Working in Bulgaria provides plenty of opportunities. Even though the country's economy has faced challenges in the past, Bulgaria's economy is firmly secured in the EU, and recent years have seen steady annual growth and a decrease in unemployment.
Bulgaria's primary industries include energy, mining, metallurgy, electronics and tourism, while finance and IT are growing sectors. Salaries in Bulgaria tend to be more modest compared to other EU countries, but a low cost of living mostly offsets this. Expats may face competition in the job market, as companies often prioritise hiring Bulgarian graduates.
Expats from the EU or the EEA can work in Bulgaria without a work permit, but non-EU expats must secure a work permit before arriving in the country. Work permits are requested by an employer, who must justify their reasons for employing a foreigner over a Bulgarian.
Job market in Bulgaria
Expats seeking employment in Bulgaria will likely find the most opportunities in the urban centres of Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna, working within multinational companies and in the IT, finance and engineering industries. Teaching English in Bulgaria is another opportunity for expats to find employment.
Those with multilingual proficiencies, specifically in key European languages such as Russian, English, French and German, are in demand in Bulgaria and are more likely to find a job. One reason for this demand is that many European companies have established outsourcing centres in Bulgaria. Knowledge of Bulgarian will also help secure employment with a local company.
Finding a job in Bulgaria
Many expats move to Bulgaria with a pre-existing employment contract. Otherwise, multinational companies will post listings of job offerings on their websites. Expats can also seek assistance from the various English-speaking recruitment agencies in Bulgaria.
Numerous online job portals also list employment opportunities for expats in Bulgaria.
- JOBS.BG, Zaplata.bg and Karieri are popular local job posting sites.
- International sites like LinkedIn and Jooble also list some jobs.
Work culture in Bulgaria
Fostering and maintaining relationships is crucial to Bulgarian work culture. Trust is essential in work environments. Relationships may form slowly, as Bulgarians tend to take their time getting to know new colleagues.
Although Bulgarians generally value directness and cooperation, they may also show deference to age and seniority. Otherwise, the work culture in Bulgaria is not overtly different from the work culture in other EU nations.
A notable cultural difference in Bulgaria is the reversed meaning of head shaking and nodding, which may be initially confusing for expats. A head shake means 'yes', and a nod indicates 'no'. Expats should remember this when conducting business and in day-to-day life in Bulgaria.
►Read Doing Business in Bulgaria to learn more about working in the country.
►Banking, Money and Taxes in Bulgaria provides insight into money matters.
"Life runs at a totally different pace here. Everything is much more relaxed than it was back home, which is both a blessing and a curse for an impatient person like me. Bulgarians really seem to prioritise family life and friendships – there’s always time for coffee and a chat with friends and neighbours." Learn more about how Claire, a British expat, has adjusted to expat life in Bulgaria.
Are you an expat living in Bulgaria?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Bulgaria. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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