In order to make the most of your trip it is essential to have an understanding of the Bulgarian culture and to appreciate how "Westerners" are perceived.
Bulgaria has tended to be regarded in the "West" as the poor relation of Russia - the satellite country on the edge of mainland Europe, offering cheap seaside package holidays to older travellers and cheap wine in supermarkets. Very little is known about the real Bulgaria and coverage in the media has been minimal.
Bulgaria falls somewhere between the two extremes - it has had a very difficult history with 500 years of Turkish oppression followed by Communist rule for the second half of this century. Since 1989 when the Communist regime was overthrown it has moved relatively slowly towards embracing capitalism. The State has been slow to take advantage of the potential for tourism on the Black Sea coast and mountain ski resorts. And with the exception of German and Scandinavian companies, it has been largely ignored by the Western countries which have moved so aggressively into the other previous Eastern Block countries.
This lack of action has left many Bulgarians feeling disillusioned and with a lower standard of living than under Communism - the average wage is US$100 per month with many families much closer to the poverty line. Younger, well-educated people are leaving the country - Bulgaria has a negative population growth factor, whilst older people are cynical about the prospects for change.
Given this background it is hardly surprising that Western visitors are regarded as being excessively wealthy and having a fabulous lifestyle.
When you do get to know your colleague or host you will find that Bulgarians are the most genuine and hospitable of people. As a nation they are well-educated, intelligent, intellectual and seem to have an endless source of knowledge on practically any topic.
You can have a wonderful time in Bulgaria as long as you remain aware of the background and avoid some obvious pitfalls:
Don't flaunt your money - even if you think you are being kind in offering to pay for a meal, remember that Bulgarians are proud people. It is best to go to a restaurant of their choice rather than the 5* hotel restaurant which is out of their league.
Don't keep referring to the cost of things "back home"
Even if you think the roads or whatever are terrible don't keep saying it - your hosts are just as aware of it as you but feel frustrated because nothing is being done
On a practical level there is one common problem which always arises - the use of "yes" and "no". Bulgarians usually shake their head for yes and nod for no, but not always and this can lead to no end of confusion. The best way is to discipline yourself to not move your head, to say "da" (yes) or "ne" (no) and to watch the other person carefully. Get it wrong and you will find yourself in a restaurant with another round of drinks to pay for.
And finally - if you are offered the chance to visit the mountains, countryside or Black Sea coast, please go. You will be amazed at how beautiful and unspoilt it is - there is a small population so it is uncrowded and peaceful.
Bulgaria is a country of opportunity - we hope you enjoy your visit and will want to persuade other people to try it for themselves.
© 2021, D. Georgieva
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Whilst every care is taken to ensure that all general information and descriptions of property is correct we advise all clients to make their own checks and take legal advise when purchasing property overseas. Information and price guides subject to change. All properties shown are to the best of our knowledge genuinely for sale at the time of publication (unless clearly marked "Under Offer" or "Sold"). Although the properties have been visited by our staff and details are produced in good faith, no responsibility is taken by us for any discrepancies, inaccuracies or omissions. All introductions and referrals to agents, lawyers and other services are made in good faith but no responsibility is taken by us for any problems or negligence which may arise. All background information about Bulgaria is taken from that available in the public domain and is not a recommendation from us or our staff although of course we may add comments and suggestions based on personal experience (such as restaurants)
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Housing in Bulgaria's Capital Sofia Rose by 49% Within Four Years, 08/09/2020
Housing in Sofia rose by 48.6% in four years. This ranks the capital in first place among the major cities in the ranking of property prices. The prices of newly built apartments in Sofia in the first quarter of the year are 43.3% higher than in 2015, according to data from the National Statistical Institute. In the case of existing apartments, the increase for the same period is much higher - by 50.6%. For such a long period of time in the rise in price of new and old apartments in Sofia there is the smallest difference compared to other major cities in the country with over 120 thousand inhabitants. This shows that there is a serious demand in the capital for both new construction and existing housing. [read more]
Vitosha Boulevard in the Top 50 of the Most Expensive Streets in Europe, 14/11/2019
Vitosha Boulevard, known as "Vitoshka" among the capital's residents, has climbed the ranking of the most expensive streets in Europe, according to a list of a US real estate company. [read more]
UK Embassy in Bulgaria, 31/01/2019
Ambassador Emma Hopkins has a message for UK nationals in Bulgaria. In it she provides an update on latest negotiations, the Embassy's recent work and reminds of the importance of registering with Bulgarian authorities if you reside in Bulgaria. [watch the video]
The flipside is that Bulgarian property is now remarkably affordable and probably appropriately priced. Properties that sold for €80,000 10 years ago are widely available now for €25,000, writes Diarmaid Condon in Is the price now right for Bulgarian property investments?. [read the article]
If you're looking for a cheap beach holiday this summer, you should head to Bulgaria and Turkey, according to the 12th annual Post Office Travel Money Holiday Costs Barometer. [read the article]
British holidaymakers are moving east to extract more value for their pounds, according to Europe’s biggest travel firm, writes Simon Calder in Bulgaria and Croatia See More Bargain-Seeking Brits. [read the article]
Nick Lavtchiev, director of Easy BG - a company that deals almost exclusively with UK clients - told Oxford Business Group (OBG) recently that, "Over-urbanisation is no good for this market. What is the point of going on vacation or having a home in a place that is as overpopulated and ugly as where you came from? There are plenty of other places in the middle of nowhere that are of interest to aspiring permanent residents.". [read the article]
The Report - Emerging Bulgaria 2007, 01/01/2007
"There is significant scope for development of spa and welness tourism due to Bulgaria's many mineral springs. Golf course development is another area where we are seeing growth." said Nick Lavtchiev, CEO of easy BG a local property firm". [read the book]
The prices are almost irresistible, but buyers must beware dodgy deals and 'iffy' infrastructure, writes Cheryl Markosky in Bulgaria Beckons. [read the article]