Our Bulgarian office

Inter Relocation Group
Matrix Relocations

Business Park Sofia, Building 12B
Sofia 1766
Bulgaria (Group Member)

Contact
Dessislava Bosman – Operations Director
Tel.: +359 2 807 6683
Email: info@interrelo.com
Responsible for: Operations in Bulgaria

Bulgaria Relocation Guide

Key Facts

Government type: Parliamentary Republic
Capital: Sofia
Total Area: 110,994sq km (42,855sq miles)
Population: 7.265 million (2013)

Official languages: Bulgarian
Religions: Bulgarian Orthodox 82.6%, Muslim 12.2%, other Christian 1.2%
other 4%
Country code: +359
Currency: Bulgarian lev (1 lev = 100 stotinki)

Brief Overview

Bulgaria is a country in Southeast Europe. Bulgaria borders five other countries: Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, and Greece and Turkey to the south. With its 110,994sq km, Bulgaria ranks as the 16th largest country in Europe.

Bulgarian ancient history saw the presence of the Thracians and later the Persians,‪  Greeks and Romans. The emergence of a unified Bulgarian ethnicity and state dates back to the 7th century AD. All Bulgarian political entities that subsequently emerged preserved the traditions (in ethnic name, language and alphabet) of the First Bulgarian Empire, which at times covered most of the Balkans and became a cultural hub for the Slavs in the Middle Ages. With the downfall of the Second Bulgarian Empire in 1936, its territories came under Ottoman rule for nearly five centuries. The Russo-Turkish War of 1877 – 1878 resulted in the establishment of a third Bulgarian state, the independence of which was fully recognized in 1908. After World War II it became a people’s republic and was part of the Warsaw Pact until the Revolution of 1989, when the Communist Party allowed multi-party elections.

Throughout the early 1990s Bulgaria was wracked by political instability and strikes. The former communists were a powerful influence. Although the end of the decade was more stable.

Bulgaria is a unitary parliamentary republic with a high degree of political, administrative, and economic centralisation. Bulgaria was not among the countries invited to join the EU in 2004. However, it signed an EU accession treaty in April 2005 and joined in January 2007- at which point the Cyrillic became the third official alphabet of the EU.

Culture

Traditional Bulgarian culture contains mainly Thracian, Slavic and Bulgar heritage, along with Greek, Roman, Ottoman and Celtic influences. Thracian artifacts include numerous tombs and golden treasures. The country’s territory includes parts of the Roman provinces of Moesia, Thrace and Macedonia, and many of the archaeological discoveries date back to Roman times, while ancient Bulgars have also left traces of their heritage in music and in early architecture. Traces of Gothic culture also exist on Bulgaria’s territory, as testified by the Wulfila Bible – the first book written in a Germanic language, which was created in Nicopolis ad Istrum in the 4th century.

A vast number of archaeological sites from all eras are scattered around the country’s territory. Bulgaria has the third-largest total number of uncovered archaeological sites in Europe after Italy and Greece, and many of them are Thracian in origin. A historical artifact of major importance is the oldest golden treasure in the world, dating back to 5,000 BC, coming from the site of the Varna Necropolis.

Apart from these sites, nine objects have been inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Madara Rider, the Thracian tombs in Sveshtari and Kazanlak, the Boyana Church, the Rila Monastery, the Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo, Pirin National Park, Sreburna Nature Reserve and the ancient city of Nesebar.

The religious visual arts heritage include frescoes, murals and icons, many produced by the medieval Artistic School in Tarnovo.

Prices

Compared to most other countries in the European Union, Bulgaria is relatively cheap and much more affordable place to live.
Here are some sample prices of common items:

1. Monthly rent in Sofia city (2-Bedroom apartment) – 500 EUR
2. City bus ticket in Sofia – 0.50 EUR
3. Taxi fare in Sofia – 0.40 EUR per kilometer
4. Bread – 0.60 EUR
5. Marlboro cigarettes – 2.60 Euros
6. Restaurant bill for two – 20 EUR
7. Sofia daycare for a month – 200 EUR
8. Internet service for a month – 15 EUR
9. Coffee in a Bulgarian restaurant – 1 EUR
10. Sofia Cinema ticket – 5 EUR
11. Beer at a nice Sofia bar – 2 – 3 EUR

Rental Market

The price drop of the properties in Bulgaria stimulated many people to buy properties with the aim to rent them as the price drop of the properties for sale is larger than the drop of the rents. Buying to invest has become a permanent tendency according to analysts. A property purchased for 28 000 Euros can be rented for 150 Euros per month, i.e. and the annual yield is 6.5%. For the same period last year the yield was 4.5 %.At the same time rental contracts have become shorter and now landlords are prepared to sign rental contracts for three months instead of for one year. Purchases are only being made for properties with attractive prices and in affluent areas with good infrastructure. Many Bulgarians have sold the properties that they inherited or properties in a bad condition, so that they can invest in better quality new apartments in good locations.

