Plovdiv is a city where historical riches and digital opportunities meet.
It’s Bulgaria’s second-largest city and is big enough to provide a vast range of business and career opportunities for people of all ages, yet it’s small enough to offer comfort, cosiness, and a chance to relax away from the city lights and all the noise.
The city was acknowledged as the European Capital of Culture in 2019 and is considered a key economic, transport, cultural, and educational hub. It’s neatly positioned on the banks of the Maritsa river in the popular historical region of Thrace.
There are more than 300,000 locals living in Plovdiv but the region is also home to a lot of expats and digital nomads. Let’s see what attracts foreigners to this vibrant and beautiful city.
1. Plovdiv is a good place to live for all ages
Plovdiv is a great place to live in for both locals and expats. There are a lot of young people that create a community that attracts those fond of tech, innovation, alternative lifestyles.
The city has its hipster areas and offers a lot of co-working spaces, which makes it ideal for those working remotely who want to socialize and meet new people.
There are a ton of opportunities when it comes to places to visit and bars and restaurants to dine and drink in. Kapana is one of the most popular neighbourhoods to visit if you’re into creative activities or art.
Although it’s an excellent location for young individuals, it’s also a great choice for retirees and expat families. The city offers a range of calm and relaxing neighbourhoods, where you can enjoy the beauty of nature and a quiet lifestyle.
In addition, you will find that everything in Plovdiv is close at hand. Even during the busiest hours, you can cross the city by car from north to south or from east to west in no more than 20 minutes and find anything you need for your day-to-day life.
2. Plovdiv is safe
When moving to a new city, the first thing you’ll want to do is find out whether it’s safe. Plovdiv is not popular for a lot of crime or illegal activity. Generally speaking, it’s a safe city where tourists and expats can feel comfortable.
The city has impressively low levels of mugging or robberies or cases of physical attacks. Statistics suggest that Plovdiv is 92% safe for walking alone during daylight and 65% safe for walking alone during the night.
This makes the city a lot more safe than other large European cities, where crime is popular. There are, however, chances of vandalism and theft, especially in less developed and poorer neighbourhoods in or around the city.
3. You will experience real winters in Plovdiv
Summers in Plovdiv are excellent, with a lot of sun and hot temperatures. The winter season is also enjoyable as long as you’re ready to take on low temperatures and yes, snow.
It does snow in Plovdiv during the winter season, especially during January and February. The temperatures could reach below 10℃ and in combination with the snow, you can expect bigger traffic jams, potential delays in public transportation, and a lot of puddles and slush on the streets.
Of course, there’s also the good side to it – snowy Plovdiv is an absolutely stunning view!
4. For many expats, Plovdiv wins over Sofia
Although both Plovdiv and Sofia are large cities, you can feel a dramatic difference.
Living in Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital city, you will experience a lot more congested roads and higher traffic when compared to Plovdiv. This often makes Plovdiv a preference for families with children and retired expats.
The crime rates in Plovdiv are also slightly lower than in Sofia, although the capital is also considered safe, as long as you avoid certain neighbourhoods.
When it comes to the cost of living, it’s safe to say that Plovdiv is significantly cheaper than Sofia. This is mainly related to the property prices but the price difference can also be observed in restaurants, bars, and food shops.
5. The cost of living will surprise you
Plovdiv is a budget-friendly city to live in as an expat, especially when compared to other European cities. A single person can live a comfortable life with 870lv ($/£) without rent, while a family of four can have a normal, standard life with 3,000lv ($/£) per month, excluding rent.
We mentioned that Plovdiv is slightly less expensive than Sofia in the previous section. On average, the city is about 10% less expensive than the capital. However, the difference in the price of renting a property is dramatic. Rent in Plovdiv is 33% lower than rent in Sofia.
6. It’s one of the most pedestrianised cities in Bulgaria
The main street in Plovdiv is fully pedestrianised and runs for about 2 km.
Next to the main street, you will find the adjacent Kapana quarter, where you are surrounded by cosy facades from the early 20th century. The neighbourhood is rich in award-winning cafes, restaurants, and various designer goods shops.
7. There are some amazing areas to live in Plovdiv
For younger expats with enthusiasm and passion for art and creativity, Kapana is certainly on top of the list of cool places to live in Plovdiv. You can explore its craft shops, kid’s workshops, cosy and welcoming coffee shops, and more.
The Old City is another area of Plovdiv that is highly preferred and recommended for expats.
Plovdiv is among the oldest living cities in the world and you can get a feeling for all of its history in the Old City. You’ll fall in love with the cobblestone streets, the Renaissance houses, the creative art shops, and calming gardens.
For families and retired expats, Kyuchuk Parizh is the best place in Plovdiv to live in. It’s called Little Paris and it’s a calm and quiet neighbourhood where you can enjoy the beauty of Plovdiv.
Final thoughts on living in Plovdiv
If you are considering living in Bulgaria, Plovdiv should certainly be on your list of potential destinations.
Plovdiv is definitely a dream come true for a lot of expats. It’s the perfect combination between old and new and offers the ideal balance between a slow and quiet lifestyle and that of development, fast pace, social activities, and innovation.
There is something for everyone in this precious European gem, not to mention the rich history that you can still feel throughout its well-preserved streets.
We hope this article will help you get to know Plovdiv as an expat and will make you feel more comfortable and confident about moving to this astonishing city.
There is a strong expat community in Plovdiv and you will have a chance to meet new people and make new friends from all over the world.