There are several alternative options to driving in Bulgaria available: domestic flights, trains, buses and trams – and fares are very reasonable. In Sofia, there is an excellent underground system. For trains there are discount cards for students, families, and the elderly. And children under the age of seven travel free unless they occupy a seat. For the website for Bulgarian trains click here.
Taxis are easily available in tourist areas – but beware of the prices – always check before you get in. If the windows are open because it is hot they may also be hiding the price list, so don’t be shy about wanting to know how much the journey will cost.
Driving in Bulgaria
As Bulgaria is a member of the EU, driving regulations are not so unlike those in the UK except that they drive on the right. However, if you stray from the urban areas and main roads you are likely to find potholes and poor road maintenance. Winter conditions can be severe. You will be permitted to use your UK licence to drive in Bulgaria. Headlights must be on at all times from 1 November until 1 March. Mobile cellular telephones may only be used with a “hands free” system. You must carry snow chains from 1 November to 31 March. Snow tyres are not legally essential, although they might be wise.
Surprisingly low property prices and equally low wages are two prominent pros and cons when you consider living in Bulgaria. Let’s go trough both of those subjects.
Buying a house
In the early 21st century, property was cheap in Bulgaria and seen as a good investment. However, as the economy slumped, so did house prices, and it is at present difficult to sell houses. So, now you can buy a fine house, quite cheaply, if you intend to (more…)
If you are a pensioner, you need to inform the IPC (International Pension Centre) to prevent problems with your pension payments (tel. 0191 218 7777). Bulgaria has double taxation agreements with the UK so you will not be taxed twice – provided you ensure that the tax offices are aware of your circumstances. You can arrange to have your pension paid directly into your Bulgarian bank account – and still benefit from the increases as if you still lived in Britain. Contact HMRC and your pension providers well before you leave the UK. This may also account for the expenses related with health care in Bulgaria. If you’ve only worked, lived or are working abroad then you must claim the State Pension through the relevant authority of the country where you currently live and have worked in.
Health Care in Bulgaria
It is mandatory to contribute to their National Health Insurance Fund. You need to get a National Health Insurance Card, which you must show your doctor at each visit. You will pay a proportion of the fee, the insurance the rest. You need to register with the health service at the local Revenue Agency. You will need to take: (more…)
If you really want to dive into the social life in Bulgaria you would do well to familiarize yourself with the national language, which is Bulgarian. They use the Cyrillic alphabet (practically the same as in Russia or Macedonia). Although English and French are widely spoken in towns and tourist areas, this may not be the case in country districts. The great thing is that the children seem able to absorb languages easily, and unless your Bulgarian is very good they will soon be translating for you.
Social Life in Bulgaria
Bulgaria is a poor country, and the people have to spend long hours working and caring for family members. Quite often several generations live in one home. Almost 90% of the population own their own home, usually without a mortgage. (more…)
An ancient country, with old traditions and customs, thrust into the communist regime and now finding its way slowly in the capitalist market. With a beautiful country, a fascinating history and a generous people, they are still finding the idea of value for money a difficult concept to grasp. Bulgaria – in the heart of the Balkans, joined the EU in 2007, but is not yet a member of the Schengen area – so they have their own customs checks. The currency is the lev – at the time of writing 10 lev = £4.36. Sofia is the capital city, and the country has low-lying land to the north and rugged mountains in the south. Tourists visit the skiing areas, but even more the Black Sea resorts in the East. Religion plays an important part of life for many Bulgarians – about 85% are Orthodox Christians, and 13% are Muslims.
As a British citizen relocating to Bulgaria from the UK, you can enter the country and stay for up to three months. Staying longer you will need to apply for a continuous residence certificate from the Migration Directorate, part of the Bulgarian Ministry of the Interior. When you have lived there for five years you may apply for a permanent residence certificate – information from your local police department or from:
The Central Office of Migration Directorate
48 Knyaginya Maria Louisa Boulevard, Sofia
You can bring in an unlimited amount of lev and foreign currency in cash. If the amount is over 8,000 lev you need to (more…)