After I moved out of my house in Epsom in December 2011 I put my furniture in storage. This was an exhausting time. Two friends, Paul and Heidi helped me clear the house. I then visited Bulgaria for Christmas. What a relief it was to walk through snowy Loven Park, Sofia and to enjoy different customs at Christmas time, especially the food. A really welcome break.
Soon after I moved into a bedsit in Epsom. After living in my house, it felt like I had incarcerated myself but there was no point in renting anything bigger. With the cost of the storage mounting, I was eager for us to find a house or an apartment as soon as possible, but the weather in Bulgaria during the winter was the coldest and snowiest for fifty years. This limbo situation lasted until we eventually found a house.
As I said, the aim was to find a property near to Sofia, but prices are higher in this area. Good transport connections to Sofia were imperative. There are a lot of houses for sale which are cheap but off the beaten track. Access in the snowy winter is an important consideration especially in the hilly areas, and there are a lot of them, believe me. Many British people buy apartments at the Black Sea, in ski resorts such as Bansko, or in villages. But although the exceptionally low prices in the villages are very tempting, there may be no one living in the village in winter. If you don't use your property all year round, you might find that your house has been emptied by burglars when you return., or even more, the roof might have been removed as well.
There were also accessible houses at bargain prices but all with drawbacks. For example we found a house in Zhelyava which is north of Sofia. It was advertised at €26.000 or around £20.000 but there was no water. Some houses had not been lived in for some time and had damp and structural problems. I must say here that I think the best time to look for houses here is in winter, because anything that is wrong with the house, such as a leaking roof or damp will show up then. In summer the hot weather is likely to mask any inherent problem.
After two months of severe weather, with Margarita spending hours and hours of searching and seeing properties at weekends it was obvious that we had to specify an area which had all that we needed. We also decided to look at more expensive houses. We decided to concentrate on a lovely area south of the Vitosha mountain called Rudartsi which, as well as being a very nice area, has good bus connections to Sofia.
After yet more careful looking Margarita found an ideal house in an ideal situation on a quiet back street near the centre. I said "careful looking" because, notwithstanding its beauty, there are areas here which are at risk from landslip. And when I say street, it is not like an English street, it is a dusty gravel lane.
Meanwhile I was trying to arrange for my furniture etc to be transported to Bulgaria. This can cost up to £2000. After a few quotes Margarita came to the rescue by finding a juggernaut that was in England which was only part loaded and which was on its way back to Bulgaria. On 22nd. May the truck arrived in Ewell and the driver Jordan, once again my friend Paul and me emptied the storage unit. Because Margarita and I like cider I asked Jordan to call at the shop in Stoneleigh Broadway. I duly bought nine bottles. A few minutes later Jordan drove off to Europe. It was now only a few days to my flight on 26th May. I hoped to meet him some days later with everything intact. That night there was an earthquake...the epicentre was near Rudartsi !!!