While many dream of escaping to the sun after a stressful day at work, few get the opportunity. Despite the recent fall in UK house prices, the previously buoyant property market has enabled many Britons to cash in on the thriving market and purchase a second home abroad. Bulgaria’s emergence as a property hotspot, together with its EU membership, has attracted many UK buyers looking for their own sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind.
Mark Sterring from Chester, England, bought a three-bedroom property in 2006 for 75 000 British pounds. The property is Mark’s sanctuary away from everyday life, but it’s not his first foray into holiday home ownership, “We had a similar property in Spain, but the country became too built-up, and the crime got unbearable. It got to the point where it never felt like we were on holiday, so we decided to sell up and come here,” he says. “We chose this part of Bulgaria because we heard it represented great value, it’s sunny and close to the beach. Basically, it had everything we were looking for.”
Mark and his wife do not envisage a permanent move to Bulgaria – it would be too difficult to leave their family behind, although they do visit their villa for six weeks at a time. Neither is his Bulgarian bolt hole a long-term proposition; he’s likely to sell up within the next five years and put the money towards his retirement in England.
Paul Russell lives in Hull and like Mark he purchased a luxury villa in Obrochishte. Paul’s villa cost 100 000 euro and he views it as his retreat from his hectic UK lifestyle. He finds that owning his own holiday home works out cheaper than paying for hotels and meals. He loves the weather here especially the summer, finds the cost of living exceptionally low, and the people extremely welcoming. Paul visits at least twice a year and lets his villa out to friends and family. He has also seen his property bring in extra income as a holiday home let out to European tourists. “We had a Polish family in last year, and we charged 200 euro a week,” he says. This proves that a second home in Bulgaria can prove a good long term investment as well as provide income over the summer months through holiday letting.
Paul has no plans to sell his villa in the short term but may do so in five years’ time and buy another holiday home in a different part of the world.
Sue Calder lives near Aberdeen in Scotland. She bought a luxury two-bedroom apartment with a communal pool in September 2006, for 60 000 euro in a small coastal village. While she doesn’t know what its value is today, she assumes that it has increased in price. Spurred on by a friend who had already bought in the same complex, Sue and her family decided to take a look and fell in love with the place. “I had never been to Bulgaria before so it was all really new, but the biggest attraction was its cheapness and gorgeous summer weather,” she says.
Sue’s property is limited to personal use and she visits twice a year. However, her house doesn’t stand vacant for too long as her friends and relatives also holiday here.
In the future Sue says she may sell the property and put the money towards her retirement, but she has no fixed plans. She emphasises, however, that retirement to Bulgaria is not an option: “I could never live here full time because I couldn’t deal with the winters.”
Chris Jenkins from Oxbridge near London bought his holiday home in Bulgaria in 2004. He brought a luxury four-bedroom villa and a communal swimming pool. Back in 2004, the villa cost him 62 000 euro. Today, it’s worth around 120 000 euro. Chris chose to invest in Bulgaria because property was so inexpensive. Many experts were also tipping it as bringing a good return on investment. Originally, he thought he could earn an additional income from renting out the property, but as his disillusion with the UK grew, he decided to live in his villa for six months and enjoy the beautiful summer weather. Interestingly, Chris shares Sue Calder’s view on the winter climate and this stops him from making a permanent move here, “I couldn’t move here full time because I only like the sun and the winter gets far too cold,” he says.
For the time being, Chris is happy enjoying his seasonal life here and has no plans to sell.
Interestingly, those who have invested in holiday homes here have done so because they enjoy the country’s summer climate, its cheap cost of living and welcoming people. Most have seen their property increase in value and most intend to sell in the future rather than make a permanent move out here with one of the deciding factors being – it’s simply too cold in winter!