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Joined: 08 Sep 2005
Posts: 11405

PostPosted: Sun Jun 01, 08 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



Joined: 19 Jul 2005
Posts: 2469
Location: Beds
PostPosted: Sun Jun 01, 08 3:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Lily


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 5349
Location: Surrey
PostPosted: Sun Jun 01, 08 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


Rosemary Judy

Joined: 08 Aug 2005
Posts: 1215
Location: East Midlands
PostPosted: Sun Jun 01, 08 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome Lily......

tell us more about your life in Bulgaria


Joined: 01 Jun 2008
Posts: 1667
Location: South West Mountains of Bulgaria
PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 08 4:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Where to start..

We arrived one year and three days ago, after two years of research and one brief visit (due to problems finding a small holder sitter in the UK we couldn't come over more often). We were very lucky to be able to have 14 months of Bulgarian lessons before we came as we wanted to move to an area away from the main 'Brit' part, we think now this was a very wise decision, a lot of Brits here are not 'downsizers' but 'upsizers' in the amount of booze and idleness they can have compared to the UK. Harsh but true, and they give the rest of us a bad name. They tend to live in the cheap bits of Bulgaria, and the assumption is that all of Bulgaria is cheap, but in fact it has huge variety in scenery and desireability of area, don't go on just what you see on ebay and online estate agents.

We had a wish list of what we wanted, the best climate (we have really mild winters) stunning scenery (we can see five mountain ranges from our land), good access to a town and services,free water, and to be half way up a south facing slope so that the frost would fall pass us and the massive heat and invertion levels that you can get both summer and winter in the valley bottoms would not affect us. We got it all except the free water, we are on a dryish ridge of land and there are no wells that we know of in the village. We also wanted to move into a small but lively village, having lived for the last 26 years isolated half a mile off a road in Yorkshire. So we did the research, ending up with about 10 villages that we thought would meet our requirements, and settled in one that both ticked all our boxes and felt like home. We are about 40 minutes drive below Bansko the main ski resort (which is a mushroom of a town that is heading for disaster, no infratructure at all, massive over developement, half built projects everywhere, but does have a nice Jazz festival), and an hour or so from the beaches in Northern Greece, so visitors to us can do both ski and sea holidays! Gotse Delchev is a laid back charming little town with hospital and shops, lots of cafe culture and the odd cultural event (sometimes very odd, we went to the guitar festival last week and were treated to an amazing Japanese guitar player that used q-tips and scissors as well as his fingers...but it worked!). The people in our village are muslim, but they say they are Bulgarian first and muslim second. This is proved by our neighbour's rakia still, and the availability of bacon and pork salami in the one village shop. There is a small school (for which I now trying to fund raise some paint and swings for the children's play area we are building with the kids), one textile factory, lots of stone quarries where the men work, and on every possible occasion, there is music in the square and everyone turns out and dances the 'horo' for hours... It is still a donkey and horse drawn agricultural village, which has tobacco as it's cash crop.

We got just over two hectares for 17 thousand pound, and are busy building a number of buildings using alternative methods, strawbale, light clay wood chip, cordwood, etc, and the village is keenly interested in all this. We are taking our first volunteers this summer, and are being asked by Bulgarians to run courses! We are trying to keep this on a non fee basis, as we feel this us our contribution to Bulgaria. We have excellent internet here, 8 megs, so we can continue to run our second hand book business when we have our books on site, right now they are in storage.

That is the barebones of what we are doing, I could type for hours about the fun we have, the food, the wild flowers.. but I have to go and work on the mud plaster.



Joined: 28 Jul 2006
Posts: 4661
Location: Yorkshire
PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 08 5:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the insight, very interesting to hear about real experiences in Bulgaria rather than the "place in the sun" type of thing.


Joined: 11 Jan 2006
Posts: 2865
Location: York
PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 08 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

that sounds great, Lily. I can hear a virtual sigh from all the other downsizers. I'd love a couple of hectares on a south facing slope. It sounds like you've chosen very well. Best of luck to you all.

Just for your interest, you could probably drill a small diameter borehole to get your own water. A single source may not provide enough for multiple houses (which is why the village hasn't got a well), but even the hardest rock can normally provide enough for one house and a little land.
(however, depending on the type of rock, at UK prices you'd be looking at 15,000 to put such a hole in!)


Joined: 01 Jun 2008
Posts: 1667
Location: South West Mountains of Bulgaria
PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 08 5:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is usual in Bulgaria for each house to have both access to some form of piped water and a well, either a tradional shallow one or a sonda, a tube well. BUT there are none here and it has to be down to the geology, this is a dry village with no rivers, our other parcel of land which is about 200 metres lower than the village has water on it six foot down. We are going with building big storage tanks for winter rain.

