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A Tale of Two Villages

Five years ago most Bulgarian villagers farmed their small tracts of land using traditional methods, grew all of their own food, raised livestock for domestic consumption and lived in run down cottages without double glazing, central heating or indoor bathrooms. Today, the property boom has had a positive effect on village life by enabling many people to release capital long tied up in land and property that previously nobody wanted to buy. Westerners came in unprecedented numbers and started to build luxurious villas or renovate and extend existing buildings to a standard previously believed impossible. They cleaned up the streets that they live on, put in roads and often set up village shops, bars and restaurants employing the local population, many of whom were unable to find work before the construction boom started.

Today many villagers across the country have reaped the benefits of foreign investment and have started to renovate their homes and set up their own businesses, whilst their municipalities improve the roads and general infrastructure. Certain villages have found that their location has turned them into something of an attraction and what were once sleepy hollows with populations of less than 500 have turned into desirable locations with a host of lavish amenities.

Bulgaria’s Beverly Hills

Set on a hillside overlooking the Black Sea, the tiny village of Rogachevo has seen an extraordinary amount of development making it one of Bulgaria's most exclusive coastal locations. Set between the mountains and the sea, the combination of the two geographical zones gives the village extraordinarily clean air, which makes it a healthy place to live. In addition to this, its hillside location means it is sheltered from the winter elements and has more sunny days than other nearby areas. It lays 5 kms and 8 kms respectively from the beach resorts of Albena and Golden Sands, is a 15 minute drive to three Black Sea golf courses and is only 25 minutes away from the cosmopolitan city of Varna. There are rumours that in the future, Rogachevo too will have its own golf course.

The village, which ten years ago housed a few stone-built properties now consists of endless opulent villas belonging not only to foreign investors, but to wealthy Bulgarians. Not surprisingly, property and land prices have increased rapidly; land costs around 55 Euros per square metre and you would be lucky to find a western build property here for under 125,000 Euros with many costing in excess of 200,000.

New developments here do not consist of small villa complexes by independent builders; the largest construction site at the moment covers a 13,000 sq. m. site and is the project of AIM listed Bulgarian Land Development PLC. The company, which also has large ongoing projects in Sofia, Borovets and Balchik, raised £40 million in stock listed capital to finance the builds and count companies like Henderson Global Investors, Jupiter Asset Management and the Union Bank of Switzerland as major shareholders. Their development in Rogachevo is called Harmony Hills and consists of 180 apartments and 23 high end villas enclosed in a resort complex setting with bars, restaurants, swimming pools, a gym and a wellness centre. The development, which will be completed in spring, is located on former agricultural land, just outside of the old village and borders a beautiful pine forest and vine plantations. The complex recently won the Homes Overseas Magazines gold awards for “Best House” and “Best Affordable Development”.

There are two other significant large scale projects in Rogachevo, again built on the outskirts of the village close to the Harmony Hills project. Ecostar, part of the Bulgarian owned Ecoproject company are constructing a holiday village on 15,000 sq. m. of land, comprising of 34 villas with shared area, a restaurant, swimming pools, a fitness center, and a playground. Once this project is complete the company will go on the build two more adjoining complexes.