Retire in Varna Bulgaria

If you are new here, I put my feet on the ground all over the world, and show you the best places people retire cheap in paradise overseas. This is my 70th country. Many people seem to be able to get a better life overseas with less money.

Today, I will show one of the possibilities for your life, next to the sea in one of the oldest cultures in the world. Humans have been living in this area for 100k years.

Varna is famous for six thousand-year-old gold jewelry discovered in a necropolis which is now displayed in the Archaeological Museum. It is also famous for Primorski Park which is a beautiful tree-lined park with a promenade of bars along the beach.

Many that come here never want to leave.

I will itemize the estimated cost to Retire in Varna Bulgaria including rent, utilities, groceries, restaurants, transportation, and other expenses for low to middle-range living costs.

I was last here eleven years ago this month. At that time, I realized that this place would be perfect for people who want to live next to the sea, but also want a little more sophisticated culture than your average beach town.

As I walk the beautiful streets of Varna, I hear people speaking languages from all over the world. Varna is less well-known than other beach towns in Europe. Many foreigners favor Varna because it is on the road less traveled.

I first learned of Varna from a beautiful Bulgarian woman who told me that she spent summers on a beach in Varna completely nude. She said it was not a sexual thing, just a natural way of being in nature that her family and friends have done this for generations.

So, I decided to return and show it to you. I will tell you the name of the nudist beach after I show you the city.

I want to share my estimated costs of living here if the two of us moved to Varna Bulgaria year-round on a tight budget. We will also include middle-range costs of living estimates so you have another data point.

But first, I will share my retirement desirability factors for Varna Bulgaria as I show you some of my favorite parts of town.

Varna Bulgaria Retirement Desirability Factors

Before you move anywhere outside your home country, create a list of things that you must have for your happy retirement. Here are my retirement desirability factors and I will rank each as high, medium, or low before assigning an overall retirement desirability score to Varna Bulgaria.

Walkability: High. We walked everywhere in central Varna. Most of our daily needs were just a 5 to 15-minute walk which would also keep us healthy. We rode public transportation to and from a large mall and a remote beach. We also took a taxi to and from our Airbnb apartment when we arrived in town and departed. So we would not need a car if we lived in Varna. That would save a bundle.

Internet: High. The wifi in our Airbnb was 100 MBPS up and 69 MBPS down. Good enough for us to do Zoom calls, upload YouTube videos, and watch Netflix.

Food: High. There was a grocery store just three walkable blocks from our house. It had decent prices and a large selection so we found everything we needed. There is also a decent assortment of restaurants both local and foreign for a city of this size.

Weather: Medium. Monthly highs in Varna average from 43 F (6 C) in January up to 83 F (28 C) in August. Monthly lows average from 29 F (-2 C) in January to 63 F (17 C) in August. The comfortable beach weather runs from June through September. It rains on average from 3 to 5 days per month. Snow in the cooler months is unlikely in Varna but if it does snow it melts quickly.

Things to Do: High. Varna Bulgaria is a lovely city to just walk without a plan and see where you end up. The center of Varna has a long winding walking street where cars are not allowed, which is the first sign of a well-planned city. There is also a beautiful tree-lined park between the beach and the city where people walk, run, bicycle, and enjoy picnics in the grass. Between this park and the sandy beach is a long promenade of bars and restaurants where people spend days and nights in the warm weather enjoying the black sea. Varna also has almost everything you would expect in a beach town so if you are a sea lover, you will have endless activities to enjoy. The beach bars are also where the nightlife is in the summer months. There are museums, live music, people-watching, cultural tours, coffee shops, shopping malls, and art galleries. Both beach lovers and cultural explorers are likely to enjoy their time here.

Social Considerations: According to Wikipedia, English is the most common foreign language spoken in Bulgaria (25% of Bulgarians claim workable knowledge of English). However, in remote areas outside tourist areas, you will have to rely on Google Translate and universal hand gestures and pantomime. So you may want to enroll in Bulgarian language classes which is also a great way to integrate into the local people. We had very little trouble here speaking only English.

