Food, transport, accommodation, leisure and sport, salaries
Written by Denitsa Yosifova, edited by Tamar Weisert, photo by Anastasiia Dehtiarova.
Bulgaria is known for its low prices in comparison to other European countries. It attracts many tourists who want to enjoy a glass of the infamous rakia while admiring the lovely nature. Food, transport, and accommodation may seem affordable to many foreigners. But what exactly are the costs of living here?
Whether you are planning your trip to Bulgaria or looking to move here, make sure you check out some of the average prices listed below.
First and foremost, let’s talk about food. It is important to note that there is some variation in price depending on the city. Sofia, the capital, is the most expensive city to visit and to live in, while most smaller towns are cheaper.
In Sofia, a meal at an inexpensive restaurant would cost you approximately 12 BGN. If you want to take your date to a restaurant and have a three-course meal, 50 BGN should be enough.
If you want to do your own grocery shopping, here are the average prices for some essential products:
- A small bottle of mineral water (500 ml) usually costs between 0.50 and 1 BGN.
- A liter of milk is between 2 and 3 BGN.
- The price for a loaf of bread can vary from 1 BGN for standard white, to 3 BGN for rye or gluten-free bread.
- Half a dozen eggs usually cost about 2 BGN.
- For half a liter of domestic beer, prepare to pay between 2 BGN and 3 BGN.
- A cup of coffee can cost you anywhere from 0.50 BGN to 5 BGN. Some types of coffee (Starbucks, for example) are even more expensive.
A single-way ticket for public transport is cheaper in smaller towns (in Blagoevgrad it costs only 0.80 BGN) and the most expensive in the capital. Hopping on the bus, tram, or metro in Sofia costs 1.60 BGN. There are also cards for public transport.
You can get a one-day card for 4 BGN, and it can be used on the tram, metro, trolleybus, and public transport busses. You could also purchase a 3-day pass that costs 12 BGN for first-time users and 10 BGN after that. This covers the whole public transport network (trams, trolleybuses, buses, and metro).
There are also monthly passes – a personalized one costs 35 BGN, while a non-personalized one costs 42 BGN. The personalized pass has a photo on it and can only be used by one person, while the non-personalized one can be used by many people. However, be advised that these passes can only be used at the metro.
Rents in Sofia tend to fluctuate depending on the time of the year. A one-bedroom apartment in the city center will likely cost you about 700 BGN. For the same apartment outside the city center, the prices vary between 400 BGN and 550 BGN. Keep in mind that these prices don’t include utilities and may get significantly higher in September when many university students move to Sofia.
If you are looking to rent a place, make sure that you check out this article to learn more about where to find accommodation and the best neighborhoods in which to live.
For utilities (gas, water, heating, electricity), prepare to spend between 100 BGN and 200 BGN, depending on the size of your apartment and the number of people living in it. However, people in Foreigners in Sofia & Friends shared that their bills vary a lot depending on different factors. It is also important to note that there are separate bills for hot and cold water (the hot water bill also includes central heating unless you use an AC). Usually, electricity and heating bills are highest between November and February, when the temperature can drop below zero degrees Celsius. For cable Internet, you can expect to pay around 20 BGN per month. More information about the best internet and mobile providers can be found in our article.
Leisure and Sport
If you like hitting the gym regularly, a monthly membership at your local gym will likely cost you between 40 BGN and 50 BGN. Most fitness centers offer discounts if you visit before 3 pm. The price for a single visit varies between gyms, but it is usually within the range of 4 BGN to 7 BGN.
For example, if you want to learn to dance, this will cost you about 10 BGN per practice. If you know that you will be consistently attending, most dance centers will offer significant discounts for monthly passes.
Many employers in Sofia offer the Multisport card to their staff, which gives you access to more than 900 sports facilities throughout Bulgaria. This card must be financed fully or partially by your employer, meaning that you cannot purchase it yourself. However, there is an alternative to the Multisport card, the Andjoy card, which lets you choose your plan according to how much time you can dedicate to sports and hobbies and how much money you are willing to spend. The Andjoy Dynamic (99 BGN) and Active (129 BGN) plans also include cultural and social events (such as going to the cinema).
For all the cinephiles out there, a cinema ticket in Sofia costs 12 BGN for a premiere release. There are also small discounts for students and senior citizens. Theater and opera are more expensive, depending on the production and the venue. The cheapest plays start at 15 BGN, which is also what you can expect to pay for one of the pricier standup comedy shows.
The minimum monthly wage in Bulgaria is 610 BGN. The average net monthly wage, according to Numbeo, is about 1400 BGN. The personal income tax rate in Bulgaria is 10%. The minimum hourly wage starting from January 2020 is 3.66 BGN.