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 Avoiding the pitfalls

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Equinus
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PostSubject: Avoiding the pitfalls   Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:13 pm

Many thanks everyone for your messages and welcomes.

As already stated we are very much in the infancy stage in deciding to move to Bulgaria. What appeals is us is to live a simple life without the entrapment of living in a consumer driven country which we live in at the moment.

We already grow as much veg as we can in our small garden (postage stamp size) and have a couple of chickens as well which are providing eggs on a regular basis. We have both worked with livestock albeit exotics on my part and so can realistically deal with the aspects for rearing stock for eventual slaughter which would be required for maintaining an almost self sufficient lifestyle.

After a brief look through the forum it seems to be a potential quagmire in attaining the goal of eventually living in Bulgaria. Even the aspect of creating a company in order to buy a house and land attached seems to be fraught with its problems.

Our first step is to look at potential areas for buying which is where Google comes in handy, but also this forum as people already living there can help with advice. We are wildlife fans and we along with the self sufficient aspect of living would ideally be looking for something rural ideally with 3 bedrooms that may in the future provide a possibility for letting rooms for like minded naturalists (read that carefully ). The latter most certainly will be at the later stages of moving the first is to find the right location.

OK we have not actually visited Bulgaria as yet. We have spent several years holidaying in remote locations in Greece off the tourist trap and we have also spent time a holiday in remote northern Portugal, which from most people on this forum state and friends who have visited, life seems to be be very similar to Bulgarian life (slow and simple lifestyle). We have no intention to want to be part of a mini England in Bulgaria and want to embrace Bulgarian customs/lifestyle fully and integrate within it.

Our first step as already said will be major Google searches to find possible locations to visit later on in the year to check things out. Our way of thinking is if we are to make the move that we do it by 2014 at the latest. We envisage selling our house here to fund purchasing and developing a property in Bulgaria and any remaining funds from the sale of our house invested for emergency funding.

I have been told that south west of Bulgaria tends to have warmer winter temps. and so assume that this will make it more popular and therefore more expensive in buying suitable property. We would need to have relatively easy access to airports (within 150km) but it seems that the main road infrastructure seems good so should not be too problematic for a rural lifestyle with such access. I personally would prefer to be at the foot hills of mountains and at the moment all seems possible, but as said by myself and others already research,research, research is the key.

So from what I can see is
1) Research areas - you guys advice would be helpful here and totally understand what one person may like is not what another likes.
2) Look at properties on the market
3) Learn basic language
4) Visit Bulgaria and look at a few properties
5) Ask more questions
6) Sell the house
7) Take a deep breath and take the plunge

Any suggestions much appreciated

Equinus

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tonyb60
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PostSubject: Re: Avoiding the pitfalls   Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:48 pm

Hi ya as said before, you may well be advised to rent somewhere for a few months in the area that you may have found. This will serve as a good base to see if you like it and you can also search farther away if you so desire. Although we love where we live we wish we had done this. we would probably have ended up where we are but who knows we may have found somewhere nicer. Use an agent but don't forget they are in business and are not a friend, many have made that mistake over here. If property needs renovating then take advice on who you use as there are many cowboys (Brits included) and rip off merchants. Bring a car. You can drive here on UK plates for 6 months with no fear.

Use this forum and ask questions even if you think they are silly. s s s

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Equinus
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PostSubject: Re: Avoiding the pitfalls   Tue Jun 19, 2012 6:22 pm

Many thanks Tonyb60

Renting beforehand really is not an option as we would be intending to give up our jobs and totally commit to the venture. If we were to rent then that would mean any finances we had collated would be used in rental fees. The idea to buy is that we would then be mortgage free and only be paying services bills etc.

Please do not for one moment think this is a whim, we really want to get out of the rat-race and basically retire early. We will not be committing until we are absolutely certain that it is feasible, the lifestyle is not the issue as we have little time to socialise and my relatives are actually further away in driving time than flying back home from Bulgaria would be.

Our social life is as it is as we both get up at 3.30am each morning for work and basically I am not back home until 5pm and means the time we go to bed everyone is just getting ready to go out. This routine has been going on for the last 4 years and is beginning to take its toll and makes us realise that if we are to do this we need to do it soon.

We totally understand that if we go partial self sufficiency that it will be hard work, but the incentive is there that we will be doing it for ourselves at our pace. My OH has in the past been employed as a cook and gets a great deal of pleasure in growing/cooking our own produce as well as using wild fruits and I am a dab hand at making sloe gin which makes cheap Christmas presents as we don't drink much (the bottle of champagne we had given to us 7 years ago for our wedding is still unopened).