Safety Considerations: According to the US Embassy in Bulgaria, “Bulgaria continues to participate actively in military missions and to have a close security partnership with the U.S., NATO, and the European Union.” Additionally, the US State Department webpage for Bulgaria published the lowest level 1 risk for Bulgaria– “Exercise normal precaution.” Numbeo surveys report that crime is lower and safety is higher in Bulgaria than in the United States. We have been out as late as midnight here and haven’t seen or heard a hint of violence.

Expat Community: Here are a few Facebook pages that cater to English-speaking expats living in Varna Bulgaria: 1, 2, 3. These online expat communities are great for learning all about things that expats want to learn when they first move overseas. But do scroll down and read the previous questions asked and answered before posting any questions to the group. These groups are more likely to answer questions that they have not already recently answered.

Medical: This healthcare international comparison index ranks Bulgaria 65th in the world, four spots better than the United States at 69th. There are different ways healthcare is rated, but this one seems to be considering quality of care in relation to what patients are charged.

Ranking.

You may decide to seek treatment in Varna, the capital of Bulgaria, or in one of the other countries in the world. I had a great experience with Thailand 31st and Malaysia 42nd. It is also true that there are very good doctors in Bulgaria. So, make sure to ask for referrals and establish relationships with doctors based on the feedback you have gotten from others who have used their services. The above Expats Facebook pages may be a good source for that information.

Tourist Visa: Bulgaria is a member of the Schengen Visa countries. Citizens of many countries such as the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Malaysia, USA, and many many others, are given 90 days of visa-free entry upon arrival. Plus, we can stay in any Schengen member country for no more than 90 days of any 180-day period. The Schengen countries will soon be implementing an online portal where visitors intending to visit must register online and pay a small fee. When we entered Bulgaria on a flight from Armenia, they didn’t ask Qiang or myself any questions. They just stamped our passport upon entering Bulgaria because it was the first entry into a Schengen member country for this 180-day period.

Bulgaria Residence Permits: A residence permit allows foreign citizens to legally stay in Bulgaria beyond the Schengen period. You start by getting a D Visa. D Visas are issued for retirement, employment, business, education, skilled professionals, marriage, entrepreneurs, family relationships, and foreign investors. Each requires a specific set of documents. The retirement visa requires an application, photos, a passport, and evidence of sufficient financial support to support yourself such as pension income, medical insurance, proof of accommodations, and a criminal background check. There is no set monthly pension amount that you must show presently. Once in possession of the D Visa, you can begin the process for longer-term visas that can lead to citizenship if desired. The key to this process will be finding the right immigration lawyer. I suggest using the above Facebook Expat pages to find a reference to a good immigration lawyer from someone who has been through the process and can confirm the efficiency and fairness of their specific lawyer. One lawyer that I have heard ex-pats talk about positively is Dimitar: Email: dimitar@lpc-bg.com, Phone Bulgaria: +359888403752 (WhatsApp & Viber)

Real Estate: Presently, foreigners can take title to real estate in Bulgaria with ownership rights with some restrictions on the kind of property and a minimum purchase cost which changes from time to time. However, I do not recommend buying real estate in a foreign country until you have lived there for an extended period of time making sure you love it. If you decide to buy, you should also get your own lawyer who has no conflict of interest with you. For example, do not use a lawyer recommended by your real estate broker or local lover.

Varna Bulgaria Retirement Desirability Score: Medium. Varna Bulgaria is a very livable beach town in W. Europe. The people are friendly and there seems to be enough to do there to keep me interested year-round. But, for a beach town, I would like the weather to be warmer for at least 6 to 8 months of the year and it is only warm here 4 months of the year. Yet, I would be tempted because 8 months of the year are quite lovely. So I would only take Varna as a base if I had enough money to fly south during the coldest 4 months of the winter.

Estimated Cost Retire Early in Varna Bulgaria

 

Rents: I found this furnished 3-bedroom apartment with air conditioning for rent for 325 Euros ($352 USD) per month right in central Varna. If you rent for a shorter period on Airbnb it would be much more expensive.

If you rent a larger flat with more space it could easily cost twice as much per month. So for the middle range expenses, I would estimate $600 USD per month on up depending upon area and size.

