company if they will cover medical costs in a foreign destination or if you have to take out a separate policy for adequate coverage.
Bulgaria is still largely a cash based society. Although things are slowly changing and there are a greater number of ATMs around the big cities, it is still highly recommended to always carry cash on you. In fact, travellers and expats alike are warned to beware of some ATMs that may look legitimate but are actually used to scam people out of their money. If a machine ever takes your card and does not give it back report it as stolen immediately.
You should always register with your home country’s embassy the moment you arrive and you should be vigilant of pick-pockets and hand-bag snatchers who like to target tourists and expats. The other thing you should watch for, especially in the big cities, is convoys of SUVs and luxury sedans, as most members of organized crime families travel in such a manner. As there are current turf wars happening in the big cities, you are urged to be extra vigilant around such people.
Your money can go a long way in Bulgaria if you use it cautiously. While the property market in Bulgaria has been heating up over the last several years, it is still possible to purchase highly affordable real estate depending on the area you choose. Bear in mind that most foreigners will get a price quote that is always far higher than one a local would get, so make sure to bargain and be prepared to walk away if you are not satisfied.
The cost of living in Bulgaria can be very cheap. However, certain things will be far more expensive than what you might expect to pay for comparative services in the west. For instance, all phone calls are charged – including local ones. Heating your home will be far more expensive as the houses are poorly insulated and the winters can be very cold. Water is often not available 24-hours a day, but rationed depending on the part of the country in which you live – so before choosing a home find out what their water situation is like and whether to expect power outages at high usage times of the day.
Aside from the things for which you should watch out in Bulgaria, it is a quiet and lovely country caught between the old and the new. If you want to really fit into this charming country then here are a few tips to keep in mind when you move to Bulgaria.
First, never discuss their history, international politics, soccer or medical system with them as they see things from a very one-sided point of view and will not take favourably to anything negative you might have to say about any of those topics. If you really want to be liked, complement their country’s beauty, the beauty of their women-folk and the quality of their food.
Lastly, always remember that you will forever be considered an outsider in the country no matter how long you have lived there and that most of your friends will likely end up being fellow expats.
If you are ready to accept life as described, then you are definitely ready to move to Bulgaria.
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