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Visit, Buy, Emigrate, Renovate

Retired couple sixty-six year old Alan Lowe and his wife, fifty-eight year old Carol, originate from Dundee. They are now happily living in a village, near Yambol. Carol talks about their real-life experience of buying their property in Bulgaria, moving and renovating.

"Before coming to our decision we researched Bulgaria as best we could - mainly using the internet for information. We felt it was important to look into as many aspects as possible of our chosen destination. Not just the country itself, but the regions of that country; with regard to climate, lay of the land, etc.

 

As both of us suffer from arthritis, neither of us can walk far for very long, although we both love to travel and explore as much as possible. The area in and around Yambol suits us well as it’s reasonably flat. Our village, although being just a small village of a few hundred inhabitants, is also under 12 kms from the town of Yambol, so is near enough for any emergencies such as hospital, doctor, dentist and so on.

It’s not a quick and easy decision to leave all the comforts of home, family and friends, especially when you’re that little bit older.

Approaching pensionable age makes you look a little bit harder at your way of life (or standard of living might be more appropriate), and let’s face it, being a pensioner in the UK isn’t all roses.

Having taken out a mortgage later in life meant that we would still have a mortgage to pay for another couple of years after Alan retired, along with the crippling council tax, expensive electricity and gas bills, not forgetting the fact that we are both smokers. Our pension certainly wouldn’t go far in the UK, well not as far as both our full time salaries had allowed us to go previously at any rate!

We spent roughly a year and a half looking into Bulgaria once we had actually decided on which country we were going to transplant ourselves to. At the end of the day, money had to be the deciding factor, and Bulgaria is the country which met our limited pension budget.

Then we had to decide, shall we take our own household goods or buy everything new? Although Bulgaria does have some really nice looking furniture, it’s not always the most comfortable, and beds, for example, are a different size so therefore is bed linen. We had to weigh up if it was worth the cost of transporting our things or getting everything new - it is nice to have your own things around you. We opted to bring it all with us, for which I will always be glad that we did. Maybe it’s an age thing I’m not sure.

During our extensive search for estate agents and properties, we were extremely lucky to find Bulgarian Real Estate Online.

 

Visit

For a few months we dealt with their company by e-mail having photos and information on various properties sent to us. Their prices included all costs - solicitors, notary, translation of documents, checking that the property was free to be sold, and so on. It’s amazing how all these incidentals can mount up if you try to do it on your own.

Eventually we decided it was time to make a trip to Bulgaria and view some of the properties we had only so far seen in photos. We narrowed our search down to about six properties, which wasn’t easy seeing as we had to think of it as being the last home move we were ever going to make. One of the houses came up for sale just two days before we left for Bulgaria. It was the most expensive one on our list, but also the one I had the strongest feeling for.

Our personal criteria had been relatively simple, it didn’t need to be a huge property in either house or land (after all there’s only the two of us), as long as there was space to put up relatives when they came to visit and enough of a garden area to keep us occupied.

We came over in May 2006, when Alan retired from his job as an ATM assembler for the US company NCR, to view the six properties which ranged in price from £12,000 to £20,000. They were in various villages within an 80 km radius of Yambol.

Viewing the properties came as quite a culture shock even though we thought we had prepared ourselves! We met lovely old couples who greeted us happily and were so proud of their homes and yet we, being from the UK and used to up-to-the-minute mod-cons, were horrified to find what these lovely people are living in.

Horrified, but at the same time humbled, as we had to remind ourselves just what were we expecting for this amount of money? We saw places which really, to satisfy our standards, would need to be completely demolished and re-built from the foundations up, all of which costs money, and although cheaper than in the UK, you have to keep in mind that once you come to live here in Bulgaria you are no longer a holidaymaker with money to burn, you are a local, living with local prices and your money only stretches so far.