Here is the process we use to find great apartments. So, we will show you a table of all expenses in a moment. We will use $352 USD per month for our lower rent estimate and $600 per month for the middle cost of living estimate for expats who want more space.

Utilities: We estimate that the year-round average for our utilities would be about $120 USD per month. The utilities would cost more for the larger space, starting at around $160 USD per month.

Groceries: When possible, we would purchase fruits and vegetables from small shops and street vendors to save money (once you know what locals pay). But we would also shop in grocery stores for nonperishable foods and other things like shampoo and detergents. We estimate about $330 per month for groceries. Other expats are likely to shop more often in expensive grocery stores often spending more than $430 per month on groceries.

Restaurants: We would eat out twice per week mostly in more local-style restaurants averaging about $5 to $9 USD per meal per person and one or two splurges per month of $10 to $13 USD per meal per person. If you add all that up, we would spend around $210 per month for the two of us. We may have a beer here and there, but that is covered below in alcohol.

Other expats are likely to eat more Western-style foods in expensive expat-style restaurants and less in local-style restaurants, so they would likely spend more like $350 per month for 2 people in restaurants. It is lifestyle-dependent.

Cell Phone Data: The cost to get a prepaid SIM card for your unlocked smartphone is about $6 USD per month with about 8 GB per month of data. My Android phone will act as a hotspot so we can both be on the internet at the same time when we are out of the house together.

Other expat couples are likely to buy two prepaid SIM cards so they would send $12 per month.

Laundry: The apartments all seemed to have clothes washing machines. The above grocery estimate includes laundry detergent.

Drinking Water: We read online that the water is clean here and many people drink water from the tap but we would be more careful. We didn’t see reverse osmosis delivery in 20-liter jugs here so we would probably get a Brita water filter. The filter refills would be about $5 USD per month.

Internet: 80 MBPS up and down is about $18 USD for in-home wifi.

Public Transportation: Each public transportation ride is about $0.55 USD. We would average two round trips per week for the two of us, which is 8 per week or 32 per month, or about $18 per month in public transportation. The buses have a machine you can use to buy a ticket with cash when you board. We would probably take another 4 Triump Taxi App rides per month averaging about $4 USD each, or $16 USD. So total transportation would be about $35 per month for the two of us. Other expats might spend more on taxis and less on public transportation, so I estimate $100 per month for them.

Alcohol (Optional): Domestic beer in grocery stores in Varna is about ($1.00 USD) for 500 ml. In bars and restaurants half-liter draft domestic draft beer ranges from about $3 to $4.00 USD. We estimate about $120 per month on alcohol for the two of us.

Many other expats would spend a higher amount for imported foreign or craft beers in expat bars, so about $220 USD per month for 2 people assuming they are not into imported whiskey or wine.

Entertainment (Optional): We would budget about $200 per month for entertainment for the two of us. We enjoy doing more do-it-yourself kinds of entertainment so expats would spend a little more, maybe $300 per month, for 2 of them?

Estimated Costs to Retire in Varna Bulgaria

Varna

Lower

(USD)

Middle

(USD)

Rent

352

600

Utilities

120

160

Groceries

330

430

Restaurants

210

350

Cell Data

6

12

Laundry

0

0

Drinking Water

5

5

Internet

18

18

Transportation

35

100

Total

$1076

$1675

 

 

 

Alcohol

120

220

Optional Total

$1196

$1875

 

 

 

Entertainment

200

300

Optional Total

$1396

$2175

The above lower estimated cost of living would be if the two of us lived in Varna Bulgaria on a tight budget. The middle estimate is just an example of what other expats might spend if they moved here.

To understand what it would cost you to live here, you must put your feet on the ground, see what you would choose to rent, eat, and entertain yourself, and add it all up. It doesn’t matter what anyone else spends because we are all different.

Where we stayed in Varna

We stayed at this Airbnb for $30 USD per night (with a weekly discount before adding Airbnb fees). It was a great location. Everything we needed was within walking distance and I have listed all of that below under restaurants, shopping, and services. It had a back patio and was much larger than your standard studio apartment.

