Heating/ Hot water options

Hi All, we have recently purchased a home outside VT and are looking at options for our heating and hot water. Our property is quite small so petchkas may work but we are wondering what everyone else does for hot water mainly and heating?

Is a back boiler type set up do'able in Bulgaria? Would a wall mounted water heater be better? Would love some suggestions,

Thank you

All I will say, after being in our place just 8 months, is have more than one option for everything if you can.

We were managing with cold showers in the old bathroom all summer, with solar shower bags as back up.

When it turned cooler and funds allowed, we had a new boiler installed in the outdoor shower room, just a couple of months ago but then had a spell where the water in the village was more off than on, went on for weeks.

Then the water stays on for a couple of weeks and we don't have power for 12 hours this weekend. Most of our heating is electric. We have one small petchka set up in said shower room. I'm in U.K. so hubby struggled alone, apparently hid in the shower room with the petchka on for a few hours!!

We have solar hot water as well but when the sun isn't out like now, or the water is off, we are out of options.

I've been looking at solar PV with batteries and possibly an inverter generator, to cover every eventuality, but that's a way off.

I've also looked at propane shower units, which would solve one problem a different way. This could be our option for the bathroom in the house, when we get to that next year.

We also need water storage and a pump, for when we get cut off, because the boiler and solar HW won't work unless they're able to refil.

When we get round to converting our barn into a kitchen I am looking for a range type cooker with heating and hot water capability. There are several types available in Europe, similar to a Rayburn, but not usually all cast iron. But again, need the UPS for power cuts or the off grid electricity.

It might seem like overkill but this is our forever home, I have no qualms having multiple systems in place, and now winter has arrived, despite some big improvements we are still not as prepared as we thought we would be.

I give us a C- Must do better!!!

@Stacy Harris87

Welcome to the expat.com forum, and congratulations on your new home in Bulgaria!

@HelenDinBG has an interesting post on their heating adventures. One of the great things about living here is that "a Bulgarian's home is their castle", in that it seems you're pretty much able to do what you want, when you want, how you want, in your village house. So if you want to be Tom and Margo in the Good LIfe, or be an experiment in eco-friendly technologies, you can. I would say I'm quite well-behaved, but there were several things I did that would have caused me problems elsewhere.

There are quite a few options possible (especially with houses). Including central heating controlling radiators (or underfloor heating) and hot water. But this would be at the expensive end, and more common in new build houses, rather than traditional village houses. But it's probably the nicest / most comfortable option.

Here it's very common to separate the heating from the hot water, so the most popular option is a wall-mounted electric water boiler. They're cheap and easy to install and use, especially as they have a low power requirement (hence no problem on regular outlets, 3kw-ish). Ideally, all your plumbing works in such a way as to allow you to install one boiler, but don't be surprised if you need 2 (i.e. one for kitchen, one for bathroom).

Bulgaria has very hot summers, so it's also very common to have AC units, much more so than UK. There's no advantage to getting cool-only AC units (I doubt you can even buy one anymore here), so you'll have cooling (for summer) and heating (for winter) from the same unit. The weather is very sunny too (winter and summer) so solar water heaters and solar panels are also possibilities.

Petchkas, or independent wood/pellet stoves are also popular, and there will usually be chimneys already available in one or more rooms.

These can be air-heat only, or you can buy them with a "water jacket", which can feed radiators (but you need to install the piping and radiators). You should note that some (usually wood-burners rather than pellets) can be a stove-with-oven instead of stove-only. I have an oven, so I don't see the point... but a friend of mine got one last winter, and he LOVES it. He says it's cheaper than using the electric oven, and he likes to slow-cook a joint or stew, and it's delicious!

Our Plovdiv apartment has a 100 litre water boiler (for bathroom and kitchen), and split AC units in the main bedroom and living room. This is typical of most Bulgarian apartments (especially newer ones).

Our village house is in a lovely area in the Balkan Mountains. I've been lucky to snoop around my neighbours' houses, so I've seen what they get up to. :-)

Most of my neighbours are very house-proud, and have done a LOT of work on their village houses. Mostly, they have installed UPVC double-glazing (replacing old wooden ones) and external insulation. Some have external roller shutters too which are quite good for reducing heat loss/gain through the windows. And reducing the sound of barking village dogs (my least favourite part of village life). You probably should think about how much of this you want (or can afford) to do. I would say that this is a very standard upgrade now, at least round my way. But it's quite a popular village, so it's possible that these folks are a bit more upscale, and a poorer/remoter village might give a very different picture of what's typical.

