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Moving to Bulgaria – Great for Kids

One big consideration for parents thinking of moving to Bulgaria is how such a move will affect the lives of their children. Many postpone their move for fear of disrupting their child’s education, whilst others express concern over the lack of amenities for children in Bulgaria viewing the country as primitive and under-developed in terms of opportunities for their kids.

Yet a move to Bulgaria for children of any age can be a positive and rewarding experience, guaranteed to expand their outlook, social skills and educational qualifications.



A Kid’s Life in the West

Children’s lives in the West generally revolve around school and organized activities like football training, dance classes, swimming lessons and karate club. With many parents in full time employment, children are often left with wrap-around care from after school clubs who also organize structured activities. Weekends may be taken up with lavish birthday parties held at local entertainment centres, pre-arranged play dates or a visit to a child- focused attraction like a zoo or interactive museum.

In comparison to Bulgarian children, Western children want for nothing in terms of material things; they all have the latest make of mobile ‘phone, computer system, hand-held gaming machines as well as a large cache of toys, books and games. They dress in the latest fashions and are very demanding about which labels they wear, they have allowances, rights and often little discipline. This privileged, but synthetic existence comes with its own set of problems: there is very little family time and even less time to explore and experience the freedom of forty years ago. Children are confined to a world of organization and structure and instead of roaming free and exploring and learning for themselves, safety conscious parents will not allow them to pay in the street or wander down to the local shop and with a high rate of crime against children including traffic accidents, muggings and kidnappings it’s not surprising they are not allowed to stray. This attack on your child’s Western lifestyle may seem harsh, but having experienced both sides of the coin; life with kids in the UK and the same in Bulgaria, I think it is justified.

A Kid’s Life in Bulgaria

Life in Bulgaria brings a greater degree of freedom for children.

Most children spend every ounce of free time outdoors and indeed with the school day being substantially shorter than the UK school day, they have much more free time to enjoy being kids. Bulgarian kids have a greater sense of independence because they live in a environment safe enough to allow them to walk to the village shop unaccompanied, turn up at friends houses unannounced, play outside when it is getting dark and build secret camps in trees and deserted houses.

Instead of structured activities Bulgarian children revel in climbing trees, picking fruit and nuts, playing with animals, helping their parents and grandparents around the home, making their own toys from wood and any other materials they can find and playing with their friends. They do have toys, but not an excessive amount, they also have mobile phones, but not always the latest models and if they don’t have their own computer they go with their friends to the nearest internet café, they all watch TV, but are not used to being confined to the house for long periods. Crimes against children are few and far between in Bulgaria making childhood more akin with the way it used to be in the west forty years ago.


Emigrating with Kids

Emigrating is an unsettling time for everyone. It is hard to say goodbye to the people you love not knowing when you will see them again. On arrival in Bulgaria children have no friends and are unable to communicate because of the different language. They may spend a period of a few months out of the school system and become demanding for your time and attention. They may even resent the move and spend endless hours on the internet communicating with friends they left behind.

It is wise not to rush your child into integrating. Take six months to let them find their feet and most importantly organize private tuition in the language on a regular basis, preferably daily.

If your child is of pre-school age, in Bulgaria this means under seven, it is wise to enroll them into the local Kindergarten, where they will be able to mix with local children and in an unpressurised environment learn the language. To avoid upsetting your child arrange for them to start with an hour a day and build this up gradually.