Cost of Living in BulgariaAlong the coast of the Black Sea lies a country possessing such a diverse set of landscapes, that attempting to characterize it in any one way is impossible. Bulgaria boasts an abundance of natural beauty, rich history and distinctive culture, entirely situated within the Balkans peninsula.

With its beautiful lakes, mountains and historic towns, it is no surprise many have moved from different countries in Europe to Bulgaria in search of the scenic life. Around 18,000 Britons have made the choice.

The terrain is obviously not the lone incentive for those deciding to relocate. Of course, another major source of motivation is the cost of living in Bulgaria. For those arriving from the U.K., the cost of living in Bulgaria is lower across the board. From house prices or rent, to utilities, to food, even to clothes.

While this creates an opportunity for some to afford more and lead an improved standard of life than possible elsewhere, the cost of living in Bulgaria is not as low as it is for good reason.

The 2008 financial crash hit Bulgaria harder than almost anywhere else in the E.U. When Bulgaria’s property bubble burst, house prices fell rapidly, along with the number of property buyers.

As the property bubble had been the chief driver of GDP in the nation, economic growth was drawn to a sharp halt in 2008. This resulted in wages plummeting and unemployment soaring.

In 2013, Bulgaria’s unemployment rate rose to almost 12 percent and the average annual wage was less than 2000 euros. The number of Bulgarians out of work and earning so little spelled trouble for the country’s consumer market.

The financial crash led to Bulgaria’s GDP becoming the lowest in the E.U. Consequently, the cost of living in Bulgaria dropped significantly, yet only relatively so.

While the cost of living in Bulgaria is remarkably low, in 2016 it was reported that just under 80 percent of Bulgarian households still lived below the cost of living.

It is the existence of such widespread poverty that is credited as the principal reason for a recent survey finding that Bulgaria was the unhappiest country in the E.U., with an average life satisfaction score of less than five out of ten.

After nearly five years of stagnant house prices, they are at last beginning to rise. The recovery is due to interest rates decreasing and general stability increase in the economy.

According to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, there is a growing demand in Bulgaria for a highly skilled workforce. There is hope that this rising demand will increase the portion of the population living in the income bracket which sees them above the cost of living.

Cornell Holland
Photo: Flickr