We all have mains water, but nearly everyone has a well in their garden. Over the last couple of years, lots of them have paid to drill a deeper well too (modern drilling tech, much deeper than the old ones). They don't drink it (but you probably could), but they use it for garden irrigation to save money. Almost all the houses had septic tanks, but the mayor put in street sewers a few years ago. so most of us have connected to these. (My connection was a bit of an adventure, and I'd guess my solution would not have been feasible in UK or Germany.)

One neighbour has a big (30kW maybe) pellet stove with water jacket, and he did all the work to put in pipes and rads. He has some AC units too for summer. Another neighbour had petchkas, but he recently upgraded to a gas boiler (with buried gas tank in the garden) and installed pipes and rads. Another neighbour did a total renovation of an old house, and he also put in gas central heating (buried tank) with some radiators and some underfloor, and hooked up to hot water too. Also with AC units. My well-drilling neighbour put in a ground source heat pump and underfloor heating.

Old Ivan is a hard-core older Bulgarian with a small-holding. He doesn't spend much at all on his house, so no insulation or modern windows, and he keeps warm with a wood-burning petchka. No AC units. He washes in the spring outside our houses. This is the cheapest option, but it's pretty rustic. Wood stoves have the advantage that you can go walk in the local woods and help yourself to logs (many do this).

In our house, we have replaced all the windows (and enlarged many of them) for good-quality UPVC windows. And I have external insulation and new rendering. I didn't install external shutters yet, but I plan to, especially for the bigger windows and balcony doors. The windows and insulation have a big impact on the effectiveness of the heating/cooling. I put AC units in our house (I just prefer the cleanliness and convenience), one in each bedroom (9k or 12k BTU), and a big one (24k BTU) in the living room. I use them for heating and cooling. Cooling is surprisingly cheap (you just need to get from 35 down to 25, say). Whereas heating can get expensive (we had -12 and had to get up to +20).

I have 3-phase electric so I can have a heavy-load, so no problem with big AC units and a Siemens instant water for the bathroom, which I like a lot. Kitchen had separate plumbing, so I have a small under-sink tank heater. I saw an offer for pellet stoves, so I grabbed a 12kW one for the living room, just to add a bit of extra heat, if it's very cold. I prefer pellet stoves to wood (cleaner and easier), but if you lose electricity you lose heating too. Mostly I'm too lazy to clean it out, so I'd rather go with the ACs and pay a higher electric bill. :-) But electricity has gone up a lot, so maybe I will need to be more careful, or put solar panels on the roof to help keep the bill down.

@Stacy Harris87

The previous posts have covered several options, Many things are possible, I'd say a lot depends on your lifestyle choices an your budget. If the buget isn't big it might depend on what you already have to work with, and what you are confident in doing yourself.

Our house is between VT and Sevlievo, it's not big - the old part is a single storey three room house with cellar. The newer part is a largish room (kitchen) with with a plumbed in sink, and a shower room that has very basic plumbing fitted for hot and cold water. All rooms connect to a chimney. We have single phase electricity, mains water and a well.

Our choices were influenced by not having a big budget, using the functional infrastructure that already exists, and wanting to have a bit of a mixed economy so as not to be entirely dependent on grid services. At present we are only making about 4 short visits a year, probably not visiting in the coldest of winter or the hottest of summer.

The shower is a solid fuel one with a 2kw electric element fitted, this cost us about 350lv, and when on solid fuel heats the room well and gives us plenty of hot water from one 3 gallon bucket of small logs. If you turn on the immersion heater for 2 hours it'll give you enough hot water for 4 people to have a decent shower. Our kitchen sink and basin will be supplied by a small wall mounted boiler, in the mean time we boil the kettle on the pechka whilst we are eating for hot water to wash the dishes.

The kitchen has a pechka for cooking and heat (we also have an electric cooker, which we use when we don't need the heat). The pechka is not an expensive one, about 600lv, we figured it is more likely to rust out from lack of use rather than burn out before we are in a position to live there permanently, when we'll probably look at something more substantial. It seems to work well for us. It doesn't hold heat for long after the fire burns out, unlike my rayburn here in the UK, so not perfect for overnight heat. It's probably not fair to draw too much of a comparison with a cast iron rayburn that would cost about £6000 and last 60 years with a pressed steel stove that might last 15 years!

The other rooms that are used at the moment have small pechka woodburners at the moment.

I have a particular interest in being able to manage things independently (so don't want really complicated systems) and without total reliance on mains services, so will be exploring things like rainwater harvesting and filtration, rocket mass heaters, and off-grid low voltage LED lighting for the future developments, but this isn't everyones thing.

