The Bulgarian real estate market after joining the Schengen Area

Regions Prices Trends

06.03.2024 / Author: Elizaveta Barskih / 

The Bulgarian real estate market after joining the Schengen zone. Regions. Prices. Trends


real estate in Bulgaria

The same Bulgaria

Bulgaria is a long-time favorite among buyers of resort real estate from Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union. Territorial proximity, historical interlacing, mutual great sympathy of our peoples, related languages —  these are the reasons for this. Some of those who bought apartments in Nessebar or Varna in the last 15–20 years remembered the hospitality of these places since pre-perestroika times. Then only a few lucky people came to rest in Soviet, but still “abroad” Bulgaria. After the changes took place and the borders opened, the Bulgarian beaches were flooded with tourists from the Russian Federation and some former republics. The country, again, turned out to be one of the most accessible.

Many people came from year to year and eventually decided to acquire property here, mainly in the Burgas and Varna regions. The peak of transactions with Russian citizens occurred in 2012-2014.

Today, Russian-speaking buyers are still active, but not Russians. According to realtors, Ukrainians, Israelis, Kazakhstanis, Germans acquire many objects. Russian citizens have cooled off in relation to the Bulgarian market for two main reasons: the lack of direct flights, which made it difficult and expensive to get there (add to this the recent ban on entry by car), and difficulties with making payments. Firstly, Bulgarian banks do not open accounts for Russians (due to sanctions), and secondly, it is impossible to transfer funds to the seller's account (due to counter-sanctions).

Agents say that transactions can still be carried out: with a settlement through cryptocurrency, through a lawyer's account, a safe deposit box, or through an account opened in a bank of a “friendly” country of the Russian Federation.

Taking into account all the financial, time and moral costs, people stopped buying resort real estate. On the contrary, many people sell apartments that they have owned for 10 years. Although there are those who have kept the property and found the best way to come to your favorite resort, for example, by bus from Istanbul.  

apartment in St. Vlas

Realtors unanimously note that the number of purchases for moving has increased. The acute military conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East have forced people of different nationalities to seek a "safe haven". It is not surprising that Bulgaria has become such an almost windless bay.

  1. It's relatively easy here to get a residence permit. It is quite easy for pensioners, even those with low incomes, as well as for students who have enrolled at a local university. It is more difficult for sales representatives of foreign companies and startups, but it is quite realistic with the right approach. You can also buy a 10-year residence permit for 307,000 euros invested in real estate. Previously, this method was unpopular, but given that it is now a “ticket to Europe”, there will probably be those who wish (and it is important that they meet the criteria).
  2. The cost of living has increased in recent years, but is still relatively low. Israelis pay special attention to this aspect.
  3. Affordable real estate. Housing offers in Bulgaria are diverse for almost any wallet size. There are also old dachas for 15,000 euros in the interior of the country, and quite good studios by the sea on Sunny Beach for 33,000-35,000 euros. On the opposite side of the spectrum are penthouses in Sofia and view villas by the sea for 500,000 euros and above.
  4. The climate is what residents of more northern latitudes love Bulgaria for! Already in February, flowers bloom in the capital and resorts, without even waiting for the Baba Marta holiday, which is celebrated on the first day of spring and symbolizes the onset of the warm season. I must say that the weather is sharper further from the sea and north. Here, unlike the coast, winters are cold and snowy.
  5. There are plenty of opportunities for a varied holiday. In summer, the tourist has at his disposal the sea, rivers, lakes, balneologies resorts (for example, on Golden Sands and in Pomorie). In winter, the mountains. The country has 400 km of coastline and 37 mountain ranges, most of which are concentrated in the central and western parts.

Of the cons: ecology is not the best in some regions, for example, in the capital; too much with tourists in some places during the peak season.

