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Living in Plovdiv : A guide to expats

Being expats in Plovdiv you have already found out on your own that the city is a great one to live in. It is big enough to provide opportunities for business and leisure, while it is small enough to allow for relaxation and some quiet time. And best of all, it is relatively cheap.
Just like any other city, Plovdiv has its own peculiarities, which may not be obvious on your very first visit. When foreigners initially come here, they are thrilled by the ancient looks, the rich history and the friendly, laid-back atmosphere of the cozy cafes downtown. And though such advantages are necessary, they are far from sufficient for your fulfilling new life here. That’s when you sit down and start working. And soon you face your first obstacles.
I often ask my foreign clients, who have been living in Plovdiv for some time, what their recommendations to newcomers would be. Here are some of the issues they raised.

No-one is punctual.

If you are coming from the North, you will probably notice that we don’t value punctuality much. Working hours for shops and offices don’t match (excluding big chains, of course), public transportation timetables don’t match, appointments with your new Bulgarian friends don’t match. Though we are much better at that than the Greeks, for whom “5 minutes” mean an hour, there’s still room for improvement. Just be patient and loosen up a bit. Don’t judge us by your standards – we have our own. Learn a few breathing exercises for times of dire need!

Everyone speaks English.

If you need help in public, you will probably find it. Most people do speak basic English, unlike South Americans, for instance. The younger they are, the better the chances. So you can’t really get lost or something. Also, people don’t get much chance to talk to foreigners, so many are willing to strike a conversation just for the practice. Keep in mind that most of the staff in restaurants are locals – we don’t get many seasonal workers, so don’t have any great expectations of their language skills.

No-one speaks English.

The thing is if you need some WORK to be done, then suddenly no-one speaks English. We do have somewhat heavy bureaucracy and administrative workers in public offices are difficult guys even for us. Their attitude will probably be “As long as you are here, at least try!” One barely audible “Dobar den” (that is “good afternoon” in Bulgarian) will get you far better off than the desperate “Do you speak English?” Getting any bureaucratic task done with will certainly test your stress resistance.

Summer heat is devastating.

We don’t have a beach around, but we do have beach-like freaking hot summers. Unless you are used to the warm weather, it will be a tough season for you. Don’t panic, no-one has ever died of it! When it hits, just stay off the streets in the hours around noon. The opportunity for pleasant night walks though compensates for the daytime discomfort.

WI-FI rules.

We do have open access WI-FI networks pretty much everywhere in the city center. Besides, the Internet speed is among the best in Europe. In that regard, Plovdiv is truly the Paradise for digital nomads. What is more, the co-working trend is still not very popular here, so the available spaces will not be overly crowded.

Politeness doesn’t.

If you are coming from the UK, you will find locals impolite. Well, if you are coming from the UK you find nearly everyone else impolite, but the truth is, customer service is not the best. However, we love to make a good impression to foreigners, so you may turn out to be immune to rudeness. But in case it occasionally happens, don’t get offended.

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