Utility services can cost even €250 per month.«A realtor about life in Bulgaria now: popular cities, prices for housing and food, conditions for obtaining a residence permit
Bulgaria has become one of the most popular countries for those who have decided to completely change their lives and move to live by the sea. That is why we have tried to find out how things stand now in the real estate market of this country. Daria Borzova, the manager of the «Oasis» Real Estate Agency, shared the most up-to-date information about life in Bulgaria in general with one of the journalists at Realting.com: how much housing (buying and renting), food and utility payments cost now.
«There is good and bad news on obtaining a residence permit for Bulgaria»
Last September, we the story of one of our regular readers who relied an extremely unsuccessful story about purchasing real estate in Bulgaria. Then, with the help of the real estate agency «Oasis», we were able to figure out what to be cautious about when buying an apartment in Bulgaria and what to pay attention to in the first place when choosing a property.
Much has changed since then. The real estate market in this country has become more active, faster and even more demanding for buyers. Natives from all possible countries go to Bulgaria, and each of them needs to buy or rent housing. Utility bills, food prices, and rent are rising. How to navigate this flow and what to pay attention to? Daria, a real estate agent, told us all about it.
— To which cities of Bulgaria, in your opinion, it is worth moving to live?
— For moving, I would, first of all, consider seaside cities. The main reason is, of course, the sea and everything related to it. You have to agree, it is pleasant: to be able to marvel at the waves every day, to feel the sea breeze in the summer and to breathe the sea air all year round. However, in addition to these emotional factors, there are also quite pragmatic ones: seaside cities have a well-developed infrastructure, medicine is readily available in them, and it is easy to find housing.
I want to emphasize that I mean not so much large tourist cities, such as Burgas, Varna or Dobrich, but small towns like Nessebar, Pomorie, or Sveti Vlas .Because in large coastal cities there are still some quite significant disadvantages. First of all, these are port cities, which means that large ships that pollute the coastal waters enter them. Secondly, during the tourist season, these cities really have a lot of people, which is not to everyone’s liking. Third, it is difficult to find a parking space in the off-season. Yes, there is a lot more entertainment in major cities, but if you have your own car, then the good roads will let you reach that very Burgas in 20-30 minutes. It’s not a long way to go to a chic local park.
— How easy is it to get a residence permit in Bulgaria and what do you need for it? Are there any restrictions for residents of certain countries?
— You can get a residence permit for Bulgaria under the same conditions as before. For example, pensioners receive a residence permit on the basis of the pensions of the countries where they lived and worked, plus they need to have real estate in Bulgaria or a long-term lease agreement certified by a notary. For young specialists, there is a simplified system for obtaining a residence permit if they work in the IT sphere. The simplified system also applies to employees of sales offices operating in Bulgaria. This, by the way, is an excellent option for obtaining a residence permit for newly arrived foreigners, because it is not necessary to keep working as a sales representative in the future. There is also the option of family reunification if a foreigner marries a Bulgarian citizen.
Recently, quite a number of refugees from Ukraine have arrived in our country. And those who are related to the Bessarabian Bulgarians almost immediately acquire citizenship on the basis of their origin. By the way, Bessarabian Bulgarians are scattered around the world, and there was a case when a woman born in Kazakhstan belonged to this nationality by origin. Fifteen years later, she decided to move to Bulgaria and obtained citizenship without much difficulty.
At the same time, there is also bad news: obtaining citizenship for investments is becoming more difficult — programs are now actively reducing. With regard to restrictions on obtaining a residence permit on the basis of nationality, there are currently none.
«Price growth is visible, first of all, in inexpensive apartments»
— Tell us about the basic conditions for life now in Bulgaria. What is the cost of a square meter in large cities? How expensive are utilities on average? What is the average cost of a grocery basket?
— As in other countries, the cost of a square meter of housing and the cost of a grocery basket depends on the city in question. In general, demand has been growing recently — everyone wants , which means that prices are also increasing. It is most noticeable in the most inexpensive segment, properties that cost from €10,000 — their price has increased by about 30%.
In the largest city of Bulgaria — Sofia — the cost of a square meter of housing is on average €1,500 (in new buildings prices are even higher, on the secondary market you can find offers that are cheaper). In Plovdiv, house prices are roughly the same — around €1,300. In Varna and Burgas, the cost of a square meter is, on average, €1,000. Small coastal towns try to keep up, and those studio apartments that used to be available for €10,000 are now worth €15,000.
Utility bills are calculated as follows: €1.5 per cubic meter of water, while electricity goest at about €0.13 per kW (there is a differentiated night and day rate). But the problem is that most buildings are connected to the industrial tariff, and therefore the cost of electricity is much higher. Here you need to be very careful when buying or renting apartments. And the cost of electricity, understandably, continues to rise. If a year ago the heating of an apartment with a total area of 100 sq.m. in January used to cost €100, this year we have seen bills for €250. And this is the price after we have already taken into account subsidies from the state. At the same time, it is absolutely impossible to predict how much the utilities will grow next month, because there is no clear tariff for electricity — it depends on the cost of electricity generation at the moment. I will emphasize once again: it concerns commercial real estate and real estate in buildings under act 15 that are not officially put into operation.