Re Yields are unchanged over the past year in Sofia, Bulgaria. In the centre of Sofia, gross rental yields on apartments are moderate, i.e., the amount that would be earned from renting the apartment out, divided by the present value of the apartment, ranging from 4.64% to 5.97%.

Doctor’s Garden, Ivan Vazov, Iztok and Lozenets are among the most sought after addresses in the centre. Embassies, museums and universities are located here. These areas also have many parks and green spaces, making them popular with expats.

In the southern part of Sofia in Vitosha Mountain (or in the vicinity) are prestigious suburban neighborhoods like Boyana and Dragalevtsi. Though new developments being built here are increasing the stock of rental apartments, better yields can be found here on the very smallest apartments, with yields stretching up to 6.53%, and for the very biggest apartments, which command exceptional yields at 8.36%

Standard Tenancy: 2 -3 years
Security Deposit: usually one monthly rent
Holding Deposit: usually one monthly rent, but it depends on the owner.
Real Estate Commission: usually 50% + VAT from the first monthly rent. This payment has to be
paid from the side of the client- client is the one who is searching for a service of the agent (agency)
Utilities: usually the rental prices don’t cover the utilities. This payment is covered by the tenant.

Curious facts

Tourism – that is one of the fastest growing sectors in the Bulgarian economy with excellent opportunities for foreign investment with high return on investment ratios. In 2000 privatization of almost 85 % of the assets in the tourist sector was completed. The number of foreign tourists grew, according to preliminary assessments, by more than 25%. Exceptional interest is expected in relatively new but promising fields like historical and culture tourism etc. In 2014 Bulgaria was visited by 10 million tourists. Tourists from three countries – Greece, Romania and Turkey – account for 25% of all visitors. The sector contributed to 15% of GDP and supported 150 000 workplaces in 2014.

Bulgarian Head Nod – when Bulgarians nod their heads up and down, they mean NO. When they move their heads from side to side, they mean YES.
Bulgarian Name Days – “Name Days” are celebrated in addition to birthdays in Bulgaria. As a matter of fact, most Bulgarians value their ‘Name Day’ more than their birthday. A Name Day, or “Saints Day” is celebrated by people named after a particular Saint (e.g. everyone named Peter celebrates Saint Peter’s day). We could accurately say that “the Name Day is the feast day of the saint after whom one is named.”

Bulgarian Yogurt – One thing that Bulgarians insist upon owning as their exclusive invention is yogurt – known in Bulgaria as kiselo mlyako. The country’s long and affectionate relationship with yogurt dates back to the Thracians, ancient inhabitants of the Bulgarian lands, when stock-breeders placed sheep’s milk in lambskin bags around their waists and fermented yogurt using their own body heat.

Fire Dancing – Nestinarstvo – This is a custom that can be seen only in some villages between Strandzha and the Black Sea, around Bourgas. It is observed on the holiday of St.Konstantin and Elena and sometimes on some of the local village fairs and the church/patron saint’s days. A basic element of the custom is the dance in fire (glowing embers). The whole village takes part in the celebration but it is only the fire-dancers that participate in the ritual dance. They are chosen by the saint who is patron of the holiday. The dancers are able to “see” his face, to “hear” his voice and his spirit is transferred in them and on his behalf they can interpret omens, give advice and scorn people.

Kukeri – On New Year’s Eve and Zagovezni, in Bulgaria, special rituals called Kukeri (Mummer’s) games take place. The Kukeri games are performed by men only. They put on special masks, hand-made by each of the participants. Most of the masks are made of wood. Different colored threads are glued on it as well as pieces of multicolored fabrics, mirrors and other shiny elements. The masks represent a ram, a goat or a bull. Their necessary part of the Kukeri games proves the thesis that their origin is connected to the ancient Dionysius’ games. The impact that the masked mummers make, gets even bigger by the sound of the copper and bronze bells that hang on them.