The focus of foreigners on real estate for living rather than leisure has led to several trends:

  1. Requests for apartments in large cities have increased. First, Burgas, Varna and Sofia. Here you can comfortably live, study (schools, universities), work (for example, open a business yourself or get a job in companies founded by compatriots), enjoying the sea (Burgas, Varna) or the mountains (Sofia) on weekends. Investors who want to rent out housing also gravitate towards developed centers. In such locations, it is easier to find tenants for a long time (as an option for students), but it is also easy for daily rent. Some combine them: for example, they rent to tourists during the season, and in winter, say, to digital nomads who come for a few months.
  2. Many popular resorts, such as Sunny Beach, have stopped “dying out” in the low season. Now people live in these places all year round, and the infrastructure has adapted. By the way, foreigners themselves open private kindergartens, shops, cafés.
  3. Houses in villages and rural (suburban) areas have become less in demand. Such a property is good in many aspects, but still those living in it will feel disconnected, even though they have a car. Today's buyer focuses more on an apartment in an area with developed infrastructure. Some clients, initially focused on the house, eventually make a choice in favor of urban housing.

In Bulgaria, the national currency is lev, but payments for real estate (and not only) in euros, along with levs, have long been common.

Market conditions and forecasts

buy an apartment in Bulgaria

Let's take a retrospective look at the history of how the Bulgarian housing market has developed for almost a quarter of a century:

  • From 2000 to 2008, there was a boom, a 300% price increase.

From 2009 to 2013, the consequences of the global financial crisis, prices fell by 32.5% (-41.5% adjusted for inflation). From 2014 to 2022, almost zero rates on bank deposits encouraged people to invest in real estate. The market began to grow and accelerated until 2022. Price growth of 83.1% (adjusted for inflation by 34.1%). The year 2023 is a slowdown in the market. Sales decreased by 7.4% year-on-year across the country (Burgas: -12.6%, Varna: -12.5%, Sofia: -6%, Nessebar: -16.5%). Prices did not fall at the same time.

What is the forecast for 2024?

According to realtors, today the demand for housing is high, but there is no rush. Over the past year, apartments have already risen in price by about 20%. For example, housing in Varna near the sea, parks used to cost 1500–1800 euros per square meter, but now it starts from 2000 euros per square meter. Resort apartments are offered a little cheaper (from 1200 euros per square meter). This year, experts do not expect explosive, but stable growth. The country's entry into the Schengen area (by air and sea) is likely to attract more foreigners, which will support demand. That is, it is definitely not necessary to expect a drop in prices against the background of declining sales, especially for liquid apartments. The market is already experiencing a lack of good in-demand offers on the secondary market. 

Apparently, investors are also becoming more active. One of the working strategies is investing in new buildings at the initial stages with payment of only part of the amount according to the installment schedule, and then assignment at the final stage and making a profit. However, you need to be careful with this scheme! Only if you contact a trusted realtor who advises a reliable developer. Remember that the rights of the buyer of primary real estate in Bulgaria are poorly protected!

Which regions of Bulgaria are most often chosen by foreigners?

Bulgarian resort capitals: Burgas and Varna

buy an apartment on Sunny Beach

Two main regional centers on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria: Burgas in the south-east and Varna in the north, northeast. Both have international airports, and both have major seaports. In general, transport in the country is very well-developed: by rail you can get to Sofia, Plovdiv, Stara Zagora, as well as outside the country. Motorways connect Burgas with the capital, Varna with the capital, as well as Burgas with Varna and other seaside towns. Buses run not only on routes within the country, but also to neighboring countries, to Turkish Istanbul and Romania.

Burgas An industrial city surrounded by water, the sea and two lakes formed when the land was flooded due to the height difference (the third lake lies already outside the city limits). The population of about 200 thousand people is employed in manufacturing (one of the largest enterprises is the Lukoil-Neftokhim oil refinery) and the service sector, mainly related to tourism.

Infrastructure: hospitals, medical centers, 3 institutes, a music college, 9 secondary schools, 10 professional and 5 specialized gymnasiums, 3 museums, several theaters.

The place of attraction of the townspeople is a large Seaside park, laid out back in 1910, with numerous elegant flower beds, cozy cafés, open bandstands, alleys, and fountains.

Districts and prices

The most expensive and attractive areas are considered to be just walking along the Seaside Park Lazur and adjacent to Lazur and the small park Sveti Troitsa, the Miladinovi Brothers. Prices for apartments in these locations average 1600 euros per sq. m, but reach up to 3000 euros per sq.m. A little further away and a little cheaper than Sloveiki (1500 euros per sq.m.), near the hospital, Izgrev (1000–1300 euros per sq.m.).