Whenever we have gone on holiday we tend to spend not our time in the bars, but wandering around looking for wild flowers, bugs and beetles (no not to eat on this occasion) but to photograph. As you can see the simple things in life are worth more than owning the latest 3D plasma screen TV or the like.

At the moment reviewing the prospects of moving to Bulgaria opens door upon door to masses of information that needs looking at carefully. It seems to create a roller coaster ride as one moment it seems straight forward and then the next total confusion. Reading some of the threads in this forum indicates that bureaucracy causes many headaches so maybe this is training for the move.

Anyway thnaks for the advice will go and get a couple of Paracetamol and wade through some more of the threads and do some Googling.

Regards

Equinus

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oddball
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PostSubject: Re: Avoiding the pitfalls   Tue Jun 19, 2012 8:57 pm

Hi Equinus

Well now it appears you have already made your decision and you are quite certain Bulgaria is the place for you and your wife, so now you have taken the first steps lets get you a little bit further. You said you do not want to rent, that's fine so I take it you want to buy asap. Below is a the link to several renovated properties for sale in different areas from Kotel to Yambol to Sofia so why not have a look through. If there is something that interests you than let us know and we can all help with the research for you, but remember we are not advisers in any capacity we can only give you our opinions, helping hands and all that.

Stage One:
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Oddy g

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PostSubject: Re: Avoiding the pitfalls   Wed Jun 20, 2012 6:36 am

Equinus wrote:

1) Research areas - you guys advice would be helpful here and totally understand what one person may like is not what another likes.
2) Look at properties on the market
3) Learn basic language
4) Visit Bulgaria and look at a few properties
5) Ask more questions

That's a good starting list!

Without visiting the country, the actual choice of area will be difficult. Bulgaria is a land of vast contrasts and this could decide the region in which you live (rugged coasts, wide open plains, stunning mountains, etc.).

As you intend to live a small-holding and self-sufficient life, I would personally advise you ignore the coast (far too expensive) and anywhere in close proximity to a major city / airport (Sofia, Burgas, Varna ... for same reasons!) and opt for somewhere in one of the 'lusher and fertile' growing regions of Bulgaria.

For instance, around the town of Sliven (head directly inland from Bourgas airport towards Sofia and you'll hit it) the countryside is believed to have the best soil for growing (which could be quite important to you!). Hence this area is the biggest producer in Bulgaria of fruit and vegetables (by the way, if you're ever on the Bourgas to Sofia main road and pass near Sliven, every lay-by will have fresh fruit and vegetable sellers ... the quality of the produce is fabulous).

This region is also far enough inland to offer much better value properties.

However, it's a really difficult (and of course personal) choice, so a visit to as many regions as possible should be undertaken prior to deciding on your final area.

My wife and I lived in the capital Sofia for several years until we decided on our final choice. We chose the mountain town of Kotel as the town and property matched our rather lengthy criteria (enclosed grounds for the dog, historic 'listed' property, walking distance to shops, bars, restaurants market, etc., and surrounded by open countryside and mountains).

Keep adding criteria to your own list and turn down any property that doesn't match (there will be plenty more available).

Good luck with your search and I hope you keep us all posted.
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PostSubject: Re: Avoiding the pitfalls   Thu Jun 21, 2012 10:00 am

