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Ten Big Bulgaria Property Pitfalls

Whether buying property or moving to Bulgaria, there are common mistakes which can make things far more stressful than need be. Quest Bulgaria spoke to readers and buyers of Bulgarian property to discover the ten most common pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Signing Without Understanding

There are countless times when people have signed their preliminary contracts on a property without understanding what is in the contract.

Or, have given Power of Attorney for someone to sign on their behalf still without knowing what is being signed. Be as careful as you would be in your home country. Signing without understanding means that, if there are problems, they are not found out about until after the event. Always get a registered translator to either translate the documents into written English for you or be with you when you sign something.

Not Realising the Real Cost of Living

Before you move, you need to understand how much money you need to live on and where this is going to be coming from. There have been many who have moved to Bulgaria, having sold their house in their home country, with the profit nicely tucked away in the bank. However, many a time, how long this money will last is over-estimated and it runs out faster than expected. Work out whether you can live on your savings or if you need another source of income.

Not Speaking the Language

Whilst this is not an issue in the major cities such as Sofia or Varna, if you are going to be living in a small town, village or in the countryside it is critical to be able to speak Bulgarian. You don't have to be fluent but you will feel isolated if you cannot communicate with any of your neighbours or do the shopping. If you want to set up a business, you'll need to speak. Endeavour to learn some Bulgarian before you come and then learn more (take lessons?) when here.


Before moving, research the schools in the area you are going to be living. Often Bulgarian schools will put foreign children down a year or two, so that they can get to grips with the language. You don't want to be having to move your children from one school to another if you can help it, so check out the local schools before the move.

Lack of Health Cover

The Bulgarian health system has its pros and cons. Whilst the doctors and nurses are highly trained and endeavour to give excellent care, they are often working in run-down hospitals and with old equipment. Take a look at your nearby hospital and see if you would be happy being treated there, or staying there for some time if you had a longer term illness. Investigate private health care plans and build this into your budget.


Not carrying the required documents on you is a common mistake, especially if you come from a country where this is not required. In Bulgaria you should have your passport, your residency permit, your driving licence and insurance details with you. If you are stopped by the police you will need to present these documents.

Not Paying Tax

It is always surprising the number of foreigners who reside or run a business in Bulgaria and don't pay any taxes!

Make sure you pay tax due in Bulgaria, otherwise you could be surprised by a knock on effect later (not to mention a knock on the door!).

Not Registering

If you are staying in Bulgaria for more than 90 days in a six month period, you must apply for a residency permit. Thinking you can get away with this could be dangerous; the police do check. Make sure you are legal.

Self Employment

On numerous occasions foreigners arrive in Bulgaria to set up a small business, such as a bar or building servides, but underestimate the costs involved in setting this up and don't know (or don't want to know) how the tax and social insurance systems work. All this will just end up in a big financial mess. It is critical to get advice and help to set up your own business and file tax returns, etc. Independent professional advice will give you the best chance of success.

On the Black

Bulgaria is a cash based society, so it is common that workers and builders ask to be paid on the black. This is asking for trouble later on as you will have no come back or guarantees if the work is not as it should be. When you come to sell your property you could also run into difficulties if the potential buyer wants to see guarantees or receipts for large works.

Not Paying Bills

Forgetting to pay bills will only lead eventually to you being cut off. Make sure you know when electric, water, rates and so on need to be paid.