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Inside the mind of the Bulgarian

Jonathan White author of “Buying a Property in Bulgaria” takes us inside the mind of the average Bulgarian and explains what you need to know when you are buying property here.

In order to be successful with the purchase of your property (or land) you need to understand how Bulgarians think. In this chapter I hope to provide you with the ‘upper hand’ when you are dealing in Bulgaria by gaining an insight into the way that Bulgarians think – nearly all the information in this chapter was freely provided to me by several Bulgarians that I know! It is certainly not my intention to insult the Bulgarian people – amongst whom I have many friends and acquaintances – but more to relate some important traits that may assist you in negotiating deals and understanding the Bulgarian mentality.


1. Yes means no and no means yes! What I am actually referring to is the fact that the normal nodding gesture made in the West to denote ‘yes’ actually means ‘no’ in Bulgaria, and vice versa. This can of course be very confusing for both parties if unaware! Generally speaking, though, Bulgarians are aware of this difference – but do not assume that they have adjusted their nods and shakes.

2. Bulgarian villagers do not trust estate agents! In fact, they can be known to refuse to pay their 3 per cent commission. So who does pay this commission? You do. The buyer! I was faced with this very situation and the seller had no inhibitions about declaring that I was to pay the commission fee that they owed the agent! This is perhaps one of the hardest things to get used to, but it is common in some areas.

3. Bulgarians hate the taxman even more than the English! That’s why you may find yourself in a sticky dilemma wanting a house or plot of land, and faced with a seller who is insisting on declaring the lower price. Your solicitor will advise you on what to do in this situation.

4. Bulgarians, once they cotton on to a good thing, will copy it, and copy it, and copy it again! This is best explained by an example that was once passed on to me by an estate agent who told me a story about a particular village where a certain type of shop opened. Once the shop started to become successful, several other shops of the same type opened up. And this is an allegedly common trait, so I am told.

5. Bulgarians believe that you should not lend money on a Monday! Since it is the beginning of the week, it is believed to be a sign for the week ahead – and one to avoid!

6. Bulgarians are very hospitable people who would always take you in and are very tolerant towards foreign people.

7. When buying flowers, always buy an odd number of flowers. But for a funeral, an even number of flowers is acceptable. So Bulgarians generally believe it’s bad luck to buy an even number!

8. Bulgarians would generally have their house blessed by a priest before they live there. The last thing to go into the house must be earth! (i.e. a plant etc.)

9. If a Bulgarian leaves the house and forgets something, it is considered bad luck to go back and get it. On some occasions, they may turn around in a circle, and then return to get it!

10. It is considered a warm, welcoming gesture to present a gift to your Bulgarian hosts when you meet them. For example, chocolates, a bottle of wine or spirits.

11. Tipping in restaurants and taxis is considered normal. This would be normally rounding the bill up, for example. Typically this would be just a few Leva.

Extract from Jonathan White’s “Buying a Property in Bulgaria” published by How To Books Ltd. Jonathan White  first travelled to Bulgaria in 2003 – one of many subsequent trips.It was not long before he fell in love with the country and acquired a real estate portfolio and a passion to share his experiences with others.