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Thursday, 4 November 2010

18. Why Bulgaria?

A lazy, list-based post today.

Reasons to move to Bulgaria:
·         Property is very cheap. Seriously, check out property prices on http://www.offbeatbulgaria.eu/.
·         It’s a really beautiful country with the Black Sea coast and dramatic mountains.

·         Less time working and more time for us. We can truly indulge our Good Life fantasies without worrying about money!
·         It’s only 3 hours from home.
·         It’s in the EU but the currency is not the Euro!
·         It borders beautiful Greece and Turkey, so we get a similar climate and food but without the higher property prices (and riots).
·         You can get a train from Sofia to Istanbul, one of our most favourite cities, for less than £20. Or, a 4-5 hour drive from our house and we could be sipping Retsina on the Greek coast.
·         Bulgarian wine is lovely.
·         We will have the time to do all those things we talk about but never actually do: writing, painting, learning a language (erm, compulsory), learning to play a musical instrument.
·         There are no chavs in Bulgaria.
·         No more listening to other people’s music on public transport.
·         Proper hot summers.
·         No more dreaming of white Christmases, we’ll be knee deep in snow!

And the downside is:
·         The language. It’s just not coming easily to us!
·         It’s 3 hours from home. I know ‘it’s only 3 hours from home’ was listed as one of the positives but, on homesick days, that will feel like a long way.

That's it. I’m not brilliant at maths but I'm pretty sure the number of positives outweigh the negatives.

Monday, 1 November 2010

17. The Plan

People are always asking about the plan. What will you do for work out there? Will you live there all year round? What will you do in the winter? Will you get a donkey?

The house sale should go through before Christmas, but we won’t be going out to Bulgaria until August 2011 due to work commitments and the need to save money for renovations. Hopefully, we will be able to get the builder doing some of the important stuff before we go out there – staircase, bathroom and plumbing are at the top of the list of priorities. Then, when we’re out there, we can focus on fitting a kitchen and redecorating everywhere. Being realistic, we expect to run out of money within a few months, but we should have finished the house by then. We can then return to the UK around the end of 2011/early 2012 for another 6 months or so of working to save up money to tackle the garden and turn the outbuilding into a guest cottage and studio. Luckily, I work in publishing, which is a very female dominated field – lots of maternity cover contracts if needed!

So that’s the immediate plan – for the first couple of years we’ll be flitting between the UK and Bulgaria as and when money runs out. In a few years time, when all of the work is done, we’ll be ready to move out there permanently. We do indeed plan to live there all year round. Being up in the mountains, winters are very cold and snowy but I plan to take full advantage and work on my skiing skills! And I’m looking forward to our first white Christmas. Summers are long and very hot so we’ll be spending lots of time working on our 1000m2 garden. We plan to have a nice big vegetable patch and herb garden and will add some more fruit trees to the ones already in the garden. Sadly there isn’t really the room for a swimming pool but there is a small holiday chalet complex about five minutes away and they have a pool. Think I’m going to have to make friends with the manager so we can use their pool…

In terms of work, once we’ve made the permanent move, I will probably do some freelance work. Eventually we want to run a B&B or artist holiday business using the guesthouse. The surrounding area is really beautiful and I’m sure that budding artists will find it a really inspiring place!     

We probably won’t get a donkey; we haven’t really got the room. I would like a goat but Rob is less keen. We do agree on chickens though. In fact, I’ve already named our future chickens: Margot, Jerry, Tom and Barbara!

Sunday, 31 October 2010

16. An update on the house sale

It’s been a while since we posted anything about the house, mainly because not much is happening right now. The lawyer is working on setting up our company and we won’t complete on the house sale until that is done. It usually takes about four weeks to register a company but, at the moment, the process is taking a few weeks longer. This year in Bulgaria all company owners have been required to re-register their companies – not sure why, it’s just one of those fun legal things invented to out-fox people. Anyway, the deadline is the end of the year so every man and his donkey are currently busy re-registering their companies. It’s good timing for us because we won’t have to worry about re-registering, but bad timing because the system is clogged with more applications than usual.

We have had an update from Max (our agent) to say all is going through okay so now it’s just a matter of waiting patiently. This is convenient because waiting patiently is a real skill of mine (NOT). Having said that, now the initial excitement/nervousness/stomach-twisting horror of making an offer has passed, we are actually being quite calm about the whole process. I spent much of the first week convinced that the sellers would pull out at any minute and we would lose our beautiful house. We really loved the village and my concern was that if we lost this house we may have to wait a long time for another house in the village to come up for sale. However, there is nothing we can do from here in England so I’ve learned to relax and leave it to the professionals. Fingers crossed though, sometime in the next month we’ll be making another trip out to Bulgaria to sign the final paperwork and complete the sale.

That process itself sounds like good fun: everyone involved in the sale gathers with the local notary to sign the official contract. In cases where several cousins or siblings are the owners (say, if they inherited the property), they would all be there in the room! Plus lawyers, notary, estate agent and the buyers! In our case, just two brothers own the house so it should be a more manageable affair. I wonder what they’ll make of us.

And once the sale goes through, that’s when the really scary stuff starts. Does anyone know how to go about getting Bulgarian home insurance? No, me neither! That’s another thing to add to my list of Things To Worry About.