Living in Popovo
Firstly let me take the chance, to say thank you for choosing to look at our website and for making the decision to look at what Bulgarian Property Experts can offer you.
I was in exactly the same position as many of you are now, looking at all the sites, trying to find an agent who could not only find us the best house, but also who could help us to move to Bulgaria and to make the process as easy as it could be for me and my daughter.
I not only questioned what each agent could offer us, but most importantly I questioned which area would be the best place to start a new life. I wanted somewhere that would accept English expats into their villages, somewhere that would give us great houses, at low costs and more importantly that offered us a better life for me and my Daughter to grow and learn.
In all our searching, I came across Popovo, and had very little help in understanding anything about the area, the people, what the area had and didn't have. We were screaming "what is so special about Popovo?", as many of our clients ask us now and why have so many ex-pats choose to relocate to this area, in Bulgaria?
We jumped in at the deep end, and decided to give it a try, if it didn't work out then we would have learnt some valuable lessons, and we couldn't bear to stay in the UK any longer. So we moved here, and I can honestly say that we have never looked back.
This is now home to me and my Daughter and along with many new and close friends that have joined us from across the world, to enjoy the paradise and the great life we live now in Popovo, we have truly fallen in love with the area.
(The yearly fair in the town centre- 2012)
Along with the help from my new Bulgarian partner, Emil, who swept me off my feet, we have put together this collection of things that we love about the area, and things that you definitely should enjoy and take part in.
Life is too short and should be lived, loved and cherished.
New things will be added to the page as and when we fall in love with them, find them or become introduced to them and any input from other expats in the Town would be greatly appreciated and encouraged.
1. The People
We had traveled a lot before we decided to settle in Bulgarian and we can say that we have not come across nicer people or a better place to raise my daughter until we found Bulgaria.
The villagers make you feel like you have finally found your place on the Earth, and we now call Bulgaria our home. Along with Emil, my partner, who has introduced us to culture, tradition, respect and appreciation for life.
Our neighbours are like family to us, and we regularly have them round visiting, and checking we are all ok.
We honestly know that if we need something, we only have to ask one of the neighbours.
Whether it be material needs or for help of any kind, if they can help they will.
The Bulgarians are an amazing race of people, and we have made life long friends in our time here already. On our short return trips to visit family in the UK, our neighbors have been so sad to see us go in case we do not return. This is really not an issue though.
They are proud of what they have (even if it be little) because they know they have worked hard to get it.
Family is so important here, not what PlayStation the kids have or what make of trainers or designer clothes you are wearing. Spending time together, visiting grandparents and the kids being happy playing and laughing is what is treasured here. Emil's family have scooped my daughter and me up with open arms and they can not wait to see her again on their next visits.
I love being away from the rat race and instead making time to take my daughter to the park or enjoy an ice-cream with her friends in the summer. Emil loves to go and play cards in the village centre in the evenings and we sit with a mixture of people and laugh and joke.
Bulgarian children have so much respect, they appreciate what they are given and enjoy playing in the garden or helping around the house. A major factor in this is that they do not have televisions or computers like the western society pushes into every home.
I really believe that if my daughter, turns out like a Bulgarian, we have done well.
It is the perfect atmosphere to raise a well behaved, respectful child.
The Bulgarian elders have many traditions and beliefs that have passed down through the generations including recipes, superstitions, ways of living, respect and ideas on life and believes.They are eager and more than happy to see that we are interested in learning from them and love sharing their traditions.
2. The wildlife, flora and fauna
Bulgarian wildlife is full of so many beautiful species. And it is truly amazing to see the wildlife, that the United Kingdom and other European countries, have pushed to near extinction with all the new buildings and the shrinking of forests and natural habitats.
I am always amazed when we drive along the road, and in such a short time span we have pointed out 5-6 birds of prey to our daughter. Sitting on the tree tops, along the side of the roads, and they do not scare as you drive by. We have seen Eagles, Falcons, Owls and Kestrels to name a few.
One year, we adopted an owl chick and nursed it back to health and set it free again.
In the spring time, there are large numbers of storks filling the farmers fields and making nests at the top of the Electricity poles. The beautiful thing is that the smaller birds share the storks nest and use the edges and the bottom to make their own nests. So in one storks nest, a variety of birds can be seen.
The common birds in Bulgaria, are the pigeon, the doves, blue jays, sparrows, finches, song thrush, and the red woodpecker. Not mentioning the birds of prey.
