A breakdown of living costs in a village

I have been lucky enough that an expat living in a village not far from Veliko Tarnovo has let me borrow and reprint here a breakdown of actual living costs.  It originally appeared as a post in The Pavlikeni Post a Facebook group and there was a fair number of people agreeing his costs.  So Martin W thank you very much for sharing this

Your biggest cost initially will be renovation work, unless you buy a fully renovated house. Even then there's probably things you need to do or want to change. That can run anything from a few hundred leva for redecorating to tens of thousands for a full renovation. Once that's done your costs break down like this.

The next biggest costs of living here is food, eating out is relatively inexpensive when compared to the U.K. but its still a luxury if you're living on local rate. Growing your own food can definitely help to keep the costs down but shopping in supermarkets can be expensive. We generally budget around 400lv a month for food but we haven't started growing yet, don't smoke and rarely drink.

Next biggest costs are electricity (our bill is usually somewhere between 70 and 100lv a month depending on what we've been running) and fuel for the car, again cheaper than the UK but still expensive compared to local living rate (about 100lv a month depending on usage.)

Everything after that is just bits. My next biggest cost is probably internet 25lv a month, and mobile phone 15lv a month. Then water which is around 5-6 leva a month.

Then there's your annual costs.The biggest being fuel for heating. This can vary greatly depending on the size of property and kind of heating but a rough estimate is anywhere from 500 - 1200 leva.
Vignette (road tax) is 90lv for the year. Car insurance around 200lv. Municipality tax (council tax) is around 35 - 45 leva a year (I have 2 properties and collectively it costs me around 78 leva a year)

This is just a rough estimate based on my costs, 2 people and 2 dogs living in a village house. It will obviously vary greatly depending on area and lifestyle, but I have just posted it to highlight how far you can get on 1000lv a month.

Just as a side note. I realize you have to make careful calculations and budget, especially when you're looking at moving here, but try not to get too bogged down in the finances. The real bonus is quality of life, I worked over 60 hours a week in the UK and my wife also worked full time, and barely managed to pay the rent and put food on the table. The difference between life in the UK and life here is priceless.


Your electrical bill seems high, are you running air-conditioning all the time?
With modern appliances and LED lights you shouldn't be paying more than 30-35 leva for 2 people, and that includes 2 TV's, fridge and freezer, computer, oven, etc.
Your food bill also seems high, are you spending a lot on dog food? Or eating out a lot? Fruits and vegetables in season are very cheap, during winter they're between 2-3 leva a kilo and during summer they're under 1 lev. Chicken and pork are under 8-9 lev, bread is 1 lev, milk is around 1.60, eggs are around 2 leva for 10. Pasta/sauces also very cheap.

I think 400 lev is completely reasonable for two people in Bulgaria for a month of food... for my husband, son and I (son barely counts as he eats quite little at two years old) we also budget around 400 a month... this allows us to get some specialty items on occasion.

While it is possible to live on a lower food budget (a MUCH lower one if necessary) around 400 gives you occasional treats such as items like avocados and smoked salmon. It lets you buy out of season, which is important if you are not canning yourself and don't want to live on root vegetables all winter. It also gives you the option to buy slightly higher quality and diverse options. Also, it depends on the area... milk in Gabrovo is definitely around 2.50, not 1.60.

For things like fruits and vegetables---- prices vary widely- sure, in the summer you can get food for dirt cheap, but we were in kaufland today and red peppers (nothing fancy, just regular red peppers) were 6 lev a kilo (needless to say, we passed them up). Usually they are around 3 lev a kilo.

I guess Gabrovo is expensive compared to Sofia... I actually buy milk for less than 1 lev (you can find it on special in chain supermarkets, or go to a specialized food trader), buy pre-grilled and skinned pickled peppers in jars during winter (very cheap & delicious), and buy my meat from a specialized meat trader who top quality meat for very reasonable prices (starting from around 8 leva for pork neck steak to over 200+ for kobe beef). Fruit is very cheap, bananas around 2.50, apples for around 1, kilo jars of canned peaches for under 3 leva. Big jar of natural honey for around 8 leva. I hate paying full price for everything, I like shopping around.

I have a very simple taste though, I can live on cereal & steak and salad :)

Also tips on saving money- you can buy vegetables and fruits during summer when they're dirt cheap (0.50 - 1) and put them in jars and/or freeze them.