Bulgarian Rose Oil – The famous Bulgarian rose oil is used for making some of the world’s most popular and expensive perfumes. One gram rose oil is produced out of 1000 rose blossoms.

Schools

The Ministry of Education and Science partially funds public schools, colleges and universities, sets criteria for textbooks and oversees the publishing process. The State provides free education in primary and secondary public schools. The educational process spans through 12 grades, where grades one through eight are primary and nine through twelve are secondary level. High schools can be technical, vocational, general or specialized in a certain discipline, while higher education consists of a 4-year bachelor degree and a 1-year master’s degree.

Education in Bulgaria is mainly supported by the state, through the Ministry of Education and Science. School education is compulsory for children from seven to 16 years of age. The Bulgarian educational system falls within the continental European tradition. The main types of secondary schools are: general educational, vocational, language schools and foreign schools. Private schools are also being established and they are beginning to compete successfully with state schools. There are 41 higher educational institutions in Bulgaria offering degrees at undergraduate and graduate levels. The academic year for most Bulgarian universities begins around October 1 and consists of fall and spring semesters. The academic year covers up to 30 weeks.

Here are some international schools in Bulgaria:
American University in Blagoevgrad
American English Academy, Sofia
Anglo-American School, Sofia
The American College in Sofia
French Institute in Sofia 
Goethe Institute in Bulgaria
New Bulgarian University

Health Care

Healthcare in Bulgaria is made up of a combination of compulsory health insurance and private medical practice. The National Health Insurance Fund administers the health insurance system in Bulgaria and is carried out by its territorial divisions – the 28 regional Health Insurance Funds.

The availability of state provided healthcare varies in Bulgaria. Although bigger cities and towns provide access to clinics, doctors and hospitals, provision in the more rural areas is restricted.

No matter if you are visiting Bulgaria for leisure or on business, you will need to provide a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) when you seek treatment. Non-EEA nationals are covered in Bulgaria.

About 90% of doctors in Bulgaria are registered with the National Insurance Fund, however, you should always check before making an appointment. There is a small charge for seeing a doctor. This is non-refundable in Bulgaria but you may be able to seek reimbursement when you are back in your home country.
If you require medication, a doctor will usually issue you a receipt form (for non–chronic diseases) or a prescription (chronic illnesses).

Key Facts

Government type: Parliamentary Republic
Capital: Sofia
Total Area: 110,994sq km (42,855sq miles)
Population: 7.265 million (2013)

Official languages: Bulgarian
Religions: Bulgarian Orthodox 82.6%, Muslim 12.2%, other Christian 1.2%
other 4%
Country code: +359
Currency: Bulgarian lev (1 lev = 100 stotinki)

Brief Overview

Bulgaria is a country in Southeast Europe. Bulgaria borders five other countries: Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, and Greece and Turkey to the south. With its 110,994sq km, Bulgaria ranks as the 16th largest country in Europe.

Bulgarian ancient history saw the presence of the Thracians and later the Persians,‪  Greeks and Romans. The emergence of a unified Bulgarian ethnicity and state dates back to the 7th century AD. All Bulgarian political entities that subsequently emerged preserved the traditions (in ethnic name, language and alphabet) of the First Bulgarian Empire, which at times covered most of the Balkans and became a cultural hub for the Slavs in the Middle Ages. With the downfall of the Second Bulgarian Empire in 1936, its territories came under Ottoman rule for nearly five centuries. The Russo-Turkish War of 1877 – 1878 resulted in the establishment of e third Bulgarian state, the independence of which was fully recognized in 1908. After World War II it became a people’s republic and was part of the Warsaw Pact until the Revolution of 1989, when the Communist Party allowed multy-party elections.

Throughout the early 1990s Bulgaria was wracked by political instability and strikes. The former communists were a powerful influence. Although the end of the decade was more stable.

Bulgaria is a unitary parliamentary republic with a high degree of political, administrative, and economic centralisation. Bulgaria was not among the countries invited to join the EU in 2004. However, it signed and EU accession treaty in April 2005 and joined in January 2007- at which point the Cyrillic became the third official alphabet of the EU.