Popovo has a number of forests spread out around the villages, and therefore it is not uncommon to see deers, boars, rabbits, and hares, and the red squirrel around the edges of the villages. We recently saw a family of three deers running across the road in between the villages. It was really beautiful.
Other animals are foxes, pole cats, hedgehogs, and of course you can encounter snakes and wolves, deep in the forests.
There are two types of dangerous snakes in Bulgaria. The worst of the two being the horn nosed viper, which can be deadly to household pets. But to people a anti venom should be quickly administered. Which can be purchased from a chemists, and kept at home, just in case it is needed.
This snake shuns contact with people and other animals, but it is not advised to go barefoot, or turn over rocks or put your hands into dark crevices in wild.
3. The village life, and the countryside
The life in the village is very laid back and very relaxed.
The locals all share responsibility of the children, and care and look after each other. I can safely let my daughter walk around the village, visit friends, go to neighbours and allow her to live the life that is missing in the UK for children.
There is no fear of abduction, of bullying and other dangerous and scarey things. They have freedom, fun and most importantly the innocence of a child.
Children are cherished and the elders see that they are the future of the country and share their knowledge and play a big rule in the up bringing of their grandchildren.
For the older generation, village life gives you a life that can not be offered in the towns. It gives you peace, tranquility, and a support network that is there whenever you need it. It offers a better chance to learn the language, and to be introduced to the traditions that are still kept alive in the villages. The towns are becoming more European, but the villages are still alive with magic, and full of history and stories, just waiting to be shared.
4. The history, the Ancient Tombs and reserves.
And not to forget the churches.
There is so much history and ancient tombs, churches and beauty hiding behind every corner. Most of which is protected and looked after, as to continue the traditions and keep their culture and country going.
There is alot to still be discovered, and tombs and graves are being found each year in the area. Old castles and fortresses are being reopened and museums and centres funded by EU money, are becoming tourist attractions.
5. The lakes, and the rivers.
The area around Popovo, has a number of natural and man made lakes In the summer months, you can see the borders of the lakes, packed with fishermen.
Unlike in the UK, the fishermen in Bulgaria, take home the fish, mainly Carp. The lake owners, charge a rate per kilo. So if the fishermen want to either take home the fish, or prepare a small fire, at the side of the lake, to cook and eat the fish fresh at the source. The owner weighs the fish, and prices usually range from 3 leva a kg.
The fish goes down very nicely with the Bulgarian Rakia, and the locals, love the weekends, when they can enjoy the lakes.
Those of you who are not interested in the fishing side, of the lakes. They can be a great place to see the bird life of Bulgaria, and a wonderful opportunity to walk the dog, or burn off a few of those calories, from all the Bulgarian Food and drink that the locals enjoy here.
6. The festivals, the name days, The holidays and the amount of days dedicated to family time.
For the Bulgarians, a name day is like a second birthday, and a chance to celebrate life.
According to the tradition, guests are supposed to come uninvited and the person who has the celebrated name is supposed to be prepared to treat everyone. Today people prefer to invite their guests at home or at a bar or a restaurant. The celebrations are similar to those of birthdays, but usually the food, the music and the feel is somewhat more traditional, and sometimes even religious.
Once you live here the neighbours would be touched to see that you actually were aware when it was their name day.And greet them with "Chestit Imen den" which means "Happy name day."
7. The restaurants and cocktail bars.
There is a range and a variety of different bars and restaurants in Popovo.Most of which have English menus, and cater for vegetarians, vegans, and will modify the dishes to your specific taste, if you ask.
A lot of the restaurants have somebody who can speak English.
8. The sunflower fields.
Bulgaria is one of the worlds biggest producers of Sunflowers and therefore it's products.
2013/2014 have predicted 1.7 tons of Sunflower seeds to be grown on Bulgarian soil and sold to the world.
Other than the business and the money that this brings in to the country, the fields when in bloom look amazing. It gives colour to the countryside, and helps with bees and their honey and keeps the economy running and the countryside blooming. Life in the countryside is truly beautiful.
9. The Bulgarian food and drink
There are many traditional dishes in Bulgaria, and a lot of them are made with products that are grown and produced from the individuals garden. And come straight from the garden into the pot. they are tasty, healthy and with no chemicals and preservatives offer a healthy and natural way of eating and living.
We are trying this year to add some traditional recipes to the site, and give you the chance to make Bulgarian food in your own home, and try to share the knowledge and the recipes, to keep the culture alive.
