Accommodation in Bulgaria
The standard of accommodation in Bulgaria is varied. Expats will be able to find something that suits their needs and budget. As property prices in Bulgaria are some of the lowest in the EU, many expats have begun buying property in the country. Those looking to rent will also be able to find affordable options.
There are many things to consider when deciding where to live in Bulgaria. Many expats prefer to live on the outskirts of Bulgarian cities as this provides greater access to the country’s famed landscapes. This can be seen outside of Sofia, where expats have invested in luxurious modern villas. However, these areas often experience electricity black-outs which are irregular in the city centre.
Expats with cars will discover that parking can be scarce in the cities Finding accommodation with parking bays is therefore an important consideration. Those hoping to use Bulgaria’s public transport should ensure that their homes are close to the public transport network.
Types of accommodation in Bulgaria
Expats can find luxury homes in the outskirts of Bulgaria’s urban centres, while apartments are common throughout most cities. Accommodation options vary and both furnished and unfurnished houses and apartments are available. Shared accommodation does exist and is especially popular in cities like Sofia, due to its large student population.
Apartment styles range from communist-era blocks to apartments in historical buildings. As labour is relatively cheap in Bulgaria, many expats purchase ‘fixer-upper’ houses, which they then renovate over time.
Finding accommodation in Bulgaria
Expats can find accommodation online. However, sophisticated property scammers have begun exploiting the expat property market. Language barriers might also affect accommodation negotiations. For these reasons, many expats prefer to find their accommodation through accredited real estate agents.
In Bulgaria, many real estate agents speak English and many agencies specialise in catering to the expat market. Tenants must pay agency fees for securing a rental, which is typically equal to half of the monthly rent. For securing a property, tenants are responsible for the agency fee, which ranges from three to ten percent of the property price.
Renting property in Bulgaria
Depending on the area, expats looking to rent in Bulgaria will be able to find a variety of accommodation options.
Furnished or unfurnished
Apartments for rent in Bulgaria are generally offered fully or partially furnished. However, there are also listings for unfurnished flats. "Furnished" may mean various things in Bulgaria, but usually large appliances would be included.
The rental process
Expats typically make use of real estate agents to find accommodation in Bulgaria. It is recommended for expats to narrow their preferred neighbourhoods down based on budget. Once they have chosen their ideal neighbourhood or area, they can schedule an appointment with an agent to view properties available.
Once a suitable property has been found, and an agreement has been made with the landlord, the estate agent will draw up the contact. To ensure that expats know exactly what’s expected from them, it’s imperative to have the lease translated directly into English.
Rental contracts in Bulgaria usually last 12 months. However, this can be negotiated depending on the landlord. Landlords and tenants can legally terminate the contract early if the other party doesn’t comply with the terms set out in the lease agreement. Prior notice needs to be given before the lease can be terminated.
Initial rental costs generally include paying a deposit equal to one month of rent, as well as paying at least the first month’s rent in advance. Many apartment buildings charge additional fees for building cleaning and maintenance. Some leases may include a parking bay at an additional cost.
Utility bills are seldom included in the lease price. The tenant is generally responsible for paying bills like water and electricity. The registration of utility meters aren't usually transferred to the tenant's name. The deposit paid when signing the lease will be used if the tenant falls behind on paying utilities.