In Burgas and Varna, proximity to the sea is not the most determining factor. People consider them for life and focus more on the availability of infrastructure and green spaces. Locals do not go to the city beaches. Sometimes on weekends they can drive to their favorite places on the coast.

Of the budget, actively built-up areas, it is worth noting the “Meden Rudnik”, consisting of 5 zones. It is located on the southern outskirts of Burgas, about 7 km from the sea and a 10-minute drive from the center. The area is popular with young families, including from Russia, Ukraine, because of affordable real estate prices, both under construction and ready-made, on average 750–950 euros per sq.m. Of the advantages: good infrastructure (schools, shops) and a park.

Near Burgas, before reaching Nessebar, on a cape strongly prominent in the sea, there is a small cozy town Pomorie. It is known as a balneologies resort. Due to its proximity to a large municipal center and the airport, it is convenient for living and recreation. There are schools, medical centers, and shops here. 

apartment in Varna

Varna is somewhat larger than Burgas. She greets guests entering over the bridge over the arms of the estuary stretching to the sea with a breathtaking panorama. The city is very beautiful from the point of view of architecture and green. The population is 311 thousand people. The economy is dominated by the service sector, there are no serious industrial enterprises. But there are research institutes (the Institute of Oceanology, the Center for Hydro and Aerodynamics, and others), thanks to which the tourist capital of the country is also considered a major academic center. 

Infrastructure: 7 universities (young people from different countries study), 13 secondary schools, 20 gymnasiums, about 10 hospitals, medical centers, several museums and theaters, large shopping malls (Varna Mall, Delta Planet Mall and Grand Mall), 11 food markets. 

As in Burgas, Varna has a wonderful Seaside Park, which is even older than Burgas, with an aquarium, dolphinarium, observatory, planetarium, numerous newfangled cafes and restaurants.

Districts and prices

Elite districts in Varna are considered to be located near the Seaside Park, by the sea or near the sea: Grytska Mahala, Chaika, Cherven Ploshchad, Vince, Breeze, Evksinograd. Average real estate prices here: 1800-3500 euros per sq. m. Apartments in the seaside areas on the southern outskirts of Galata, Asparuhovo are more affordable. They are somewhat isolated from the city center (like Zelenograd in relation to Moscow), but at the same time they are nice, with a picturesque beach and their own good infrastructure. The only drawback is traffic jams when driving to the center of Varna. In the north of the municipality, we recommend taking a closer look at the inexpensive Vinica area.

The closed resort adjacent to Varna in the north St. Constantine and Elena (the oldest in the country, since 1908) deserves a special mention, as it usually especially impresses travelers. It has the fame of an elite one thanks to the chic hotels built among the century-old trees. Hotels with a focus on spa treatments, mud treatment, healing with mineral water from thermal springs. At the same time, the beaches in this place are not so outstanding, shallow. There are also residential complexes in the village. Prices for real estate are quite high, on average 2000 euros per sq.m.

Sofia and other major cities

apartment in Sofia

Many people prefer the capital of the country to move, and this is a more than understandable choice. In Sofia is home to the business and cultural life of the state, the best universities, many schools, including international ones, theaters, museums, temples. The city lies right at the foot of Vitoshi Mountain, and you can ski in winter or go hiking in the most beautiful places in spring and autumn at least every weekend. At the same time, there are no difficult distances to overcome here at all: 400 km to Burgas, 160 km to Bansko.

Sofia is also loved for the beauty of the parks. The city is green and blooming. The summer heat is easier to bear than on the coast, which is also a plus.

Housing prices in Sofia range from 1,500 to 6,000 euros, depending on the area and the stage of construction, if we are talking about the primary market. In general, real estate in the Bulgarian capital is more expensive than in Varna and Burgas. Lozenets stands out from the status areas located close to the center and parks (from 2000-2500 to 3000-4000 euros per square meter). The following are considered budget areas: Molodost, as well as actively built-up Studentski Grad, Krystova-Vada, Vitosha. 

The second largest in terms of population after Sofia. Plovdiv.

