The cost of living in Bulgaria is relatively affordable. The average consumer prices in Bulgaria are comparable to other Balkan countries.
The capital of Sofia is more expensive compared to smaller towns and rural areas in Bulgaria, especially when it comes to rent and services. However, the price of goods is still fairly affordable.
Although Bulgaria is a part of the EU, it is not on the Euro. The currency used throughout Bulgaria is the Bulgarian lev (BGN). The coins range from 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50. The banknotes used are 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100.
ATMs and bank cards are used and accepted all over Bulgaria. When withdrawing cash from an ATM it is smart to do so in a well-lit area and one that is attached to a bank. Be sure to check with your bank about ATM charges when abroad.
Most hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, and shops accept Visa, MasterCard, and Maestro debit card (AmEX is not usually accepted). There are no additional charges when paying with a credit card and no minimum amount of purchase required. Some places in Bulgaria only accept cash, so be sure to have some on hand or know where the nearest ATM is located.
You can open a bank account in Bulgaria whether you're a resident or a non-resident. It's advisable to check which banks have branches nearby and if they speak your language.
To open an account in Bulgaria, all you need is your passport and evidence of your address in Bulgaria. You must make an opening deposit of at least a few lev or euros.
Most banks offer the choice between a lev account and a euro account – or you can open an account of each. If you plan to transfer money using a foreign exchange dealer you will need a lev account. Euro accounts are often used for paying larger sums.
Bulgarian banks commonly charge for withdrawing money, so shop around for the lowest fees.
The biggest banks working with private customers in Bulgaria:
Currency exchange can be done either at a currency exchange office (located in main squares, airports, and major train stations) or at a bank. The rates can be significantly different from location to location. Particularly in the touristy parts of the city, currency exchange offices may offer higher fees than elsewhere. Therefore, it is advisable to compare fees before deciding on where to exchange money.
An alternative for exchanging currency is simply withdrawing money from an ATM or using a multiple currency ATM.
The banks in Bulgaria offer a wide range of services electronically - both online and via mobile - often making it unnecessary to visit a bank branch in person once the bank account has been open. As a rule, while electronic services are largely low cost or free of charge, performing the same operations in a bank branch costs significantly more.
Electronic transfer costs differ depending on the bank. And note that some banks do not offer internet services or electronic transfers.