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Bulgaria: Cost of Living 2009 - Continued


"As regards general property and household costs over the course of a full year, we have accurately been monitoring all our expenses on a month by month basis for a 12 month period, from 1 August 2008 to 31 July 2009, to include everything for all of our living costs in Bulgaria. The yearly costs have been averaged to provide a monthly expenditure.

It's all too easy to say xyz is cheaper in Britain or Bulgaria. The key is to compare real like with like and the overall cost of living the whole way through, from day to day foods to council tax to get an overall feel of the total real cost of living in each country.

Many foreigners just buy the cheapest in any given supermarket and do not shop for quality. For us, quality is just as important as price. Locally produced Filet Mignon of pork for three times the price in Britain? No thank you. Of course it may cheaper to buy frozen broccoli at Asda all year round but with their buying power it should be a heck of a lot cheaper.

We prefer with the fresh seasonal and natural produce in Bulgaria which is at least half the price. Frequently, food shopping is a matter of personal taste and cooking style. We ourselves avoid the 'ready meal' way of cooking, preferring fresh ingredients which we can cook for ourselves, rather than mass-produced stuffs where you have no idea where they came from or what products have been used on them. That is not to say we are crazy about 'grow-your-own' or bottling and storing - we are not. However we do try to strike a balance where we can shop 'western style', using the supermarkets for the bulk of our monthly shop, with good quality local fresh ingredients from the market in town to produce home-made meals at a reasonable price.

Given our lifestyle, selecting high quality produce and living well, all we can say is that if you are spending a lot more than this for a lifestyle in Bulgaria, then we reckon there is something wrong.

Here is our breakdown for cost of living in Bulgaria:

Monthly Outgoings:  
Food, Wine, Beer, Household, Cigarettes 750
Ventolin/becotide 30
Disposable contact lenses /fluid 20
Diesel 100
Clothes 90
Eating out 85
Electricity 100
Water 10
Internet and Cable TV 40
Phones 100
Total household expenses per month 1,325
   
Annual one off expenses:  
House and Contents insurance 800
Car insurance 800
Vignette (road tax) 75
Logs: incl delivery, cut and stack  (8 cubic m) 500
Council tax 23
= Annual expenses per month 183
   
Disaster funds:  
Miscellaneous 100
Monthly savings 200
Total disaster fund per month 300
   
Total monthly expenditure 1,808 lv (800 pounds)
Total annual expenditure 21,696 lv (9,600 pounds)


- whilst ciggies and alcohol are cheap, non-smokers and non-drinkers can knock 250 leva a month off the above

- we don't have any savings sat at the ready for emergencies or holidays, so feel it is important to include this in our monthly budget until sufficient funds are built up. However, if you already have savings and don't need a 'disaster fund', again the monthly figure can be reduced by 300 leva

- it is possible to find significantly cheaper house/contents and car insurance but be careful to make sure they will pay out if a disaster strikes

- with no cigarettes, no alcohol, no savings budgeted for and cheaper insurances, the annual expenditure could be reduced by some 11,000 leva, making a total of only 10,686 leva (4,817 pounds) outgoings per annum

- buying wine from a vineyard rather than the supermarket cuts your wine bill in half: only 2 leva a litre compared with 4 leva a litre in the supermarkets

- avoid being tempted to an expensive taste of home. Cans of draught Guinness are my husband's biggest temptation, but at over double the price of back home, it's much wiser to stick to a Bulgarian beer which works out at less than 30p a pint!

- buying bulgarian produce not western brands makes serious savings: cheese spread triangles (President 6 leva v Rossa 1.98 leva)

- buy cheaper western produce if you really have to go 'western', it can still be half the price: Deutschenmarkenbutter 2.90 leva v President 5 leva

- buy the supermarket's own brand which is cheaper and still high quality: large 'Clever' yoghurts from Billa 0.78 leva and excellent

- we tend to buy expensive cuts of meat such as tenderloin; you can reduce your bill by using cheaper cuts

- stick with local brands for things like washing powder, I can tell you there are no differences in the results

- take advantage of discount or loyalty cards

- buy fresh produce locally (eggs, fruit, vegetables, bread) much cheaper than supermarkets and better, iceberg lettuce in Billa 2.50 leva, local lettuce at market 0.50 lv - plus it's good to support your local shops and you can practice your Bulgarian at the same time!"

*Note: Exchange rate used for exchange calculations is as of 25/07/2009 from xe.com at £1.00 = 2.26 leva.