Bulgarian Myth- Food Prices

Id been looking at Properties in Bulgaria for about a year and i finally travelled there to look at some houses. One of the reasons i wanted to live in Bulgaria was i had been told it was the cheapest place to live in Europe but boy was i surprised by the grocery prices- they are as expensive or even more expensive than in the UK and i mean everywhere from a corner shop to a petrol station to a Supermarket (see uploaded photo) A normal size Hellmans is £4 in Asda UK  its £2.30, President Cheese in Bulgaria is £6 in Asda UK its around £3 and its not just the Named brands its everything the only thing thats slightly cheaper is Vodka, Heineken is just as expensive. I was in Spain recently and i was amazed how cheap the Groceries were compared to the UK but believe me you are not going to get these prices in Bulgaria- also the quality of the food isnt great even with the high prices, i tried some packaged ham which was twice the price as in the UK and it wasnt even nice. Hiring a car in Bulgaria was pretty cheap but unfortunately i got a 'speeding' ticket, i thought i was very careful but a camera or camera car got me doing about 25kph over the speed limit i had no problem with being caught but i do have a problem with the 400Lev Fine thats around £200 which is silly expensive for the infraction - also given the speed, aggression and rudeness of most drivers i was surprised i was the one that ended up with a Ticket, obviously the locals know where the Cameras are. Anyway just thought id let you know- if i had known how expensive it was in Bulgaria i believe i would have looked elsewhere but too late for me

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/52579742955_da8b05bcc1_c.jpgIMG_0111 by john simpson, on Flickrhttps://live.staticflickr.com/65535/52579308966_0995113cd6_c.jpgIMG_0113 (1) by john simpson, on Flickr

John, I'm sorry you had a bad experience in Bulgaria. It sounds like Spain will be a far better choice for you, if you want to live and shop the same as you do in the UK, just cheaper. Life in Bulgaria is very different to the UK and to most of Western Europe, which is why many of us on this forum have chosen to have homes there.

I'm not sure you are being entirely fair in your price comparisons. All the items you mention are imported products.  I wouldn't expect Hellman's to be the same price in Bulgaria as the UK! Same with imported cheeses and beers. The Bulgarian equivalent will be far less pricey, and often far better. I shopped in the village shop for whatever they stocked when I was there in October, and bought a huge lump of locally made sirene cheese for 4 lev. It was superb! Also prices vary a lot depending what area you're in are and where you choose to shop.

And your complaint about the "speeding" ticket? I'm puzzled by the quote marks, implying you weren't really speeding. If you were doing 25 kph over the speed limit, you deserve a hefty fine!


Welcome to the expat.com forum, and good luck with your move to Bulgaria!

I'm sorry that you've been so disappointed by your first experience, but if you've heard that Bulgaria is amazingly cheap, then it will be a bit of an anti-climax to rock up here and go to your nearest Lidl or Kaufland. Prices have gone up a lot everywhere, and Bulgaria is no exception. And certain categories (like supermarket groceries and car fuel) are probably quite similar to elsewhere in the EU.

However, the bigger savings are found in other areas. For example, eating out is pretty cheap here. Household bills (water, electricity, property tax) are very low. Property is still very affordable compared to the UK, even after recent price increases.

Officially, Bulgaria is still the poorest country in the EU. And it has the lowest minimum wage (around 360 euros a month). So expenses have to be relatively low to be affordable... even if they aren't dramatically lower. Even with only a UK state pension (around 900 euros a month) you would be quite well-off here (especially as most Brits buy a place outright and so have no rent/mortgage to worry about). Whereas, in the UK, this level of income is considered to be "poverty" level.

This is a Numbeo comparison between where we are now (Plovdiv) and where we moved from (Leeds, oop north). It's quite interesting I think. (Note that Plovdiv is Bulgaria's second city, and former European Capital of Culture... so the savings are even more significant in a small Bulgarian village.)


