real estate

Project: Bulgaria overview
Project Type: real estate

Description: The Country

Situated on the Balkan peninsula Bulgaria has borders with Romania to the north, much of it denoted by the river Danube, Greece and Turkey to the south and South-east, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia, to the west. To the east Bulgaria is flanked by the Black Sea, one of its biggest assets for summer tourism.

The Climate

Bulgaria’s climate is temperate continental with some Mediterranean influence. There are four distinct seasons and on the whole the weather is easily and accurately predicted.

Bulgarian Society at a Glance

Though elements from both eastern bloc and Balkan culture remain intrinsic in society, the gradual Western influence is becoming stronger. A large percentage of young Bulgarians go on to further education and many still aspire to emigrating one day although may young people are also returning to Bulgaria to put to use what they have learned abroad. There are more businesses and employment opportunities locally for those who speak foreign languages and are not afraid to work hard. The overall standard of education in Bulgaria is high and Bulgarians are frequently among the most intelligent or talented youngsters internationally.

The biggest barrier faced by all visitors to Bulgaria is the language and in particular the Cyrillic alphabet. While in the bigger cities and tourist resorts most signs, street names and menus have translations, and many people speak English, German or French a basic grasp of the language and alphabet (or Russian) are a distinct advantage but may require some effort.

The Bulgarian language itself is strongly based on its Slavonic roots, closely related to Serbo-Croat and similar to Russian. Over the centuries many foreign words have crept into the Bulgarian language through years of Turkish and Russian occupation (link to Bulgarian History in Figures), but even nowadays through modern technology and international business many German, French and English words keep coming into the language.

Economy

The Bulgarian economy is booming: economic growth has been around 5.5% for the past three years. In 2006 Bulgaria was for the first time in its history included in the World Competitiveness Year Book, the investors’ favourite instrument for an initial assessment of investment risk because of its comparable quantitative data and international acceptance. In the 2006 edition of the book Bulgaria ranked second in low corporation tax and in growth of foreign assets as a percentage of GDP.

  • In a nutshell the country offers impressive competitive advantages, among which:
  • a strategic geographic location;
  • predictable investment risks;
  • competitive labour costs in comparison with other EU states;
  • low corporation tax of 15 percent for 2006;
  • zero percent profit tax in over 100 municipalities with high unemployment;
  • a preferential VAT regime for imports of goods for investment projects of over 10 million leva;
  • low direct costs for registering new businesses.
Real Estate

Everyone is into Bulgarian real estate these days. The market reached incredible heights in 2004, boosted by foreigner interest and by the increased availability of mortgage loans to Bulgarians.

Year-on-year property prices increase steadily: Bulgaria offers a highly developed rental market with the lowest prices in Europe. Compared to real estate prices in Romania and Croatia, the prices in Bulgaria are between 1.5 and 2.5 times lower. Prices are expected to rise by up to 35 percent in the next 12 months. Bulgarian real estate market has a familiar and totally predictable pattern to follow: the Baltic states, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary have already trodden the path, which the country is taking now. Add to this the warm sunny beaches and the cool alpine mountains just a few hours drive from one another, the lowest costs of living in the EU and it is easy to recognize the excellent rental potential of properties that the Bulgarian market can offer. The amount of foreign investment in Bulgaria's property sector made the country the sixth most preferred real estate purchase destination in the world.

The Black Sea coast, mountain/ski resorts, spa resorts and the capital Sofia are definitely the most desirable regions to buy property in Bulgaria.

Tourism

A total of 380 km of coastline offers everything from rugged secluded beaches to fully developed, highly commercialised resorts, such as Golden Sands and Sunny Beach. The coastline and the humid areas nearby are rich in opportunities for developing and practicing ornithology tourism, which is gaining popularity now-a-days. The migratory flow of Via Pontica welcomes the great biological variety and range of bird species living in those territories.

The coastline’s offer to cultural tourists is impressive indeed: there is ample evidence from the past of highly developed ancient civilizations: marks of ancient cities, sites of ancient towns, fortresses, ruins and necropolis, preserved parts of the old Hellenic culture columns and Thracian cultural centres as well as medieval fortresses.

Beach resorts are popular with tourists from Germany, Russia and Scandinavia. Ski resorts are a favorite destination for tourists coming from the UK. Bulgaria’s mountain ranges with their unspoilt national parks and charming mountain/ski resorts, decently equipped with facilities for summer and winter recreation, have now turned into a year-round tourist attraction.Bike tourism and mountain hiking have also shown strong growth in popularity among foreign tourists. The mountains of Rila, Pirin and the Balkan attract climbers. Hikers enjoy the mountains of Vitosha and the Rhodopes Bicycling is popular, Bulgaria is one of only six countries to annually host official 1200km Randonnees - ultra-marathon bicycle rides patterned after Paris-Brest-Paris.

