Friday, May 07, 2010

Bulgarian fantasy

Several years ago Olga and I considered moving to Bulgaria. The idea is not as far-fetched as it might seem. Olga is from Eastern Europe and had visited Bulgaria before. She speaks Russian, which many Bulgarians can speak too. Her niece was married to a Bulgarian and living in the country. Property programs on TV like "A Place In The Sun" were promoting Bulgaria as "the new Spain" where property was cheap and huge investment gains could be made, and lots of other Brits were buying out there. So we booked a trip to visit Olga's niece and see for ourselves.

We didn't in the end decide to buy a Bulgarian property. We saw some nice houses, much larger than our shoe-box on its postage stamp plot here. The countryside was beautiful and unspoiled. But we found Bulgaria to be a poor country with poor infrastructure. As elsewhere in the former Soviet bloc we got the feeling that a few people were making huge amounts of money but very little of it was trickling down to improve the lives of the general population. I'm one of those people who feels that quality of life is not just about what you own, but also your surroundings and the well-being of the people who live around you. I decided that I couldn't see myself living there.

I forgot about Bulgaria, but real estate agents continued to send Olga information on new properties and she recently started mentioning some of the bargains to be had there. Back in 2004 I felt that interest from British property investors had driven prices to levels that were unreasonably high, all things being considered, but prices appear to have fallen since then and property is amazingly cheap now. The house shown in the picture - 90 sq. m on a plot of 780 sq. m, and newly renovated - could be purchased for just 13,000 Euros (about £12,000 or $18,000 US.) If you are up to a bit of DIY there are properties that are even cheaper!

As Britain seems about to embark on a period of high taxes and austerity, with a government led by the Conservatives who lack experience and frankly make me nervous, the idea of moving to Bulgaria seems once again to be rather attractive. From a ham radio point of view there would be benefits too. There was an article a year or so ago in one of the magazines about Acom amplifiers (which are manufactured there) in which the chief engineer was quoted as saying: "Come to Bulgaria. You don't need planning permission for antennas here."
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