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Caroline May, Vratsa

Who are you?

My name is Caroline May. I’m 64 and retired. I used to be a special school teacher.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

My partner, Danny (51), and I were living abroad for nearly three years before we came to Bulgaria.We lived in Ireland, Spain and France, then we realised that we could afford a beautiful house and garden in Bulgaria, and we’ve now been here since November 2018.

What challenges did you face during the move?

Coming here was fairly simple because we’d already been traveling, with all our stuff in a van/people carrier, for three years. We drove here.

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How did you find somewhere to live?

We stayed in an Airbnb on the outskirts of Sofia whilst we found a rented property. We were lucky to find a small, rented flat in the countryside, right on the edge of Sofia – lucky because we don’t like cities.

Once settled, we started looking at properties around Vratsa, with a couple of different estate agents. We looked at 13 houses over two days, and knew, immediately we saw this one, that we wanted it, because it was such good value, and quite a bit of work had been done on it.

Are there many other expats in your area?

There aren’t many expats here in the northwest, but we have a few close by, which is nice.

What is your relationship like with the locals?

We don’t go out and socialise as much as we should, because we’re, naturally, quite happy to stay home. But we get on very well with our neighbours. The language is a problem, but we’re working on it.

What do you like about life where you are?

We absolutely love the rural life, and still have to pinch ourselves to believe that we’ve got a house and all this land. We have a river nearby and are very happy to potter about looking at the birds and other wildlife, and working on the house and garden.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

I, personally, would like a bit more social life. My partner is fine. We would both be incredibly happy if we could wave a magic wand and miraculously be able to speak fluent Bulgarian, because the language is a barrier that it’s hard to cross.

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

Attitudes towards animals and the environment.

What do you think of the food and drink in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?

It’s fine. I wish there were more Bulgarian cheeses, not just the feta-type and the soap-type.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

Don’t overthink it – do it! But I know that I’m very fortunate, because I’ve got a pension.

What are your plans for the future?

To chill out and enjoy each day.

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