Local report: How to survive in Bulgaria?
By Ole Aabenhus
Violeta Gecheva is chairman of the Bulgarian German Teachers' Association. I had heard that teachers in Bulgaria earn 300 euros per month. At the same time, I found the prices on everyday goods relatively high, at least in Sofia. So I asked Violeta Gecheva how a teacher could make a living in Bulgaria.
"It's difficult, because teachers get so little. A young teacher gets about 300 euros a month, and, as you get older maybe 400 euros. But that is not much.
In major cities you do a little better because there are many, many tutoring hours. This goes particularly for foreign language teachers, especially English teachers and teachers of German. Many of them give private lessons. Depending on the size of the city, you are paid something like 10-15 euros per hour for that.
In smaller towns and in the villages, life is much cheaper, and there is almost always a garden one could cultivate.
Many are more or less – it may sound a bit weird - dependent on their parents. Parents help in all sorts of ways, so you can reduce your food budget by perhaps 40-50 per cent".
"One should not forget that in Bulgaria everyone has his/her own house or a flat. You have to have a bit of money, then you ask for help from your parents, perhaps you take a loan, and then you buy an apartment or a house. Then there is no rent to pay. Or you live with his/her parents, two families together. "
"Food is expensive if you don't make it yourself. ... When in Germany, I have many times compared Bulgarian prices with German prices. Normal things like butter, oil, bread, etc. are cheaper in Germany - often half the price - even if you buy them in the same super market chains - Billa, Lidl etc. Fruit yogurt costs twice as much here as in Germany ".
"Clothes .. well, there are these Second Hand stores, and the teachers buy mainly from there. Many of my generation have their children abroad. They help. Many work in a children's camp or by the sea in summer. I have often met teachers from the interior on the coast during summer holidays – where they work in hotels, as waitresses, as cooks, everything. It's difficult to live on a teaching job only. You have to have two jobs":
"It's even harder to be a pensioners because the pensions are so small – something like 150 or 200 euros per month.
Let's say 60 per cent have a house somewhere in the village where they were born. Many then go to their village and start a small farm or the like".
"It's difficult, but you survive. No traveling, you can forget it. No culture. No new clothes. You live somehow".