We have direct experience of Spain too. It's a great country, and we love the food, language, and culture there. We got our residence in Bulgaria first, but then got it in Spain too. We have the luxury of spending time in both. So it's not too late for you, if you'd like to do the same.

But Spain is definitely more expensive. We shop at our Lidl in Elche (Alicante) and Plovdiv, and we find the difference noticeable (20%-30%) rather than dramatic. Eating out in downtown Elche is MUCH more expensive than eating out in Plovdiv, comparing like-for-like. Even if we go to Plovdiv's Kapana (a very trendy spot like Covent Garden or Brighton's Lanes), and eat at an upscale restaurant, it's very reasonable. Our monthly costs for our Plovdiv apartment are a fraction of those for our Elche apartment. In particular, in the summer here, we run our AC units 24/7 and the electric bill is still less than 100 euros. Elche is like an oven in August, but we can't afford to run our ACs there in the same way... even a couple of hours a day to make the bedroom bearable to sleep will get us close to 200 euros!

Separate to the cost issue, Bulgaria is a beautiful country, and some of the scenery in the National Parks is spectacular. And the country is nearly empty - the UK is over twice the size of Bulgaria, but squeezes in 10X the population! Our village house is just outside the Central Balkan National Park, and we have hiking/biking trails starting from our back door... but I usually feel like I have the mountain all to myself. Living in/near a UK national park is absolutely prohibitive, and they're a lot more crowded.

Overall, my feeling is that we live an extremely nice life in Bulgaria, within our means. We absolutely could not afford to live to the same standard in UK, Germany, Cyprus, or Spain (all of which we've previously lived in). For me (and many others, including my colleague @janemulberry, I think), Bulgaria scores because of the overall quality of life, rather than dramatic savings at Lidl.

Your diet looks unhealthy.

Cheaper to eat out. Cheapest in EU for eating out?

None of my neighbours buy imported packaged foods. Most what they need comes from their garden.

Ask in the village who sells what and you dont need to go into shops.

The cameras are working again? Good.

Why Heineken?!?! Buy Zagorka Shumensko Aryana

@janemulberry Wow interesting Reply, i think its pretty obvious why i didnt buy in Spain if im finding grocery prices in Bulgaria very expensive, id love to find where you got that ham and does it have a Sell Buy Date. Re Speeding Ticket as i said in my Post i was in the wrong BUT in the UK 25kph over the Speed Limit would get you at most a 100Lev Fine in Bulgaria its FOUR times that. Internet and Electricity in Bulgaria are cheap but most other things are not and house prices are creeping up fast even from three years ago, i was just trying to advise people if they can find the extra £20000 to buy in Spain or Poland etc it would be better in the long run especially if your looking for a remote quite Property because most Propertys in Bulgaria are in a Village extremely few are single Dwellings in the Countryside My intention was not to degrade Bulgaria as your new expat Home but to give potential new comers my experience 

Also you spoke about Brands like Hellmans being more expensive because there imported? Imported from where? Bulgaria is in the EU? Products in a Bulgarian Supermarket should cost the same as in a Spainish Supermarket or a French or Italian Supermarket but they DONT they are twice the price if not more

By the way i really like Hellmans did you figure that out1f600.svg

Also you spoke about Brands like Hellmans being more expensive because there imported? Imported from where? Bulgaria is in the EU? Products in a Bulgarian Supermarket should cost the same as in a Spainish Supermarket or a French or Italian Supermarket but they DONT they are twice the price if not more
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Bulgarian market lot smaller. Less demand = higher price.

Try eating local produce?

Why is it always UK citizens want want want on the cheap? If you can get it better elsewhere go and live there.

Litre Rakia €5

Pack of snouts €2.50

Legal sex worker €50 an hour

Hello to All,

How much do cleaning services in Bulgaria charge (per hour)  to clean a house ?