Perform a web search of the words “property bulgaria” and you are inundated with property websites, all of which are similarly named and offer a bewildering array of choices. And why does everyone want to buy property in Bulgaria at the moment? Well, it is certainly a beautiful country and property is very cheap there by the standards of the rest of Europe. There is everything that an estate agent could dream of when selling holiday homes: sun, sea, sand, mountains and skiing. When thinking about buying property in a country or even a region that you are unfamiliar with far from your home country, it may be a daunting prospect. There are a variety of ways to approach this venture. Be sure to check current rules and processes through official channels as it has been a while since we purchased our property. Visit the country this seems kind of obvious, but it is necessary to experience a country first hand in order to get an impression of the people (not that it's a good idea to generalise from the few people you will meet on your first visit to a foreign land!), the culture and the services. Before we first travelled to Bulgaria I was under the impression that it would be quite similar to Poland, a country in central Europe to which I have travelled many times. I was quite wrong! Bulgaria is a real mish-mash of western and eastern culture. In fact it reminded me more of Turkey than Poland by a long stretch, especially the cuisine. So, we came to Bulgaria and we loved it and decided that it would be a good place to buy a house. Viewing property If you have the time and are prepared to cope with the stress you could couple a holiday with visiting some properties to get an impression of what is available. This process is made a lot simpler if you have done your research online and know which region or regions you are interested in. Most online property sites can be contacted via email in order to arrange viewings. Be prepared to keep an open mind and don't get your heart set on something you've only seen online however as I have heard a lot of stories of people going to see agents who don't have any of the properties that they said they had a week previously. Having said that though, these same people then went on to buy comparable alternative properties shown to them by these agents, so it can't be all that bad. An alternative to going through an agent is to contact the local mayor or ask the property owner direct (this basically involves knocking on their door and seeing what they say!). You may have to book an appointment with the mayor;
in small villages the hub of activity is always the cafe-cum-convenience store and the mayor's building will be located somewhere near (just look for the fanciest building around). In our village the mayor's wife runs the local shop. Depending on the town or village and your Bulgarian language skills, communication may be an issue here. It really would be worth investing in a translator to accompany you – maybe write the word in Cyrillic ('ПРЕВОДАЧКА', 'prevodatchka') and ask in the local town. We hired one in our local town to translate our property paperwork and we paid 20 BGN for a few hours' work (roughly equal to 10 euros then). You will no doubt get the best deal for contacting property owners directly, as the mayor may well be taking a cut. But you will find that haggling is second nature in Bulgaria, so never accept the first figure that's given to you, whichever channel you choose to take.
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PostSubject: Re: Avoiding the pitfalls   Thu Jun 21, 2012 6:30 pm

Many thanks for the advice.

We totally understand the aspects of viewing property as images on websites can be deceiving. Even when buying property here in the UK when we first got married was enlightening and that a total dive can be made to look amazing with deceptive angles etc of the photos. In the same light it is very disconcerting as to how many website that are selling Bulgarian property and trying to weed out the potentially less reputable websites is a task in itself (very worry what was said on the forum about cheapbulgarianproperty website to name but one).

We hope to try and get over at the end of the year after checking out feasability etc. Even the outgoings aspect once moved seems to cause us some confusion at the moment as we do not know the system and there seems to be lots of little taxes that need to be taken into consideration in relation to trying to be as self sufficient as possible.

Of course we will need to maintain safety net of funds to assist with expenditures in the first few years , but this pot will not extensive.

We are still checking out possible areas in rural locations to then start searching of possible properties from reputable agents for veiwing when we make our way over for a recce.

All in all it is exciting, daunting and frightening all in one. Since thinking about this all we have had many sleepless nights as so many things seem to pop into our heads in the middle of the night in relation to our future in Bulgaria.

Equinus
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PostSubject: Re: Avoiding the pitfalls   Thu Jun 21, 2012 7:34 pm

Ah Equinus you need to make a The first thing I would say is do not buy a property to renovate - There are so many very very cheap properties which sounds just great but the cost of materials and builders have gone up considerably. Of course if you can do all the work yourself than that different and would save you a lot of money. Getting good reliable builders is another matter. Plus by the time you have paid out to renovate you could have bought a property already finished to high standards.

People have spent £50K to £100K on renovations then when they want to move on they cannot sell them now for £40K. So think very carefully on that one. We bought a property from the internet. It looked great and from description and conversations we were told it only needed a little work to be done and it would not cost that much. So we bought it. When we got there it was not at all what we expected. We not even stay a night in it. It cost us another £20K to make it livable to our standards and still there is so much work that needs doing. We bought a 4 bed room now we only have two small bed rooms and still the roof needs to be hired. If we had our time all over again we would rent first than buy a renovated property.

Taxes: Well the taxes are the same as the UK only cheap and called by different names. Depending on the area you live: You have the annual tax for your property around 30lev. Then you pay the property tax returns, our accountant Nominal Ltd charges around 40euro and 55euro for entry into the something tax registry. That's about it.

If you have a vehicle than again you pay annual local tax around 100lev and the annual road tax 67lev and your insurance. You then have your normal electric, gas and water bills and of course your food bills - Many people live very comfortably on 1000 lev a month that about £500 some even less, but of course it all depends on your lifestyle.

So basically there is no need to have sleepless nights if you plan your budget not just for one year but for 10 years plus a little savings for the unexpected you will be fine. g

Sure the others who live in BG will come along and reassure you shortly.

Oddy s

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Equinus
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PostSubject: Re: Avoiding the pitfalls   Thu Jun 21, 2012 8:03 pm

T Oddball you are a star, for resolving a few concerns.

We have already realised that it is worth paying a little more for a renovated property with an indoor loo. Not a problem for me but invariably is for the OH having a loo outside. We will eventually hopefully be growing the most part of our food which again will reduce expenditure.

Will keep you posted

Equinus

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