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Brits move to Bulgaria for happiness

Those living in Bulgaria, be they expats or locals, have been hard hit by the recession. The global crisis has slammed businesses, job numbers have fallen and property prices have dropped. Expats have seen their income shrink as the pound crashed down against the euro. All of this would make you wonder why Britons would move to Bulgaria.

The current economic conditions just add to the problems which you already face when buying an overseas property and moving countries. Other elements which may put people off are giving up their career to start a new life in Bulgaria, the complexities of setting up a business in a country where you don't know the language and low wages.

We've spoken before about the number who give up and return home but there are so many who find that Bulgaria offers such a good quality of life they want to stay. This quality of life is bound up in ways which have nothing to do with money - but happiness.

One 48 year old Briton, Peter Egan, left the UK because he was working some 16 hours a day every day of the week just to manage to pay his bills. He realised he was missing out on his family growing up and decided to leave the UK behind and head for Bulgaria. Peter has never looked back, despite still working and setting up his own business. However, he no longer puts in seven day weeks and is always at home with his family by five in the afternoon. He says, 'Whilst I don't earn as much as I did before back in Britain, I don't need to as the cost of living is dramatically lower. I work five days a week and get to spend bags of time with the kids. It's so much more relaxed and me and the family are much happier. The kids are safer and we don't have to 'keep up with the Jones's' any more. It's like living in the UK but 50 years ago when neighbours kept an eye out for you and your home. The kids play out all day and we don't have to worry if they will be attacked or anything.'

Rebecca Thomas and her husband, Joe, are a young couple with two young children who bravely made their move to Bulgaria in their late twenties. 'The worry was making enough money and the children's schooling', says Rebecca. 'At the end of the day, though, we didn't need to have worried. The children are happier than they have ever been and are learning far more than they would have done in an English school. The teachers are good and maintain discipline. Our business is going well - airport transfers - and we don't work long hours, although do work hard when we are working. The local community is a joy. We have a lot less money here but it goes much further and we'd rather be happy. Our quality of life has improved significantly although we have far less material things. I certainly don't miss having two cars and the children don't miss their computer games - let alone not missing the monthly mortgage repayments'.

One British pensioner, who has seen her income reduced more than 30% because of the fall of the pound told us 'I'd have to cut down on all sorts of spending if I were still in the UK anyway as things have gone up so much - gas, council tax... so I'm no worse off here really. Actually, I'm better off in so many ways. I have great neighbours, wonderful views over the mountains and animals which I always wanted. The other noticeable difference is that I never live in fear here with such kind locals around. Definitely not as much money as before but a much lovelier life.'

In summary, happiness seems to be the reason why Brits move to Bulgaria and stay here. A quality of life which is not about money. Their income may have been reduced due to the exchange rate but obviously the lifestyle in Bulgaria suits them.