FORUM

TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY

As Serbia celebrated a modern day miracle, here in Bulgaria we can at least derive some solace from the fact that the property market is nowhere near as erratic as the voting in May's Eurovision Song Contest!

If you're thinking of investing in Bulgarian property, then you should first establish whether you're investing for capital appreciation, rental income or an amicable marriage of both. This decision will steer you to the most suitable type of investment.

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REST INSURED

So you haven't had time to buy a life insurance policy before arriving here? Sit back and prepare to spend hours in front of the Internet - choosing an insurer is one of the toughest consumer decisions you will face.

The Oxford Business Group claims there are about 30 insurers on the market. Local branches of reputable international companies compete with domestic players. Most companies handle commercial and liability insurance but about a dozen offer life insurance policies.

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BEING TAKEN UP A COUNTRY ROAD

There's been a certain amount of excitement in our street of late and it all centres around one thing: a road. And no, I'm not referring to some earnest debate that we've all been having about better links with our new European neighbours, but a simple tarmac thoroughfare that will save us all a bit of time and inconvenience.

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MAKING THE WRONG MOVE

For those people embarking on a change of lifestyle in Bulgaria, whether they are ditching the conventional rat race in their thirties, or planning to retire, the reality of moving abroad is selling up lock, stock and barrel and heading off into the sunset with no plans to return.

No big deal if you've done your homework you might say. True, but if Bulgaria doesn't live up to their expectations for whatever reason, expats will soon find the Balkan grass is no greener than the one they couldn't wait to leave behind.

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TRAFFIC RAGE

Official statistics from KAT (the traffic police) show that 207 people died in traffic accidents in Bulgaria and 1,971 people were injured in the first quarter of 2007 alone. These statistics, in a nation of just 7.5 million people - and not that many cars - are truly shocking.

If we analyse the figures we find that 34.4 percent of the fatalities were drivers, 27.3 percent were passengers and 38.55 percent were pedestrians. More than a third of those killed were in the 18 to 24 age group.

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DRIVE IN, DRIVE OUT

"In June I am setting out from Kent and driving to Bulgaria. I want to leave my car in Bulgaria at the home I've owned for nearly four years, before flying back to the UK. Trying to get information about importing your car and registering it in Bulgaria as well as insurance, tax and so on - plus getting a direct answer from Bulgarian Government departments - is not easy at the best of times.
Regards
Andrew Bray"

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IN THE MEANTIME, IN VARNA

A positive surge is taking place as companies invest in the Varna region, in northeastern Bulgaria, with projects for shopping malls, office complexes and logistics centres.

Rating agency Standard and Poor's (S&P) announced it had raised its long-term issue credit rating for Varna to BB+ from BB, declaring the city's outlook is "stable" and praising its "improved operating performance".

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BULGARIA’S POWERHOUSE

“It grows but does not age” – this is Sofia's motto, inscribed on its coat of arms. Sofia is Bulgaria's economic dynamo and its major economic, academic and cultural centre. Probably your first impressions of the country come from the capital. The city has many faces and the most important one is the face it shows to the world. Sofia is Bulgaria, but Bulgaria is not Sofia.

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VERY PATRIOTIC GAMES

If nationalism is, as they say, the last refuge of scoundrels, then Bulgaria's establishment must be becoming fully fledged rotters. You may think it flippant - ungallant even - to suggest this but let's take President Georgi Parvanov.

During his first term he showed a degree of patriotism befitting his background as a historian. But, since the onset of his second term, he has become so nationalistic that you don't have to broach the extremism of Ataka to find evidence of a jingoistic resurgence, the president and government seem to be doing Volen Siderov's job for him.

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