Oh, Prunesandporridge, I didn't realise you could get the solid fuel water heaters with an electric element as well! Would you please share the brand and where you bought it?

Our old house, which I'll be slowly fixing up with a view to us retiring there in four or five years, has a small instant electric water heater on the kitchen tap, and an ancient electric tank style heater in the bathroom, which is rusted and so gummed up with limescale it doesn't really work. I'd love to replace it with something dual fuel! I will also be setting up an outdoor shower area to use solar showers in the summer, and when the petchka is on in cold weather, there's always a kettle simmering away.

I want to get more of a tea urn sized container for water to sit on the petchka, both for back-up hot water and because a decent volume of water will help heat the room longer when the fire goes out. Also, installing some more thermal mass around the petchka will help with that. Not right up against the metal as it might overheat and burn out faster (ours is also the popular 600 lev petchka!) but with an inch or two air gap, I could stack some bricks or stone behind and at the side.

We don't have a well, the ground water in the area is now too deep to be pumped on a home scale :( , so when the roof is repaired and guttering is installed, I will set up as much rainwater collection as I can afford, and add to it over time.

Stacy, I hope you enjoy your new home and find the options that work for you! There are plenty to choose from. One of the things that attracted me to Bulgaria, not having to do things the same way as everyone else!

I have a minimalistic approach to life, I want to do and spend the least necessary for the most efficient optimal satisfactory results.

So if we buy in Bulgaria it will be the cheapest solid property in need of minimal repair with the most good land and fruit trees in the best village, preferably without neighbouring houses very close by.

The house will be kept warm by the weather for most months, and November through march it will need heating for warmth and dryness.

Whether or not air conditioning will be needed in the summer I would see.

So I will try to get the most for my money, and try to buy a house that doesn't need changing much.

I dislike it when people buy. Houses then decide to change it all, renovate landscape build an extension etc. If you were so unhappy with it why buy it?

I'm talking about what I've seen in England of course, a country with a higher than average amount of morons with money to burn or so it seems to me.

But in Bulgaria I will get by with the bare essentials in terms of renovations additions etc and concentrate on what brought me there, to live a healthy organic stress free relaxed rustic lifestyle.

I'm used to living in basic conditions, and prefer to concentrate on my health and well being hobbies etc than working to buy a bigger car or back door.

Heating water, keeping the house cool in summer, keeping the house warm and dry in winter, a proper bathroom with a bath shower sink and toilet, and a fitted kitchen, a well maintained septic tank, a working well, and reliable and safe electrical wiring system will be my focus.

Then I just need to maintain the garden and grow lots of fruit.

Maybe I won't need a fitted kitchen and will get by with one -

Spoon Knife fork plate bowl frying pan steamer, mini single portable hob, cup, glass, a sink, washing up bowl, hand wash and air dry my clothes. Though a washing machine and tumble dryer are desirable.

Maybe find a way to avoid the tumbler In winter in Bulgaria as I have done in England for a few winters.

What I mean is I will try and live like the locals rather than affluent Brits who often want new everything and the latest gadgets in their English homes.


I am also of the same thinking  . I am in the process of purchasing a house in rural Bulgaria and have already stayed in the village twice since October to get the feel of how the locals live , shop , getting to one village to another , etc etc .  Weatherwise , I would say the winters are similar to the UK , meaning that you would have to organize your heating strategy . We stayed at our friends house in the same village , they spent a pretty penny to make it comfortable , something I would not do . They installed AC,s everywhere plus they have this massive boiler /heater thing that fire up their central heating by using pellets , which they bought at 15 LEVA per bag . From what I gathered they used 3 of these bags for 1 night so they are planning to ditch it in favour of a fireplace that can take wood/logs . Even to buy a ton of wood comes at a cost so I learnt . Using AC,s seems to be the cheapest solution as the electricity is much cheaper , at least for now . As for water , most houses in rural Bulgaria , if not all have a well , so invest in a good immersable pump , have it connected to your system and that should suffice . I was lucky enough to find a house that was renovated with the latest mod cons , but the owner had to sell due to ill health . But he didnt get round to fixing the adjoining barn and the large roof adjacent to it . Its an eyesore and needs at least fixing ASAP . My friends who I stayed with are Bulgarian , knows the area quite well , and he is quite good at DIY . But certain jobs like roofing need working on by a capable person . Now here is where the hard work starts . Firstly you need to find , preferrably by word of mouth , someone quite near your house , who is good at his job and not look at you as a Dollar sign !!! I found out that the cost of labour varies a lot and its expensive . Same goes for material . Be very very careful of cowboys , they will literally make you cry if you are unlucky enough to encounter them . So be careful my friend . I will stop there for now , but make sure to do your homework properly and work within a budget , unless you have an unlimited amount to spend .

