EX-Pats and Owners Abroad

Discussions for EX-Pats and owners abroad or those who are considering this idea.
You may find more help on the Eastern Europe forum, but I fear that you are going to dig a hole for yourself :

Bulgaria is still gripped in a lot of laws that have been on the statute book since Soviet times ..... and you may find that foreigners do not have the same rights to house or land purchase as in other Western countries.

The country is not yet a member of the EC, and you may not be able to guarantee its entrance in 2007.

Things are done very differently there, and you might find yourself on the thin end of the wedge as regards paying tax or employing nationals.

The infrastructure of the transport system is not so developed as elsewhere - so how will potential guests get there? As yet there is little interest in the low cost carriers as regards flying to Bulgaria.

Do you speak fluent Bulgarian .... if not, even a night school cram course will not help you avoid language difficulties and potential rip off situations.

I am sorry to be so pessimistic, but you need to be very careful when dealing with the former Eastern Bloc countries, as their way of doing things is very different from what you are used to, and the problems of money transfer would only be the start of your troubles!

And you must accept that you would have to pay for medical attention, which may not be of the standard you would wish. A move to another country (even if you do speak the language well and love the culture) will not be without its culture shock, which can be more serious than you could imagine, especially if you have not lived away from the UK. It is not always good to hole up in an English ghetto, and therefore loneliness is a real possibility. If you still have to convince your girlfriend, I would have to say forget this idea!

I hope you succeed, but PLEASE be aware of the pitfalls!
Hi Alsacienne,

You are absolutely correct, we heartily endorse everything you say, and the situation could get worse.

We sense growing resentment at how foreigners are driving up property prices, and there could be a backlash any time now.

Thanks for your good advice, good people. Its kind of pulled the rug from under my feet in terms of hopes and dreams of leaving England for somewhere more pleasant.

I keep on reading that Bulgaria is the next big thing to happen in foreign property investment and tourism, and I can understand that Bulgarian people will be upset at the price rises in housing terms. I would be the same if it happened in England (although nobody earning less that £30k in the south of England can get on the housing market either, so maybe it already has)?

Any ex-pats out there with any experiences?

Cheers guys
..... there are other heavenly places other than Bulgaria, but the same pitfalls can apply. Why not try working as an employee for a season in someone else's bar before you take the plunge and commit yourself financially. You may discover that it's a harder life being a bartender than you thought, or you might be fired with enthusiasm to go ahead with some experience behind you .................... good luck whatever you decide.
Why not try working as an employee for a season in someone else's bar before you take the plunge and commit yourself financially. You may discover that it's a harder life being a bartender than you thought

I'm sure that working in a bar for a season would be a lot of hard work but I don't really have any intention of running a bar (unless it was part of my house/apartment (i've seen a couple of places that come with their own tavern). I really just want to rent rooms or floors of a house to tourists who want a change from corporate hotels. I would pick them up from the airport and provide some kind of services for them to make their stay more pleasurable.

I hear that a lot of the read tape is going to be peeled away soon to make it easier for foreign buyers to purchase land and property? It seems as if your government is quite happy to accept the millions of pounds of foreign investment to make your country a larger tourist destination and therefore bring more much needed currency to your country.

What do you think?[/i]
Sorry if I misunderstood your purpose in starting a business in Bulgaria. But it could be also said that you could try working in someone else's B&B to get some idea of what you are thinking of undertaking. It's really time consuming if you are going to do it properly, (I have friends who do so), and I think you are being seduced by the holiday programmes on TV.

My government ....? I'm a Brit happy to be living in France ... not Bulgaria. What you are presuming about Government changes there may or may not happen, and I'd love to know where you get these ideas on a purely factual business.

What you are saying sounds rather too full of promises and hypotheses, and I still think you are taking an ENORMOUS risk buying property and running a business in a former Eastern Bloc country, with no knowledge of the language or the current laws in force.
I found this information on another BG forum

Bulgarian Constitution Drops Ban on Land Sale

Politics: 30 November 2004, Tuesday.

The ban on Bulgarian land sale to foreigners will be removed from the Constitution, the ad hoc parliamentary commission on the amendments decided on a majority Tuesday.

Thus the constitution will allow Bulgarian land sale to foreigners grouped in three categories: EU citizens that will be entitled to such sale under the Accession Treaty of the country; both EU and non-EU citizens entitled to land purchase under an international treaty; and under the hereditary law.

The lawmakers agreed also on constitutional amendments concerning partial transfer of powers from Bulgaria's official institutions to the European Union, as the EU acquis communautaire will become supreme law for the country on its accession.

