Situated in the south-east part of Europe, Bulgaria is popular destination for expatriation. The country attracts a high number of foreigners thanks to its favorable economy, numerous professional opportunities and low unemployment levels. It also offers a relatively low cost of living. Many industries need foreign expertise, so qualified professionals from other countries yearn to gain employment in one of its prominent cities. However, for any expatriate looking to work in Bulgaria, it’s recommended to inquire on the labour market’s requirement on working conditions and permits. Since the country joined the EU in 2007, European nationals do not need to obtain a work permit.
What is the average salary in Bulgaria? The average salary in Bulgaria is $18,987.68 (33,747 BGN)/year, $1,582.17 (2,812 BGN)/month or $9 (16 BGN)/hour as of 2019. Wages are highest in cities of Sofia and Plovdiv at an annual average of $22,161.58 (39,388 BGN) and $21,376.12 (37,992 BGN) respectively.
In Bulgaria, a person can start working from 16 years of age. A full-time occupation comprises of a 40-hour workweek, i.e., eight hours per day over five days. Workers are eligible to an annual 20 days paid leave. It’s worth noting that part-time jobs are less common in Bulgaria. When it comes to employment contracts, the country has two types of agreements: temporary and permanent contracts. Regardless of the nature of a contract, it must be made official through writing. That’s because oral agreements have no value in case of disputes.
- Are you interested in working in Bulgaria?
- You’re probably wondering, what is the average salary in Bulgaria?
- What is the average household income?
- What is the minimum wage in Bulgaria?
- What is the cost of living?
In this article, I aim to answer those questions and more.
Average Salary in Bulgaria
The salary standards in a majority of Bulgarian sectors are generally lower in comparison to other European Union nations. But, some spheres provide competitive salaries even on international level jobs. Professionals that earn well include highly qualified multilingual engineers, IT specialists and visual artists.
Foreigners also find work in contact centres that provide customer support and sales services to nations across the world. Often times, no particular requirement is needed in the call centres apart from a knowledge of the target language and proficiency in English.
Bulgaria’s tourism sector is also very promising. The country’s mountains and Black Sea seaside offer a chance for numerous recreational activities. Bulgaria’s hospitality sector offers jobs throughout the year, but the pay is relatively low.
Another opportunity for an expatriate in Bulgaria may be teaching. Many Bulgarians, particularly those in big cities look forward to learning foreign languages, like English, French, Italian, German, Chinese and French. If not a full-time occupation, teaching can be a source of extra income.
Other Bulgarian sectors that require qualified specialists include construction, renewable energy, consultancies, environmental firms and recruitment agencies. Additionally, the country offers business opportunities dependent on franchising. Although the process of setting up a business in Bulgaria may be cumbersome, it’s not insurmountable. And it may result in successful and lucrative entrepreneurship because Bulgaria’s market is propitious.
An expat looking to work in Bulgaria may want to know the average earnings of workers in the country. To offer some clarification to the matter, I have selected some of the popular professions and their average salaries per annum.
- Accountant: $12,620.51(22,438 BGN)
- Administrative Assistant: $9,766.02 (17,363 BGN)
- Architect: $16,896.34(30,040 BGN)
- Lawyer: $26,739.97 (47,541 BGN)
- Biomedical Engineer: $15,441.25 (27,453 BGN)
- Chef: $15,748.35 (27,999 BGN)
- Chief Executive Officer (CEO): $44,762.92 (79,584 BGN)
- Chief Financial Officer (CFO): $39,111.87 (69,537 BGN)
- Civil Engineer: $17,067.33 (30,344 BGN)
- Computer Technician: $14,009.79(24,908 BGN)
- Creative Director: $18,603.97 (33,076 BGN)
- Dentist: $47,023.45 (83,603 BGN)
- Programmer: $16,442.43 (29,233 BGN)
- Electrical Engineer: $18.470.67 (32,839 BGN)
- Engineer: $16,468.31 (29,279 BGN)
- Flight Attendant: $16,798.47 (29,866 BGN)
- General Manager: $34,683.62 (61,664 BGN)
- Hotel Manager: $28,446.48 (50,575 BGN)
- Human Resources Manager: $26,990.27 (47,986 BGN)
- Graphic Designer: $13,480.51 (23,967 BGN)
- Mechanical Engineer: $17,748.47 (31,555 BGN)
- Teacher: $14,617.81 (25,989 BGN)
- Nurse: $14,888.91 (26,471 BGN)
Bulgaria Average Household Income
The annual household income per capita in Bulgaria attained $3,628.762 in December 2018. That was higher than the previous value of $3,218.749 in December 2017. The data is updated annually, available from December 1999 to December 2018, with an average value of $2,544.047.
Minimum Wage in Bulgaria
The general minimum wage in Bulgaria is $315.01 (560 BGN) per month and $1.90 (3.37 BGN) per hour as of 2019. It is quite low compared to many other EU countries. No worker in the country should earn less than the minimum government-mandated pay rate. Employers who fail to pay the minimum wage may face negative consequences.
