Driving / buying a car

Hi all!

We're hoping to spend longer amounts of time in at our house Bulgaria next year when we retire.

We're not sure whether to drive from the Uk to Bulgaria and back, or to buy a car in Bulgaria and leave it locked up when fly back.

Does anyone have any experience of this type please?


Hi Karen,

I would buy a car in Bulgaria. Taxes and insurance is cheap, its easier to fly back and forth. Of course partly depends on how often you go back and forth. Currently with covid you have many borders to cross. I would prefer the easy life.


I've been told by friends who've lived in Bg for years that second hand cars are more expensive in Bg than in the UK, and there are fewer on the market. So you may want to investigate what's available before deciding. But tax and insurance are definitely far cheaper, so it won't cost much while it's not being used.

A car left for very extended periods can develop problems. Flat batteries, flat tyres, seized brakes. Ideal situation would be to have someone trustworthy go in every couple of weeks to start it up and take it for a run. Though probably a solar trickle charger would be enough to keep the battery charged, and the other problems tend to take longer to develop.

It would be great to have a car there waiting for you when you get to your house!

Any idea why the cars are more expensive in such a cheap overall country?

It's a long old drive! I've done it a couple of times, but I would definitely recommend avoiding it. But if you have a fast and comfy car, and share the driving, and spend a few nights in decent hotels, then it would be relatively painless.

For short trips, I'd prefer to fly and rent a car. If I was going to stay for a few months, then driving over is worth considering, and I've done this in Germany a few times (but that's a much shorter journey).

It can be quite expensive too, with fuel, ferries, meals, accommodation, vignettes. You'll be surprised how it adds up, especially when you compare to low-cost air fares.

I've left the car over the winter at the house a couple of times, so it's perfectly feasible if you have a garage and/or a bit of privacy. I disconnect the battery, and it has seemed fine after a bit of a charge when I get back.

Certainly, by far, the most convenient is to get a cheap Wizzair/Ryanair flight, and keep a car at your house. Not sure I'd leave a fancy SUV sitting idle, but it makes sense if you have a cheap runabout.

We can still import cars into Bulgaria, but after Brexit you pay VAT and duty (an extra 30% or so). I personally had a cheap and cheerful UK car (a Vauxhall Vectra bought on Ebay) which was practically worthless to sell in the UK , but was very reliable and well-maintained. So I kept it and drove it over, instead of trying to find a decent secondhand car in Bulgaria. It's now done nearly 5 years here, and still going strong. (And I was so pleased with the experience that I bought a fancier Ebay car as our first car, and also imported that.) The RHD is a bit of an inconvenience, but not a big deal out in the countryside when you just want to drive to Lidl and get the groceries.

Thanks for you reply. Much appreciated!

Seeing as you own a house in bg..buy a car in uk..drive it over..register it in bg.
I drive over almost every year..but i am experienced on the journey..used to be a hgv driver till i retired..and covered routes to the middle east etc..met and married my bulgarian wife 30 yrs ago too..
We live in Pomorie

Thank you.

I suppose it depends how long you wish to holiday in Bulgaria per year. When we finished working in the UK , we had 2 cars. We decided to take my 05 Vectra and load it up with about 500 kg of tools, OXO cubes, spanners, drill bits ,new underwear in case of accidents,everything except the proverbial "kitchen sink".We then spent 5 months on holiday for 10 years.
Looking back, I wish we had taken some time to visit some of the towns on the way through Europe, even though it would have taken a week or more longer.
Our mileage worked about 1300 miles per year in Bulgaria and maybe 1800 miles per year in UK.
The convenience of having your car at hand is definitely an advantage, but Cities now are difficult to find parking spaces.
PS To overwinter your car, drain the screen washers,check antifreeze to -30 degrees,

Thank you so much. We hope to spend longer and longer over there as we retire. I'd also like to 'holiday' on the route over. Here's hoping! Thanks for your reply. Very useful.