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Bulgaria: Cost of Living 2009

How much does it cost to live in Bulgaria? Further to our most popular article, The Cost of Living 2008 , which has been read thousands and thousands of times since we published it in September of last year, we thought we would bring you an update on an basket of some items here in Bulgaria compared to those back in the UK, together with the real life monthly property and living costs of an expat couple living in the country on a permanent basis.

What is happening in the UK makes horror reading. More than 20% of households in the UK are unable to keep up with bills. The average mortgage is over 100,000 British pounds and the average price for a property is about 180,000. From calculations by accountants Smith & Williamson, income tax and national insurance in the UK now take up a huge 36% of family income. Added to this, Brits have the highest credit card debt throughout nearly all of Europe, with only half clearing their spending each month.

Compare this with Bulgaria where the majority of the population own their property outright, thus having no mortgage and those foreigners who have purchased here have no, or minimal, mortgage. There is little violence, youngsters are polite, you have no fear of walking out at night and you have helpful and friendly neighbours. Credit cards are a rarity, taxation is a flat 10% and road tax about 30 pounds a year. An all round cheaper cost of living with a high quality of life.

This cost of living data is totally up to date as at time of publishing, with the shopping items priced in the last week of July this year and the monthly costs monitored during the whole of the last 12 month period up to 31 July 2009.

"We are a couple with a large dog, living in a small Bulgarian town, working at home, own our renovated three bed detached house of about 110 sq.m, with no mortgage. The house is all electric-based (oven, hob, extractor, washing machine, tumble drier, dishwasher, fridge, freezer, air conditioning, radiators) except for a woodburner for the winter months. We are both smokers and drinkers and eat out or have a drink out once a week. We run a 4x4 Pajero 3.5 diesel with a round trip to Billa supermarket and the local vineyard/winery every two weeks of 144 kms, plus a few small local trips in between. Our lifestyle is not one of "grow your own" as neither of us are keen, or even any good, at gardening. We enjoy a very good quality of life, with excellent food, go out quite often, happily use the car as we need and reckon that in the UK to live in our lifestyle, we would need three to four times the income that we need in Bulgaria. We were recently talking to a friend of ours in Ireland and showed him our bills. He said that on this basis, Bulgaria was overall five to six times cheaper than Ireland for total cost of living."


Item Price BG leva
Price UK £

Price UK leva*

1 litre own brand orange juice 1.19 0.98 2.22
Own brand yoghurt 0.79 0.38 0.86
Lurpak butter 500g 3.29 2.00 4.52
Frozen Puff Pastry 425g 2.89 1.58 3.57
Whole chicken 1.8 kg 6.68 4.62 10.44
Pork joint for roasting 800g 6.20 5.98 13.51
Filet Mignon of Pork 2-pack (1kg) 7.70 8.87 20.05
Best beef mince 528g 4.78 2.20 4.97
Frozen Oven Chips 1kg 2.39 1.95 4.41
9 x beef stock cubes 1.14 1.28 2.89
500g dog biscuits 1.77 0.74 1.67
Branded cup-a-soup x 1 packet 0.54 0.25 0.57
Tin of peeled tomatoes 0.89 0.48 1.08
Large, white, unsliced loaf 0.74 1.00 2.26
Deodorant 225 ml 2.49 0.75 1.70
Nectarines x 4 1.09 1.00 2.26
Large bunch flat leaf parsley 0.40 0.78p 1.76
12 x spreading cheese triangles 1.89 0.98 2.21
6 x free range eggs 1.32 1.09 2.46
Garden peas, 425g tin 0.99 0.44 0.99
Tuna 185g tin 1.89 0.75 1.70
Broccoli, frozen, 1kg 4.18 0.93 2.10
Garden peas, frozen, 500g 1,09 0.79 1.79
Branded Dishwasher Tablets x 20 9.99 5.62 12.70
Premium Lager, 2 litres 2.49 3.30 7.46
3 litres Red wine in box 10.99 11.98 27.07
Total Shop (in leva) 79.80   137.22
Prices end July 2009 from Billa Supermarket, Bulgaria and