@bestlikefromme 40-80 lev whole house not per hour


Hellmann's at Kaufland

6.49 leva for 625 ML, that's quite a bit cheaper than your photo!


I think that's pretty similar to UK supermarket pricing.

Your President example is perhaps also a bit misleading? I think the UK's 3 quid is for the smaller size. The 11.55 leva is for the larger size. The correct comparison is probably the 4.39 leva, just under 2 quid.

Well... I guess I agree with @johnsimpsons511 main point that Bulgarian supermarkets aren't cheap.

And I agree with @SimCityAT that maybe us Brits do over-emphasize the "cheap" aspect. But I do kinda like that Bulgaria is very "affordable", as it makes my meagre stash go further. :-)

LOL, @johnsimpsons511, yes, I did get the idea Hellmans is important to you! It's good stuff, but I wouldn't base my choice of where to live on it!

I hope if you move to Bg you can find a supermarket selling it at a better price. I did wonder if maybe you were in a city centre overpriced supermarket or a resort supermarket and the price could be better elsewhere, like comparing prices in a Spar to Tesco. Gwyn confirmed that it can be bought cheaper. So there is hope after all!

I don't eat meat, so can't comment on ham prices or quality. Sirene is Bulgarian white cheese, like feta but better, very very tasty! I was comparing that to the President cheese price, not the ham you bought. I think Bulgarians are more likely to turn their pigs into salami and barbeque rather than English style ham, but I could be wrong.

I am pretty sure living in Bg can be quite a bit less expensive than the UK, but it does depend on how one lives and shops and spends. I haven't moved there full-time yet, I'm waiting till I get my pension so I can get the D visa. My house is in a village in a region that is poorer than some, far from the touristy areas, and priced accordingly. Many things in the shops are a lot cheaper than the UK, others are about the same or even a little more expensive. My neighbours produce almost all their own food, so the village shop carries less food and mostly stuff that can't easily be homemade or grown in the area, like rice, pasta, loo roll, and cleaning products. Thankfully the small supermarket in the next town has a bigger range of food plus a number of speciality food shops. I think I'd need to travel an hour for a jar of Hellman's, however!

Moving there will mean big changes, and I am happy to embrace those. There're sure to be frustrations and disappointments, too, because that's just how life rolls.


You simply cannot compare prices for the same product with other countries !! What about logistics , transport cost and local taxes ? And I can tell you that just because two countries are both in the EU does not mean that they have the same prices . Its a free market and there are no price controls anywhere in the EU . Also , I believe that if one moves to another country , it would be more satisfying if one embraces the culture of the host country without having to  compare every little detail . 

What sammut said up🔝 there is true

No Hellmann's or supermarkets this time. :-) For a change, yesterday we had lunch out (for two) in a small Italian restaurant in our (Plovdiv) neighbourhood. It's a place for locals, next to a small park. It's nicely renovated (last couple of years) with a big terrace overlooking the greenery. The food (and service too) is very good. We shared a fresh Greek Salad and a large pizza (Prosciutto & Parmigiano, the most expensive on the menu). Water (x1) and imported beer (Heineken x1) to drink, and espresso (x2) to finish off. Then a gentle stroll in the winter sunshine through the park back to the car (plenty of free parking nearby). Overall... nice meal, nice experience... and a 30 leva bill, or less than 14 quid. The price/quality is kinda shocking. I reckon that your run-of-the-mill UK chain restaurant (e.g. Pizza Express) would charge 40 quid or so for a similar (but inferior) meal (plus many will leave a 4-8 quid tip on top).

Hi gwynj,

Would you mind sharing the name of the restaurant, I wouldn't mind trying it on our next visit to Plovdiv 😉

Pizza express dont deserve tips with their prices for bog standard food.

What gwynj had in Plovdiv would cost 20 leva in a village.

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I would try to embrace local products and grow my own in a new country with lots of sunshine and big gardens like Bulgaria all part of the adventure.