We have our first volunteer coming for three months this summer, to help build, if anyone wants to visit just say so! The more the merrier



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 14929
Location: South West
PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 08 5:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bulgarianlily wrote:

We have our first volunteer coming for three months this summer, to help build, if anyone wants to visit just say so! The more the merrier


Great. And then you can put in 1000m of rabbit fencing for me. And darn my socks whilst you're at it.

Welcome to Downsizer.

Douglas in Transilvania

Joined: 11 Jan 2007
Posts: 11
Location: Huedin, Romania
PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 08 10:09 am    Post subject: from your neighbours in Transylvania Reply with quote

dear Lily,
We are in Huedin (40 kms west of Cluj) in Transylvania. We are looking to build a network all over the region. There are a few other people we know of in Trabsylvania. Email douglasmcfarlane@hotmail.com


Joined: 01 Jun 2008
Posts: 1667
Location: South West Mountains of Bulgaria
PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 09 7:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just updating this. After a very successful three months with our volunteer last year, (thanks Pierce!) we are now arranging a volunteer program for this year. Anytime except winter really! If anyone is interested in living here for periods from 2 weeks to three months, accommodation and food provided, now is the time to start talking with us. Projects for this year include working with cordwood, light clay straw, and constructing a modular living roof. Plus lots of sunshine, walking, climbing, local events etc. Flights out from Gatwick or Manchester are very cheap if arranged in advance with Easyjet, we can arrange pickup or coach from Sofia. You don't need to be young and fit, we aren't!


Joined: 01 Nov 2009
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 09 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We live in Bulgaria too, near Veliko Tarnovo and are hoping to become more self sufficient.

Been here 2 years and learnt a lot so far and loving our new life.



Joined: 01 Jun 2008
Posts: 1667
Location: South West Mountains of Bulgaria
PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 09 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Snapshot of life in Bulgaria.

We just brought home and stacked 2.5 cubic meters of what could be called 'real wood' in the same way that beer can be 'real ale',produced in the old traditional way. We bought it from a village man, oak branches from 3 inches to 8 inches in diameter. You are allowed here to collect fallen wood in the surrounding forests, and like most of the villagers he goes off with his horse and donkey, packsaddles, rope and a very sharp axe, unlike the other men here he does it as his full time living. He doesn't have a chainsaw, so everything is cut with the axe to one meter lengths, and anything over about 5 inches wide is split into two halves. It is then roped to the packsaddles and bought back the same way as it has been for hundreds of years, he leads the horse and the donkey follows on behind. It would have taken several trips to the forest to get what we have got today. The cost in UK pounds is about 18 quid a cubic. He is very happy with the price and asked if we would buy more from him. We are happy as our stove uses about 3.5 cubic over the winter.


Joined: 19 Mar 2006
Posts: 6968

PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 09 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome SuzyJ - are you working or retired?


Joined: 13 Sep 2005
Posts: 73
Location: Bulgaria
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 10 4:56 pm    Post subject: Central Bulgaria Reply with quote

Hi Lilly,

Nice to hear someone tell it like it is, especially about the Brits in Bulgaria. I am constantly getting emails from people asking about Elhovo and Yambol areas and these places are exactly as you described - cheap and cheap for a reason.

Anyway I moved out to Bulgaria in 2006 to near Kazanlak in the valley of the Roses, at the base of the Balkans. I lived there for 3 years and built up a portfolio of property. I worked selling and renovating Bulgarian houses for a couple of years. It was certainly not all plain sailing and faced various difficulties. But I have a lovely home there with a large vegetable plot and each grow all sorts lettuce, tomatoes, sweet corn, onions, cucumbers and have tried water melons (got to the size of a large marble!) and swedes and so on. There are fruit trees everywhere and I have plum, apple, peach and walnut trees. Every one is self sufficient and pickles everything for winter.

In the winter of 2009 I decided I needed a break and some time out and headed to France for a ski season. Absolutely love France and am just in the process of buying a place here. I intend to spend winters in France and summers in Bulgaria, but need to sell off a few of my Bulgarian houses first.

In the meantime I am working on building up Gofarmer and also do some freelance writing.

I have 3 dogs, all rescued from Bulgaria. I did have 7 dogs and 3 cats at once stage but was a bit mad so rehomed the rest. I support a dog rescue charity in Bulgaria and do what I can to raise funds for them.


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