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Xpat Forum_
Topic:

Is Bulgaria Welcoming Foreign Retirees?

# 1
Author:
Val
Hi there,

I’m planning to retire in a few years and looking for some overseas options. Bulgaria is on my list.
I just wonder if Bulgaria is considered a foreign retirees friendly country? Are there kind of visa/residential status for foreigners, tax exemption for incomes originated from outside BG, no customs duties for personal effects and car brought into the country when relocating, etc? Is there any reliable online source for this info?

Thank you guys for your feedback! Much appreciated.
9 August 2012 23:38:00 Reply Quote
# 2
Author:
Nikki J
Hi Val
Lots of retirees come here and enjoy the benefits Bulgaria offers from cheap property and taxes to cheap beer and ciggies, although since entering the EU prices have risen.

If you have an EU passport there are no visa's to obtain, just a long stay certificate which is cheap and easy to obtain.

You may bring all your personal belongings in now with no hassle, I'm not sure about registering a foreign car, but I know plenty who have done it and things have improved over the years with regard to vehicle paperwork.

The biggest thing I would think is a concern for pensioners is healthcare, although reciprocal if coming from the UK, some of the healthcare providers are not always up to UK standards, however they are improving and there are some fantastic hospitals too, it will all depend on where you choose to live, but I do know of people returning to the UK when healthcare issues crop up.

On the whole the lifestyle is good and your pension will definitely go a lot further here.

Try other forums such as Brits in Bulgaria and InBulgaria.eu for more detailed and friendly information.
10 August 2012 11:30:35 Reply Quote
# 3
Author:
chrissy
Hi Val the answer is a loud and clear YES. We have been made very welcome here by every one there is no problem with any of the things you have listed in your post. We use the heart hospital in Yambol all brand new and fantastic facilities the GP is very good the dentist etc no problems. You can fill in a form and get all health care for free as you are a pensioner our friends have done it.
Just pack up your home and drive it and your car to a happy new life. Every thing is a lot cheeper here and your pension will feel like it is triple. What area are you looking to live There are some lovely homes all over but it is wise to concider the mountains are deep snow in winter the coast is very busy in summer the small towns have a lot to offer and the villages are a bit cut off with roads that are not so good. Buy a renervated property is our suggestion. hope this helps ask any questions we will help where we can. another good site is Anglo info blacksea coast covers lots of things legal and living in Bulgaria and a good forum for help. English telivision available through Filmon.com plug your computer into your tv.
10 August 2012 12:17:37 Reply Quote
# 4
Author:
Val
Thank you Chrissy and Nikki J

You guys sound so exited with your life in Bulgaria that it’s hard to resist just quit my job, pack a container, and turn a new page… Ohhh, I missed to mention…I’m form Canada so I will not enjoy EU privileges that you guys share. Anyway, the most important thing is that you are happy there; and this matter.
I did my research and feel inclined to Velingrad area. Mountains and woods, wild barriers and mushrooms, snow in the winter, cooler summers, hot springs, no beach crowds… Tomatoes grown in the sun on soil that never tried chemical, evening milk from cows grazed in meadows. Sounds like dream…LOL! Planning to check there next spring.

Cheers!
10 August 2012 18:07:04 Reply Quote
# 5
Author:
Nikki J
Hiya Val
Yes I did note that you are listed as being from Canada after I posted so not sure how that will work for you.

I suggest renting before you buy and try a summer and a winter as both can be extreme, having said that I expect you are used to snow aren't you?? I wouldn't believe everything about them not using chemicals as they DO!! If they didn't the pests would have a feast!

We moved here 5.5 years ago and actually are looking to move back to the UK soon, though we do love living here and if we could have the best of both we would. Maybe we will return when it's our turn to retire.

Anyway, best of luck for your new adventure, we've had a fantastic time and will miss the place like crazy.
10 August 2012 23:16:05 Reply Quote
# 6
Author:
Seedy
Hi there,

I’m planning to retire in a few years and looking for some overseas options. Bulgaria is on my list.
I just wonder if Bulgaria is considered a foreign retirees friendly country? Are there kind of visa/residential status for foreigners, tax exemption for incomes originated from outside BG, no customs duties for personal effects and car brought into the country when relocating, etc? Is there any reliable online source for this info?