Many Bulgarian cities were built on the site of ancient Thracian settlements, which later became Greek colonies (then Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman possessions). However, archaeologists consider Plovdiv, built on the hills, to be the oldest in Bulgaria (and one of the oldest in all of Europe) to be from 6 to 8 thousand years old, although it received its modern name only in the 15th century AD.

The city, which is older than Rome, Athens and Constantinople, deserves a visit. There are more than 200 architectural monuments on its territory, including ancient ones. However, it is not very convenient for living, precisely because of its location on a hill.

At the intersection of transport routes, also on the hills, lies the beautiful city of Veliko Tărnovo, which was the capital and residence of heads of state and patriarchs of the Church during the era of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (12th-14th centuries AD). Tarnovo was the location of a base of Russian troops and the main warehouse during the Russo-Turkish war of 1878-1879, as a result of which Bulgaria gained its long-awaited independence.

A large industrial center since Soviet times. Stara Zagora. The pride of the city is a huge park named after Methodius Kuseva ("Ayazmoto") with an area of 260 hectares. There is a spring with healing waters nearby. The city is economically developed, salaries are quite high here, higher than, say, in Burgas. The level of housing prices is approaching Burgas.  

In the area of Veliko Tarnovo, Stara Zagora, there are many offers of non-standard individual houses, cottages in the suburbs.

Nestlings of Nessebar: Sunny Beach, Sveti Vlas, Elenite, Ravda


In the Burgas district, in the direction of Varna, there are the most popular resort towns and villages for both tourists and home buyers.

Founded in the 50s of the last century, Sunny Beach at first was rather elite – for example, the head of Soviet Bulgaria Todor Zhivkov rested here, Yuri Gagarin spent his holidays with his family. Today it is one of the most democratic and crowded Bulgarian resorts. 

Sunny Beach is quite small and is divided into the western part closer to the water park and the eastern part closer to the sea. To buy a home, they often choose the Chaika district (the hotel of the same name appeared here one of the first), Camellia, Zora. There is a wide choice of large hotel-type complexes and ordinary residential buildings, but there are fewer of them. Real estate prices: from 1200 euros per sq. m. Good studios cost from 33,000euro.

There is plenty of tourist infrastructure in the village - cafes, restaurants, clubs, attractions. In summer, the waterfront and streets are especially busy. Numerous supermarkets are open (for example, Lidl, «Mladost», «Cascadas»), minimarkets, markets.

Many foreigners live in their own or rented apartments on the Sunny Beach all year round, so in winter it is not boring at all. The visitors themselves opened small kindergartens. Schools, hospitals, medical centers in neighboring Nessebar.

The city of Nessebar and the resort towns of Sunny Beach, Sveti Vlas are located side by side along the coast. One flows into the other.

Sveti Vlas is considered (and is) a higher-level resort. It is known for its marina, respectable hotels and residential complexes. People come here for a pleasant, calm atmosphere. Housing prices are slightly higher than in Sunny Beach. Studios are offered from 35,000-40,000 euros and more expensive, depending on the distance from the sea and the condition.

Nessebar itself – small, but very beautiful. It is divided into New Nessebar on the mainland and Old Nessebar on a peninsula, connected to the “land” by a narrow isthmus. On the territory of the ancient city there are ancient churches and buildings of different eras.


Infrastructure: schools, hospital, shops, hypermarket, supermarkets.

Nessebar has been built up with housing in recent decades. Prices are slightly higher here than on Sunny Beach, on average 1300 euros per sq. m. There are more options for houses in the city, rather than complexes, that is, without a support fee (fees for the maintenance of the pool, territory). The cost of studios ranges mainly in the range of 40,000 euros.

Further along the coast is the village of Elenite, lying at the foot of the Stara Planina ridge. The green resort is great for families with children. It is quite popular for buying a home. Studios cost: from 30,000-35,000.

The village of Ravda (between Burgas and Nessebar) looks nice – mostly low-rise and medium-rise buildings and complexes with pleasant facades. They are small in area, there are no large-scale objects. In general, the atmosphere in this place is calm, which is why it is appreciated. Studios: from 35,000-40,000 euros.

