Retiring in Bulgaria As An Expat – that will be the topic of today’s article.
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The best time to consider your financial situation is when you are moving to a new country.
Bulgaria is a beautiful country and an interesting destination for expat to retire. It offers favorable conditions for foreigners to get a residence permit. And a long stay in the country can be obtained by any foreign pensioner who has a place to live and is financially buoyant to stay in the country today.
Are you considering moving to retire in Europe? Well, traveling around this continent can be exciting and streamlined. It’s not only countries like Costa Rica and Thailand that are good for retirement, as you could spend your retirement visiting different cities and cultures while having new experiences.
Now, what you should think next is why is retirement in Bulgaria so beneficial? Of course, Bulgaria has a low crime rate, but is that the reason why expats would love to relocate? Well, that’s a NO! The climate is perfect for enjoying a variety of activities all year long. Not only that, but the locals know how to party.
Additionally, the cost of living is one of the biggest factors when deciding where to live in the country. And this is due to low salaries compared to other European countries. You can always enjoy the quiet Bulgarian scenery and visit any nearby countries by hopping on a train or plane in the country.
In this article, we will walk you through the concept of retiring in Bulgaria as an expat. Not only is that what we’re concerned about, but we will highlight some of the benefits of living in this country. We’re sure you’d love to know what our team of experts has unleashed for you. Read further to know more!
Why Expats Need To Retire In Bulgaria
As a full member of the European Union, the country enjoys a high level of stability that expats would love when relocating abroad. Some of this includes; a stable banking system, low crime rates, low personal income tax, and more. Without further ado, let’s quickly walk you through the reasons below.
Bulgaria Low Cost of Living
Bulgaria is a country that has many restaurants, home appliances, and hotels compared to the rest of the European Union. Aside from this fact, the property prices are quite on the low side. This country’s cost of living is 48.12 percent lower than in the United Kingdom. In fact, alcohol and non-alcohol beverages cost on average 65 percent less, while clothing costs are 75 percent less than the EU average.
Bulgaria Flat Tax Rates
The country operates a flat tax system whereby personal and corporate tax rates are about 10 percent across the board. For any foreigners looking to reduce the amount of tax they pay on their income or business profits, Bulgaria is definitely a place to try. And not for this fact alone, but it has been chosen by a number of expats who wanted to get home or internet-based businesses off the ground.
If you’re considering taking your children to this country while planning your retirement, you’re on the right track. And this is because; your children will have the opportunity to attend one of the best international schools in the world if you live close to Sofia where there are plenty of choices to choose from.
However, private international schools like the Ango-America School of Sofia offer a range of extracurricular activities and several events for students to attend.
Home to Authentic Cultures
As said earlier, Bulgaria is a nation that has retained its national identity, culture, and tradition. This means it’s an authentic country and has never changed its culture for the western world. In contrast, this country, with somewhere like southern Spain or Cyprus, for example, you’ll see the difference.
Welcoming and Friendly Locals
Even for the fact that you’re an expat, you’ll definitely enjoy relocating to this country. And this is solely because the locals are friendly and welcoming. Having said all of the above, it is possible to contrast each year with positivity and negativity, but we can tell you that Bulgaria’s pros outweigh its cons. This means, if you relocate to Bulgaria with the aim of retiring, you’ll likely get friendly locals wanting you.
High Quality of Life
If you’re thinking of retiring or emigrating to Bulgaria, one of the first things to consider is the high quality of life. It would be essential; because you’ll need to be sure that the country has enough healthcare facilities. So, if you truly want to enjoy your retirement lifestyle, Bulgaria should be on your bucket list.
Business Opportunities for Expats
While you’re retiring as an expat, you can as well enroll in some businesses that’d still fetch you some money in the country. Of course, you should know that Bulgaria’s economy is strong, with the gross domestic product (GDP) set to grow by five percent. This means the country’s banks are in a strong position, and this is the right time for expat to enjoy a strong tradition of homeownership and a sustained period of growth through businesses.
A Beautiful Country to Explore
Apart from having a low cost of living, high quality of life, and welcoming locals, Bulgaria is a beautiful country with tons of outdoor activities. The scenery is just beautiful, and retiring expats can enjoy different outdoor activities like hanging out on beautiful beaches, good fitness, and many others, to mention a few.
Home to Agriculture
If you’ve been craving to venture into agriculture after your retirement, Bulgaria should be in your plan. And, of course, agriculture is probably what defines the country’s roots best. Besides, the older generation has extensive knowledge on small farming, food reservation like tomatoes, cucumber, and many others, to mention a few. More so, almost every family in the country has their own 1000 sqm for their farming needs. And it’s even a tradition to go on weekends and vacations to the small farm.
Food and Drink are Cheap
Just like we’ve mentioned above, Bulgaria is home to agriculture. And what should you expect? Of course, food and drink will be very cheap and convenient. Also, coffees are much cheaper in the country than in the rest of Europe. Not only that, but all the international coffee and fast food chains like Starbucks, KFC, McDonald’s, Subway, and many others are in Bulgaria.
