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Xpat Forum_
Topic:

Good upland village to retire to?

# 1
Author:
Moonraker
Hi - we're canvassing opinions about the best communities to consider when we retire in, hopefully, the near future. We've read a variety of viewpoints. We would like a good mix of welcoming locals and helpful expats, in an upland community, surrounded by mother nature and the great outdoors. Any nominations? We like the Tryavna area but are open to suggestions where else to consider. All offerings welcome. Thanks in anticipation.
24 October 2012 20:16:32 Reply Quote
# 2
Author:
Seedy
Most locals will be welcoming, even if only out of initial curiosity. You'll get gifts of produce (and plenty of "advice" of variable use ) but bear in mind most people here are very poor by foreign standards and you, hopefully, won't want to make it all a one-way deal when you receive things. Crime is high in many places and those with the most to steal, especially if they're not there much or are regularly/routinely away from the property, are the most attractive targets. If you don't speak the language reasonably well you're never going to be a REAL part of the community, however friendly people are.

Personally, I'd avoid the "helpful expat" areas - outside the cities they mostly only "help themselves", literally and metaphorically - and their assistance is of dubious worth. The more of them there are, the more "cliquey" they become and the more they argue/fight with, and gossip about, each other. Often they have learned nothing in their years here, or in their time on this planet, and they're best avoided: if you want to come to Bulgaria, why surround yourself with people from the place you wanted to leave anyway?

Do a LOT of research and get to know the different areas as well as you can - it's important not to get blinded by enthusiasm and shoot yourself in the foot. It took us 3 years to find our "ideal" village house and that was despite us living here, and my Bulgarian wife got to see a lot of her own country that she'd never visited in the process!

If you do find your dream house then be sure not to fall into the many traps that await buyers here and good luck with your search.....
28 October 2012 07:32:22 Reply Quote
# 3
Author:
Francesco
Most locals will be welcoming, even if only out of initial curiosity. You'll get gifts of produce (and plenty of "advice" of variable use ) but bear in mind most people here are very poor by foreign standards and you, hopefully, won't want to make it all a one-way deal when you receive things. Crime is high in many places and those with the most to steal, especially if they're not there much or are regularly/routinely away from the property, are the most attractive targets. If you don't speak the language reasonably well you're never going to be a REAL part of the community, however friendly people are.

Personally, I'd avoid the "helpful expat" areas - outside the cities they mostly only "help themselves", literally and metaphorically - and their assistance is of dubious worth. The more of them there are, the more "cliquey" they become and the more they argue/fight with, and gossip about, each other. Often they have learned nothing in their years here, or in their time on this planet, and they're best avoided: if you want to come to Bulgaria, why surround yourself with people from the place you wanted to leave anyway?

Do a LOT of research and get to know the different areas as well as you can - it's important not to get blinded by enthusiasm and shoot yourself in the foot. It took us 3 years to find our "ideal" village house and that was despite us living here, and my Bulgarian wife got to see a lot of her own country that she'd never visited in the process!

If you do find your dream house then be sure not to fall into the many traps that await buyers here and good luck with your search.....

5 November 2012 08:54:02 Reply Quote
# 4
Author:
Francesco
Seedy,
about the best place to settle you seem more informed than the average member of this forum.
You are right in considering all those mentioned elements and your advice is greatly appreciated, but not everyone has a valuable Bulgarian wife.
At this point I would like to know the location you have chosen after your research.
Cheers
Francesco
5 November 2012 09:03:20 Reply Quote
# 5
Author:
Marianne
Hello Moonraker,

I am not a Brit and hate Marmite, but live in the Tryavna area.

When looking for a property in this area you have to consider a few important things. In the higher villages around here the water levels can drop in Summer to zero so your sonda, chesma or any other water supply may dry up.
Tryavna Obstinat is very good in cleaning the roads at winter time but not all roads are cleaned. Check this before hand.
It is advisable to look for a village where the local bus service runs to, maybe only a few days per week, but important to have this back up. Cars can go wrong at any time. Many small villages benefit from a microbus shop service with the basics or anything else you order upfront from them.
There are Brits around here and they had some sort of social gathering every week until .... they had the normal quarrels fell out and some of them even returned to the UK.

Best to avoid the few villages where the Roma woodcutters reside, from other parts of Bulgaria they will invade this area in summer and live in tents and furgoni close to the woods where they have contracts to cut.