Average Salary in Sofia
Sofia is the capital city of Bulgaria. A person working in this city typically earns about $22,161.58 (39,388 BGN) yearly, $1,846.41 (3,282 BGN) monthly, or $10.69 (19 BGN) hourly. The list below shows the average salary of some of the popular occupations in the area:
- Accountant: $13,181(24,181 BGN)
- Administrative Assistant: $10,526.02 (18,710 BGN)
- Architect: $19,718.71(35,050 BGN)
- Lawyer: $26,745.99 (47,541 BGN)
- Biomedical Engineer: $17,345.15 (30,831 BGN)
- Chef: $17,327.14 (30,799 BGN)
- Chief Executive Officer (CEO): $46,427.57 (82,525 BGN)
- Chief Financial Officer (CFO): $41,316.34 (73,425 BGN)
- Civil Engineer: $18,028.95 (32,040) BGN)
- Computer Technician: $16,054.99(28,532 BGN)
- Creative Director: $21,320.19 (37,889 BGN)
- Dentist: $48,767.63 (86,667 BGN)
- Programmer: $17,722.50 (31,506 BGN)
- Electrical Engineer: $21,135.26 (37,573 BGN)
- Engineer: $19,245.78 (34,214 BGN)
- Flight Attendant: $18,480.21 (32,853BGN)
- General Manager: $36,692.09 (65,229 BGN)
- Hotel Manager: $31,294.23 (55,633 BGN)
- Human Resources Manager: $28,541.86 (50,740 BGN)
- Graphic Designer: $13,967.73 (24,831 BGN)
- Mechanical Engineer: $20,747.69 (36,884 BGN)
- Teacher: $15,762.71 (28,022 BGN)
- Nurse: $16,379.22 (29,118 BGN)
Sofia is a haven for expats. It has been attracting a multitude of professionals from across the world over the years with the credit going to its booming economy. Indeed, the city offers career prospects in a variety of fields for those possessing expertise and qualifications that aren’t available locally.
Sofia is a prominent economic hub. It hosts many local and foreign firms’ head offices and subsidiaries of internal companies. Its economy primarily revolves around manufacturing, energy, oil, hospitality, metallurgy and water supply. The city’s numerous bars, hotels and restaurants provide job opportunities to both locals and foreigners.
The capital is also the base for many outsourcing agencies, which provide jobs for communication professionals, managers, computer technicians, and more. Many companies in the area are always looking for people including lending companies, insurance agencies and credit firms.
Cost of Living in Bulgaria in US Dollars
Bulgaria is one of Europe’s most inexpensive travel destinations and most affordable places to live in the world. It is a small Eastern European nation with high mountains, amazing sea resorts, and beautiful, cosy little towns. The little-known gem in Balkan has plenty to offer to its visitors.
The cost of living is generally low, especially in the smaller and less touristy towns of Bulgaria. However, before moving to Bulgaria, it’s good to have an idea about the possible costs for accommodation, utilities, transport, healthcare, and food.
Rent for a studio or one-bedroom apartment ranges between $165 and $275 monthly. Of course, smaller, less renovated apartments have lower rental rates. And remember, the more centrally located an apartment is, the costlier it will be. Hence, if an apartment is just $165, then it’s probably on the outskirts of the city. Or it’s in the city, but small and with minimal renovations. Apartments costing $275 are bigger with modern amenities and a central location.
People looking to buy a home in Bulgaria have three main financing options: pay outright, release equity on a current home, or take out a foreign or local mortgage. The process of getting a Bulgarian mortgage can be slow. And local lenders usually need applicants to have a clean credit history and a substantial minimum income. Also, not all lenders in Bulgaria offer mortgages to limited companies. The maximum home loan term in the country is 20 years, and local banks do not lend out the whole amount of a property’s worth.
During summer, utilities cost about $33-$44. In the winter months, they can reach up to $88 or more, because of using more heat and electricity. Cable, internet and phone bills cost $17-$22 per month.
When it comes to transport, a monthly membership card comes at a price of around $22. The expense of travelling via a public bus is around $1.1.
Social life varies from one person to another. A nice night club in Sofia may cost around $16.5-$27.5 for a whole night. On the other hand, a small bar could be about $11-$16.5 or less. The same applies to restaurants. They can be $16.5-$27.5 in trendier venues for a meal and a couple of drinks or $11-$16.5 for less trendy eateries.
An expat without a resident visa cannot receive public healthcare. Foreigners should be ready to pay as little as $16.5 and as high as $33-$55 to see a medical doctor. General physicians charge less than doctors who specialize in specific or advanced medical treatments. In Bulgaria, people working on labour contracts or self-employed persons are required to pay medical insurance to the state. That also applies to expatriates who begin work in the country. The healthcare insurance covers the costs for medical treatment, hospitalization, outpatient and hospital care, emergency medical care, and dental care.
The cost of groceries is generally affordable in Bulgaria. For one person, $22-$33 should be enough to cover groceries for a week and a half.
Depending on a person’s lifestyles and salary, life should be decent relying on $715.46 per month for one person. However, $770.56-$880.64 will offer a more comfortable lifestyle.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.