Besides the traditionally developed forms of tourism new types are also gaining popularity…and for good reasons. Bulgaria is at the crossroads of three bio-geographic regions: the Middle European forest, the Eurasian steppe, and the Mediterranean. Ethno tourism is one such kind, where tourists explore living among local people, particularly in small mountain villages far from five star hotels and luxury shops. Bulgaria’s land is fertile, producing a large variety of crops such as wheat, corn, barley, tobacco, potatoes, tomatoes and cucumbers, etc. The central planes of Bulgaria are home to the famous Valley of the Roses which produces a high quality ‘attar’ much coveted by global markets. Village life is tranquil, colorful and rich in emotions. In the picturesque villages people are already welcoming their first guests in comfortable guesthouses and family hotels. Ethno and eco tourism have big potential in small Bulgaria. Bulgaria also boasts the hottest mineral spring in Europe, Separeva Banya at the foot of the Rila mountains. Overall the country is blessed with approximately 500 mineral springs, many thermal, with a vast range of healing properties, a promising potential for spa and wellness recreation.

Historical tourism is still undeveloped in Bulgaria. Linking East and West, the country has been home to many civilisations, including the Thracians, Slavs, Romans, Byzantines, Proto-Bulgarians, and Ottomans. Although the country is rich in historical ruins, museums and monasteries those are not properly advertised and maintained. Some are not tourist-accessible due to poor infrastructure. This underdevelopment is regarded as desirable by some tourists who prefer to experience history first-hand rather than look at artefacts behind glass.

History Timechart 681

Khan Aspauruh, established the first Bulgarian Kingdom, with its capital in Pliska, which at its height covered not only present day Bulgaria, but Serbia, Macedonia and parts of Northern Greece. In fact, there were only three states in Europe in 681: The Western Roman Empire, Bulgaria, and The Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium)

855

The brothers Cyril and Methodius created the first Slavic alphabet to give the Bulgarians a unified language. It was later modified and renamed after one of the Brothers

861

Conversion to Christianity began

1018 -1187

Bulgaria was incorporated into the Byzantine Empire

1218-1241

Second Bulgarian kingdom was established, with its capital in Veliko Tarnovo. The state reached the Adriatic and the Aegean Seas

1393 -1878

Bulgaria became part of the Ottoman Empire

1762 - 1878

Father Paissy’s Slav Bulgarian history marked the beginning of a period, during which Bulgarians rediscovered their cultural heritage, history and language. The Bulgarian’s National Revival came with many armed uprisings, most of them turning into massacres.

March 1878

Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule. The Treaty of San Stefano was signed and Bulgaria regained its former territories.

July 1878

Treaty of Berlin was signed, in which the great powers took away 2/3 of the country’s territories accorded by the San Stefano Treaty.

September 1885

Unification of Eastern Rumelia with the Principality of Bulgaria

September 1908

Declaration of Independence from Ottoman rule, Bulgarian Prince Ferdinand I of Saxe-Coburg Gotha becomes Tsar

1912 & 1913

First & Second Balkan Wars: Bulgaria defeated by its neighbours loses territory on all sides

October 1915

Bulgaria enters WWI on the German side, in the hope of reclaiming its lost territories

1919

Peace Treaty of Neuilly. Bulgaria lost territories to Serbia, Romania and Greece

1941

Bulgaria joins WWII on the side of the Axis Powers

September 1944

Soviet army crossed into the country. The government and the monarchy arrested by partisans

September 1946

People’s Republic of Bulgaria established. A soviet model on the country’s future development was gradually imposed over the following 10 years

November 1989

Communist Head of State is deposed. Union of Democratic Forces formed from opposition political organizations

January 1990

First free election in Bulgaria

October 1991

Union of Democratic Forces won the majority vote, only to be soon replaced by caretaker government

December 1994

Bulgarian Socialist Party won elections

December 1995 – January 1997

Hyperinflation of 580%, mass street protests against the government, Parliament was attacked, continued unrest

February 1997

Socialist government resigned and was replaced by a caretaker government

April 1997

Union of Democratic Forces won elections, a period of relative stability followed

June 2001

Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha, Tsar in exile, arrived back in Bulgaria to form a party which won a land-sliding victory in the June elections

April 2004

Bulgaria joined NATO

August 2005

Coalition government of the Bulgarian Socialist party, the National movement ‘Simeon II’ and the Movement for Rights ad Freedoms came to power.

January 2007

Bulgaria joined EU

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