Lovers of a rustic lifestyle – in their own house with a plot and garden – choose a village located deeper in the foothills, Kosharitsa.

From the settlements between Burgas and Varna, it is also worth highlighting a small picturesque village with a good beach Byala, as well as ShkorpilovtsyOverview. In all these places there are resort properties in large complexes and not only.

Regions south of Burgas


We move further along the Bulgarian Riviera to the border with Turkey. We continue to string pearls on this necklace! South of Burgas there are truly protected areas, which are appreciated primarily by Bulgarians themselves from other parts of the country.

The most famous city in this part of the Bulgarian Black Sea region, Sozopol. Like Nessebar, it is divided into Old and New and is a collection of architectural monuments from different eras. 

Each of the small towns and villages of Chernomorets, Primorsko, Kiten, Lozenets, Tsarevo, Akhtopol, Sinemorets – has its adherents, including foreigners.

What is the most important thing to know about this region?

  • It is much quieter than Burgas and the surrounding area.
  • Real estate prices here are 1.5-2 times higher compared to the democratic Sunny Beach, primarily because of the special natural beauties and intimate atmosphere.
  • Most of the southern resorts, except for Sozopol, are hardly suitable for permanent residence. Although, the urban environment is also gradually developing here.

Regions north of Varna

buy an apartment on Golden Sands

Now let's go from Varna towards the Romanian border. Pleasant discoveries are also expected in this direction.

First, the resort Golden Sands is 18 km from Varna, which can compete in fame only with Sunny Beach. Wide sandy beaches with adjacent areas of protected forest, thermal springs, good hotels and residential complexes are at the disposal of tourists. It is believed that this place is higher in rank than Sunny Beach, and Albena is higher than Golden Sands. A 1-bedroom apartment will cost about 70,000 euros.

Albena (40 km from Varna, Dobrich region) – the resort on the territory of the Baltata Nature Reserve – has long attracted foreigners. Along the wide sandy beaches, luxury hotels are lined up, focused mainly on family holidays. There is a water park. Both resorts – and Golden Sands, and Albena – are loved by buyers of apartments and houses from abroad. A small house 4 km from the sea in Albena can be bought for about 100 000 euros, a small villa with a swimming pool at the same distance from the shore for 160 000 euros.

The next resort is 8 km from Albena Balchik (Dobrich region). The city is not as popular as many others, but Bulgarians themselves, as well as Romanians, are well aware of it (the border is just around the corner). It is a picturesque place with an exquisite palace and a rich botanical garden, planted at a time when the region was part of Romania. Balchik is loved for its tranquility and the absence of tourist chaos. Of course, it cannot be called ideal for permanent residence.

Real estate prices are relatively low here. There are more houses on the market than apartments. House price: from 100,000 to 300,000 euros for a large villa with a swimming pool.

Ski resorts

Bulgaria is still an affordable place for skiers compared to other countries. Affordable prices not only for hotel accommodation, but also for the purchase of real estate. 

The TOP 3 winter resorts include: Bansko, Borovets and Pamporovo.

The best and the biggest Bansko, located 160 km from Sofia in the Pirin Mountains near the national park. Experts praise it for the quality of the snow cover and infrastructure. Season: from November to May.

During the construction boom of the early and mid-noughties, many residential complexes and individual houses, townhouses were built here. Today, a studio in the residential complex near the lift can be bought for 35,000-50,000 euros.

The oldest ski resort in Bulgaria, Borovets is located on the north side of the Rila Mountains, about 70 km from Sofia. The season lasts from mid-December to April. It is recommended for beginners and intermediate level athletes.

In Pamporovo is more convenient to get from Plovdiv airport. There are 85 km between the cities. The resort, located in the Rhodope Mountains at the foot of the Snezhanka ridge, will please not too experienced and demanding skiers, as well as lovers of healing springs. Season: from mid-December to April. Studios cost 35,000-55,000 euros.

Thank you for your help in preparing the article:
Aneta Vodenicharova, Director of the agencyEltrade
Evgenia Prokazova, Sales Director of the agency Bulgaria Avenue
Irina Mikhailova, the agency's customer relations manager «Alternative to imoti ood» 
Ekaterina Blagireva, a tour guide in Sofia and Varna


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