The amended texts are expected to enter into force by March 2005, when Bulgaria hopes to get fixed a date for signing the accession treaty and join the wealthy bloc of 25 in January 1, 2007.
I also found this;

We are signing the accession treaty next year, the Promised Land is now in sight, FM Passy said

'Bulgaria and Romania will become members of the EU in 2007, if everything goes as planned,' declared EC President Jose Barroso in Brussels last night. Short before that, the Leaders of the EU member states decided to sign treaties of accession with Bulgaria and Romania in 2005, Reuters informed. The inking will most probably take place within the framework of the summit in Luxembourg, scheduled for April 15-16.

The EU confirmed that the two countries would become full-fledged members of the Union if they carry on with the reforms en route. The only obstacle left on Bulgaria's road to the EU is the safeguard clause which might put off this country's entrance for another year, until 2008.

If Bulgaria keeps its current rate of reforms, it will be able to meet all of the membership commitments on the already set date.

The EU will be closely monitoring the efficient fulfillment of the commitments in all spheres, and mainly in the fields of justice and interior affairs.

After a meeting with the Bulgarian Head of State, President of the European Parliament Josep Borrell declared that the EMPs were ready to put to the vote a common accession treaty for Bulgaria and Romania on April 13. 'Today Bulgaria caught a glimpse of the Promised Land.

At the end of this strenuous journey, we are finally rewarded,' Reuters quoted Foreign Minister Solomon Passy as declaring in Brussels.

'Bulgaria is absolutely ready to sign its EU accession treaty in April of 2005, and join the EU in 2007,' said French President Jacques Chirac at a meeting with his Bulgarian counterpart.

President Parvanov also had meetings with his Romanian counterpart Ion Iliescu, President elect Traian Basescu and Premier Adrian Nastase. The Bulgarian Head of State congratulated his counterpart-elect upon the victory and said that the two neighboring states would join their efforts to meet the requirements, set by the EU for successful completion of their pre-membership preparation.
Now I think that sounds like good news for anybody wanting to move to Bulgaria, ex soviet bloc or not. Now add that news to the purely factual average 25% increase in house prices it seems like sense to me.

The reason I said 'your government' is because of the tone of your argument. I honestly thought you had a valid personal position to defend, i.e., foreigners coming in and raising house prices beyond the means of the average Bulgarian.

As for being seduced by TV programmes I'd say it was the opposite way around. I've never seen a tv programme about running a guest house that ever showed it as an easy life. I intend to let rooms, floors or apartments on a self catering basis, no breakfast, no evening meal, no bed making. doesn't sound like too much work to me. The rest of our income will come from renting our house in England, which will way more than cover the mortgage. Considering the average monthly wage is somewhere near £150 and a 3 course meal in a restaurant costs £5 it shouldn't be too difficult to get by.

I would never have chosen Bulgaria as a first choice to move to but I can't think of many other places in Europe with so much to offer for so little money. Its not as if I'd be the first person to move to Bulgaria in search of better things, if it's good enough for the Greeks, The Romans and The Macedonians... :wink:
Hang for March 2005 and see if everything comes to fruition! Many a slip between cup and lip .............

I still don't think that Bulgaria is the place to 'make a fast buck' .... first of all because the tourist season doesn't last all year, and because you do not as yet speak the language.

And if you do make your money and dreams come true, how much of it will you subsequently be allowed to take out of the country ..... I presume that you won't be in Bulgaria for the rest of your life ..... because here in France when you sell a secondary residence (regardless of your nationality) the Government take 33% of your sale price in tax ................

Good luck if you go ahead, but please be VERY careful. I still think it is a risky investment.
No fast bucks required, just a way out of the UK rat-race.

Thanks a lot for your input.

Alsacienne is right though to be advising you to excercise caution.

I'm sure you've heard of the expression "out of the frying pan into the fire." Personally, I've never agreed that a reason for moving to another country is to "escape".
I was gonna let this end at my last post but now I'm intrigued. What is it that you all think is going to happen if I invest in Bulgaria?

Are you expecting a mass takeover of all foreign properties by the government? An armed uprising? Currency crash? What do you know that the financial experts don't?

It seems at the moment you cannot pick up a newspaper without reading what a fantastic place for investment potential Bulgaria is. What about all these other people who are currently investing in Bulgaria? Are they all dreamers like me?

Bulgaria seems like the only place in europe that I can afford, and as for bawbees comments, what other reason is there for moving to another country? Escape may seem like a harsh word but its just a cliche. The only thing I'm running away from is crap weather, worse government, stupidly high housing prices, lack of love and respect for your fellow man...etc. In a nutshell, I'm over England. it holds nothing for me. How many of your esteemed countrymen have done the same escape routine?