Retirement Cost of Living for Expat
While most working expats settle in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, many retirement expatriates bargain hunters head elsewhere. And to evaluate the amount of money you need, you can do the multiplication by checking the analysis below. If you’re coming as a couple here, keep in mind that smaller and less touristy towns will have a lower Bulgarian cost of living. Now, let’s quickly walk you through the cost of living.
|Description of Service or Goods||Price of goods/services (3 months)||Per month Average|
|Housing and Utilities||$827 – $850||$300 – $350|
|Fitness and Entertainment||$470-$500||$156-$250|
|Health and Shopping||$411-$550||$137-$350|
Best Places to Retire In Bulgaria
As of today’s digital age, Bulgaria is one of the European countries that have been attracting a large number of expats in recent years. The country is one of Europe’s oldest, and it offers a perfect balance of historical treasures and a modern, digitized approach to living. Visiting this country is just the best thing!
And since you’re planning to retire, you need to know the right place suitable for expat to reside. Well, you can visit its magnificent mountains, take a trip to the seaside where the cities never sleep, explore its authentic and old tradition. In other news, we’ve compiled the best places for expat to retire, check it out now!
Capital of Wonders (Sofia)
Unsurprisingly, Sofia is one of the best places for expats to retire. In fact, it’s safe to say that it’s the busiest city in the country and a multicultural hub of professionals and students from all over the world today. With that being said, you can expect a different vibe in every city area as the country has over 90 neighborhoods. On the flip side, we can say that a single person can live comfortably in Sofia with 1,000 lv (£437/$670), excluding rent.
Old Town of Plovdiv
Next on our list is the old town of Plovdiv, which is known as Bulgaria’s second-largest city. It is located on the banks of the Maritsa River in the Thrace region, southeast of Sofia. Aside from this fact, the city is considered Bulgaria’s cultural capital, and it carried the award for European Capital of Culture in 2019. Today, the city is dominated by expat, while it’s an important center for transport and culture.
Varna (Home to Perfect Sea-Side Living)
Varna is a whole different story when it comes to expatriate retirements. This place attracts a lot of retired expats and thanks to its calm vibes and relaxing environment. On the flip side, Varna is a top destination for expat, and being the largest city, it hosts thousands of tourists every year. The sea garden in this environment is where both expats and locals love to spend their days, and this is because it’s surrounded by calm vibes and nature.
This is another city to take into consideration if you’re willing to retire in Bulgaria. It’s located near the country’s geographic center, and it happens to be the midpoint between Varna and Sofia. Veliko Tarnovo is home to an ancient spirit that offers a modern experience at the same time. Moreover, there are a number of amazing places to visit near this area, some of which include Elena, Gabrovo, and more.
Burgas (Cultural Hub on the Black Sea)
Burgas is another beautiful city where expat can choose to retire in today’s 21st century. This city is full of life and has a lot to offer for students, working professionals, retirees, and others. Just like Varna, this city has its own garden, and this has brought about a bit of friendly competition between the two cities. Some of the nearby destinations to visit for a calm and relaxing experience include Ravadinovo, Sozopol, Nessebar, and many more.
Getting Your Visa and Residence Permit
If you’re planning to relocate because of retirement, our comprehensive article covers all the documentation needed to obtain your visa for Bulgaria. While many people dream of retiring in this country, completing immigration could be a challenging task. Below are the visa requirements.
Step 1: Bulgarian Retirement Visa
Requirement for EU Pensioners
As an expat, you should know that during the first three months of your stay in Bulgaria, you’re not required to enroll for a residence document that confirms your entitlement to remain in the country. This simply means you don’t need a visa. And after this period, you need to register your residence with the relevant authority. Meanwhile, after completing the right paperwork, you’ll be issued a registration certificate.
Requirement for Non-EU Pensioners
If you want to apply for a residence permit as a retiree, you’ll need to apply for a type D visa type. This will allow you to settle in Bulgaria. With that being said, always know that it is issued for six (6) months, and it’s an essential requirement for all eligible applicants to be considered for a residence permit. In addition, the average processing time for this kind of visa is between 1-2 months, and the application must be carried out in person.
Necessary Documents to Obtain Type D Visa
- A completed visa application form and two recent identical photos
- You’ll present a valid passport, retirement certificate, and evidence of sufficient funds to support yourself while living in the country as an expat
- Proof of private health insurance, accommodation, criminal background check, and proof of paid visa fee
Step 2: Applying for a Bulgarian Residence Permit
The second step in relocating to Bulgaria as an expat is to apply for a residence permit. Since it may take up to two (2) weeks for a residence permit application to be processed, we advise you to apply for it at least three (3) weeks before your visa expiration date.
