A Lovely Bulgarian Home for Just GBP 6 000

Views on BG | January 4, 2013, Friday // 13:50
Bulgaria: A Lovely Bulgarian Home for Just GBP 6 000 Bargain: the Bulgaria property which David K.Chadwick bought and renovated. Photo from The Telegraph

From The Telegraph

When property prices in Britain spiralled out of control, David K Chadwick decided to relocate to Bulgaria.

The reason I came to Bulgaria was that one day in 2008, I was watching a TV programme that dealt with the problems people had getting on the mortgage ladder because of the high prices of houses in Britain. Towards the conclusion of the programme, it was suggested that people might try looking in the north-east of England or else try Bulgaria. lt showed a few clips of those places: it was obvious which was the better of the two, so I started doing some research in the library.

I noted things like climate and geography and then decided to go there and see for myself what there was to offer. I chose a travel agent that did cheap flights and booked a return flight for one week to Obzor, near Burgas, on the Black Sea coast. My fare included hotel accommodation, and I told the tour representative that my reason for coming was to try and buy a house.

I was surprised to hear from her that house prices were very low; as little as 5000 leva (around ?2,000 today).

After looking around I decided that the Black Coast was either too expensive or the properties were not suitable, being in too bad condition. I also found that to buy a house, first I would need a Bulgarian bank account and a solicitor and second, I had to form a company because, at the time, individual foreigners were not allowed to own land in Bulgaria but the company could own it with me as the director. (This rule has been changed since Bulgaria became a member of the EU in 2009 so anyone can buy a house.)

I found a bank easily since the DSK Bank has branches in most places and I was soon introduced to a solicitor who drew up the articles for the formation of my company.

My solicitor introduced me to someone who could show me around. His name was Paul and he came from Nottinghamshire, which was where I lived. He was a builder who used to work for the Coal Board and, by coincidence, he had been a pupil at the first school in which I taught.

Paul took me on a tour of the southern region of the country for several days and, at last, I found something that looked promising.

It was in a village called Branitsa. I had chosen that area because of the warm summer climate and proximity to Greece and Turkey, which were easily reached by road.

The price of the house was 15,000 leva, which, at the prevailing rate of exchange, was only ?6,000, although it needed renovating. Even a new house in Bulgaria needs things like doors and windows, since the standard Bulgarian house is only a shell.

I returned to Nottingham to make arrangements from that side. I put my house up for sale and moved into temporary accommodation while arrangements were being made in Bulgaria.

Another English expat, who owned a large van, drove from Bulgaria to Nottingham and back to carry my furniture over for ?1,500. My solicitor arranged for my company to be registered and, eventually, I was told that I was now the owner of a piece of Bulgaria. I then transferred ?4,400 to Paul's account so that he could begin renovating the house.

My solicitor arranged for water and electricity to be connected and then the work began. Paul did the plastering and laminated floor, while another expat did the tiling in the bathroom. A local electrician did the wiring and a group of local gypsies did the soffits and tidied up the garden, which was about half an acre in size.

Health ?s important and so I contacted the Pension Service in Newcastle and had my EHIC and form S1 sent on so that I could register with the Bulgarian health service. I was told that l would not lose my NHS beneflts and, if I needed to transfer to a hospital in England, I would not have to pay if I had been in Bulgaria for less than five years. I received the documents and was registered easily and, in return, I was given 10 copies of forms to show to a doctor to prove that I was entitled to free medical attention.

The Pension Service in England also suggested that I might consider taking out medical insurance in case of serious medical necessity but, so far, I have not found it necessary. I can get medicines from a pharmacy (called apteka in Bulgarian) and, since I have a cholesterol problem, I buy statins over the counter, which were recommended by my doctor in England.

There was an unusually cold winter last year followed by an unusually hot summer when the rest of the world was getting floods and typhoons, so I decided to make some renovations to the summer kitchen that was included as part of the outbuildings of the property.

I called Paul and we began to make plans. I insisted that the design should be modern and luxurious so that guests would be comfortable. Sorne building work had already been done but it was by no means up to a comfortable standard. It had an entrance, a large roorn and what appeared to be a sort of washroom with water already connected. There was also an electricity supply on an extension from the main house.

The work cost 13,425 leva (?5,500), took three months and involved insulation, plaster-boarding, painting, flooring and tiling. Mod cons like fridge, cooker and washing machine were also installed as well as a modern bathroom.

All in all I am well satisfied with the arrangement and look forward to moving in for the winter where it will be cosier.

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Tags: expats, expat, Brits, british, UK, Britain, residential properties, Branitsa

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