Advice for Expats in Bulgaria from a Local Expat

 

Dear reader:

Thanks for visiting my page and I hope that you find this information helpful.

My name is Rami Kremesti, I am half Lebanese, half Bulgarian and after living 20 years in Lebanon and 8 in the USA, I have made Bulgaria my home. I did my M.Sc. in Industrial Chemistry in the USA and I work as a water treatment specialist in the UK these days where the money is better. Bulgaria is for enjoying my time off... I have a posh apartment in the Maritza Gardens gated commnunity in Plovdiv and I also love spending time in my village home of Trankovo between Stara Zagora and Radnevo. I am the founder of the NGO BONKA.BG through which I aim to help Bulgarians to improve their lives.

1. If you want to move to Bulgaria, make sure that you have a local trusted connection. Some people, like everywhere, will try to take you for a ride here if they sense that you are gullible.

2. Be relaxed. Be natural. Smile. Look people in the eye. Do not be afraid, there is nothing to be afraid of.

3. Explore Bulgaria a little before you decide where to settle, if you have a choice. Explore the large cities, explore also the villages those are the true hidden treasures. Explore areas: by the Black sea, in the Rhodope mountains, by the Danube, or in the Thracian Plains.

4. Learn Bulgarian. This will help you to get by easier in a lot of day to day situations.

5. For exploring business opportunities, I am not the businessman but I will give you some logical common sense tips:


a. Labor and Land in Bulgaria is cheap especially in the suburbs, therefore all manufacturing business plans with a Europe wide market will be successful as the overhead costs will be kept low.
b. Ethnic food restaurants in the larger cities will be successful as the emerging middle class in Bulgaria is hungry for something new. Case in point: Sombrero Mexican Restaurant in Plovdiv is a hit. There is the Happy chain of restaurants also which is a country wide success story with their Fusion cuisine.
c. Agricultural land in Bulgaria is inexpensive. Scale is important to compete locally. Niche markets are the way to go to compete globally. Organic farming has a bright future according to all indicators.
d. NGOs for developing social, economic, environmental and educational standards are much in need.
e. The food industry in Bulgaria has a deep rooted history. Bulgaria used to be called the garden of the Soviet Union. There are universities like Plovdiv's University of Food Technology that train specialists in food technology.
f. Tour operator companies will be high in demand in Bulgaria as the rest of Europe continues to discover the hidden treasures of Bulgaria.
g. Boutique cheeses and salamis can be made in Bulgaria at a low cost and overhead and exported in Europe. Bulgaria has excellent sources of fresh milk and meat.
h. Good beef for steaks is hard to find in Bulgaria. Most cows and bulls are raised for milk and mince beef.

 

6. Buy an inexpensive car, don't flash the cash, blend in. I used to own an S55 AMG they broke into it for no apparent reason. All they found was a beautiful hand made silver cross and a multi-functional Swiss knife. Practical cars are the small ones: The Opel Corsa/Astra, the VW Golf, the Scoda Octavia. Don't leave any precious belongings in the car overnight. My previous car was broken into beucase I forgot my wallet in it.

7. About corrpution. Public salaries are really low so some public officials out of financial need will seek to make an extra buck under the table. Same with medical doctors: i had to pay 200 euros twice for extra care in the delivery of my two girls in Plovdiv.

8. There are a lot of Ethnic Turks in Bulgaria especially in the South and South-East. If you know a little Turkish in those regions, it will go a long way.

9. Explore life in the village... this is where time has frozen. This is where people live off the land. This is where you will find the real good hearts and large souls. This is where people have learned to solve their own problems and help each other out. This is where a whole lamb will set you off just 50 Euros. This is where the word organic food has no meaning because they have been eating organic for centuries. This is where you will meet characters like straight out of books. This is where you will see gypsies riding a donkey carriage and you will wonder if you're in the middle of a movie set... This is where you will taste the tastiest fruit and veg, home made salamis, egss, milk, duck, goose, etc etc.

10. Explore the Rhodope mountains. This is where the mountain people live. And some of them have souls as large as mountains. You must read the book Vreme Razdelno or watch the movie based on the novel subtitled in English called Time of Violence.

11. Explore the Orthodox Church. I think most of the priests have lost touch with the times but there are few good priests out there... Go to the Orthodox Monasteries. Try to find a local saint, this will be your greatest lifetime achievement....

12. Explore the Black Sea... Sozopol and Nessebar are a must sea. Avoid the tourist fly-magnets of Sunny Beach and Golden Sands (loud music, cheap alcohol and hookers). Avoid the 5 star all inclusive hotels they have no soul and are probably owned by the mafia.

13. Explore the local cuisine and ethnic Turkish cuisine. A lot of Greek restaurants are popping up in the large cities too.

14. If you want to buy a property, you must make sure that the deed is clean by checking with a local Notarius (Notary). You can also visit the "Obshtina" (Municipality) and check with the land registry that all is in order. For paying taxes, visit nap.bg.

15. Explore the local music: Bulgarian folk music is unique. Listen to these breath taking songs to get a taste: Pritori Se Planinata by Stefka Sabotinova, Dvama by Maria Neykova.

16. About one of the most important topics on guys' mind: women. Bulgarian women are generally very beautiful and natural. There is unfortunately a "Chalga" phenomenon of feigning extravagant external appearances (fake tits, lips, expensive clothes, cars). We call these women "kifli"which translates literally to a muffin, in other words a gold digger. Real Bulgarian women have a strong ethic of working and supporting the family which comes from socialist times. There aren't many families that can afford to have a "daddy's"girl. For some photos that I have made of Bulgarian women, please visit my website: htp://kremesti.com/kasiva. I personally know some tough Bulgarian women that are lawyers, judges, engineers, architects and business owners.

 

Finally I hope I have piqued your imagination.

 

Best regards and I wish you an exciting journey in Bulgaria!

 

Rami E. Kremesti M.Sc.


Founder BONKA.BG

Last updated: July 26, 2015