I dislike it when people buy. Houses then decide to change it all, renovate landscape build an extension etc. If you were so unhappy with it why buy it?

I'm talking about what I've seen in England of course, a country with a higher than average amount of morons with money to burn or so it seems to me.
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My parents bought their house back in Wales when they retired, so were wrong to do anything about it?

The house needed gutting, a new kitchen, 2 new bathrooms, new flooring throughout the house. The house had a built-in garage that was so large they took a section of it and made an office.

Outside there was a falling down wooden shed, they knocked it down and built a brick one using local stone and installed electricity.

Further more the garden had to have some landscaping done, so my dad could have a wooden greenhouse built. 

Wow, you really do have some strange views on buying property.

"Wow, you really do have some strange views on buying property."

Hi SimCity at

I'm talking about people who buy perfectly good houses in full working order then make a load of unnecessary changes that are a waste of time and money. This happens regularly in England.

Such as buying a 40 year old perfectly good house on an estate of houses, demolishing it and rebuilding a house in its footprints, which I've seen happen several times. Some people it seems have money to burn.

Anyway it's clear to me from reading quite a few of your posts that you like to flame and troll on this forum and try to make out someone has said something they haven't. I hope you're not on a power trip

It seems to me that Bulgarian villages are pretty laissez-faire about what you do in your house. While it has some downsides (e.g. lots of barking dogs), overall it seems to be a very positive aspect of life here.

So if you want to keep your house pretty traditional, and maybe have a more sustainable lifestyle (well water, solar panels), you're free to do so. If you want to have a market garden full of fruit, nuts and veg (as my neighbours do), and keep lots of animals (my neighbours have a variety of dogs, cats, rabbits, pigeons, chickens, ducks, cows, goats, terrapins), you can do this too.

On the other hand, if you want to put in double-glazing and external insulation, replace the old wiring and plumbing, and overhaul the roof, you can do this too. If you want a swimming pool, a hot tub, and a gazebo, and replace most of your garden with low-maintenace gravel or tiled terraces, nobody says a word.

I rather like that you can move here, and then you pays your money, and takes your choice. If you want simple, rustic style, you're very welcome. If you want to turn your village house into a mansion (and can afford to do so) you're welcome to do that too.

Personally, I grew up on in a small farmhouse in North Wales. It was built of traditional Welsh stone, with uninsulated walls, single-glazed wooden windows, and an Aga on all winter to provide warmth and hot water. I'm too old to go back to that lifestyle! And I much prefer having good-quality double-glazing, plenty of insulation, and the AC units on 24/7. I throw in as many mod-cons as I can! :-)

I've read on here by the OP that most houses in Bulgaria are in a village setting rather than stand alone away from other houses. And this seems to be true of what I have seen advertised for sale, with the occasional exceptions.

Is this what you have seen on the ground in Bulgaria and is it very noticeable.

I ideally want my own space not on top of a neighbor with barking dogs and cockerels, as after all, I will be somewhat stuck in a village in rural Bulgaria, hopefully within 15 miles of a bigger town.

Perhaps its not so bad, as I do recall seeing online quite a few solitary houses for sale.

It's not that I want complete isolation I just wouldn't want to be dependent on my neighbours on my own property. In any way, such as for access or peace and quiet.

I'm sure I'd drop on an ideal house in the right place at a good price.

Also I'm torn between being near the beaches, or the mountains, or somewhere inbetween Which is really neither. Any tips?


I would visit rather than look on the internet..if you want cheap..expect to spend thousands on renovations

Cheaper if your a do it yourself.

If you want a house thats been done already..expect to pay a lot more for it.

Yea I'd definitely visit and buy in person.

Sorry it was the OP in the food prices thread not this thread that said most houses are in a village commune type setup, rather than stand alone.

Over the past 5 years I've seen some amazing bargains for sale in Bulgaria that I'd have moved into the day after if life was as simple as it isn't.

It would just be a case of dropping on one of them. Perhaps including finding a house that hasn't yet been advertised, though I'd prefer one that has been advertised through a good estate agent etc for getting the legal side of things done correctly.

@earthling1, I don't want to rain on your parade, but I can't help wondering, have you been to Bulgaria and seen what you can buy for your budget? Estate agents' listing can be misleading - using older photos when the house has deteriorated significantly since, only showing the best aspects of the house, putting a rather optimistic spin on the condition, leaving listings up that sold many years ago and show very outdated prices.

