The path to Bulgaria may lead back home for some expats
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.
According to recent research by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), one in 10 Britons have made the move abroad in search of a better life. With its lower cost of living, Bulgaria has been touted as the "new Spain" and coverage on television programmes such as A Place in the Sun has attracted a host of foreign expats.
But what television cannot serve up is a taste of actually living in a foreign country and for a small number of people, moving to any part of the world - not just Bulgaria, their move will only turn out to be temporary. The main reasons emigrants cite for a return home offers a good insight into important considerations: they include: healthcare (especially in old age); education; missing friends and family; and taking care of an elderly parent.
Armed with a healthy bank balance or a regular income, foreign expats can enjoy a high standard of living and a more relaxed pace of life in Bulgaria. And once some of the laborious property purchase and utility issues are ironed out, life can be very good. But like any country in the world, Bulgaria will not suit everyone, so doing your homework, and perhaps even arranging an extended stay in the country before making your move permanent, is crucial.
And while the aforementioned factors would seem like obvious things to take into account before a move abroad, according to Elizabeth Kruempelmann, the founder of Global Citizen Coaching and author of the book The Global Citizen, the desire to change their lives often leads people to skip the soul-searching. "If your reason for moving abroad implies that you are hoping the grass will be greener on the other side, stop there," warns Kruempelmann, who spent 14 years living and working in four foreign countries. "This is a myth that can lead to disaster. It depends what part of your life you want to be 'greener'. It is worth your time digging deeper before making a hasty move. Ask yourself what you want to be 'better' than your current life?"
According to Kruempelmann, many people want to escape a life they do not like any longer, hence escaping themselves. "The truth of the matter is another cliche: 'Wherever you go, there you are'", she explains. "It is quite typical that vagabonds relocating abroad unknowingly bring a lot of emotional and cultural baggage with them. Whatever problems you attracted into your life previously will re-manifest themselves over and over, regardless of where you live in the world, until you understand the inherent lesson and incorporate it into your life."
Whether you love it or loathe it, making a move abroad is a true life experience - regardless of where you eventually call home.