Thank you guys for your feedback! Much appreciated.


Be careful, Val - rose-tinted specs can make you blind to the pot-holes in your path!

From Canada you'll be paying customs duty and pay a fortune to get it here; it may be cheaper just to buy new stuff when you move.

I'm not sure what the reciprocal tax arrangements are with Canada but in principle any income you get from anywhere in the world when you're resident here has to be declared and there's a flat rate of 10% tax. If you're taxed on it in Canada you may well not have to pay here but if it's tax-free in Canada then you will have to pay - there's no tax-free allowance for anyone......unless you have no neck and drive a blacked-out 4x4!

Forget the
Tomatoes grown in the sun on soil that never tried chemical, evening milk from cows grazed in meadows
- you've never seen people use so many chemicals on their crops here and everyone boils their milk in the villages if you want to see the beautiful sun-rise tomorrow....

Make sure you visit several times and get a good feel for where you think you might like to live - don't get the idea that there's no crime here or that everyone will welcome you with open arms. There are many horror stories of what happens to incoming expats, including stolen houses, muggings, burglaries, cheating estate agents & lawyers, unwelcoming neighbours, inflated "foreigner prices", cops who want bribes and plenty more.... Many people are quite happy here but there's no shortage of expats heading "back home" with their tails between their legs.... You'll also find that medical care can be very patchy and some of the hospitals here will make you blanch.

That's not to say that you shouldn't consider Bulgaria as a prospective retirement destination but make sure you see what's really here. If you find yourself on the fairly small list of disillusioned/robbed expats then it will all seem like a horrible mistake. Never forget there are plenty of beautiful countries around the world, plenty with cheaper property and better medical care - and where you can already read the alphabet!

If the government is ever foolish enough to join the Euro-zone (always assuming it still exists) then prices will rise dramatically and salaries (and fixed pensions) will be hard-pressed to keep up.

Lastly, the biggest, and arguably most useful, expat forum hasn't been mentioned - partly because a number people are no longer welcome there - but it's mybulgaria.info Try them all and see which rings your bell - I will refrain from making any comments regarding my own preferences on the principle of "different strokes...."
10 August 2012 23:38:42 Reply Quote
# 7
Author:
Nikki J
Haha Seedy, I deliberately missed THAT forum out with good reason!

Val, Seedy is spot on, you will definitely need to double check your situation coming from a non EU country, and try the place out as I said renting would be the way to go if you can manage it.

I didn't think pensions were taxed here Seedy, but as I don't get one I don't know but I'm sure some people in our village don't pay tax on theirs?
11 August 2012 11:14:52 Reply Quote
# 8
Author:
Seedy
It wouldn't surprise me to hear that they don't pay tax - but if they are permanent residents then they are required to declare all income and are subject to BG taxes. Unfortunately, there are all too many people who come here with the attitude that the local laws don't apply to THEM and that if they keep quiet nothing will happen. It's all of a piece with "under-declaring" property values in Notary Acts etc - put simply, these acts are no less than criminality. If BG pensioners on their pitifully-small pensions have to pay tax, why do these relatively well-off people think it is acceptable to come here to enjoy the benefits of the country while they cheat it?

I suspect that many of them are from the UK and that being permanent residents here doesn't stop them scuttling "home" to scam the NHS when it suits them as well....
11 August 2012 11:51:03 Reply Quote
# 9
Author:
Val
Hi guys,
You’ve just killed my dream!... Joking. One can’t afford to be that na?ve at age of discretion…in modern world it comes after 50… hahaha. Well, everything under the sky has its flip side. Low cost of living comes with fewer comforts and we are ready to sacrifice some unimportant comforts gaining real values instead.
As I said Bulgaria is on the list along with other options. Retirement to Panama, Ecuador, or Uruguay may be more attractive from legal side while the cost of living is close to Bulgarian. Or just snow birding to Mexico and Caribbean and back home for the wonderful Canada summer.
Anyway, thank you very much for sharing your valuable experience with us. We will go to Bulgaria next year as it has already been solid planned. Should we feel attracted to that country after the first trip than we will move to the next stage with detailed research.
P.S. A few words on chem free tomatoes. You can try tobacco extract as natural pesticide. Put few tobacco leaves into water for a few days or boil it for thick extract. Spray extract over the entire plant and periodically apply as tomatoes are growing. Water easy removes extract from ripe veggies. Use only manure from locals as fertilizer. It should be in abundance over there. It may work out. At least it’s worth trying.
Cheers!
11 August 2012 18:21:19 Reply Quote
# 10
Author:
Seedy
Val

