Adventures in Immigration to Bulgaria

Being a tourist for 3 months in a country? Easy. Actually living in the country? Now that’s a bit difficult.

For a month or two now, I’ve been trying to figure out how to move to Bulgaria.

I don’t know if I’d live there for the rest of my life, but it is a good bet to move there for my life right now.

I’ve been in so many countries, had so many crazy things happen, etc. that I need to take a break from travel and just be in ONE PLACE for a little while.

I know I’m happy in Montreal, I’d probably be happy in Phoenix if I lived closer to the center, but in Sofia I’m basically guaranteed happiness. I’ve so many friends in Sofia, Bulgaria that it would be impossible not to be happy!

Finally, it’s the place I’ve spent the longest amount of time in the world (excluding Phoenix) and put the most effort into building a social circle. I’ve got a great life built up there, now I just have to figure out how to live there.

Once I figure that out, then maybe I’ll start traveling again, or there is the possibility I live there forever & forever (not likely). Who knows. For now, I just need some chill out time with friends to regenerate on all of the past year’s craziness.

But It Didn’t Go As Planned…

There is a Bulgarian consulate in Chicago, which is where I have to go to apply to get the visa.

The first time I went, I wasn’t able to get a document that I thought I’d be able to get there. I basically wasted a week-long trip to Chicago.

I just got back from my second 4 day trip to Chicago, and I didn’t get to apply either. At the consulate I discovered that I was lacking 2 documents needed, which unfortunately wasn’t displayed on the Bulgarian immigration website.

As I’ve dug deeper, I’m discovering that it is impossible to get this visa at this time. Grrrrr, figuring out the confusion is messy, but the people at the consulate are nice & helpful!

Playing the Game

It feels a lot like a game of chess. I’m trying to win, but there are unexpected “counter-moves” that prevent me from getting what I want (residency in Bulgaria).

I have to keep re-adjusting my strategy, sourcing new documents, etc. It’s much like being on a video game quest, except in real life!

It’s a bit confusing, so I’ll spare you the details of my strategy. Here’s the general gist of it:

It’s impossible for me to get a freelancer’s visa for Bulgaria because I am not “B1” fluent in Bulgarian. There is one other option which involves opening up a company in Bulgaria, though this is currently too expensive for me to afford.

Right now I’ll either have to find a cheap way to open the company, or re-visit Bulgaria on a tourist visa & become B1 fluent within 3 months. While difficult, it’s certainly possible.

Frustrations & Acceptance 

This whole process has been long and frustrating. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could just “pack n’ go” straight to Bulgaria, like I did the first time? Unfortunately to stay longer than a tourist, I have to go through all of these hurdles.

I’m being tested, as it often feels like I’m “stuck” or “lost” in life. It feels like everything is “on pause” until I can figure all of this out.

However I’m also learning how to be present-to-the-moment, through acceptance, so there’s that.

Self-Doubt

One of the biggest struggles has been dealing with a lot of self-doubt. This process has taken 4x+ longer simply because I’ve struggled to get over various mental hurdles.

At first I tried to convince myself to live in the USA, specifically in Vegas or Portland. I was also interested in Chicago, but now that I’ve been to Chicago twice I can confirm that the “vibe” is so much better in Phoenix than Chicago.

I am also interested in Philadelphia & Boston, but I’m not allowing myself to make any decisions yet until I’ve visited any place. Also, I am learning to trust my heart which yearns to rest in Sofia for the time being.

The biggest self-doubt has been the questioning to why I enjoyed Sofia so much. I wrote down a list of reasons why, and while some are city-related, many are people & finances related.

Bulgaria was the richest time of my life financially, and I also had a girlfriend whom I loved very dearly. For those first 6 months together, we weren’t without struggles but we improved fast for each other. By the last month, I’d say our differences were evened out and we had achieved relationship balance. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever experienced in my life.

Then as the story goes, I had to leave the country with one week’s notice. Anyways..

I’ve been questioning whether or not my happiness in Bulgaria could be replicated in any American city, or anywhere in the world for that matter. Should I settle somewhere like Boston, or should I just keep up the digital nomad travel lifestyle but sort out my own habits & behaviors?

When I entered Bulgaria the first time I had ambitious goals like meeting a new person every single day, and approaching girls, and working on business. This could be why I grew so much.

So it’s hard for me to clearly state whether I was happy because Bulgaria gives me a boost or because it was the first place in the world I put in so much effort to create a life.

One way or another, I can’t know until I move back. I also can’t know until I visit another city after I move back.

At any rate, I’ve convinced myself to move forward with this because I already have friends & results in Sofia. It’s cheap so my financial state instantly improves. I’ve great friends so that base is immediately covered.

Even if I end up who knows where else in the world, by taking a break for however long I need in Sofia I can allow myself to loosen up on effort and just enjoy life, allowing inspiration to fill me up again.

Sporadic Inspiration

Occasionally I randomly feel inspired to do something.

Sometimes it is to buy a motorcycle and ride it from Alaska to Antarctica. Sometimes it is to go to Bali, Indonesia, or Koh Phangan, Thailand. Sometimes it’s to go back to Bulgaria, or try out another European country, or surf in South America.

But most times I’m not feeling so inspired. With everything I’m doing I’m trying to reclaim my sense of wonder, excitement, and inspiration for the world- the thing that got me started in this whole “make money online” stuff.

I underestimated just how much of an effect many of my recent life events would have on me, but as it turns out no one is invincible. Things like travel burnout, break-ups, almost losing a loved one, a painful surgery, and a motorcycle accident all add up (yes, all these things happened in less than 9 months).

Occasionally I feel like myself, and that’s all I’m looking for.

Moving Forward

I can’t say what the next steps will be, just that things are happening fast now. I’m moving as quickly as I possibly can.

My goal is somehow in MARCH to move to Bulgaria. On the way I’ll also visit Montreal & London, as I’ve great friends in both of these cities currently.

-Michael