Are you considering moving to Europe? This retire in Bulgaria guide brings great tips and analyzes the main aspects regarding moving to his Balkan nation, including cost of living and getting a residence permit
In this post will analyze the advantages and disadvantages of retiring and living in Bulgaria. Let’s check how to get to Bulgaria and how much money one needs to live in this beautiful European country.
Retire in Bulgaria: Overview
The recent history of Bulgaria is full of important events that changed the socioeconomic structure of this European society. Like many other Central and Eastern European countries, Bulgaria was part of the so called Iron Curtain. It was a communist country with a planned economy and heavily dependent on the Soviet Union.
After the fall of Soviet Union, Bulgaria slowly became a market economy. In 2007 the country joined the European Union and is has since then improve its standards of living drastically, including health care and transport infrastructure.
Currently Bulgaria is a great destination for foreign tourists willing to enjoy a pleasant climate, beautiful mountains and the Black Sea. Bulgaria offers attractions for expats year round, and as if this wasn’t enough, it is one of the most affordable countries in Europe. As a full member of the European Union, Bulgaria enjoys a high level of stability that expats seek when relocating abroad. That includes a stable banking system and low crime rate. Bulgaria also has one of the lowest personal income tax and corporate tax rates in the European Union.
Getting to Bulgaria
Bulgaria is located in Southeastern Europe, bordering Greece, Romania, Macedonia, Turkey and Serbia. For those coming from Western Europe and North America, the best way to travel to Bulgaria is by air. The country also has a train network with domestic and international routes. Roads in Bulgaria have improved in recent years, mainly due to EU funding.
Flights to Bulgaria have increased drastically in the past decade, with the expansion of the low cost air travel model and the country’s accession to the EU. The main airport in the country is in the capital Sofia with many international flights to other European and Middle Eastern countries.
Low cost airlines like Wizz Air and Ryanair offer cheap and frequent flies to the capital Sofia, but also to Black Sea destinations like Varna ad Burgas (mostly during summer). Bulgaria Air is the country’s flag carrier and operates flights to many European cities. There are also some flights to countries in Middle East such as Israel, United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
If you are coming to Bulgaria by land from Western Europe, your best choice is accessing the country via Serbia. Driving from Belgrade to Nis, and entering Bulgaria via Dimitrovgrad. It is also possible to drive from the other countries bordering Bulgaria. There are also international train connections from Bulgaria. You can travel from Bulgaria to Serbia, Greece, Romania and Turkey by train, more information is available here
If you a citizen of the European Union or the EEA you will have an automatic right to reside in Bulgaria. However, you need to register your stay in the country if you are planning to stay in Bulgaria for more than 90 days. The registration process is simple, and does not require much documents.
If you are not an EU citizen however, the process to get your residence permit involves some more paperwork. The advantage is the requirements to live in Bulgaria are much lower than most EU countries. Compared to retiring in France or Italy, retiring in Bulgaria can be several times cheaper.
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The downfall of living in Europe is the price tag. A lot of EU countries feature a high cost of living. One country, however, costs a fraction of the price and also offers a very low crime rate. Bulgaria, located in southeastern Europe, is that country. This small country borders Serbia, Romania, Macedonia, Turkey, Greece, and the Black Sea. Though the country is a member of the EU, the euro currency has not been integrated into the economy, so the cost of living is low. The economy is improving, especially in the past ten years, as foreigners are seeing the appeal of the quiet nation.
A Bulgarian retirement abroad would definitely be a quiet one. Your day-to-day may consist of a cold beer in the garden and a glass of wine in the evenings with friends. Bulgaria has a low crime rate, so you won’t have to worry about your safety, or your wallet, like in many European countries.
One of the many draws to Bulgaria is the scenic mountains located next to the sunny seaside, a view that you can’t get in most countries. Imagine going from the Alpine forests of Borovets in the morning to an early afternoon swim in the Black Sea. The climate is perfect for enjoying a variety of activities all year long. Many love the idea of spending their days in a year-round summer, but others miss the changing seasons. Bulgarian winters are cold and snowy, while summers are hot. In between sits a pleasant spring and autumn. You’ll get to ski during the winters and enjoy swimming the Black Sea in the summer! Not only is the country aesthetically pleasing, the people are welcoming and kind. The locals of Bulgaria know how to party and have a good time!
Second only to the low cost of living, the low taxes are one of the biggest draws for expats looking to retire abroad. Bulgaria has a flat income tax rate of 10%, the lowest in the European Union. The health and pension insurance costs are also pretty low, as well as costs of starting a business. You will be paying very little of your income to the government.
Cost of Living
Cost of living is one of the biggest factors when deciding where to retire abroad to. Compared to other EU countries, Bulgaria is a very inexpensive country to live in. This is due to low salaries compared to other European countries. Real estate prices are some of the lowest in Europe. Sofia, the capital city, is the cheapest capital in the European Union. A 900-square-foot apartment on the higher end of the price range sits at around $550. Utilities each month are around $100.
Food is also inexpensive in Bulgaria, especially when eating out. In Sofia, where most expats gather, there are plenty of restaurants and bars. Groceries are also inexpensive but stay at prices that are comparable to the rest of Europe.consumer-resource-guide
Long-term residence permits are issued for one year for non-EU citizens and can be renewed. There are several different options for residency, but this option is the one you would use if you were going to live in the country off a pension or a retirement fund. As a non-EU citizen looking to obtain long-term residence, you must submit your application in your home country to the Bulgarian consular representative.
When you apply for the permit, you will need to prove you have sufficient means to support yourself, have a place to stay, and own a valid passport.
After five consecutive years of long-term residence, you can apply for permanent residence in Bulgaria. This earns you the same rights as a Bulgarian citizen, other than the right to vote. You will submit your application to the National Migration Directorate in Bulgaria no later than 60 days before your long-term residency permit expires.
If you want the freedom to travel in Europe during your retirement abroad without the pricetag of living in Italy or France, Bulgaria is the country for you. Just because it’s cheaper, doesn’t mean you’re missing out on anything either. You will be safe and the people are kind. You can always enjoy the quiet Bulgarian scenery, and when you are looking for more excitement, hop on a train or plane and visit any of the nearby countries