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Bulgaria

Work

Since Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, there are no longer any labour restrictions on citizens of other EU countries, but with high levels of domestic unemployment and some of the lowest wages in Europe, Bulgaria isn’t going to be the most obvious destination for foreign jobseekers. There are rather more opportunities for entrepreneurs, though, and the government is keen for foreigners to establish businesses as long as most of the staff are Bulgarian. Most foreigners working in Bulgaria are specialists employed by multinational companies. These jobs are most often arranged before arriving in the country.

If you intend to seek employment in Bulgaria, you will need a work visa; contact your local Bulgarian embassy for details. If you do find a temporary job, the pay is likely to be very low. Do it for the experience, rather than the money, and you won’t be disappointed. Teaching English is one way to make some extra cash, but the market is often saturated. A helpful website is run by the Sofia Echo (www.sofiaecho.com), Bulgaria’s main English-language newspaper.

If you arrange a job before you arrive, your employer should plough through the frightening mass of paperwork from relevant government departments and pay the various fees. If you land a job after you arrive, or you’re considering setting up a business in Bulgaria, contact some expats for current advice about the plethora of required forms and fees.

Work Your Way Around the World by Susan Griffith provides practical advice on a wide range of issues. Its publisher, Vacation Work, has many other useful titles, including The Directory of Summer Jobs Abroad, edited by David Woodworth. Working Holidays by Ben Jupp, published by the Central Bureau for Educational Visits and Exchanges in London, is another good source, as is Now Hiring! Jobs in Eastern Europe by Clarke Canfield.

Business hours

Normally, government offices are open on weekdays (Monday to Friday) between 9am and 5pm, but they often close for around an hour between noon and 2pm. Private businesses more or less keep the same hours, but rarely have time for a leisurely lunch break. Most shops are open from about 9am to 7pm on weekdays, and from 9am to 1pm on weekends. Some operate shorter hours on Sunday (or close altogether) but shops in big cities such as Sofia and Plovdiv are often open later on weekends. Post offices are open weekdays from 8am to 6pm, and banks operate from 9am to 4pm weekdays. Some of the foreign exchange offices are open 24 hours but most operate between about 9am and 6pm, Monday to Saturday.

Restaurants generally open from 11am to 11pm. Frustratingly, many museums and tourist attractions, even those in major cities, close for one or two days a week, usually between Sunday and Tuesday (they often also close for lunch). Opening times do change regularly, so don’t be surprised if a museum or art gallery is closed even though it should be open.

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