Culture

Traditional Bulgarian culture contains mainly Thracian, Slavic and Bulgar heritage, along with Greek, Roman, Ottoman and Celtic influences. Thracian artifacts include numerous tombs and golden treasures. The country’s territory includes parts of the Roman provinces of Moesia, Thrace and Macedonia, and many of the archaeological discoveries date back to Roman times, while ancient Bulgars have also left traces of their heritage in music and in early architecture. Traces of Gothic culture also exist on Bulgaria’s territory, as testified by the Wulfila Bible – the first book written in a Germanic language, which was created in Nicopolis ad Istrum in the 4th century.

A vast number of archaeological sites from all eras are scattered around the country’s territory. Bulgaria has the third-largest total number of uncovered archaeological sites in Europe after Italy and Greece, and many of them are Thracian in origin. A historical artifact of major importance is the oldest golden treasure in the world, dating back to 5,000 BC, coming from the site of the Varna Necropolis.

Apart from these sites, nine objects have been inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Madara Rider, the Thracian tombs in Sveshtari and Kazanlak, the Boyana Church, the Rila Monastery, the Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo, Pirin National Park, Sreburna Nature Reserve and the ancient city of Nesebar.

The religious visual arts heritage include frescoes, murals and icons, many produced by the medieval Artistic School in Tarnovo.

Prices

Compared to most other countries in the European Union, Bulgaria is relatively cheap and much more affordable place to live.
Here are some sample prices of common items:

1. Monthly rent in Sofia city (2-Bedroom apartment) – 500 EUR
2. City bus ticket in Sofia – 0.50 EUR
3. Taxi fare in Sofia – 0.40 EUR per kilometer
4. Bread – 0.60 EUR
5. Marlboro cigarettes – 2.60 Euros
6. Restaurant bill for two – 20 EUR
7. Sofia daycare for a month – 200 EUR
8. Internet service for a month – 15 EUR
9. Coffee in a Bulgarian restaurant – 1 EUR
10. Sofia Cinema ticket – 5 EUR
11. Beer at a nice Sofia bar – 2 – 3 EUR

Rental Market

The price drop of the properties in Bulgaria stimulated many people to buy properties with the aim to rent them as the price drop of the properties for sale is larger than the drop of the rents. Buying to invest has become a permanent tendency according to analysts. A property purchased for 28 000 Euros can be rented for 150 Euros per month, i.e. and the annual yield is 6.5%. For the same period last year the yield was 4.5 %.At the same time rental contracts have become shorter and now landlords are prepared to sign rental contracts for three months instead of for one year. Purchases are only being made for properties with attractive prices and in affluent areas with good infrastructure. Many Bulgarians have sold the properties that they inherited or properties in a bad condition, so that they can invest in better quality new apartments in good locations.

Re Yields are unchanged over the past year in Sofia, Bulgaria. In the centre of Sofia, gross rental yields on apartments are moderate, i.e., the amount that would be earned from renting the apartment out, divided by the present value of the apartment, ranging from 4.64% to 5.97%.

Doctor’s Garden, Ivan Vazov, Iztok and Lozenets are among the most sought after addresses in the centre. Embassies, museums and universities are located here. These areas also have many parks and green spaces, making them popular with expats.

In the southern part of Sofia in Vitosha Mountain (or in the vicinity) are prestigious suburban neighborhoods like Boyana and Dragalevtsi. Though new developments being built here are increasing the stock of rental apartments, better yields can be found here on the very smallest apartments, with yields stretching up to 6.53%, and for the very biggest apartments, which command exceptional yields at 8.36%

Standard Tenancy: 2 -3 years
Security Deposit: usually one monthly rent
Holding Deposit: usually one monthly rent, but it depends on the owner.
Real Estate Commission: usually 50% + VAT from the first monthly rent. This payment has to be
paid from the side of the client- client is the one who is searching for a service of the agent (agency)
Utilities: usually the rental prices don’t cover the utilities. This is payment that have to be covered from the tenant’s side.

Curious Facts

Tourism – that is one of the fastest growing sector in the Bulgarian economy with excellent opportunities for foreign investment with high return on investment ratios. In 2000 privatization of almost 85 % of the assets in the tourist sector was completed. The number of foreign tourists grew, according to preliminary assessments, with more than 25%. Exceptional interest is expected in relatively new but promising fields like historical and culture tourism etc. In 2014 Bulgaria was visited by 10 million tourists. Tourists from three countries – Greece, Romania and Turkey – account for 25% of all visitors. The sector contributed to 15% of GDP and supported 150 000 workplaces in 2014.