Requirements to Apply for Residence Permit
- A complete extended residence and a current valid passport
- You’ll need to present a bank statement, evidence of personal savings, and proof of accommodation agreement
- A paid residence permit fee, financial statement, and a criminal background check
Step 3: Residence Permit Renewal
If you’re a non-EU citizen, a residence permit may last for one year and up to five years for EU citizens. On the flip side, if your residence permit is about to expire, the renewal process is quite essential. Meanwhile, all paperwork must be submitted no latter than two weeks after your residence visa expires.
Requirements to Renew your Permit
- A completed residence permit renewal application form and a Bulgarian Residence Certificate
- You must present a current valid passport and a bank statement
- A residence certificate, health insurance, and proof of accommodation
- Submission of financial statement of pension and a paid residence permit renewal fee paid to the immigration office
Best Travel Guides for Expat
So, you think of relocating to Bulgaria in a few months or years? Don’t worry; we have you covered with the best tips. You’ll also discover all the top destinations and recreational activities in the country. With five things you need to know before traveling to Bulgaria, expect your retirement lifestyle to be the best.
Best Time to Relocate
January, February, and March are known to be the best times to visit Bulgaria for snowshoeing and winter walking holidays in the Rila Mountains. In other news, you can discover cities such as Sofia as a tourist paradise. April and May often see snow, while June seems to be the right time to go for walking and other outdoor activities, with temperatures as low as 20oC.
We advise you to learn some basic Bulgarian language skills before visiting the country. Of course, most young people speak the English language. Therefore, you can always ask someone on the street for directions. But always know that names of stores or signs are written in the Bulgarian language, and this could make it hard for you to navigate in the city.
Get Along With your ID
It’s not very common for a police officer to stop and asks for your valid identity card. However, according to law, you must be able to show an identification document if the police stop you. That’s why it’s quite essential to always have your ID card with you. Even if you’re a retiree, you could go along with something that’d identify your stay in the country.
If you’re just relocating to the country for the first time, you’ll need to be wary of the fake taxi drivers. In fact, catching a random taxi at the airport can be risky. So, check trustworthy taxi companies and useful mobile applications to order a taxi online when you land at the country’s airport for the first time.
Consider Your Budget
It’s not okay to bargain in the country as the prices of goods and services are fixed. Therefore, consider your budget and do not try to bargain because it is considered rude, and in the end, the salesman might just want to throw you out of the store. This way, prepare ahead and hold some cash before traveling.
Top 7 Bulgaria Outdoor Activities
Bulgaria is no doubt a country of diverse landscape and a depth of history. And for this fact, it makes the country a nation filled with natural beauty and cultural richness that dates back to ancient times. With high rocky peaks home to picturesque mountains, national parks, and more, the benefits of retiring in Bulgaria cannot be overemphasized.
The Nessebar has been charming visitors for the past 9,000 years, and it keeps on enchanting people to the country. Set on a craggy peninsula that’s connected to the mainland by a causeway, the charming old Nessebar town is an open-air museum packed full of pretty squares, cobbled streets, and many others.
Sunny Beach in Bulgaria
This beach is famous for having long stretches of soft, sandy beaches that slope into the Black Sea. And this is a wonderful place for numerous tourists to enjoy the nightlife in Bulgaria. Aside from the fact mentioned, the beaches in the area are clean and are sheltered from elements, meaning the sea is perfect for swimming.
Tsarevets Fortress, a symbol of Bulgaria’s past greatness, is built on the spot where the palace of the medieval tsars once stood 800 years before Tarnovo became the capital. As an expat, you can explore the ancient, rambling ruins and stumble across the remains of over 400 houses and innumerable churches.
Plovdiv Roman Theater
In the center of Plovdiv, Old Town is one of the world’s best-preserved ancient theaters. This awesome tourist attraction was discovered in the 1960s, the spectacularly striking structure dates back to the 1st century AD, and it’s thought to have been built under the rule of the Roman Emperor Domitian.
The classic dome shape of Vitosha Mountain sits close to the urban sprawl of the city of Sophia. With its own ski resort, hiking routes, and fantastic panoramic views, the mountain is easily accessible from the city, and surprisingly can be reached by bus, ropeways, and on foot.
The Buzludzha Monument is another place to visit in the country. It’s an icon of brutalist design and has a masterpiece of Soviet proportion, which is now the abandoned Buzludzha Monument. Additionally, the monument stands on the spot of a battle between the Turks and the Bulgarians that took place in 1868.
It’s somehow crucial to crave something nice during your retirement years. While you’re moving to Bulgaria, be rest assured that the Krushuna waterfalls are one of the best places to visit. It is easy for visitors to reach the waterfalls and explore the surrounding area over bridges and steps.
Since Brexit, there has been a level of uncertainty among people wondering about life in Bulgaria. Well, if you truly want to enjoy your retirement lifestyle in this country, start planning your move. Expats wanting to move to this country will need an ultimate guide. And that’s why we compiled this article. Nonetheless, follow our updates for more information about moving to Bulgaria and many more.