10. The investments going into the area. With new buildings, and European grants given to improve the town centre
Holidays in Bulgaria
January 01 New Year's Day
february 14th- Wine festival day
March 03 National Day (Day of Liberation)
March 08 International womans day
April 15 Orthodox Easter
May 01 Labour Day
May 06 St George's Day (Day of Bulgarian Army)
May 24 St Cyril and Methodism Day (Day of Culture and Literacy)
September 06 The Unification of Bulgaria
September 22 Independence Day
November 01 Day of the Bulgarian Revival Leaders
December 24 Christmas eve
December 25th Christmas day
December 31 New Year's Eve
Below, I have added information on how to get by in Popovo.
If there is something in particular, that you can not find and are wondering about, then please ask. I will then add the required information to the list.
For the most part, doctors in Bulgaria tend to specialise in certain things.
For example if you want a doctor for your children, it will tend to be a different doctor than the one for you and your partner. I think this is great. As the children doctors, actually have patience and generally like children and the children's doctor that we use, has a nice bond with our daughter. And always gives her a tickle and makes her feel like she is his best patient when he sees us.
He is great with children, and our daughter finds it easier with him. He has a way to relax her, and take her mind of the fact she is at the doctors.
I suggest when you come to live in Bulgaria, to find a doctor for all your family. Maybe separate doctors like I say. But get yourselves registered. Then if anything happens, you know where to go and they know you.
There is a general practitioner in the hospital in Popovo. Her name is Nelly and she speaks excellent English. She can be contacted on 0893453308, and you can arrange to see her.
If it is something specific and you need to see a specialist she will refer you and help you to know where to go, and what to do. I have found good gynocologists, nerve specialists, acupuncture, homeopathy doctors and more in the centre of Popovo, and in the hospital.
The Bulgarians pay health insurance each month. For adults it works out at just under 19 lev/ 10 Euros a month, and this covers you. This is the governments health insurance. or you can take out private medical insurance. (contact us for a quote on this)
You still have to pay for your medications.
For children it is free for the doctors, but if you are not registered anywhere, you could be charged anything from 5- 50 lev a visit.
There are a range of banks around Popovo, but we have found that the best one tends to be the United Bulgarian Bank.
Most of the Bulgarians use this bank, and at times it can be busy and you may wait a while in the queue. But they give the best exchange rates, the best bank rates, and the nicest bank tellers.
Also, when you bring English currency here and want to exchange it to Bulgarian Lev, alot of Banks will turn away torn notes, stamped or written on notes. And you can end up with half of the notes being turned away.
The United Bulgarian Bank is not like that, If the note goes through the machines, and passes the uv light test, it is usually accepted.
The bank can be found in the centre of town. Just off the main strip up the hill.
There is also the post bank, that offers good rates on savings accounts. You get 3.7% interest each month on the money that is in the account. You can take the money out at any point, and just have to go into the bank to do so. No debit or credit card is offered on this account though.
Airline and airport
The closest airport to Popovo, is 1.5 hours away, in Varna. But you can also get here with Bourgas 3.5 hours or sofia 4 hours away.
Plovdiv has now opened their airport, with flights with Ryan air. But this is also about 3 hours away.
Bucherest, Romania, also is an option, at 3 hours away.
Wizz air is one of the cheapest companies, but you also have Ryan air, British airways and a few others.
Trains and buses and taxis
The trains in Bulgaria, are the cheapest way to travel. They have regular trains all over Bulgaria, everyday.
Some of the trains are like the English with packed seats. Where as others are separate rooms, with six seats in each. You can go first class or normal. You will pay more to go first class, but have a better chance of getting a room to yourself. Or you can book a bedroom, and be alone.
The rooms, have windows that you can open to get fresh air, and you can stretch your legs and walk around.
The trains have toilets, but do not forget your toilet tissue, and hand sanitizer, as there is no soap or tissue in the toilets. Even in first class.
The buses are also around the same price to travel. But there is no first class, and I have been on a few, that do not have toilets, and you have to wait till you stop for a break to use the toilets. Not so easy with children.
They are comfortable, but not private and in summer, they can be so hot, with no windows to open.
Taxis, prices are all around the same in Popovo. (Meaning the fee is 0.80lev a km in the day and 0.90 lev at night.)
But most will not run the meter, and charge you a set price for traveling to your village. I travel about 10km to my house from Popovo, and have been charged from 7 lev to 14 Lev ( only once charged 14, and never used him again)
But once, we found the cheapest, we stick with him. He knows where we live, and so is the easiest, and best of all the cheapest.