Bulgarian Head Nod – when Bulgarians nod their heads up and down, they mean NO. When they move their heads from side to side, they mean YES.
Bulgarian Name Days – “Name Days” are celebrated in addition to birthdays in Bulgaria. As a matter of fact, most Bulgarians value their ‘Name Day’ more than their birthday. A Name Day, or “Saints Day” is celebrated by people named after a particular Saint (e.g. everyone named Peter celebrates Saint Peter’s day). We could accurately say that “the Name Day is the feast day of the saint after whom one is named.”

Bulgarian Yogurt – One thing that Bulgarians insist upon owning as their exclusive invention is yogurt – known in Bulgaria as kiselo mlyako. The country’s long and affectionate relationship with yogurt dates back to the Thracians, ancient: inhabitants of the Bulgarian lands, when stock-breeders placed sheep’s milk in lambskin bags around their waists and fermented yogurt using their own body heat.

Fire Dancing – Nestinarstvo – This is a custom that can be seen only in some villages between Strandzha and the Black Sea, around Bourgas. It is observed on the holiday of St.Konstantin and Elena and sometimes on some of the local village fairs and the church/patron saint’s days. A basic element of the custom is the dance in fire (glowing embers). The whole village takes part in the celebration but it is only the fire-dancers that participate in the ritual dance. They are chosen by the saint who is patron of the holiday. The dancers are able to “see” his face, to “hear” his voice and his spirit is transferred in them and on his behalf they can interpret omens, give advices and scorn people.

Kukeri – On New Year’s Eve and Zagovezni, in Bulgaria, special rituals called Kukeri (Mummer’s) games take place. The Kukeri games are performed by men only. They put on special masks, hand-made by each of the participants. Most of the masks are made of wood. Different colored threads are glued on it as well as pieces of multicolored fabrics, mirrors and other shiny elements. The masks represent a ram, a goat or a bull. Their necessary part of the Kukeri games proves the thesis that their origin is connected to the ancient Dionysius’ games. The impact that the masked mummers make, gets even bigger by the sound of the copper and bronze bells that hang on them.

Bulgarian Rose Oil – The famous Bulgarian rose oil is used for making some of the world’s most popular and expensive perfumes. One gram rose oil is produced out of 1000 rose blossoms.

Schools

The Ministry of Education and Science partially funds public schools, colleges and universities, sets criteria for textbooks and oversees the publishing process. The State provides free education in primary and secondary public schools. The educational process spans through 12 grades, where grades one through eight are primary and nine through twelve are secondary level. High schools can be technical, vocational, general or specialized in a certain discipline, while higher education consists of a 4-year bachelor degree and a 1-year master’s degree.

Education in Bulgaria is mainly supported by the state, through the Ministry of Education and Science. School education is compulsory for children from seven to 16 years of age.The Bulgarian educational system falls within the continental European tradition. The main types of secondary schools are: general educational, vocational, language schools and foreign schools. Private schools are also being established and they are beginning to compete successfully with state schools. There are 41 higher educational institutions in Bulgaria offering degrees at undergraduate and graduate levels. The academic year for most Bulgarian universities begins around October 1 and consists of fall and spring semesters. The academic year covers up to 30 weeks.

Here are some international schools in Bulgaria:
American University in Blagoevgrad
American English Academy, Sofia
Anglo-American School, Sofia
The American College in Sofia
French Institute in Sofia 
Goethe Institute in Bulgaria
New Bulgarian University

Health Care

Healthcare in Bulgaria is made up of a combination of compulsory health insurance and private medical practice. The National Health Insurance Fund administers the health insurance system in Bulgaria and is carried out by its territorial divisions – the 28 regional Health Insurance Funds.

The availability of state provided healthcare varies in Bulgaria. Although bigger cities and towns provide access to clinics, doctors and hospitals, provision in the more rural areas is restricted.

No matter if you are visiting Bulgaria for leisure or on business, you will need to provide a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) when you seek treatment. Non-EEA nationals are covered in Bulgaria.

About 90% of doctors in Bulgaria are registered with the National Insurance Fund, however, you should always check before making an appointment. There is a small charge for seeing a doctor. This is non-refundable in Bulgaria but you may be able to seek reimbursement when you are back in your home country.
If you require medication, a doctor will usually issue you a receipt form (for non–chronic diseases) or a prescription (chronic illnesses).

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