The most important advice is - learn the Bulgarian language and try to learn to pronounce it correctly!

Bulgarians are sceptic about foreigners and about life in general, Seedy has written so many valuable and true posts regarding this. In this area the building companies have been spoiled by some crazy expats and believe they can rip off any foreigner so be careful.

Estate agents also try to up the prices of properties for foreigners so don't just pay what they ask.
But one can live a good life here. If you know what you want and why you want to live here it's OK if you come here for the new country to save you and give you a new life it will go wrong. The Bulgarian mentality is so different from other countries.

If you have the means to travel regularly, Gabrovo and Veliko Tarnovo offer a lot of good foodshops and interesting cultural events. Skiing close to Gabrovo, Fishing in Tryavna.

If you stand strongly in your own boots and have researched that you can get out of life what you think you want in this new country, then Bulgaria is great. And anything else can be ordered through the WEB or bought in Sofia or sorted with a quick fix trip to UK. There are talks about opening the airport close to Veliko Tarnovo for International travel.

Tryavna itself is ... Tryavna. In summer tourists, in winter it sleeps. Many good restaurants and interesting people. But always casual contacts, don't think you are going to make great friends with all Bulgarians. Also beware that smiling friendly Bulgarians you meet at 10 o'clock in the morning may actually already be merrily happy because of the Rakia breakfast!

But the best bit of Bulgaria is - the weather is soooo much better here. 5 November 27 degrees C and blue skies.

One bit of very sincere advice -if you have found your home anywhere in Bulgaria - don't open your home to all and sundry. The Bulgarians always blame the gypsies but - many times they use your hospitality just to see what you have and the next time you are back in the UK ....!!!!!!

Do as the Bulgarians do - entertain outside but keep the frontdoor closed. Although entertaining the Bulgarians UK way does not work at all.

Best way to find a place where you can settle long time is to have a caravan/camper and stay in these places for longer than an estate agent visit or rent first although that is very difficult.

To succeed is always location location location and in Bulgaria language language language!

Hope this is helpful. Marianne
6 November 2012 10:09:57 Reply Quote
# 6
Author:
Seedy
Francesco

A Bulgarian wife is "valuable" in this context only if she knows the country well. To be frank, mine leaves both the research involved in finding a property and, just as importantly, the haggling over the price to me. By and large, Bulgarians are not very good at haggling - obviously the Ottomans never passed this very valuable lesson on to them!

If you intend to retire here, do make sure that you have enough money to live a reasonable life (obviously this means different things to different people) and that you settle somewhere that you won't find too quiet and boring. Our village is large and isn't at all "upland", being in the plain between two of the main mountain-ranges; it also has the great advantage of being within an hour or so of Sofia. As I may have mentioned elsewhere, one of the best things about it is that, amazingly, I am the only foreigner with a property there....
9 November 2012 13:27:49 Reply Quote
# 7
Author:
Fred
Seedy is a self-proclaimed 'good Russian' but chooses to live in BG with a Bulgarian wife whom he dominates, but more importantly, as I am sure readers of his advice will be well aware of is; he dislikes the Brits.

I too have a Bulgarian wife - she prefers to live in both the UK and Spain rather than be anywhere in BG.

Think very carefully about the choice of location and trust NO-ONE. Follow your own instincts and if they prove to be wrong, relocate!

Good luck.
13 November 2012 18:49:24 Reply Quote
# 8
Author:
john mulryan
brits can be clicky but generally you know where you stand

brits married to bulgarians think they are one step ahead because they have a in hose tranlator

forget living in a small village try a large town where there are lots of things going on prices are not as cheap as people think and unless you live like a local or have a good income it will be difficult


people slag the uk off cant understand why so many want to go there if its so bad

bg has lots of good things but there are jots of bad things also especially if you are not bulgarian if you are just going to bg for the weather you wont last long there
14 November 2012 10:38:45 Reply Quote
# 9
Author:
Seedy
Fred

I don't recall proclaiming myself to be a Russian, good, bad or metaphorical - and if you had ever met me or, more importantly, my wife, you would realise how wide of the mark you are on the "domination" front!