I'm not into designer brands and labels and value value for money for an equal product more, so tend to buy the cheapest good product I can, maybe not as good as the designer label but significantly cheaper.

Also UK speeding fines now cost £100+.

A Kosovo man I spoke to said the car MOT and fines for not having the required motoring items in or on your car are more stringent and expensive there than UK.

It makes one wonder how the local people can afford to pay in these lower wages countries

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Are there any other countries in the world where you can drop on a solid house with water and electricity on over 1500 square metres of land for under £10k, with an annual council tax bill of £30?

With cheaper utilities and insurance prices than the UK?


Just for this I wouldn't mind paying UK prices for food. But from what I have been told by relatives Bulgarian food prices are far cheaper particularly in restaurants etc

@Earthling1 £30 for council tax..no way...mine is 80lv x2..for myself and wife...thats an apartment.

@wtruckyboy - I didn't think council tax was per person, but per property. Are the apartment managers charging you extra?

My village house council tax is well under 30GBP.  I just checked - 38.4 lv.

I'm sure like the UK the cost varies depending on the property and the area, but I'm surprised you are paying per person. Am I misunderstanding how it works in Bg?

@earthling1 Bulgarian property prices are way lower than the UK, but being realistic, the sort of house a Brit can buy for 10,000 GBP will probably need some money spent on it. I'm not seeing any remotely move-in-ready homes on the market for that price.

My 10,000 GBP house (okay, if I was Bulgarian it probably would have cost me that in BGN, not GBP, and it's on 2800 m2, so lots of land) will need pretty much the same again spent on it just to make it properly weatherproof. I'm happy enough to get by with the basic kitchen and bathroom, but a roof that doesn't leak and windows that don't fall apart when opened are things I prefer to have!

I love the place and can't wait till I can move there full time, BTW! I'm very glad I made the decision to buy it. But a liveable house for 10,000 GBP might not be achievable any more.

Hi Jane I have seen a handful or more properties In the GBP 5k to 10k price range that look pretty solid structures, though I think once the decorating is done, kitchen and bathrooms added, carpets etc, 5k might turn into 10k.

As much land as possible I see as a bonus.

For some reason few Bulgarian houses have a bathroom, they have a weird toilet / shower room which makes no sense whatsoever.

There are some English estate agents in Bulgaria who look to mark up the asking prices in my opinion, and it's hard to see much difference between a 8k and 30k home they are advertising for sale.

I will also want a house with mature fruit trees preferably, and grapes ideally.

There are a handful of Bulgaria estate agent websites I know of beyond Rightmove and eBay that still have bargains. Anything for sale on eBay will usually just be to appeal to naive Brits in my opinion.

If you shop around bargains exist, if you don't shop around you may run into a shark charging twice+ as much as equal properties are selling for.

Given how derelict Bulgarian villages are further becoming as people are driven abroad and to the big cities, I don't see a big reason why Bulgarian property prices should rise much especially now in a hyper inflation recession

Though Bulgarian house prices could rise if a wave of mass immigration from the middle east and Ukraine occurs in Bulgaria.

Like it has in Britain and Ireland, especially from the middle east.

If an expanded war from Ukraine spreads to Bulgaria that will be awful.

I hope the war is resolved without spreading and without too many more deaths.

I think after the rises of the past few years Bg house prices will stabilise now. Though predicting the market is always a tricky game. If I could do it, I'd be a lot richer than I am!

The village my house is in used to have a population of 2000. Now it's down to 200. I think the locals would welcome honest hardworking people of any nationality.

I'd been looking at Bulgarian properties for years. In fact, in 2013 I bid on and won a Bulgarian house on ebay for the grand total of 1600 GBP! Unfortunately the seller had family issues and the sale fell through. Since then, we've made multiple trips there, to Sofia, VT several times, and Varna. I was ready to jump right in and buy a house, hubby loves Bulgaria but is resistant to change and will only make a decision when forced to. But I regularly watched the ebay listings and several estate agents, so I had a fair idea of property prices and what things should sell for - could spot the inflated listings. There are a lot of those around at the moment on well-known estate agents sites!

