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Bulgaria Property: Avoid the Mistakes

If you're looking to buy a property in bulgaria, take note of some words of wisdom from those who have already bought here and who would buy differently now they know more about Bulgaria and the Bulgarian property market. We spoke to a number of Britons, some expats, some who bought only for holidays, to get the low down on how they feel about their Bulgarian home.

Here is a selection of their comments.

"Take your time. We bought on a knee jerk reaction just because it was so cheap without really thinking about the location. in our minds we foolishly just compared what we were seeing with what that property would have cost in England. Coming from an island where land is at a premium you think a big garden is important and valuable. In a country like Bulgaria this has little value because there is so much land. Also, why we thought we needed a big four bedroom house when there's only the two of us, I really don't know; it only adds to the maintenance"

"We didn't realise how bad our village was until we started travelling around Bulgaria. There are lots of lovely places which we just didn't know about. We've now seen some smashing vibrant little market towns, with proper pavements and shops, clean and tidy - not like our village where there's nothing at all and it's positively grubby"

"We just can't cope with the big garden, we do nothing but cut the grass and we're not gardeners. We like our geraniums and tubs in summer but beyond that we'd rather spend time having a bbq than working on the garden"

"Everyone said we could demolish and rebuild in the same footprint without planning permission. That's fine but then we discovered the original house never had planning in the first place! We should have got an independent lawyer as they would have seen on the land registry plan that the building never did have planning and told us. We used the lawyer recommended by the agent and they must have seen the problem on the plan but they never said. How daft we were".

"We were looking for a holiday home and thought a big country house with lots of land would be just what we wanted. As it turned out, we know now that we only wanted that because it was impossible to achieve in England and it doesn't suit us. We have few near neighbours and have to drive to get everything we need, even a loaf of bread, which makes the family holiday a bit of a misery and there are no other kids around for mine to play with during the summer. And we worry about security when we are not there because there just aren't enough people about who can keep an eye on the place. We should have bought a smaller lock up and leave really"

"We bought in an apartment block on the coast but should have checked out the arrangements for maintenance. Some people simply are not paying their maintenance fees and now the developer is asking the rest of us to cover their payments otherwise the necessary things can't be done, like keeping the communal areas clean and tidy. We wish we'd bought an individual property and not in a complex, then it would have been just down to ourselves"

"My local bank has a cash machine but my UK bank card won't work in it, nobody at the bank knows why. I should have tried it first before I bought the house. Now I have a two hour drive to get money from the next nearest ATM; how ridiculous is that"

"We should have bought in a town not in a small village. We feel very cut off and really long for more human contact, not just the neighbours but other people. We should have chosen a town with facilities and a good restaurant and bar with lots of people and tourists coming in and out, where we could meet others and have a good time. We only have one small little shop where we can buy a few odd items. With hindsight, what a difference it would have made to us if we could have strolled around town, taken a look in the shop windows and stopped at a cafe to do a bit of people watching"

"I was shocked at the cost of renovations in Bulgaria. I thought it would be really cheap but good labour and good craftsmen are hard to find and command a high price. Every builder calls themselves a 'meister' but they aren't really and the quality of work can be poor if you don't watch out. I wouldn't want to go through a renovation again and really wish we had bought something which was in a better condition and better built"

"We have some British friends about an hour away from us. Every time we go and see them we come away feeling really fed up and not looking forward to going back to our home. They did all the right things, bought a lovely small detached house with a manageable garden in a really pretty town with everything on their doorstep and countryside and mountains as well. We should have done the same, Edge of town would have been ideal for us"

Top Tips

So, what would they look for next time or even wish they had bought first time? Here's their top dozen tips:

- Smaller house but better quality - preferrably already renovated or with only TLC required as tackling a renovation is not for the faint-hearted in Bulgaria if you are unfamiliar with the language
- Don't rush - take your time: many who bought in a hurry just because the property was cheap now realise they made a wrong decision
- Check out the locale - watch out for those 'grubby' villages and those which look as if they are going downhill: choose somewhere with a bit of style
- Avoid big gardens - unless you want to be self-sufficient or are a very keen gardener, all that land may end up being nothing but a chore
- Facilities within walking distance - bar, restaurant, hotel, shops, bank, doctor, vet, pharmacy, police station, ambulance service on hand: all these things add to great living and lifestyle
- Villages are often no more than hamlets - what the Bulgarians call a town is what many Brits would usually call a large village: look for edge of town to get the best of both worlds
- Rubbish collection once a week - if you don't fancy having to drive to put your rubbish in a bin, check that there are binmen who collect from your door
-Market towns - these are usually more vibrant and up and coming: choose a town with a market once a week where you can buy anything from seasonal plants to a jumper and mix with the locals
- Fenced garden - surprisingly expensive to do if it is not enclosed
- Internet - availability, speed and wifi but most importantly reliability and cost so you can keep in touch with friends and family
- Water and electric - find out if it goes off: it doesn't in towns but can frequently suddenly go off in the countryside and villages and there is little worse than being left unexpectedly without water or electric for long periods
- Drains - check if there really is a septic tank and it is not just a cess pit, better still go for a property on mains