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So why would you move to Bulgaria ...?
As more and more people are planning to leave the UK for a new life overseas, we find out why the new wave of expats are choosing to settle in Bulgaria
Research carried out by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in January has revealed that just over four in ten people in their fifties are considering moving abroad to find a better lifestyle. Spain and France are traditionally the favourite destinations for British expats, but a growing number of people are now choosing to move to Bulgaria. The question is, why? What does Bulgaria offer to those seeking a new life overseas? What are people finding here that is better than at "home"?
Over the past few months, we have been carrying out an informal survey amongst the expats and visitors that we meet in Bulgaria. We wanted to get as close as possible to the issues that matter at a personal level so we asked people to list the main reasons that prompted (or would prompt) them to choose Bulgaria as their new home and then discounted the two major benefits of moving to another EU member country, namely: that those who move can now have their UK pension paid straight into a bank account of their choice, and that they also qualify for free healthcare. We recognise that this is a bit of a straw poll exercise and that there is little scientific rigour to our research. Nevertheless, we think that the findings might surprise you. So, in ascending order, here are the top five reasons that people quoted as their triggers for deciding to settle in Bulgaria …
Reason 5: The weather
While the weather is always a topic of interest and conversation, we did not really think that it had a chance of making our hot-list. Enough expats, though, commented that Bulgaria's four distinct seasons - a blooming spring, a typically Mediterranean summer, a long and pleasant autumn and a crisp, clear winter, together with the reliable year-round climate - were sufficiently important to register as one of the main factors in their decision-making.
Reason 4: Social and Family Values
The general recognition is that there is a deep social and cultural core to life in Bulgaria that embraces religion, family, tradition and heritage and is reflected with pride in everything from song and dance, to holidays and festivals, to food and drink, to national dress and jewellery. Many people living in Bulgaria today often say that they are reminded of Britain in the fifties, when children were safe, life was straightforward and neighbours helped neighbours. While this may be something of a rose-tinted view, it is true to say that just about every expat would acknowledge that their experience of living in Bulgaria has been made easier, better and more comfortable because of the friendship and assistance of their neighbours.
Reason 3: Lifestyle and Living
The benefits of life in Bulgaria appear to be widely recognised by both expats and visitors. Along with traditional lifestyle factors such as: the climate, the beaches, the mountains and the beautiful countryside, low prices, family values and friendly neighbours, we found a significant level of comment about the time and opportunity that people had found to enjoy the things that were either too remote or too expensive for them in the UK. This list included: golf, walking in the mountains, horse-riding, fishing, football; painting, bird-watching, photography, opera, theatre, music; concerts and cinema. Life in the towns and cities was also considered and, while busier and more dynamic than the laid-back lifestyle of a rural village, people still found more time to spend in the home or pottering around the garden, with evening strolls to enjoy the café-culture, people-watching or simply sitting and watching the sun go down over a glass of home-made wine.
Reason 2: Finance and Cost of Living
The overall cost of living in Bulgaria is less than half of that in the UK. While some items, such as petrol at around 2 BGN (Bulgarian Leva) or £0.95 a litre, are relatively expensive, direct price comparisons of non-imported food, clothing, electrical goods and furniture generally reflect around 40 to 45% of UK costs, with utility bills and municipal tax (council tax) at an even lower level. No matter how attractive the cost of living might be, though, it's not a good idea to come to Bulgaria without a source of income but, having said that, the fact is that many expats are pleasantly surprised at just how easy it is to live comfortably on a British pension or to find ways of generating an income to fund their new lifestyle.
Reason 1: Freedom from Stress
Many people expressed feelings of hopelessness and disillusionment because they believe that Britain has lost its national identity and is unrecognisable from the country they grew up in, when fear of crime or being attacked in the home was so low that people would leave their back doors unlocked. Rising crime rates, violence and antisocial behaviour, fear of unemployment, declining standards of education and the worsening economic situation which has already seen the cost of living soar, the value of the pound plummet and interest rates on savings all but disappear, are quoted as the main problems of life in Britain today. Coming to Bulgaria from this typically stressful environment in the UK almost invariably brings about a significant change in peoples' attitude. The most common types of statement that we encountered were along the lines of ... "it's like a weight being lifted off my shoulders" and "life is simpler here - and better for it". Clearly, life in Bulgaria is not without its problems but for most people, it seems that the benefits combine to outweigh the inevitable differences and disadvantages.
And now it's over to you …
So far, our study has covered only the relatively small number of people with whom we come into contact on a day-to-day basis … but now we want to extend it. We want to hear from everybody who has already moved to Bulgaria - and everybody who is thinking about coming to live here. Do you agree with the top five hot-list? Do you have different reasons? What's important to you?
Let us know by e-mail via our website at: http://www.movetobg.com
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About MovetoBG: We provide information about Bulgaria, together with a portfolio of related services and comprehensive local knowledge gleaned from five years of living and working here. Our aim is to provide a single source of information, advice and practical help for everybody visiting Bulgaria. So, whether you are planning a relaxing holiday break, a travel adventure, a fact-finding trip for your property purchase - or if you are thinking of moving here permanently, we can offer the ideal starting point for your Bulgarian experience.
For details, see our websites at: http://www.movetobg.com and http://www.bulgariagateway.net
You can also follow us on Twitter at @MovetoBG and @BulgariaGateway
Page Updated Last on: Oct 19, 2011