In the end I used my own money to buy an 8,000 GBP house from an established ebay seller, knowing I was paying more than it "should" cost, but willing to do so for the assistance with the process they offer. I'm learning Bulgarian but there's no way I could negotiate to buy directly from a Bulgarian seller, and as we were buying at the lower price bracket, I didn't want to deal with an agent who'd charge a 2,000 EUR fee, either. The house needs lots of work, but is in a village centre location yet away from the main street, has wonderful neighbours, is on a south-east facing slope protected from the wind, plus has established fruit trees and grapevines and an amazing huge walnut tree. Initially the amount of work needed was a heartsink, far more than I anticipated from the estate agents rather optimistic statement about the condition it was in. But I love the place. When I am there, peace seeps into my soul. Just looking at the photos lifts my heart.

I have five years till retirement age and D visa, so time to visit regularly and get it fixed up. Unfortunately inflation and the worldwide leap in prices of building materials have massively affected the cost of renovations.

The amount of derelict and abandoned houses and villages in Bulgaria is incredible.

I want low population density and self sufficiency yet to be near enough to civilization and nice tourist places, so I see the emptyness and dereliction as a plus point.

The best way to get the best price for a property is to find a village that you like, and approach the local mayor. They will know which properties are for sale, and can put you in touch with the family selling it ( if it's empty ) . Often the local village shop is another good place to ask in, as most of the locals drop in and know if anybody is selling etc.

We paid a bit more for our first house, as we were a bit green behind the ears at that time, and it just seemed very cheap! For our second one, we had lived in the village long enough to know the " real " price value and haggled a little with the family until we were all happy 😊

An option for houses in need of major repairs, why not knock down and rebuild.

I have been informed that as long as the new house is same footprint

there should be no issues.

Building materials are expensive so for me it's better to buy a solid structure with many years of life still in it, hopefully with minimal renovation and decorating needed.

They are out there. Why reinvent the wheel.

As long as it can be kept warm in winter, I'm not wanting to live in a house kitted out to the standards of a British new build. That's part of the adventure - a change.

But we are looking to live a more relaxed healthier intrinsically rewarding self sufficient lifestyle more in touch with nature than in the UK, which shouldn't be difficult in Bulgaria.

good luck on your adventure, i am moving over permanently later this summer.

@mickg I think that unless the house is a complete wreck and the property was bought for land value only, demolish and rebuild would be more expensive than many would want to pay since building material costs have more than doubled. It's a good option for those who want a new house just how they want it, for sure, especially those with building trade skills and experience who can oversee the build and do much of the work themselves. But I like my quirky old house even with all its issues, and the basic structure is sound enough to last my lifetime and then some, once the roof is repaired.

@earthling If you're looking for opportunities to live more self-sufficiently, you will find what you want in Bulgaria for sure, especially if you are happy to live the way Bulgarian villagers live. There are so many old houses on land available, and many people are still growing most of their own food. My neighbours have large veggie gardens and fruit trees. One keeps a flock of hens for eggs and meat. The other has a cow and makes her own wonderful cheese. The woman who used to live in my house was a spinner and weaver, so I have been blessed to inherit blankets she spun and wove with fibre from her own sheep and goats. I'm sure it's hard work living that lifestyle, but the opportunities are still there for those willing to put in the effort. I would say - make sure to get a place with a reliable well so you can be self-sufficient with water. My place doesn't have a well, which is unfortunate. The town water is fine, but there have been issues with town water supplies being erratic in parts of the country. So putting in rainwater collection when my roof is redone will be a priority.

Lidl and aldi prices in Germany were a little more expensive than UK in 2019, except for alcohol which is really cheap oin Germany. Germany is / was a wonderful country with really nice calm intelligent people in 2019.


Very well said !!!