The decision to move is never one to be taken lightly and moving to a new country with a different language to a small village with 800 people is certainly a big step. We have met all sorts of people who have done the same thing for financial or quality of life reasons. The world is becoming a smaller place; communication across Europe is easy and air travel relatively inexpensive. But are you prepared for actually being in your new home?
Our village is a relatively poor one financially. The majority of it's small population live hand to mouth (although its not much different in London!) and people still work the land to grow as much food as possible. Life is both simpler and harder at the same time. If you are tending cows for your living, your job is fairly straightforward but probably a lot more demanding than pushing pens in an office. But most people seem happy with their way of life here and we are obviously keen on it too.
If you have a pension or western money to live on in Bulgaria you will probably be one of the wealthiest people in your village or town. The local folk will quickly realise this so don’t be surprised if people knock at your door asking if there are any jobs they can do for you! I have heard that a lot of expats are fed up that people see them as $ signs and the “English price” is higher than the “Bulgarian price” but this is the same no matter where you go abroad. Tourists in England get ripped of by the English just like anywhere else so you just need to keep your wits about you. Everything seems so cheap that you have to keep sanity checking any price by asking “is this a Bulgarian price?” i.e., is this what you think the locals are paying.
You hear a lot of horror stories about people being ripped off and corruption/mafia but I think a lot of these things are avoidable. Usually its been Brits ripping of Brits from what we’ve heard. It helps to have someone you can trust who knows a bit more about the place you’re living and doesn’t have any thing to gain financially from giving you advice. Forums are great for this and of course we are happy to answer any questions if we can help.
There will be a certain amount of petty crime if you are careless. We have an outside tap in our garden for example. In the time between us buying our house and moving over a year later the tap went missing. But whoever took it was kind enough to plug the pipe so that no water ran out in the mean time and I’m sure that the tap went towards putting a meal on a table or to someone who really needed it. Petty crimes against property have never really been a concern for us as that’s what you get contents insurance for and crimes against the person are much lower here. We’ve moved from South East London where people get shot by accident so the odd £5 tap going missing really isn’t a worry!
All of our neighbours that we’ve met so far have been very welcoming. Our neighbours opposite got their nephew to come and help us chop out 6 cubic meters of wood which very nice of them (and him!). He spent three and a half hours chainsawing away for us without asking anything in return so he was very grateful for the freshly baked bread and Rakiya we gave him.
There is of course a certain amount of suspicion of foreigners which we had expected but on the whole I would say it is more welcoming moving to rural Bulgaria than being an outside in a small farming village in say Somerset! We baked our neighbours opposite some bread to say thank you and they turned up the next day with a bag of fruit and some fresh milk thicker then I have ever seen!
There is a really sense of community as well. We may be getting an easier ride - I think most people are inclined to give a hand to people with a small kid who look like they need help but I think the hospitality and community spirit would still be there sans child.
When we first came to view our house we tried a number of times to walk the three miles to the closest town. But people kept pulling over offering us a lift! We tried to walk there three times but there (and back) ended up getting a lift from some kind person who stopped to help us out.
If you are moving to rural Bulgaria it is worth thinking about how you plan on getting around. It's fine waiting for the bus and hitching a ride in the summer but when it's snowing you might want a car if the closest shop is 5 miles away.
For us it has been (so far) lovely to feel that we are becoming part of a community rather than just a bunch of people who live in the same area. Within a month of arriving we had people saying hello (in Bulgarian) as they walked past and some of the local kids coming over to meet are baby and play football in the back garden.
Making friends in the village is going to be difficult if you don’t speak Bulgarian but you will find that people are keen to talk to you and do want to be friends. We are foreigners in Bulgaria so it is really up to us to learn Bulgarian.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 November 2009 21:58|