Live, Work & Travel in Bulgaria
One of the more recent EU members, Bulgaria has already had its place in the pages of A Place in the Sun. With winter skiing and summer beach resorts, along with its natural beauty elsewhere, the country has a lot to offer, beyond property flipping, to settlers willing to put up with Bulgarian bureaucracy and surliness. The same attractions, combined with medieval towns such as Veliko Tarnovo, are bringing in increasing numbers of independent and package tourists. Bulgaria still exports rather than imports workers but some English teaching and volunteer work can be found, along with perhaps the best chance to find a paying tourism job in Eastern Europe.
Working in Tourism
Sunny Beach, with a burgeoning reputation as the Benidorm of the Black Sea, isn't to everyone's taste but most work for young unskilled foreigners will be centred around the clubs and bars of this high rise resort, where being the same nationality, age, and speaking the same language as holidaymakers can give an edge over local workers.
Work in bars and restaurants can be found on the spot around the beginning of the season, in mid May. Hours can be long, sometimes 14 hours a day, six or seven days a week and wages are low: there's a reason why Bulgaria is a budget holiday destination, and why Bulgarians head to the Greek islands to work. Tips are usually shared monthly and depending on profits a bonus may be given at the end of the season.
Some bars in the resort draw their staff from the graduates of the European Bartender School. Four week courses run locally each May in time for the new season.
One position familiar to anyone who has been to Sunny Beach is PRing. PRs for bars and clubs stand outside trying to entice people in but it is a position that can divide opinion. Bothering people is another way we have seen the job described by those on the other end of the spiel.
Erin Morgan wrote about her experience of having bought a one way ticket to Bulgaria at aged 18 and, after pounding the streets, joined 80 other PR’s and DJ’s working for bar crawl company Bar Troopers.
When working for bar crawl companies PRing is a little different. The day is split between selling tickets in the afternoon and leading the crawls in the evening, ending around midnight. Despite the low pay - described by Erin as 'appalling' - and hard work most PRs love the job, with perks including free drinks, accommodation and commission.
Bar Troopers' Facebook page went quiet last year but Party Crew is a similar company that hires staff with experience, personality and confidence for a minimum of two months.
It's rare that we see Sunny Beach club vacancies posted to our boards or other recruitment websites so we suggest keeping an eye on clubs' Facebook pages. At the time of writing we spotted this flyer for a summer job with Den Glade Viking. We've seen Disco Orange post their requirements via social media too. They and other clubs can be found through http://sunnybeachlife.com/explore/night-clubs/. YouTube might also carry the odd recruitment ad. JetSki.BG has used the medium to advertise for jet ski instructors.
For working as a rep try Club 18-30. Another tour operator active in Bulgaria is Balkan Holidays. They arrange holidays in several resorts in Bulgaria and state they are always interested in talking to talented individuals who want to enhance the holiday experience of their clients. Send your CV in English along with a detailed covering letter and they will keep your details on record in case any new opportunities arise.
Ski Resort Jobs in Bulgaria
Bulgaria hadn't quite yet joined the EU when we were last in a Bulgarian ski resort and the possibility of finding work then would have been remote at best. More and more western owned or orientated bars and hotels have since sprung up, some of which will employ foreigners prepared to work for local wages. Bansko Blog gave some advice a few years ago about working in the resort, much of which will also apply elsewhere. BulgariaSki has a jobs page but we found no positions there when we looked. Perhaps you will have better luck.
Teaching & TEFL in Bulgaria
Looking for English teaching jobs in Bulgaria is not an unreasonable prospect. Real English School, in Veliko Tarnovo, and Varna's English Academy are two that have used our site to find teachers in the past. More schools across the country can be found via ESL Base.
For a different experience the Arkutino Summer School takes on a small number of animators to look after groups of ten children in July. The summer school is 100 meters from the beach in Varna and remuneration includes free room and board, a flight allowance and a small salary of around 300 euro for the month.
Other Ways to Work in Bulgaria
In pre-EU membership Bulgaria we came this close to buying an apartment from an estate agency fronted by a charming Portuguese salesman. Despite the slightly disconcerting habit of winking whenever he shook our hands - a habit we noticed being passed on to colleagues - he held an advantage over local staff in understanding western European standards of customer service. Though having experienced a customer service assistant at a train station needing to be restrained by a co-worker from stabbing me with a pair of scissors our neighbour's cat would enjoy an advantage over local staff in understanding western European standards of customer service.
Ultimately we decided not to live in Bulgaria and haven't been back since but EU membership - for the moment at least - has cleared away the red tape for Brits or other nationalities looking to earn a living selling homes to their countrymen. Beach resorts, such as Sunny Beach, Veliko Tarnovo, Varna and the ski areas are Bulgaria's property buying hotspots.
Native speakers without a flair in sales may be able to find work behind the scenes, answering emails or in admin. A fair few expats set up estate agents and property management companies after having made their own move to Bulgaria and they may appreciate not having to train a local if a suitable foreigner is available.
Low Cost Options for Volunteering
From local NGOs to work exchanges we track down and list a number of opportunities for free or cheap volunteer work in Bulgaria on another website in our small group.
Other Ways to Travel or Stay for Free
Stay for free in return for caring for local residents' homes or pets. Join Trusted Housesitters to live rent free as a house sitter (Americans may prefer this link).You can get a free $25 Airbnb credit from us here.
More Resources from our Sites
Directory > Russia & Eastern Europe Links - A selection of links for finding work, searching for a home and travelling in Bulgaria.
Jobs in Eastern Europe - Current vacancies from the Jobs Abroad Bulletin.
More Working in Bulgaria Resources
Expat-jobs in Bulgaria - An overview of the labour market for expats in Bulgaria.
Got information about living, travelling or working in Bulgaria? Write us an article or pass on a tip to other travellers here