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Expat Work in Bulgaria

One of the main concerns of those considering moving to Bulgaria is generating an income in the country to make ends meet. There are many expats in Bulgaria already earning a living and this article explores some ideas for those who would like to make the leap to live here. There are many opportunities for those who are willing to put in the effort to make enough money using existing skills, or simply using your wits. This could even be exactly the opportunity to go self employed!

Whilst there are those who have moved to Bulgaria with no plan and are simply happy to drift into a situation which then forces them to return home, there are thankfully many more who want to start a new life and a new business.

Here is a list of businesses which expats are already running in Bulgaria to give you some ideas how you might be able to earn some money:

Self catering or bed and breakfast - if you want to do this, then you need to have sufficient start up money, not only for suitable property but also for all the kitting out

Sales reps - working for overseas companies, mostly based in the cities of Sofia, Varna and Plovdiv

Website design, graphics design, publishing - to do this successfully and make enough money, you need to be qualified and have a good portfolio to back up your skills

Hairdresser - if you have the qualifications, this could be a viable business. Every expat woman who can't speak much Bulgarian has a horror of visiting the hairdresser because of the language barrier and the fear of coming out looking dreadful. You could either set up a salon or go mobile. Similarly as a beautician or manicurist


Builders, plumbers, electricians - very often working for the expat community: can be very successful as there is no language barrier

Dog and cat boarding kennels - again working with expats, looking after their animals if they need to return home for short periods or simply want to take a holiday overseas. You'll need a place with sufficient land and buildings.

Maintenance house, pools, gardens - with the number of holiday homes bought in Bulgaria, good and reliable property maintenance people are in demand. Initial money required to buy the equipment you need

Estate agency - the old expat job standby. This could be an option to get into soon as there are small signs of an improvement in the market

English food shop or importer - you'll need the appropriate licences and equipment, then network like mad to get word out

Mountain biking holidays, specialist holidays - depending upon where your property is located and your particular skill set. Make sure you are fully insured

Translation - few expats will speak fluent Bulgarian but may speak other languages and can set this to good use. Large companies often require translation workers

Book shop - you'll need to rent premises and man the shop but expats are always on the lookout for English language reading

Article writer, journalist - there are English language publications and internet sites in Bulgaria who sometimes require articles to be written. You'll need good writing skills, vocabulary and grammar.

Of course, you will need to make allowances from your income for tax and social charges but these are not high in Bulgaria. 

In essence, work falls into two main areas : working amidst the local economy (eg, electrician) and work which can be done anywhere (internet). Some also require an initial injection of capital, whilst others are solely skill based with little outlay.  Jobs will generate differing amounts of money, with those requiring the highest skill set and qualifications usually paying best.

All can make enough money for you to live on as long as you put in the time and effort to do the job well. Word of mouth is always the best way to get custom and if you do a good job, people will soon know of you.