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Bulgaria: Property Buying Brits

As more foreigners have bought Bulgarian property and many relocated to Bulgaria, local newspapers have had a variety of comments on the potentially thorny issue of British expats buying homes in the country. Are there a large number of expats in certain areas of Bulgaria or are there not enough? This seems to be a key question for both the Bulgarians and also those Britons who are looking to purchase property in the country. The second part of this question is whether expats have been responsible for pushing up property prices.

Although there are areas where there are large cliques of Britons, overall it is only a tiny percentage of properties in any region which are owned by them. However, most communes within a region will have at least one British household in the popular areas and in some, significantly more, perhaps as many as 10%.

Expats are not spread evenly throughout Bulgaria but are found in groups, mainly gathered around certain ski and sea resorts, plus Veliko Turnovo, Yambol and Elhovo in the main. The average price which foreigners have paid for property in the resorts is 120,000 euros, in Veliko Turnovo 75,000 and in Elhovo/Yambol 48,000. One can certainly draw the conclusion from these figures that although expats are not high in numbers, they certainly spend more than locals.

It's not just the price that expats pay for their property but it is also how much they spend in restaurants and cafes, with builders for renovation works, in the supermarkets and so on. Where you get a large number of expats together they are, unfortunately, clearly visible to the locals - apart from speaking English, they are talking in such loud voices. This all lends to the feeling that there are more expats in Bulgaria than there really are.

Whilst property prices have risen dramatically in Bulgaria, it would be unfair to lay this entirely at the door of foreigners. Given the small number of property transactions overall, they cannot be the only ones contributing to price rises. Certainly, they have had a greater part to play in those areas where large numbers have bought but they have not distorted the market in other areas. Greedy vendors have had their say in the matter too!

There is no contesting the fact that it is difficult for many locals to buy a beautifully renovated or new property when they are on low salaries or are first time buyers. But this has always been the case in Bulgaria - indeed, it is the same in Britain.

Nonetheless, there are certain places across the country where there are a high number of expats and property prices in those areas are higher. For the locals, they often consider that the foreigners remain at a distance from them and don't speak a word of the language.

If you are considering buying a property in Bulgaria and want to avoid the situation of higher prices and an oversupply of your fellow countrymen, what to do?

Well, the first thing would be to avoid the expat 'areas': the places where there are so many Brits that nobody can be bothered to enjoy the many positives of the Bulgarian way of life. Look for an area where the locals buy. You won't be inundated with Brits although are likely to find a few nearby and at the same time you can fit in with the Bulgarians.

The next thing is that you really do need to learn some Bulgarian. No need to be fluent but what a difference it makes when you can actually talk to your Bulgarian neighbour. This way you'll fit in, enjoy yourself and become part of the social life in your area.

It is more than likely that the language problem is the biggest contributory factor to the idea from the Bulgarians that all foreigners are rich. If you can learn the language and communicate to them then the idea that everyone in the UK is filthy rich will start to disappear.


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