You mentioned looking in the 5-10k price range on a different thread. I hope you find what you want, but I think you may find some serious renovation work is needed to give you even the minimum of basic amenities at that price, especially when you want a decent sized plot of land and "the best village", too.

The great thing about Bulgaria is that if people want to buy a place and do it up in a Western style, they can - most Bulgarians do if they can afford to! And if people want to buy a dilapidated old house and live in worse conditions than the village ancestors did (the previous residents would never have allowed the house to fall into disrepair!), they can. And if people want something in between the two extremes, fixing up a dilapidated old house to bring it up to a reasonable level of comfort and livability while still living simply (my choice) they can.

Hi Jane I don't recall saying I want to live in "the best village".

After all how would that be possible to define.

If I did type those three words next to each other I would have meant the most suitable all around location for my preference and budget, based on my interpretation of what properties I see for sale at that time.

Now about house prices in Bulgaria, generally I think one tends to see adverts for actually pretty good modernised houses at over £10k to £15k.

I think the sellers circumstances affects the asking price.

If we move to Bulgaria I would want to buy as good a ready to live in house as possible with as much land for less than £20k, that's my budget. If I drop on one for £9k and everything is legitimate, great.

But yes I'd rather pay £5k more and have the things already there, than buy it for £5k less but then need to spend £5k on it and do the work etc.

2 years is a long time, and we will have to see what the geo political / humanitarian situation is like in Europe / the world by then.

Look how much the world has changed in the past 3 years. We love through Constant change.

I tend to agree with Jane, your likelihood of finding anything remotely modern within your budget of £15-20k , and within a "nice" village are more than a little optimistic! Having lived here permanently for 10+ years, I've a pretty good idea on property prices and conditions. Bulgaria property prices, like everywhere else are on the increase.

https://www.rightmove.co.uk/overseas-pr … ype=houses

They exist.

The less I spend the better. I have £253k of hard earned cash, but I want to make this last for life, and it's sat in the bank gaining interest.

That mowlem Bulgaria seller is guilty of leaving old adverts on Rightmove though for houses already sold.

Their houses are basic shells painted and cleaned but ripe for major renovation.

I'd have to go there and see just how good a deal I can get.

Also only I can define what I mean by words such as nice. You can't do it for me.


I wish you luck, of course. But Bulgarian inflation was nearly 20% last year, so the prices of everything, including property, have gone up a lot! Prices will probably (IMHO) keep rising as inflation is still high, bank interest rates are negative, and the Euro changeover is coming.

I'd be extremely surprised if, today, you can get a "pretty good modernised" house for 10-15k euros! I agree with my colleagues @janemulberry and @Jules999 that, unfortunately, this sounds a tad optimistic.

For the current state of the market, here are a few interesting URLs to look at. (There are other good agents, of course, but these I know, and they have a good website to search their listings.)

RightMove is a good option, well done for finding that one.

I like Bulgarian Properties a lot, and I've purchased a couple of properties through them. This is a big, reputable agent, with properties all over Bulgaria. They have a great website with listings in English. Even if you don't want to buy from them, it's a great research tool (as there is no sales info available online as there is in UK/USA). In particular, you can search across the whole country without specifying a city or district, so you can see EVERYTHING that's available, with sensible filters. Here's my search for houses up to 25k euros, starting with the cheapest. I didn't bother to specify land size, but if you want an extra-large plot (2,000 m2 and up, say, instead of the typical 500-1,000 m2) then you could specify that too (and the prices will be even higher).

houses to 25k euros


houses with over 2,000 m2 of land up to 25k euros


Ebay has always had lots of cheap Bulgarian houses for sale. Sometimes from distressed (British) sellers, wanting to go back to Blighty. So this is always worth a look.

This is all Bulgarian listings in price order


I like Ideal Homes, Veliko Tarnovo. I've heard several forum members have had good experiences... and this agent specializes in Veliko Tarnovo region, which is a lovely area (and city), and extremely popular with Brits. So there are more Brit-renovated properties coming to the market here that anywhere else, and the prices seem to be quite good for a renovated house in a nice area.


We all have different definitions of what for us are pretty good living standards.

I've seen some peaches of homes in Bulgaria for sale under £15k.

But some people would consider my definition of acceptable living standards as living like a pauper.

I think house prices will not rise forever the world over and for various reasons in about 2 years it will be a buyer's market.

@Earthling1 You did use the words "the best village" in one of your comments on this thread about the type of house you want. But agreed, the "best village" is a very subjective thing and can mean the best village for you and your requirements, not necessarily a village widely acclaimed to be the best (which will be priced way outside what you wish to spend).

