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  in a Bulgarian Village

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Thomas
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PostSubject: in a Bulgarian Village    Wed Mar 18, 2015 9:07 am

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 ex-pats 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.

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 London where people get shot by accident so the odd £5 tap going missing really isn’t a worry!

All of our neighbors that we’ve met so far have been very welcoming. Our neighbors 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 neighbors 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. 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 our baby and play football in the 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.
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hoseman
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PostSubject: Re: in a Bulgarian Village    Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:43 pm

Thank you for that heart-warming post! Your experiences are very similar to ours. Village life is so different from either life in a UK town or any city anywhere: people value other people and have time for them (or make time, they work long and hard). Learning a bit of the language is essential to oil the wheels of friendship, and those that can't hack it soon get frustrated. I'm not saying it's easy, but you can pick up quite a bit of everyday chat by listening to locals, and if you have neighbours like ours they will be so patient and kind if you appear clueless; it's a very inclusive country on the whole (treatment of Roma sadly an exception in places).

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Thomas
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PostSubject: Re: in a Bulgarian Village    Fri Mar 20, 2015 8:58 am

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
Thank you for that heart-warming post! Your experiences are very similar to ours. Village life is so different from either life in a UK town or any city anywhere: people value other people and have time for them (or make time, they work long and hard). Learning a bit of the language is essential to oil the wheels of friendship, and those that can't hack it soon get frustrated. I'm not saying it's easy, but you can pick up quite a bit of everyday chat by listening to locals, and if you have neighbours like ours they will be so patient and kind if you appear clueless; it's a very inclusive country on the whole (treatment of Roma sadly an exception in places).


Absolutely agree with all your saying here


Just to carry on from the above I thought I would add a little more about our life here.

When some members of my family first came out to Bulgaria on holiday, one of the few complaints they had was that they couldn’t get hold of any decent food and there was a point when I agreed with them. On the contrary, a group of our friends came out to stay with us and raved on and on about how great the local food was, both in the supermarkets and in restaurants. I have had mixed experiences here so far, and having been here a little while I have learnt how and where to shop for food. my experience may or may not help you if you are a holiday-maker. Finding good food is often down to luck, finding the right restaurant or supermarket, but hopefully it will point you in the right direction.
A general point before I begin is that more often than not you will be better off shopping in a more traditional method – think England minus 30 years. This means going to different specialty shops for the different things you require. There is no such thing as the out of town Hypermarket here, although I imagine that with time big international chains such as Tesco will move in to fill that requirement as affluence and consequently things like car ownership increase (I can’t imagine many people willing to take their horse and cart 40km out of town just to take advantage of the latest BOGOFs at Tesco…).

Having said this, there are hypermarkets dotted about the country. Our nearest, Metro (a Europe-wide chain, the brand in the UK is called Makro). We usually go there once a month to buy bulk staples: flour, dried meats and cheese, milk (which we have yet to find in any other form but UHT unfortunately), butter, pulses, toilet paper, washing powder, beer and wine. To shop at a shop like Metro you will need to bring some ID and be part of a registered Bulgarian company.

Beware when shopping in hypermarkets such as Metro as you often can’t get single items; so think carefully before you buy that 10,000 pack of flying saucers because, like BOGOFs (that’s ‘buy one get one free’ offers to the uninitiated), you may find that you consume a lot more than you would otherwise, thus you actually make very little saving. But for staples and toilet paper etc. that you actually need it is definitely the place to go, as long as it is worth the petrol cost. Be careful as well that some products, such as eggs, aren’t cheaper locally. Furthermore, from the perspective of quality the hypermarket is most definitely not the place to get some products. Fresh meat is usually relatively poor. It is worth trying your local butchers (all of them!) to find a decent source, from which the meat hasn’t been frozen and appears fresh.

Fruit and vegetables are best sought at the local market – I imagine this applies in any country really. You get a lot for your money here – usually you can also buy things like honey, walnuts, pulses, herbs and spices too, not to mention clothes and shoes. This is also the place to get plants and trees when the time comes – fruit trees appear in the winter so if you are planning to plant them then this is the time to hunt them out. Live animals (chickens at least we have seen) are also often sold here. Our local market is in the nearest town to our village and there are often car-boot stalls too if you’re into that sort of thing.

Small supermarkets and cornershops abound in little towns and villages. We have found that in the deep winter stocks have been dwindling – I am not sure if it’s because deliveries are less frequent or because people have been bulk buying as a result of the unexpected cold.

Although we have adapted quite well to the ingredients on offer here, making use of cheap seasonal ingredients, it is still a major bummer not to be able to get hold of certain things such as decent cheese (the cheese is generally very mild here although you can get some soft European cheeses such as Brie and Edam you would be hard-pressed to get strong hard cheese such as cheddar), a good variety of herbs and spices (I miss bay leaves a lot and will be stuffing a small tree into my hold luggage next time I go to visit the UK), risotto rice (maybe not the top of everyone’s list), cider, Guinness you can buy Guinness in cans but it’s REALLY expensive as it’s imported, we are also planning on brewing cider once we have the house in a little better order as it is pretty easy.
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BGTRAVELLER
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PostSubject: Re: in a Bulgarian Village    Fri Mar 20, 2015 9:13 am

Thank you Thomas it's heart warming to read your experiences instead of the negatives that you read on some other forums, this is what I call true life here.
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PostSubject: Re: in a Bulgarian Village    Fri Mar 20, 2015 1:10 pm

What a lovely story I have really enjoyed reading this with my mid day coffee. It's wonderful to read how others cope and the different advice they give which is all good and helps us all. s
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Thomas
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PostSubject: Re: in a Bulgarian Village    Fri Mar 20, 2015 6:22 pm

I shall write some more soon
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PostSubject: Re: in a Bulgarian Village    Fri Mar 20, 2015 6:28 pm

T Thomas I think you speak for all of us well done!! Keep posting H it....

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bigsavak
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PostSubject: Re: in a Bulgarian Village    Fri Mar 20, 2015 6:54 pm

Yes indeed this was a very good write up of our life her well done
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