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Back You are here: Home Property Where to Buy Wise Buys: Property Investment in the Rhodope Mountains

Wise Buys: Property Investment in the Rhodope Mountains

If fresh air, pine forests, mineral springs and imposing mountain peaks is appeals to your senses then a holiday home or permanent property in the magnificent Rhodope Mountains could be the ideal escape from the rat race and credit crunch blues. Bulgaria’s Rhodope Mountains are rich in traditions and customs with a powerful folklore and romantic visions of the past when the ‘haiduks’ hid out in the mountains to fight for the country’s freedom from the Turks. Life here in this scenic paradise is truly idyllic and property prices are still incredibly low.

What’s Available?

Amidst the majestic mountain peaks lie a host of towns and villages offering a wide variety of property from huge renovation projects to off plan apartments and newly built villas. Many properties are built on the steep mountain slopes and this can be off putting to buyers who are used to seeing property in neat flat estates, but it is worth bearing in mind that the locals have been building on slopes for centuries and as you will see from the age and type of architecture around, there have been no adverse effects.  The mountains are also home to the country’s best ski conditions; lots of powder snow lasting until April despite the warmth of the sun, which shines for around 300 days a year in some parts. Two of Bulgaria’s top three ski resorts lie on the borders of the Rhodope Mountains; Borovets and Bansko also border onto the Rila and Pirin ranges respectively, but Pamporovo lies at the very heart of the Eastern Rhodopes. Winter conditions have given rise to a mass of ski property in the resorts most of which is apartment based. The thing about these developments is that they offer far more practical and luxurious facilities than their Black Sea counterparts and the prices are far lower too.

Year Round Potential

The development of alpine golf courses around the three ski resorts has stimulated year round tourism alongside the growing publicity about the sheer beauty and volume of attractions in the area, some of which can only be visited when the snow recedes. Eco tourism is growing in this area with a greater number of hospitable rural pensions springing up amid some of Bulgaria’s most panoramic backdrops. There are also many activity holidays on offer; the Rhodopes are perfect for horse riding, climbing, hiking, walking, mountain biking and cycling, paragliding, hunting, all terrain driving and bird watching and this is by no means a comprehensive list.  Many of the mountain towns like lovely Velingrad offer mineral springs and the complimentary therapies that go with them and many new villa and apartment developments have sprung up around this industry alone.  Clearly the increase in year round tourism coupled with the strong winter season has created many excellent buy-to-let opportunities. The Rhodope Mountain region is around an hour and a half’s drive from Sofia’s international airport making it easily accessible especially since the advent of the low cost carriers like Easyjet.

Property Prices

Apartment prices in the region start from as little as 22,000 Euros, and the average price of a renovated villa 40,500 Euros with bargains available as low as 5,900 Euros and luxury property at the top end commanding as much as 500,000 Euros. It is worth bearing in mind that villa property at the low end of the scale will require substantial renovation to bring it in line with Western standards and this should be added to the budget.  Land prices start at around 2,700 Euros and some of these come with rundown stone houses, which would need to be demolished. The benefit of buying land with an old building on is that you can use the existing footprint to build a new home and recycle some of that wonderful Rhodope stone in the construction of your dream house. Townhouses, much sought after in towns like Smolyan and Chepelare cost around 44,115 Euros on average, but again will need some work to bring them up to Western standards. If you buy in the ski resorts then you can rest assured that property here is about half the value of the Alps. Rental potential in the ski resorts is around 7-8% gross yields.

Regional Investment

Over the last few years, there has been a high degree of investment in the area with both funds from the European Union to improve the infrastructure and foreign investment to develop facilities in the region like spa resorts, golf courses and enhanced ski amenities. Over 55 million Euros alone has been invested in Pamporovo over the last two years and approximately 60 million Euros is scheduled to be invested in Chepelare.  Smolyan has also received grants in excess of 260,000 to build up its tourism base. Money from the EU PHARE programme has been allocated to the project called “Developing Bulgarian Ecotourism” and money to secure and preserve the landscape has also bee allotted so that the mountains are no longer threatened by freak landslides and rock falls. One of the biggest and most promising projects in the Rhodope region is the motorway, which will link the Eastern Rhodopes with the Aegean Sea in Greece. Starting around Smolyan the motorway will cross the Greek border and head on down to the coast with a journey time of around 45 minutes. Whilst many Bulgarians may choose to holiday on the Aegean in summer, the motorway is likely to bring an influx of Greek tourists into the region especially during winter. The rental potential in summer is likely to increase as Bulgarians intending on holidaying on the Aegean are likely to rent on the Bulgarian border because of the substantially lower cost of living and renting compared to Greece.