When I click on your Rightmove link, what comes up top is a Mowlem listing. Those home are not modernised, just emptied and cleaned up and freshly painted and concreted. The electrics and plumbing will be primitive, and many houses they sell don't have a septic tank - I asked about a few listing I was interested in before I bought where I did amd was told no, which surprised me but maybe they did have a cesspit and I used the wrong language. IMO their homes are great for those who want a clean slate to renovate but not so good for seekers of a more simple life, you may do better looking for a village house that's been recently occupied so should be basically livable and will often include all the furniture as well.

I had a look at a few other listings but didn't see peaches. A few that had potential, for sure.If your budget is 20k, that does make it more possible you might find something. It will take some looking, but it could well be there.

As well as looking at the house itself carefully, as I am sure you do, thinking about things like marks on walls that may indicate damp, missing ceiling plaster indicating roof issues, weird Bulgarian plumbing (or no plumbing at all), vegetation growing on and even into the house, broken or unusable rotted windows, chimneys that are at risk of falling, etc, a key factor affecting price like in the UK is the location. Remote villages with no shop or bus service and with crime problems tend to have cheaper houses, and many of the homes that look great for the price may be in villages that won't be suitable. My personal example is that I can't drive any more due to a health issue, so I needed a house fairly close to the centre of a village with a bus service. I also tended to click away from houses with bars on the windows, suggesting crime could be an issue in the area.

What may help your search is to decide on what is important to you, whether it's clean air, open space, mountains, sea, ideal village size, access to schools or doctors, rainfall for gardening, warmer or cooler weather, maximum distance from a bigger town or city, your personal requirements which may help you narrow your search down to a few areas you can visit and check out some of the properties for sale. You may find for peace and quiet and a bit of space around you without total isolation a house on the edge of a village would work for you. There are some isolated houses, but more tend to be located in villages.

Just don't do what I did -- visited six times exploring and living various regions, then bought a house sight unseen on the internet in an area I'd never visited that was nowhere near being on my desirable list!

Lol I think the dearest thing I've ever bid on online is a guitar costing about £60. I actually once bid on and won a PA system also for about £60 thinking it was a guitar amp and speaker cabinet.

I felt like a right pratt, when I realised at his house, asking me if I am a singer like his daughter was. I didnt say anything and pretended it was what I thought it was.

I managed to make a profit on it though selling it in separate bits in cash converters.

But the panic of bidding on something unseen online I find quite lonely so learned not to about 10 years ago. It's like gambling.

Less possessions = more freedom to move.

But yes I'd have to buy a house in person, ideally within a 20 mile reach of a touristy place, probably the sea.

I only seal really good deals so if it ain't there I don't buy it.


"within a 20 mile reach of a touristy place"

Bang goes your budget! :-)

All village houses need work. But some need a lot more work than others. :-)

I think @janemulberry is spot on about the roof. This is a very costly renovation, so it's far better to find a house with a good roof. Similarly, a house that's obviously lived in is much easier to move into, as it has electricity and water and some form of heating... and it's usually dry and weather-proof. There are lots of Bulgarian houses that are empty, and have been empty for months or years. They deteriorate quickly if not lived in and cared for.

"There are lots of Bulgarian houses that are empty, and have been empty for months or years. They deteriorate quickly if not lived in and cared for.'

Most houses anywhere do. Any house is a constant maintenance work in progress.

"within a 20 mile reach of a touristy place"

Bang goes your budget! :-)

All I can say is,

1. I must be looking at different adverts to you guys.

2. The adverts I see must be fake or outdated.

3. My definition of acceptable living conditions must be way lower than yours.

4. If I get my boots on the ground I will find one of these really good properties at a really good price, if it's meant to be.

5. I don't see many Bulgarian houses for sale that don't need some additions like a bath or more modern heating setup, whether it's 5k or 50k.

I will land on my feet or not at all. I always find very good deals, without screwing someone over. Whether it's a guitar t shirt car etc. Period.

Finding a sound and immediately liveable house within 20 miles of a major tourist centre could be a serious challenge, even for someone with good luck getting great deals and fairly minimalistic requirements for kitchen and bathroom. But within twenty miles of a smaller tourist area, say Kavarna rather than Varna if you decide on a coastal location, is maybe doable with some good searching and a flexible approach to what you want. Expand the twenty miles to thirty and it should be much more doable.

Maybe start a new thread and post links to some places you are interested in? Promise not to pick them apart just for fun, but those of us who've discovered the sometimes significant variances between the estate agents listing and the reality with Bulgarian houses may be able to give some useful suggestions for what to look out for to help you narrow your search.

