| CULTURE AND CUSTOMS |
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.
Sunset on Kardzhaly Lake
© 2023, D. Georgieva
Did you know?
Bulgaria: There is No Bubble in the Real Estate Market. For Now
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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 "Reserved" 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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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]
Bulgaria: sales of "green" properties are declining, 01/07/2022
Buying a property "on the green" implies investing in real estate that, at the time of purchase, is still unrealized. This causes the worry and caution of many buyers, who often decide to bet on the safer alternative. However, the idea of acquiring an apartment before it is built continues to arouse interest among customers planning to invest in their own home. [read more]
11 court decisions for the illegal construction on Hemus Motorway, 30/06/2022
The Directorate for National Construction Control (DNCC) has issued a total of 11 penal decrees for illegal construction in two sections of Hemus motorway. [read more]
Political instability is undermining the investment environment in Bulgaria, 28/06/2022
The Bulgarian government resigned officially after the no confidence vote in parliament a week ago. The motive of the party that submitted the motion to the National Assembly – the biggest opposition party GERB – was failure in public finance and economic policy. [read more]
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]
Owners in Bulgaria have earned BGN 14 Million in income from properties rented through Airbnb, 28/06/2022
More than BGN 14 million in rental income has been received by Bulgarians, real estate owners, who provide short-term accommodation for tourists through Airbnb, the National Revenue Agency (NRA) announced. [read more]
Ukrainians have stirred up the rental market in Bulgaria, 01/06/2022
Most brokers, who have been active in renting housing to Ukrainian refugees since the beginning of the war, no longer have free accommodations to offer. [read more]
Bulgaria’s Sunny Beach opens season with moderate optimism despite the war and pandemic, 30/05/2022
The active summer season in Bulgaria’s largest Black Sea resort of Sunny Beach officially starts on June 1, but tourists have started arriving since the beginning of May. Most of the early summer guests are from Great Britain, Poland and Germany, Teodor Pastarmazhdiev, a member of the Board of the Union of Owners in Sunny Beach has told us. [read more]
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]
Bulgarian National Bank to restrict mortgage loans as of 2021, 23/09/2021
The Bulgarian National Bank has taken a decision to restrict mortgage lending. The Board of Directors has decided to increase the capital buffer for banks' risk loans from 0.5% to 1% from 2021. The measure aims to ensure that vaults have sufficient reserves to cover losses on non-performing loans. As a rule, the buffer is increased when it is necessary to "cool" a large increase in credit. [read more]
Price of agricultural land has risen by nearly 50 percent for 6 years, 14/09/2021
The price of arable land in Bulgaria has risen by over 47% for 6 years, the National Statistical Institute reported. In 2014, the average price was 362 euros per decare and in 2020 it was 533 euros. The biggest rise is seen in the southeastern region of the country - over 79%. Agricultural land there used to be cheaper, which made it attractive to investors. [read more]
Bulgarians become the biggest investors in real estate properties in their homeland, 01/09/2021
The Covid-19 crisis has affected all business spheres. However, according to data of Bulgarian real estate agents, demand and sales of housing properties have gone up, especially in the big cities. [read more]
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]
Are Brits Investing In Bulgaria Because Of Its Lenient Travel Restrictions? 17/08/2021
Many people expected the property market in Bulgaria to struggle in 2021. Property around the world was suffering price cuts, the pandemic having left potential home buyers with limited funds. Furthermore, Brexit was expected to have a big impact on British investment. [read more]
Health Ministry Orders Termination of Contract for New Children's Hospital, 26/07/2021
The Health Ministry has ordered the termination of a contract for building a new children's hospital which would involve the completion of a complex of buildings nextdoor to Sofia's Alexandrovska Hospital. [read more]
Sofia Airport to be Modernized with an EIB Loan of 40 Million Euros, 14/07/2021
The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the special investment company Sof Connect AD have signed a loan agreement of EUR 40 million for the modernization of Sofia International Airport, BNR reported, referring to the bank. Funding is supported by the European Commission's Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). [read more]
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]
Bulgarians Buy out Russian’s Real Property on Black Sea Coast, 04/05/2021
Russians with properties on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast are now selling them en masse. Their withdrawal from the market is not because of the coronavirus, but because of the depreciation of the Russian ruble, according to brokers quoted by Trud. [read more]
Bulgaria's real estate market stable in 2020 despite coronavirus crisis - Raiffeisenbank, 29/03/2021
The real estate market in Bulgaria remained stable last year despite the challenges stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, with residential property prices continuing to grow, albeit at a slower pace compared to the pre-crisis speed, Raiffeisenbank Bulgaria said on Monday. [read more]
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]