Glad to hear there are bargains to be had in BG.  It's what ames shopping bearable

Interesting discussion, I would like to just add some different point of view:

1. What is the main difference between vegetables bought at the shops and home grown? Actually there are two differences - Homegrown vegetables are tastier ( at least 3 times more) and are healthier ... or call them organic if you wish.

and 2. Actually from a tactical point of view it is better to try to earn more money, than to fit within a certain (not big) budget.

Opportunities for this in Bulgaria are numerous :))

And back to the discussion, it will be good to add the following;

- car maintenance - roughly 300 - 400 leva per year;
- travel costs;
- medical costs - quite individual; and luckily dental services are of a good quality and very cheap in Bulgaria;
- R&D costs - this is a totally different country after all so add 50 lv. per month;
- culture - books, theater, concerts, ... another 50 lv. ( a good book costs approximately 15 lv, theater/concert/movie tickets between 10 and 20 ... and in certain cases up to 100...

I just want to add that living in a village, most of your neighbors will be producing their own products (from their animals and vegetable gardens/fruit trees), and there should be an oversupply. Nearly everyone will be willing to sell/trade, everyday items like 100% natural organic milk and eggs and fruits/vegetables are dirt cheap. My grandmother lives in a large village very close to Sofia, mostly asphalt roads, and even there she has fresh milk delivered to her door for 1 lev per liter. Large eggs are 10 for 2 leva from her neighbor, most fruits/vegetables she needs are either free (people give away oversupply rather than have them rot) or 0.50/1 lev per kilo. Walnuts/hazelnuts are around 20 leva for a 4/5 kilos sack which will last her all year. She buys prepackaged meat and freezes it from chain supermarkets, but there are people in the village who raise sheep, cattle and pigs for slaughter and sale at reasonable prices.

So pro tip, if you want to eat as healthy and cheap as possible in a village, make friends with your neighbors, invite them over for coffee and cake, make some small gifts that will make their life easier (teflon and ceramic pots and pans come to mind, most grandmas still use soviet style pots & pans), and get ready to be buried in mountains of fruits, vegetables, eggs and dairy products.  :)

Super post and very informative

Indeed, very informative. Gives me a much better idea of the cost of living there.... Thx all.

Hi Kristian,
I have difficulty understanding how you put a numerical value on the taste of a vegetable. Personally I do not see any difference between shop bought vegetables and home grown other that the effort one is required to expend to cultivate the home grown variety. I would point out that I came to Bulgaria to retire and not to be a farmer.
Other than cleaning my house and doing my shopping I generally spend around 3 hours a day in my local cafe drinking beer and doing the Daily Telegraph crossword puzzle, which I get online. I consume around 6/7 pints of beer a day  and I enjoy it. And before the killjoys butt in and say I am ruining my health and killing myself let me point out that I am 80 years old and pretty fit and have no intention or desire to alter my lifestyle.
It's now bartime so I must close.

I did have a chuckle - if I drank 6-7 pints of beer I wouldn't know the difference between an aubergine and an artichoke let alone whether it was organic or shop bought.    I'm glad to hear you are thoroughly enjoying your lifestyle!

Hi Fingers,

I really enjoyed reading your post. And directly to the point - I have placed a numerical value according to my own perception and experience. If you have ever tried home gorwn tomatoes in Bulgaria you'll know what I mean. If not - the right time will come in about a month.

And I also have to point out that changing the beer with mastika is an excellent idea, especially when tasting tomato salad, or shopska salad, or cucumbers salad, or red paprica salad  ..... Beer is absolutely incompatible with fresh vegetables up to my understanding.

Effort to cultivate vegetables?  Do you place efforts to make your own beer ? Did you came to Bulgaria to open a brewary ??

Altering your lifestyle ?  Sorry, I might have missed sth. in the entire topic, but for sure this was not my suggestion.

It's now MASTIKAtime so I must close. :))

Hello again Kristian,
You suggest that I try Mastika to accompany home grown vegetables. I do not like Mastika and have a similar aversion to Rakia. I have been in Bulgaria for 6 years and have managed to get myself a Bulgarian wife, 40 years my junior, and I am very happy.
Home grown vegetables have no great appeal for me and I cannot tell the difference between them and shop bought.
I don't know where you got the idea that I brewed my own beer but you could not be more wrong. I only drink the stuff.

Nazdrave !

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