Mehh... everyone's got an opinion, innit! :-)

And one's man's hovel is another man's peach.

So, absolutely, don't let any of us know-it-alls get ya down.

@Earthling1 sounds very handy with a set of tools, ready for a challenge... and with cash on the ready to snap up a bargain. So, actually, that could mean a lot of potential properties. And with all the (younger) Bulgarians heading for the big cities, Bulgaria is full of wide open spaces and country houses waiting for a caring new owner. Pretty sure there are still a few diamonds-in-the-rough left!

Absolutely, I'm sure you're right about some fake outdated adverts etc.

I've looked at a few websites today and seen some peaches in my price range that were advised / posted recently online. One even came fully furnished with good furniture.

I will want to buy a house with, or add to it -

A 1500sqm+ plot

4+ bedrooms,

Good wiring,

A proper English bathroom,

A kitchen,

A solid dry roof,

No cracks in the walls,

Solid flooring,

Clean and tidy

Fresh paint,

No excess damp or mould from excessively wet walls,

A good working sewage tank / drainage system

And most importantly enough insulation to be able to heat it and keep it warm in winter. Perhaps I will invent my own solutions here.

I like the idea of a stone house to keep it cool in summer, but stone houses are cold in winter so can't have it both ways.

I want to look at my house and know before buying this place if well maintained should last until at least 2100.

Property maintenance and construction experience with different houses, and having lived in and been familiar with many different houses adding to common sense.

Any house is better than living on the street. And if you're a tough person, most clean tidy structurally sound houses are okay that have the bare necessities.

The biggest issue being heating it effectively and that heat not evaporating quickly in the colder months. Good heat retention qualities in cold months, and ideally cool in summer, perhaps under the shelter of some big trees.

Happy house hunting!

If anyone has any tips to improve a Bulgarian houses heat retention in winter, perhaps like the locals use, please do share.

And similarly to keep a Bulgarian house cooler in summer.

Preferably withi minimum cost involved.

With little gas central heating in Bulgaria heating the whole house in the cold months seems to be an issue.

A real fire is nice but takes up a lot of time and effort and is more of a lifestyle that one needs to embrace to be able to do well.

Eg. Do the locals line their lofts with wool 6 inches deep to retain heat for longer?

Is there one single way to improve heat retention when cold in winter, and keep the heat out in summer?

.... and is it fair to say that heating a house is less of an issue than in the UK in Bulgaria due to -

Bulgaria having a drier climate than UK,

a relatively short cold winter,

Warm dry spring summer autumns?

Perhaps this is why gas central, which is probably the best way to heat a whole house is uncommon in Bulgaria, heating is not a big thing in Bulgaria, with heating being an afterthought.

Fires stoves and ranges can be good fun but they're constant hard work and don't produce instant heat. But definitely worthwhile if you can get wood etc for free. And rig it up in a way so it heats as many rooms as possible.

Electric heating generally being expensive inefficient and on a room by room basis.

... also, on a lot of the property sale adverts I see these primitive looking wood burning stoves rigged up with pipes to supply heat to multiple rooms.

I do wonder how they'd do with a carbon monoxide alarm/ detector next to them.

Apparently cold weather / living conditions kills way more people than hot weather. Neil Oliver recently explained this on GB news.


It's swings and roundabouts, innit. I remember the UK as somewhat cool and damp and drizzly, which feels very cold and unpleasant, whereas Bulgaria seems pretty dry and sunny for a large part of the year. (I rarely miss a daily walk in Bulgaria, whereas the UK often had some miserable days where I didn't want to venture out.) On the other, Bulgaria is much more extreme, I've had 40 degree summers, and -12 winters. So that needs lots of cooling and heating.

You can live in an uninsulated house, it just loses a lot of heat and costs (a lot) more money to keep warm (or cool). The traditional village way to handle this is to have a winter zone (small living room + small bedroom, both easy to heat with a small petchka) and a summer zone (a small "summer kitchen") in a cooler or more open part of the house (maybe without AC, or maybe just one AC).

Most of my village neighbours have added external insulation and double-glazed UPVC windows. It seems to be a very standard upgrade. But not a cheap one (windows + insulation + render). If you do the wall insulation, it doesn't make sense not to upgrade your roof insulation at the same time.

Us Brits are not so familiar with AC units, it wasn't (until recently) required by British summers. But here, it's necessary... unless you plan on spending the summer in your cellar. :-) They are a bit expensive to run, but because electricity is rather expensive, not because they are inefficient (actually, they are rather efficient and get "free" heating/cooling from the air, see COP/EER > 1). They are also clean and easy.