Bear in mind that the government here is still crazily fixated on joining the Eurozone; the cost of living will surely rocket if that happens. You'll also find that bureaucracy is a way of life in BG - as is high- and low-level corruption.

As for the chemical scene - people regard their own produce as "organic" on the basis that if I know what chemical poisons I used on mine it's MUCH better than buying ones which have been treated with unknown chemicals......go figure!

If I had to choose somewhere to retire, I have to tell you that Canada would be high on my list!
11 August 2012 23:22:24 Reply Quote
# 11
Author:
Nikki J
Val
If I had to choose somewhere to retire, I have to tell you that Canada would be high on my list!


Mine too, but they won't have me!
12 August 2012 00:18:38 Reply Quote
# 12
Author:
Val
Hi Seedy,
As you might know the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Canada is a perfect place to live, no doubts for those who have a decent nest egg for retirement. However if one wants to extend his bucks than better look for other places. Another thing that worries me it’s getting difficult for old guys to live through long winters. Winter here starts in November and lasts until late April with last snowstorm in May.
12 August 2012 00:44:43 Reply Quote
# 13
Author:
Val
Oh, come on guys. If we are discussing life in Bulgaria than we all want to have a big plate for half price.
12 August 2012 00:53:06 Reply Quote
# 14
Author:
Seedy
Val

First let me say that I just LOVE Bulgaria - "warts and all".

BUT I'm from the Balkans anyway, so the culture and way of life aren't strange to me AND I'm married to a Bulgarian. If you don't like tough winters then you may find that a problem here; luckily(?) the winters we've been having for a year or two aren't as bad as they have been but they aren't mild by any stretch of the imagination.

The price of wood shoots up, insulation in most village houses is non-existent, burst water-meters are common-place (and they belong to YOU, so it's your problem to get them replaced and have the water company come round to re-seal them), the prices of gas and electricity are ridiculously high anyway and always increasing (due to the companies having monopolies in "their" part of the country), the roads in many areas are either not cleared of snow or ice at all or badly/partly cleared (not that it changes the usual kamikaze-style BG driving), pavements aren't cleared at all except by someone who might do it for his own convenience (and people continue to park all over them anyway!), people are injured or killed by snow/ice falling from roofs, the roads come Spring are full of even more pot-holes than before the Winter (due to the sub-standard asphalt used on most of them), the pavements are in an even worse condition and you don't get to sue anyone if you break your leg/neck on ice/snow/loose or missing slabs or fall into a hole. In the cities you'll also have to get used to the sight of REALLY homeless people, in a metre of snow and temperatures of -20 or more, foraging in dust-bins and begging for money. The street dogs also get really desperate (=even more dangerous than usual) in the Winter.

The price of food here is probably higher than in Canada (I don't really know as I haven't been there in the last 20 years or so ) and it's always increasing - bad news for people on a typical BG salary. Most people in villages get by okay - as long as you don't mind the back-breaking work of growing your own vegetables, fruit, eggs and meat; if you do that, you won't get much time to do anything else! As I said before, people here tend to rush to the Agro-pharmacy for some Agent Orange every time they need it - if you want to "go organic" then you'll find that all the pests will make a bee-line to your garden (and your neighbours will probably "helpfully" spray your crops for you - "in self-defence" - if they see that you don't! )

If you're looking for a Homespun Paradise you might want to think again!
12 August 2012 11:57:09 Reply Quote
# 15
Author:
Seedy
Talking of which - while I was typing that little lot, this came up:

www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=142228
12 August 2012 11:59:23 Reply Quote