I don't "dislike Brits" per se but I'm not overly fond of many of those who wash up here in Bulgaria - frankly a lot of them make one wonder just why the UK government hands out passports willy-nilly while simultaneously trying to maintain some vestiges of prestige abroad.

My wife isn't over-enamoured of the present state of her country either but feels it is her duty to DO something about it here rather than run away and gob off about it - just like the semi-literate, NHS-fiddling, boozing, brawling, back-stabbing, Marmite/Bisto/Daily Mirror-loving Brits who come here do in respect of the UK.

I'd certainly echo your thoughts on thinking long and hard about where, and indeed if, to live over here, together with being on your guard against people who would like to scam you in one way or another. However, that applies anywhere and most of those who ARE ripped-off here have behaved like lambs to the slaughter and are simply living proof of Darwin's theories....
14 November 2012 13:04:41 Reply Quote
# 10
Author:
Seedy
I think I may also need "a in hose tranlator"

If you're married to a Bulgarian and live here then it's shameful to use your spouse as a permanent translator - if one can't/won't learn the language then why on earth is one here? For myself, I can't claim to speak perfect Bulgarian but then it is actually my fifth language - and English is my second, for that matter.

Living permanently in a small village here is certainly a challenge and I suspect that most foreigners would only attempt it out of foolhardiness or necessity - or because of the incredibly low prices of houses. I'd certainly agree about living in a town or a city but then many foreign incomers seem to have been seduced by The Good Life or River Cottage and don't realise just how tough it is in a village if you're trying to grow your own food and survive the winters. However, life is much more expensive in a town or city - just try comparing the price of a house in the back of beyond with one in even a "ghetto area" here in Sofia!
14 November 2012 13:24:58 Reply Quote
# 11
Author:
Fred
Seedy, I pulled your chain a little too hard, I see. When I am next in Lozenets I would like to buy you a coffee and discuss some of our common, and not so common thoughts and ideas...
4ao
15 November 2012 16:14:59 Reply Quote
# 12
Author:
Seedy
Sounds good to me, Fred....
15 November 2012 17:49:32 Reply Quote
# 13
Author:
Dirk
Suggest you look at Gradishte near Sevlievo.
around 200 inhabitants and no through roads about 12kays from Seve!

We love it.
22 November 2012 15:10:42 Reply Quote
# 14
Author:
Moonraker
Very many thanks for the helpful advice - I'm particularly grateful to Marianne and Seedy for some very useful information.

Our preference for rural life is because we're both lovers of life in the country. We intend to pursue some of the simple pleasures : grow some food, breathe clean fresh air, cultivate a garden, socialise over coffee with locals and expats alike, learn the culture and the language (eventually), walk/fish/photograph/write/read/enjoy the view and generally enjoy our retirement living in the beautiful nature that makes Bulgaria such a draw - well away from the urban madness that passes for 20th Century life for so many.

People are people the world over, and while I know cultures differ, isn't that part of the fascination? We don't attach too much emphasis on prejudices or over-generalisations, and are well aware that our early experiences will likely be a bit of a roller coaster. We have a small pension that should enable us to live simply, and we appreciate what is important in life - not the least being the need to live a good life.

Anyone who can help us in this quest by suggesting, as we originally asked, good places to consider, will earn our deep gratitude. Blagodaria/spasibo !

Edited by Moonraker on November 25, 2012, 22:25
25 November 2012 22:20:20 Reply Quote
# 15
Author:
Marianne
Hi Moonraker,

Happy to be of help.

One thing I forgot to mention - Bulgaria has spots where the fog tends to like to settle. Sevlievo and Lovech area, Ihtiman and Sofia are the places I have experience with. I would leave my village in beautiful sunshine only to drive through miserable and dangerous fog conditions.

I have also experience with the fact that places with beautiful views can suffer from fierce winds. Mine close to Sofia is at 1100 meters high and also sometimes in the clouds!

You mentioned you want to socialise with the locals over coffee, for this you need to speak at least a little Bulgarian, but socialising with them will speed up the learning of the language, so which comes first the chicken or the egg!

Through sad circumstances I have come to know every inch of this area, every village and every meadow, hidden meadow, hidden villages, you name it I know it. If you have your eyes on some property or village and you want help let me know.

The village Bulgarians are masters in self sufficient living on a very low budget. One can learn a lot here.

All the best, Marianne
26 November 2012 09:23:48 Reply Quote