For most folks, once they have a bit cooling... they figure they might as well use it for a bit of heating (they are dual mode). Which changes the equation for what kind of heating you want to pay to install, in addition to your ACs.

I agree with you that gas central heating is very convenient and comfortable. But I believe even Britain wants to move away from such heating to cleaner ones.

Bulgaria is not gasified the way the UK is. So gas CH is not an option for most apartments. Most houses/villages aren't gasified either, but if the house has a decent garden you can bury a gas tank in your garden and get gas CH this way. But this is quite an expensive option (I think I was quoted 25,000 leva for my house). I know a couple of nearby village residents who have gone for this, but it's definitely not common. (Much more common is CH using a pellet stove with a water jacket.)

So my house has several AC units, enough to heat or cool the place. I added a large pellet stove (air heat only) in the living room to supplement them in a cold winter, but so far I've rarely used it. The electricity bill can be high, but rather than going for a brand new central heating system, I've decided to stick with my ACs and install some solar panels in the future.

Traditionally, village houses used thick walls (lots of thermal mass) for both heating and cooling, and the usual insulation was straw coated with clay on floors and in ceilings. Traditional double glazing is two sets of windows and doors, one opening in, one out (sadly they don't do this in the region my house is in), I will need to use heavy winter curtains and bubble wrap on the windows as temporary double glazing, instead. 

Plus having summer and winter zones, as Gwyn said - the reason so many unrenovated village houses have a bed in the kitchen beside the wood-fired cooker and in the living room beside the petchka, and many estate agents count the kitchen and living rooms in the "bedroom" count! You'll also see in hotter areas roofs often have windows or small openings covered by a mini-roof. Hot air rises so this would vent the hot air out of the roof space and the house as well if the opening to the loft was left open.

No or low cost solutions using local materials but more labour intensive.

My interest in natural building and vernacular architecture might be showing! ;)

I hope to stick with wood for heating and hot water as the house has decent petchkas and I have enough land (a second 2/3 acre in another part of the village, as well as the land with the main house) to set up coppiced woodlots using the weed trees that are already growing there. I also have bought a few CO monitors!

I see it like this

I've lived in a cold old stone house in England that needed heating 7 months per year.

In Bulgaria I expect heating will be needed 5 or less months per year.

A cold house is better than living in no house.

The main thing being to chill out man, in an affordable country with low population density and interesting terrain and warmer weather.

Gwyn do you notice a significant difference in the summer temperatures in Bulgaria compared to Cyprus?

Cyprus I found too hot and I tanned so deep I almost looked like an Asian man for a few days after I got home!

Mind you, Cyprus has an arrid desert climate, whereas it's more humid in lush vegetationous Bulgaria, so it's possible summer time in Bulgaria feels warmer and more uncomfortable than in Cyprus


do you notice a significant difference in the summer temperatures in Bulgaria compared to Cyprus?

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Personally, I find both Cyprus (Limassol) and Spain (Alicante) way too hot in summer. But Bulgaria (Plovdiv) gets pretty hot too. They're all fine if you've got AC units, and you're happy to get up before 6 am for your daily constitutional.

With how cold damp and drawn out the miserable weather season is in the UK, 7 months per year?

...All houses struggle to survive if not heated adequately.

Go away for 3 months in the winter with no heating on and see how black mould has taken over the ceilings and walls.

Bulgaria has shorter winters, drier annual climate, warm summers, less wind, compared to the UK. So Bulgaria is more friendly to houses and their chances of survival overall all things being equal.

I've not experienced living in very new (built after 2000) housing in England, but I'm pretty sure most houses will be cold in winter if no heating has been on in the past few hours.

A couple of things I just spotted...

(1) I was looking at my most recent electricity bill (89 leva) and I noticed there is a day and night tariff with a significant difference. I don't think the UK does this much now, but it used to be very popular with storage radiators. So perhaps this is an option to heat a Bulgarian house?

(2) There's an interesting offer on Ebay from one of the popular pay-monthly guys (item 125734103358 if you're curious). They used to have very cheap properties, so I was struck by the price of this one: 44,000 UKP, about 50k euros! Even so, it seems to have sold within a few days. It's a large house with a large plot, in a very good area (close to VT city) so it definitely has plenty of mansion potential. And it's had some beautifying work with a painted exterior, bathroom, kitchen, and big fireplace. However, even at this price, the new buyer probably will need to redecorate the entire inside and remodel the kitchen. And the house doesn't have new windows or insulation.