Burgas lures Britons with rural life and urban entertainment
Issue 17, February 2008
by Katherine Watt; photography by Dragomir Ushev
A couple of years ago there were only a handful of relocators in Burgas and a few token British families in the surrounding villages. More recently, however, the expat community has mushroomed. Varna witnessed a flood of foreign sun-seekers when the country first came into the limelight, to the dismay of many Burgas natives - the two towns enjoy a longstanding love-hate relationship not unlike that between Glasgow and Auld Reekie. But when prices rose and seaside areas became overbuilt, immigrants headed south for the slightly warmer climate and attractive coastlines near Turkey, causing smug burgazlii to gloat “I told you so”. The most popular areas, apart from the villages directly in the Burgas district, are Sarafovo, Pomorie, Primorsko, Sozopol and Sveti Vlas – not to mention the notorious Sunny Beach resort, perfect for those who want to be in the centre of the action. Expats range from entrepreneurs and young couples escaping the rat race to families seeking healthier lives for their children and pensioners keen on living their twilight years abroad.
Lower prices aren't the only reason expat numbers are increasing around Burgas. Job opportunities are also attractive. As a major port town, industry in Burgas is booming. Thanks to increasing development, the region may soon be overcrowded like the northern coast, but for now, foreign investors are enjoying the ongoing projects in the area, including shopping centres – called “malls” by the locals – aquatic parks and housing developments.
Foreign engineering, environmental and construction experts offer fresh insight to help Burgas-area development avoid the condo clichés dogging the rest of the Black Sea coast. Progressive building strategies such as eco-projects and structures that make use of the area's many natural resources are well under way.
Publicans and restaurateurs noticed the gap in the expat eateries market in Burgas, so now UK-style restaurants such as the London Pub are opening, where expats can meet up to swap stories while savouring a taste of home. Previously, the only option was to travel to Sunny Beach and have a dubious Bulgarian-style “full English breakfast”.
But why did rat race escapees, property moguls and sun-loving pensioners converge on what until just a few years ago was a town with an unpronounceable name in an East European backwater? Meet some colourful characters and check out the reasons that bought them to Burgas.
70 years ago, on 10 March 1943, Bulgaria's pro-Nazi government decided to defy Berlin and halt the deportation of Bulgaria's 50.000 Jews. This was down to the actions of one man - Dimitar Peshev. Just two years later he faced Communist justice and found himself on trial for his life. His niece Kaluda Kiradjieva remembers