Now if anybody has some answers and valid comments, other than "Oooooh, you don't wanna do that", they would most appreciated. I know Bulgaria may be more of a risk that say, Spain for example, but you can still end up having your land grabbed back, being scammed, experiencing dodgy builders, you just lose less by doing it BG.
Having moved for my husband's job 13 years ago, I do feel that I have valid reasons for urging you to be careful. Although I speak fluent French, I found that paperwork is done in a completely different way over here - and that included paying for it all (including the vendor's paperwork) when I bought a house.

Over the 13 years we have seen major changes in the way the Government views savings (ie that it doesn't pay you to do so in terms of investment interest other than the stock market), tax relief on a mortgage stopping after only 5 years, and natural disasters on a major scale because planning permission was given for building on unsuitable land (flooding, landslip etc).

In addition we have seen an influx of Britons buying secondary residences and alienating their local communities by lack of integration (either because they are unable to or because they don't deign to) and bringing in friends to work on property renovation rather than local labour. Which brings me to the question of local labour per se as the promised timescales hardly ever materialise, materials rise in price and any individualism is punished by lengthy discussions over how it will be achieved, what specialist equipment might be needed and how much more it will cost!

All foreign moves have their dream aspect. Sometimes it is realised, sometimes not.

Real problems you face are :

* What if you can't rent your UK accommodation?

* What if the renters trash it or refuse to move out?

* What will you do if they withhold their rent and you are in Bulgaria?

* Will you be able to import your sterling into Bulgaria to build/buy your house?

* Will you be able to re-export the money you expect to make when you eventually leave Bulgaria?

* As you will not have voting rights, how will you feel if the Government were to pass laws which were detrimental to foreigners living in their country?

* What will you do for income and to fill your time?

* Are you prepared to invest your time in learning the language and the customs and the history of the country?

* Are you prepared for paying for health care and a difference in standards compared with the UK?

* How good are you at living with yourself ... and it's not always easy to make friends, BBC Satellite TV may not be available, nor cheap internet. Can you make friends within a closed community (eg an expat ghetto) or do you WANT to integrate with the locals. It'll be very hard to make your business successful if the locals feel that you are a rival or pinching their trade.

* What about your friends and family back in the UK? Can they afford to come and see you on a regular basis in the off-season when you would
have fewer guests with less charter flights available.

* You will still be liable for tax ... in the UK on your income from property rental and any investments you hold such as a post office savings account, and in Bulgaria on your income from your rental. Be honest! Tax doesn't go away!!

* You may find that you are considered ignorant in Bulgaria because of your lack of local knowledge, and be seen as an 'immigrant'. Can you cope with this, and living in a country where you are (unfortunately) a second-class citizen.

* Bulgaria may have a government that displeases their citizens as much as the current UK government does you. They may face rising prices as they become more 'Westernized' (as has already been seen in Hungary and the former East Germany) and also risk the introduction of higher and new taxes to pay for their country's 'openness' to the west and the EC. You may find that the locals hate what is happening in their country as much as you do in yours!

* Sadly respect for one's fellow man can only be earned on an individual basis and by taking responsibility for one's actions. Glad you feel as strongly on this point as I do! However, there is the possibility that the local Bulgarians might resent your coming in from a well-off country when they see you as having it all whilst they are still struggling to make ends meet. Is going to Bulgaria a responsible action? I don't know, and in this context perhaps you don't either.

* What can you give back to your new country of residence? Respect, integration and happiness are a two-way street!

* Are you prepared to lose all your savings, your income and for a time your self-respect (depression does tend to attack in the form of culture shock)? You must consider the long term risks. Bulgaria is no freer as regards miserable winter weather than the UK .. and the Government and laws are still not any fairer to the person in the street than here.

Remember that potential investors get their fingers burnt more often than those who succeed .... consider the principle of timeshare for example.

I am not saying that Bulgaria will suffer a great economic disaster in the near-future, but that any move abroad involves a certain degree of risk taking, and are you really sure that Bulgaria really suits you ... because although you have quoted several Ministerial comments, these have a tendency to be 'spun' by the media (including the reports on any internet forum) to be favourable. You would perhaps be better advised to contact Bulgarian banks and the Embassy for more up to date factual information.

If you can live with the risk, and the points raised above, then go ahead and all the very best to you.
Now thats more like it, thanks alsacienne. I'm not going to go through them all and give answers but it certainly has given me something to think about.
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