In spite of a continuous migration from Bulgaria’s countryside to large cities, especially Sofia, the number of uninhabited dwellings remains large.
According to a report by EU statistics agency Eurostat, 24 per cent of dwellings in the city of Sofia are vacant, while in the Sofia district – a geographical region distinct from the city itself – close to half of dwellings have no one living there.
There are similary high percentages in other major cities in Bulgaria, a rate of 26 per cent in second city Plovdiv and 30 per cent in Varna, the third-largest city in the country and its largest Black Sea city.
A World Bank report published in November 2017 said that about 1.2 million homes in Bulgaria are uninhabited, meaning about a third of the total dwellings in the country.
According to that report, in large cities about a quarter of dwellings are uninhabited, on average, while in rural areas the figures are much higher, at an average 43 per cent.
The Eurostat report said that by 2016, about 75 per cent of Bulgarians were living in cities. Over the past 65 years, about six million Bulgarians have quit the rural areas. In the mid-20th century, the urban population was only 20 per cent, while 40 years later, this had risen to 67 per cent.
Sofia and Varna are the only two Bulgarian cities to have seen a steady increase in population in recent years, 30 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively.
Meanwhile, the population of Vratsa has dropped by 23 per cent and in the northern city of Vidin on the Danube – the latter among Bulgaria’s poorest regions – the decrease has been 22 per cent.
(Photo: Sami C)