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Cost of Living Bulgaria | The Facts

When it comes to the cost of living Bulgaria offers it becomes obvious that it still tops the bill for remaining the cheapest place to live in the EU. Unlike most other favourite European destinations for expats, Bulgaria offers considerably lower costs on almost everything which we would have to pay in the UK.

Sadly, for many of us who are contemplating a move within the EU, there are some important points which go unnoticed due to the fact that the homework had not been done prior to the move. Some have heard of cheap beer and cigarettes along with low restaurant bills, only to find out later that their utility bills, health care and motoring costs are actually far higher than that of the UK.

Property Prices

Over the last 10 years Bulgaria has seen a startling rise and fall in its property market. Up until 2008 prices had rocketed beyond comprehension. These days however, have seen very much the opposite as property prices have crashed enormously. Village houses in many parts of the country can now be purchased for as little as £2000 for a house requiring some renovation. A fully renovated house can be bought from around £20000 and in some cases you will find that they are fully furnished. Apartments on the Black Sea Coast are now selling for £20000 for a 1 bedroom studio to £40000 for a large 2 bedroom aprtment. These examples are for resale properties, not brand new, however, these days there is very little difference in cost between new and resale Bulgarian properties.

Bulgaria’s Cost of Living

In comparison with most other countries, the cost of living in Bulgaria will depend in many respects on the area you choose to live; this includes the region and your choice of accommodation. For example, people who reside in regions which are north of the Stara Planina mountain range tend to have higher heating bills, due to the difference in temperatures, this being much colder in the north with much harsher winters compared to that of the south.

House living is obviously more expensive than running an apartment where most village houses use traditional wood burning heaters compared to modern apartments which have electric air conditioning units. Heating a single floor apartment tends to cost a fraction of what a house of 2-3 floors would typically cost.

Utility bills normally consist of electricity, telephone which can be land line and mobile, firewood (dependant on heating system), internet, water (metered) and council tax. When calculated together, the utility bills are very low in contrast to the UK. For a couple or a small young family, an average of £1200 per year depending on your expected standard of living would be enough to pay the utility bills.

Keeping a car on the road in the UK gets increasingly expensive with cost increases in road tax, fuel, MOT, insurance and general servicing. Bulgaria stands up extremely well against the huge motoring costs of the UK. Fuel is probably the most comparable motoring cost to the UK, however over 50% of Bulgarian car owners have had their cars converted to running on LPG (Gas), a conversion of fuel types is again a very expensive option in the UK and in most cases it is not cost effective in the short term. This is quite the contrary in Bulgaria where a good mechanic will seldom charge between £150 – 250 including parts and labor (based on small to medium car). The motorist can then benefit from almost half price fuel. Based on the same car, a yearly road tax cost (vignette) is under £30. MOT costs per test are approx £20 – £30 and insurance is around £70 - £150. A final municipality cost for a car per year is called the danuk. This cost varies but for a small car it would have a cost of around £10 – £20. 4X4 vehicles will have costs which are much higher than standard cars. Servicing costs are noticeably much lower than the UK also.

Due to their strong buying power, supermarkets within the UK have prices which many Bulgarian counterparts cannot compete with. This does not mean however that food shopping is expensive in Bulgaria, the choice of bargains are not as available though. There are some items which are very cheap in stores around Bulgaria. Beer and Wine is some of the cheapest in Europe and this is also the case with cigarettes. A 2 liter (plastic) bottle of local beer will typically cost around 90p - £1.20. A good bottle of red, white or rose wine can be found for under £2.50. 20 non branded cigarettes can be purchased for less than £2.50.

We all like to go out and socialize, whether it be in a bar or restaurant, and this is one of Bulgaria’s real pluses. Eating out in a modern or traditional Bulgarian restaurant can knock you back for just £2.50 per head for a lunch including a drink. This would consist of a bowl of homemade soup, a rice dish or another traditional dish. A beer, tea or coffee would be included in this bill. Evening meals are generally more expensive but still around 50% lower than UK restaurant prices.

So with respect to the cost of living Bulgaria has it still knocks spots off its European cousins in terms of all round day to day living, this includes an average recreational time which an individual would be accustomed to in the UK.