Gas, Petrol and Diesel
Most of the petrol stations, are around the same price, and there tends to be no competition.
Average price as off February 2017......
Petrol- 2.00 lev
Diesel- 2.00 lev
Gas- 1.30 lev
Car insurance and tax
The car tax, is just short of 100 lev a year for all vehicles under 3.5 ton.
For the car insurance, this depends, if your car is English, left hand or right hand, and which type of insurance you want.
For third party, you will be looking at around 150-300 Lev a year.
For fully comp, you will need to get a quote on your car, and depends on its valuation.
you can pay yearly or every three months. The paying every three months, only works out about 10 lev more.
This insures the car, and anyone with a license can drive the vehicle, unlike the uk where each driver needs separate insurance.
Once the car is transferred into Bulgarian plates, then you have to pay a council tax on the car each year. This is paid to the local municipality and depends on the size of the engine, the horse power and the age etc.
For a quote on the car insurance, contact us and we will get back to you asap
Where to stay- Hotels, Villas and Hostels
There are about 5 places to stay in Popovo.
We find the best are the following.
Hotel Evropa- prices from 35 lev a night for two people
Hotel Marini- prices 36 lev one person or 56 for a double room
Hostel- 10 leva a night for a bed, in a shared room.
campsites to open shortly, around the area.
Or contact us to see houses that are available on short term and long term rent.
Where to eat- Restaurants, cafes, and Cake shops
The restaurants that Popovo offers are lovely, with good Bulgarian, English and European food.
The pine tree -Lovely food, the best one for us, by far. great food, nice desserts, good range and friendly staff
The Hotel/ Restaurant Marini- nice food, good English speaking waiters, and English menus
The restaurant Evita- good English understanding waitresses- English Menus- which has just been updated and they have added lots of new items to the menu.
The best service, and food in my opinion.
But can be slow.
Marini home- eat in or take away- This offers fast food, the food is ready and you can choose from what they have on offer. It is cheap and fast.
Pastry shop- (we call this Gregg's, as they serve pastries, pies like the English bakers Gregg's etc)
Bulgarian style pastries, and pizza breads.
The cake shop- This shop is my daughters favorite], she loves to go here. you can buy the cakes by slice or by a full cake for home. They have different cakes each day. And also do Birthday, party or wedding cakes to order. Beautiful and Delicious
There are others, but no English menus, or English waiters. And some do not cater for families.
vegetarians or Vegans are catered for in the above restaurants. There is a large variety of things you can order, and you are not stuck with just a salad.
Post office and PO boxes
The post office, in Popovo opens Monday to Friday 9-5 and closes for dinner from 12-1.
Here you can pay Electricity bills, telephone, and buy car tax here.
We have a PO box in Popovo, and we have not lost any post, and we just go to collect when we have post there.
We find it a safer way to insure the post gets here, and at only 30 lev/ 15 Euros a year. It is a cheap way to get the post safely delivered to you.
Internet and phone
The internet providers tend to be different in each village, because of the signals.
most of the villages, still use a dongle with a mobile phone provider, as they do not have cable or wireless internet as of yet.
The prices tend to be the same, and the service providers are Telenor, mtel and viva com. But you would need to check which one offers the best signal in your village.
For a mtel homebox package- with house phone and dongle, you will pay around 30 leva a month, and then pay for calls on top.
There is a wireless and cable provider in some villages. In my village I pay 20 lev a month, for unlimited usage of cable Internet.
Which is much faster, and better for business use than the dongle.
Some villages, the cable Internet providers, charge a 120 lev connection fee, and then 20 each month.
TV and satellite
You have three options when it comes to TV and satellite in Bulgaria.
You can have the three channels for free that the Bulgarians watch.
Or you can have the Bulgarian Satellite packages. They start at about 14 Lev a month, and you get 70 + channels, but there are not lots of channels in English.
There is a third option. You can pay 500-600 Lev, and no monthly payments, and pick up the free channels from all over the world. We have channels from Dubai, from France Germany and England.
We have children's programs, music channels, and movie channels, with no monthly payments.
You can also use the android boxes, if you have the good internet connection, and then pick up all the channels for free.
Football is very popular in Bulgaria and they love to watch games from all over the world.
When thy ask you where you are from in uk and you reply, they usually know the towns football team.
They have live matches on the bulgarian television and they enjoy to play 5 aside, and full team matches in the village, where most of the villages will have a pitch of some sort.
We arrange teams in the summer and do little competitions