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Visit, Buy, Emigrate, Renovate - Part Two



Buy

The house I mentioned earlier was the second to last one we viewed and the minute I stepped over the threshold I remember saying to Alan "this is it, I want it, I want it". Call it ‘women’s intuition’ but you just know when something is right. Everything about it felt right.

I think you need to have a little madness in you to be doing this in the first place - this is mine, star signs - and when we saw a bridge with threee bull statues (Alan's star sign is Taurus), well, it just had to be. Obviously Alan being Alan (and a man), thinks about the important things like, "let’s just check this out", "let’s make sure the roof is OK, the walls are sound, and there are no cracks" - the boring, but important part, of looking at these properties.

The seller had put in a brand new Bulgarian style kitchen in my favourite kitchen colours of blue and yellow. We had a lovely drink of fresh fruit juice out on the patio, under the shade of the cherry trees (with a fantastic bowl of the same fruit on the table). On Alan’s inspection the house seemed sound enough, and the seller answered all Alan’s questions regarding the upstairs which was unfinished. The seller had to get back to work so, in all, a decision which was to change our lives was made in a matter of thirty minutes - crazy isn’t it? We are so cautious in the UK, yet we put so much trust in people here in Bulgaria, that they’ve answered our questions honestly, and we take things at face value, which we seldom do in the UK. The price of this house was £19,500 - wow!

This was the one for me, so it was into the office for the adventure to really begin. We had to pay the deposit, open a bank account, think of a company name, etc, etc. We managed to get it all done and dusted within three days, and finished off our holiday in Sveti Vlas before returning to Scotland to begin preparation for ‘The Move’.

 

Emigrate

This all happened before Bulgaria joined the EU, so we had all the visa paperwork to deal with, which you don't need now, as well as arranging the removal of our worldly goods. Quotes for removal costs varied between £3,000 and £6,000 (from Scotland).

I handed in my notice at the central heating company office which I ran, we sold our home in Dundee, said goodbye to family and friends, and finally moved to Bulgaria on 28 August 2006.

Our house, although in need of renovation, was in fact habitable on the ground floor, with a kitchen, living room, one bedroom, and shower room/toilet. The main work was the upper level. Nothing other than dividing walls existed, dividing the area into three bedrooms and a bathroom, along with a large veranda.

 

Renovate

The renovation consisted of the entire upstairs, with tiled floors, wood ceilings including the veranda. The veranda also had a wooden balustrade with fitted fly screens all around with a new two metre sliding door to replace the two small windows, and a door leading from our bedroom.

Double glazing and fly screens were fitted throughout (eight windows along with new back and front doors). We had a completely new bathroom with a bath/shower, a new UK style kitchen, a log burning central heating system with five radiators and two heated towel rails, all the walls were redone with plasterboard, plus an essential new septic tank (soak-away type) in the back garden. Not to mention a new reinforced floor in the garage along with the walls being re-plastered and new concrete roof. We had new metal garage doors and new driveway gates. The property and garage were also completely rewired.

Work started in September 2006 and was finished in March 2007, all carried out by BRE’s builder

A word of advice - keep in mind that any renovation is going to cost money and it’s by no means cheap, not even by UK standards. Remember too that you might come up against ‘dual pricing’ - a Bulgarian price and a British price, although this is not allowed. Our renovation came with a two year guarantee and cost us the equivalent of £15,000.

Living through the renovation was horrendous. The mess, the noise, the discomfort, all added up to enormous stress. The builders who did our renovation were wonderful, but they did work differently to UK workers. The work they do is every bit as good, but it just takes longer. They seemed to jump from bit to bit without ever finishing any one thing off. Then they had endless ‘discussions’ about something we thought was very minor and when we asked what the problem was we were told ‘nyama problem’ (there isn’t a problem). How frustrating!

Another piece of advice is - learn the language! The communication barrier is the biggest drawback to living here.

Our sons are coming for a holiday this month never having been to Bulgaria before. There will be a few culture shocks for them to get over, but then I’m sure like us, they will realise why we are so happy to have moved here."