As for the average cost of a grocery basket, everything depends on each particular family. But if we average this figure very roughly, the weekly products for an ordinary family of three people will cost about €100. This includes cereals, pasta, meat, seasonal fruits and vegetables.
— Bulgaria will begin buying gas from Turkey now: will this also will affect the growth of utility bills?
— Yes, certainly. Since November, the cost of municipal utility bills has been growing, the price of gas has been constantly changing for the population. Of course, now these changes will be even more obvious. The cost of a square meter of housing will also increase with the growth of the utility bills. This applies to both purchase and lease. There are many factors, but the very first is a decrease in the profitability of the construction business at such prices. As a result, developers, construction companies and repairers will all raise prices, which means that the buyer will have to pay more for the same offer.
— What is the average cost of renting an apartment in the main cities? Have prices increased recently?
— The cost of rent expectedly increased and it is connected, most of all, with a large flow of people who have come to Bulgaria recently. Until March 2022, a studio apartment with a total area of 35 square meters in Burgas cost about 300 lev (about €150) per month. Now you can safely multiply this figure by 2, and in some cities by 3.
Interesting fact: resort real estate is not rented out under long-term contracts. Now such apartments are rented by refugees, but only until the end of May — June. The owners of the resort apartments understand that short-term rentals in the season will be several times more profitable for them, so they are simply waiting for tourists. Plus, not only foreign tourists come to the seaside cities in the summer, but also local «city people» — quite a lot of Bulgarians from Sofia like to come to Sozopol or Nessebar for the summer.
To put it shortly: expect to be able to rent a good studio apartment with an area ofabout 35sq.m. for€300 . All apartments larger in area or located in more beautiful places will cost even more.
Cheap, ready-to-move-in apartments in Bulgaria
An apartment in Nessebar for €39,500
In the city of Nessebar, a two-bedroom apartment with a total area of 54 sq. m. has been put up for sale. The property is located on the third floor of a six-storey building which has already been commissioned (act 16).
The house is part of the closed complex Blue Summer, which is located in one of the most popular resorts in Bulgaria — Sunny Beach. Burgas is about 35 kilometers from here, and Varna is 90 kilometers away. The resort is located inside a small bay, and its northern part is covered by the Stara-Planina mountain range — all this, besides an excellent combination of the sea and the mountains, provides natural protection from cold winds and bad weather.
The apartment consists of an entrance hall, a bathroom, a living room with a kitchen, a separate bedroom and a terrace. The kitchen is equipped with all necessary appliances and is located in a separate niche. The bedroom has access to a terrace overlooking the pool.
Guests and owners of this residential complex are offered: a large swimming pool, a children’s playground, a garden with a recreation area, controlled access, a security system, and public parking.
An apartment in Sveti Vlas for €66,500
There is an apartment for sale in Sveti Vlas for € 66,500 with a total area of 59.87 sq.m . This is a two-bedroom apartment located on the ground floor of a five-storey building. The apartment consists of a living room with a kitchen and a sofa bed, a separate bedroom, a bathroom with a toilet, and a terrace. Both rooms have access to the terrace.
The apartment is sold with all the necessary furniture and appliances. These appliances include a cooking hob, an oven, a fridge, a dishwasher, and a microwave. The highlight of this offer are its non-standard, high ceilings. The apartment also has a large terrace overlooking the pool and a private exit.
Sveti Vlas is a unique place by its very nature. Thanks to the combination of the sea, and the mountain and forest air, the resort has a special microclimate. In addition to the beautiful nature, Sveti Vlas is also known for its modern yacht port and amphitheatre, where various events are held in the summer.
The «Arena 2» residential complex is located in the most prestigious part of Sveti Vlas, close to the beach and the marina «Marina Dinevi». The territory is beautiful, well-maintained and designed, as well as the building itself, in the traditional Bulgarian style. Nearby is the newly built Saint Vlas church.
An apartment in Sveti Vlas for €44,000
In the same city of Sveti Vlas, in the «Galatea» residential complex there is an apartment with a total area of 50 sq.m. that sells for €44,000. The property is located on the ground floor of a five-storey building which has already been commissioned (act 16).
This is a closed-type complex with security and video surveillance. The complex has an outdoor swimming pool, underground parking, and fitness. Nearby, there is a spa, shops, restaurants, and the amphitheater. Marina Dinevi is a 5-minute walk from the complex. For mountain hiking enthusiasts, there is an ecotrope for mountain climbing nearby. Nessebar is 10 km away, while the Burgas airport is at a distance of 35 km.
This studio apartment consists of a spacious living room combined with the kitchen and dining room, a hallway, a bathroom and a terrace. The property is sold with all necessary furniture and appliances: there is a refrigerator, an induction stove, dishes and small kitchen appliances, a washing machine, and air conditioning.
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