How we got to Varna Bulgaria from Sofia Bulgaria

From Sofia Bulgaria, we bought our bus tickets to go to Varna Bulgaria online at BIOMET Bus which was 35 BGN ($20 USD) per person. The ride was 6.5 hours. Here is where the bus leaves in Sofia. We waved a taxi down once at the central bus station in Varna. The taxi for both of us with luggage was 7 BGN ($3.87 USD) from the bus station to our Airbnb. When we left Varna we went to Bucharest Romania on Pegasus Bus which took 6 hours, departing the same Varna Central Bus Station above.

Restaurants, Bars, Services

Restaurants (prices in Bulgarian Lev (BGN) (divide BGN by 1.82 to get USD))

Тиганъ 1: (Local restaurant) Lentil soup 3.99, salad 4.50, rice with mushroom 4.30, sausage 5.35

JUICY Burgers: (Expensive expat restaurant) Beef burger 12, vegetarian burger 17, water 2

Stariya Chinar Cherno: (Expensive expat restaurant) Mushroom risotto 15.5, Veal cheeks 17.90, Pinot 750 ml bottle 37

Cherry by Mary: Classic cake 8.90, Pink latte 4.90, cappuccino 5.20

Subway Grand Mall: (Best Subway anywhere in the world): Veggie 6.5

Largo street Food: (Local Fast Food)(After Party): Vegetarian sandwich with fries 8.90, Largo beef burger with fries 12.90 , beer 4 + 4.50

Bars, Lounges (prices in Bulgarian Lev (BGN) (divide BGN by 1.82 to get USD))

Sundogs: 500 ml beer, 6 bgn

Shtaigata: Best craft beer , 500ml, 6bgn

Retro Bar Bonjour: Nice vibes but allows smoking inside the bar

La Cucaracha Beach Bar: 500ml beer , 5 bgn

Services:

Varna Tourism website:

Kaufland Varna – Odesos: Super market 3 blocks from out Airbnb.

Grand Mall: Large Mall with many brands and a food court. We both bought new running shoes here.

Lidl: Our favorite grocery store we never went to because the one walkable from our house was sufficient.

Fruit and Vegetable Market

A1: We still had the same sim card in our phone we had bought in Sofia. 10 BGN for 8 GB, 500 minutes, and 30 days.

Free Hot Sulfur Bath on the Seaside

What would it cost you to live in Varna Bulgaria?

To get a better understanding of things you should add to our estimated cost of living watch this video: 9 Reasons You Can’t Retire on $1000 Month Overseas.

Most people will likely be unable to retire for the lower range estimate above. I give example reasons why in this report. Plus, this other report explains how to avoid coming home early with your tail between your legs.

Also, if you are going to try to retire cheap offshore, make sure to read my report, the Two Biggest Risks of Retiring Early for Cheap Offshore, which explains why you should have emergency funds available for unexpectedly large expenses.

You should also add anything to the above table that you spend money on in your home country that is not listed in the above table. Presumably, you find those things necessary in life. To do that, visit the Numbeo Varna and add anything not mentioned in the above table.

Never move anywhere until you have visited first personally to verify the living costs for your lifestyle and needs. I am not guaranteeing these prices. These are just my notes and estimates from the time of my visit and this post. Your costs will likely be drastically different depending on your lifestyle and the time since this post.

Many of the expats we meet living overseas are self-insured for medical care. That means that not everyone buys health insurance when they move overseas. That probably sounds crazy to many of you.

I didn’t carry medical insurance for most of my first 17 years living overseas. But last year I bought medical insurance. If you are wondering what it costs and what it covers, watch my medical insurance video at this link. This is not an affiliate link.

More typical expat living costs in Varna range from about $1500 to $2800 per month. But people spending that much often have higher savings, incomes, or pensions. They often report spending more on accommodations, entertainment, eating out more, traveling, and alcohol. Many also have more expensive cars, houses, or apartments.

Make sure to grab a free copy of my eBook, How I Fired My Boss and Traveled the World for 17 Years (and how I pay for it all).