Retiring to Rural Bulgaria
With the affordable property prices and comparatively low living costs – Bulgaria is an attractive place for many people reaching retirement. However there are a number of issues which people have to consider when they think of moving to Bulgaria. These are both personal circumstances and facts of the local environment.
Moving home late in life means that you will change your place, neighbours and, probably, some of your habits but there will be attitudes which are comparatively stable and you will not be able or will not want to change.
Town or village. Rural areas of Bulgaria are tranquil and beautiful but they also are less populated and developed than Bulgarian cities and, indeed, the villages in the western part of the continent. That is why the first important issue to consider is if you are a ‘city’ or a ‘village’ person. If you are used to living in a city, having all the amenities within walking distance, cannot pay attention to things such as cutting grass, etc, it may be too late for you to change. Sometimes people need a break from their routine life and rural peace may seem like a heaven. But do you think you will still feel the same after two weeks or you would be eager to return to the life you have always lived? Think about this when you make your decision whether to purchase a city or a village property, or how far from a city you need to be.
Transport. If the answer of the above question leads you to a village property you should be prepared to drive or use a bus for most of your shopping, hospital or specialist doctor treatment, going to restaurants, etc. Having a car would be the most convenient travel option but most villages linked to local urban areas but like in the UK the frequency of service is low. Check what is the timetable to the nearest city or town and what is the travel time.
Medical care. To start with you should obtain your European Medical Card before living your home country. This card will cover any emergency treatment until the time you register with the Bulgarian health system. You may also subscribe to a private medical insurance from the beginning of your stay to give you time until you settle in and go through the formalities. Such medical insurance will cover your travel and any non-emergency cases after your arrival. How to register with the Bulgarian health system you can find out in our newsletter archive.
Shopping. Most villages have one or two shops selling basic goods. In the smaller settlements there might be no shop though. Pop in the shop on the village square to get an idea of what is for sale there and how often you will need to travel for shopping. The towns are well supplied with all foods and items for daily consumption. For items such as furniture, white goods, electronic goods, some of the clothing, etc, you will need to visit bigger towns or cities.
Bars & restaurants. There is a small bar in almost every village. Often there is ‘two-in-one’ shop and bar where people meet in the evenings to have a drink together. If you want to go to a decent restaurant however you may need to travel to the nearest town. This may be a nice change and some people prefer to go out and stay in a local hotel for a night.
Gardening. A nice garden is something which gives joy in every season. A garden blooming in all colours of the rainbow in the spring, hiding under the shade of mature trees in the summer, enjoying the fruits and flowers in the autumn, gathering sun in the short winter days is a romantic picture. Achieving this, however, means work to maintaining your garden which might bring a different feeling if you are not used to it. If your garden is too big you may struggle to keep the grass cut or it might not be affordable to pay for maintenance. Think about this when buying a property.
Neighbours. An old Bulgarian saying claims that having a good neighbour is more important than having a good family close by. This is something that most of our past clients have experienced. People in the rural areas are used to making friends with their neighbours. They will probably come and greet you on your arrival and bring fresh eggs the first week you move in. Most houses have no door bells so the neighbour might barge through your garden. Do not accept this as anything rude! It means that you are also welcome to his/her house anytime you need help. Even if you cannot communicate you will be invited at a dinner as soon as you settle in. You may postpone the invitation for few days but they may be insulted if you do not go. Bring a small gift – box of chocolates or bottle of wine! Be prepared to answer questions about family and your home country as Bulgarians are quite curious by nature. In return they will also tell you about their family, sometimes a bit more than you need or want to hear!
Language barrier. Be prepared that very few people, if any, in the village will speak your language. The language barrier will not be a problem for your shopping, sitting in the bar, getting help from the neighbours. It will be an issue to share views and speak out your thoughts or just to have fun within a bigger company. This is something that very few people realize before it happens to them. In order not to come to such a problem you may decide to choose a village where there are other people speaking your language.
Away from family. Most people nowadays are used to living away from their family. Presumably you will be moving with your partner. However if you are used to being close to the other family members such as children and grandchildren, you have to think twice before moving to a foreign country. With the communications these days it is not a problem to keep the contact with them but it may be the case that you will really miss them.
If you make the right decisions when you think of the above issues your retirement to rural Bulgaria should be a positive experience. Before you jump in it think about all the aspects, spend some time in the area you are considering for your new home and gather as much information as possible. To any questions you may have you will receive a straight and honest answer by the staff of our local offices so please ask your questions on time.