Relocation

Location Guide: Sofia

Welcome to Sofia, Bulgaria

Welcome to a city that has something to offer all year round.

Sofia’s cultural offering include film theatre, opera, classical concerts, folklore concerts, sports… the list goes on, there really is something to cater to everyone’s tastes. As the capital of Bulgaria, as well as the largest city, Sofia holds the major universities, Bulgaria’s cultural institutions, and is the business epicentre of the country, making its population of 2 million people a diverse and lively bunch.

Working in Sofia

Sofia is the economic hub of Bulgaria, accounting for more than 30% of the GPD and the current GDP per capita stands at 72% of the European Union average and is expected to increase to 80% by the year 2015. Sofia receives more than half the foreign capital coming into the country over a year and many international companies are represented within the city, including IBM, Siemens, Software AG, SAP, and Hewlett Packard. Sofia is primarily a service orientated city, but in recent years has managed to attract some of the world’s leading competitors in finance, IT and telecommunications.

Companies in Bulgaria are fairly formal in their work clothes. Men usually wear a suit and tie and women also wear suits or dresses, with heels and make up. In creative industries and media fields the dress code tends to be much more casual, but not too relaxed! Maybe international companies have also implemented the ‘dress down Friday’. Bulgarians are not known for their punctuality and you may find people strolling in late for meetings, often without even apologising. Obviously this depends on your relationship with the late comer, so don’t assume that you can be late on your first day! If you’ve arranged to meet someone in a café or restaurant however, it may be worth waiting 15-30 minutes before deciding you’ve been stood up.

Living in Sofia

Sofia is a major hub for international railway and automobile transport. Three of the ten Pan-European Transport Corridors cross the city: IV, VIII and X. The Central Railway Line is the primary hub for domestic and international rail transport, and Sofia has an enormous 186 kilometres of railway lines.

Sofia Airport is extremely close to the city, just 11km away. Personal cars are becoming more and more popular in the city too, but there are very strict laws regarding seat belts and alcohol, so be aware. Seat belts must always be worn there is virtually zero tolerance on drink driving, and you could be fined for a blood alcohol limit of just 0.05%. Sofia is well supported by taxi services, so if you’re having even the smallest tipple, it’s wise to grab a cab. Average taxi fares are lower than most European countries so it’s a cost effective choice too.

Sofia has very low costs of living, with the average price of a 3 bedroom apartment in the city costing around 450 Euro a month, or around half that for shared accommodation between professionals. This is considerably cheaper than some of the larger cities across Europe. Taxes in Sofia are a flat 10% of gross monthly income and the cost of living is very reasonable. Sofia is recognised as having the highest standard of living and the best education in all of Bulgaria, making it a great place to live for high culture, low costs, and fantastic quality of life.

The main mobile phone operators in Sofia are MTel, Vivacom, and Globul. Phones are available on contract and on pay as you go tariff, same as anywhere. If you plan to phone home a lot make sure you get an international tariff so your phone calls don’t cost a fortune!

Here are a few useful phrases to help you out initially. Trying to speak the local language can feel embarrassing sometimes, especially if you stumble over pronunciation, but the locals always appreciate the effort and it’ll help you make fast friends. 

  • Dobro utro –  Good morning
  • Dobro Den –  Hello
  • Dobre – Okay
  • Mersi / blagodarya –  Thanks
  • Ciao –  Goodbye

Restaurants

Sofia is well represented in cuisine, with restaurants all over the city catering to most tastes.  Bulgarian cuisine is exceptionally diverse and delicious, consisting of various salads, breadstuffs, stews, and other local dishes. Many of the dishes are prepared according to traditional recipes handed down from generation to generation over the centuries. Bulgaria is internationally known for its yogurt and feta cheese. These are almost always present on Bulgarian tables in one form or another. Sofia’s low cost of living means that eating out is reasonably priced, with meals rarely costing more than 10 euro.

Catch’ A Mak serves traditional Bulgarian cuisine and is extremely popular.

The Taj Mahal restaurant offers fantastic Indian Cuisine, with excellent service and a friendly atmosphere.

Sunmoon offers an eclectic vegetarian menu and is an all vegan bakery, with a range of delicious breads, buns and cakes on offer.

Sage Bistro is a little bit out of the city, but worth the trip, especially with the low cost taxi services in Sofia. Another classy location with a fantastic European menu.

Bars

There are fewer licensing laws in Sofia, so bars can serve alcohol whenever they want to, with bars and cafes staying open past midnight, and clubs being open until 5 or 6am, there’s always somewhere to party. The city has 16 universities, so there’s no shortage of young people.

Clubs

Average Cost of Living in Sofia

Restaurants

Average

Meal at an inexpensive restaurant

8.00 лв (€4.09)

Meal for 2 with 3 courses, mid range restaurant

40.00 лв (€25.00)

Combo meal at McDonalds, etc.

7.00 лв (€3.58)

Drinks

Average

Domestic Beer (0.5 litre draught)

2.00 лв (€1.02)

Imported Beer (0.33 litre bottle)

3.00лв (€1.52)

Wine (10 cl glass, depending on brand)

12 лв (€6.13)

Cappucino

2.10 лв (€1.07)

Coke/Pepsi (0.33 litre bottle)

1.65 лв (€0.84)

Water (0.33 litre bottle)

0.99 лв (€0.99)

Transport

Average

One way ticket

1.00 лв (€0.51)

Monthly Pass

50.00 лв €25.54)

Taxi start

0.79 лв (€0.40)

Taxi 1km

0.79 лв (€0.40)

Gasoline (1 litre)

2.62 лв (€1.340

Sports and Leisure

Average

Fitness club/gym, monthly fee

49.50 лв (€25.28)

Tennis court rent (1 hour)

18.97 лв (€9.69)

Adult cinema ticket

10.00 лв €5.11)

Monthly Rent and Living Costs

Average

Apartment (1 bedroom) in city centre

490.00 лв (€250.00)

Apartment (1 bedroom) outside city

344.00 лв (€175.00)

Apartment (3 bedrooms) in city centre

868.00 лв (€443.00)

Apartment (3 bedrooms) outside city

611.00 (€312.00)

Utilities (electricity, heating, water etc. for small apartment)

187.00 лв (€95.00

Useful Links

Sofia has 3 main taxi companies.
 
(0.79 Leva per kilometre) They have an office in the Airport to order taxis. They’re waiting outside for you, so they’re very quick!
 
(0.79 Leva per kilometre) The drivers are less likely to speak English with this company and occasionally the cars don’t have seat belts so be careful, but they’re useful in a pinch!
 
 

(0.89 Leva per kilometre) Green taxi are probably the best of the bunch, as they have free wifi and drive lovely Prius cars. They’re slightly more expensive but worth it for the extra comfort.

is the main website to find apartments. The British flag on the right doesn’t seem to work as a translate tool, but if you use the website in Google Chrome etc. you can use the translate tool to help you figure things out.

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