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March 2007, 16/03/2007

Dear Valued Stara Planina Properties Client,

We have dedicated this newsletter to practical matters related to visiting and living in Bulgaria. Please feel free to suggest any topics you are interested to read about.

English Language Media in Bulgaria

For those who intend to move to Bulgaria permanently or plan to spend several weeks per year in the country might be interested in knowing what English language media offerings are available to keep you up dated with the news and developments in the UK and worldwide.

There are three terrestrial TV channels in Bulgaria and all are in Bulgarian. If you want to watch English language TV you will have to install either cable or a satellite system.

Cable TV is cheaper to install than a satellite system but both costs are fairly low and are under 55 euros whichever you choose. There are many cable companies servicing particular areas of Bulgaria whilst there are only 2 national satellite providers (ITV Partner and Bulsat). Cable is not available in all locations whilst satellite is and depends only on the criterion that there are no obstacles between the satellite and your dish, so check before renting or buying. If your property is located on a development you may need to get the permission of the developer in order to install a satellite dish.

The monthly cost of either cable and satellite packages is about the same ranging from 7 to 12 euros depending on which package you choose. You can pick and choose the channels you want but as a basic package you receive many free-to-air English language programmes such as CNN, Euronews, Eurosports, Hallmark, MTV, Discovery and Animal Planet. The additional packages include more movie channels such as HBO and extra sports channels.

In terms of which system to choose either cable or satellite the preferred option seems to be satellite. It is slightly more expensive to install and monthly costs are again slightly higher but it offers a better selection of channels. The quality of the signal is also better than cable and less prone to failure.

For those wishing to receive not just English language channels but the same selection of channels as offered in the UK i.e. BBC, ITV, Channel Four and the Sky packages you will have to pursue a different route.

In the UK and Republic of Ireland TV is broadcast via the Astra 2 Satellites. Terrestrial channels such as BBC1 and ITV are broadcast free-to-air but unfortunately the signal strength in Bulgaria is very weak and you would need a dish of about 4.5 m to receive them which is really not practical. Channels such as Channel Four and Five can be received on dish of about 2 m but these are not broadcast free-to- air, i.e. they are encrypted, so you will need a card to activate them. Currently in the UK you can either have a ‘freeview’card which gives you access to the terrestrial channels. This involves an one off payment. You would also need a box into which to place the card. Many people have brought these boxes out to Bulgaria and had them installed locally. The other alternative is to bring out an activate Sky Box with a valid card and have it installed locally with a dish of about 2 m picking up the Astra 2 satellite. It should be pointed out however that taking out your Sky box and viewing card (under a subscription contract) to Bulgaria would be in breach of your contract with Sky and they have the right if detected to cancel your viewing card.

There is a large selection of radio stations in Bulgaria broadcasting a mix of Bulgarian and English language music. The selection of English language music tends to be dominated by familiar artists and there is a limited selection of cutting edge music in any genre however one of the great things is that they have limited chat and even more limited use of adverts which means you get uninterrupted music broadcasts (unlike commercial stations in the most of the Western European counties).

The BBC World service is broadcast on short wave on several frequencies (e.g. 17640, 12095, 9410, 7320, 6195, 5875 kHz) but the signal strength varies during the day. BBC radio stations can also be heard live through the internet. You can also pick up many UK and ROI radio stations via Astra satellites.

Obviously newspapers and magazines are dominated by Bulgarian-language publications however there is growing number domestic English- language press.

The longest established and most respected and profissional English-language newspaper is 'The Sofia Echo' which comes out weekly on a Friday. This paper is available throughout Bulgaria and an annual subscription for the newspaper to be delivered by post is less than 60 euros. It contains in-depth analysis of news and business developments and has a large leisure and entertainment section but this tends to focus on events in the capital Sofia itself. The Sofia Echo also publishes a monthly magazine called Property Wise that focuses exclusively on property matters in Bulgaria. There are other newspapers such as 'The Frontier Times' which started as a regional paper in the Veliko Turnovo area but is now branching out into other regions.

'The Quest Bulgaria' is a subscription magazine which is very useful in looking at all aspects of living in Bulgaria from a foreigner perspective and also gives advice on the property market and is a valuable resource for all those thinking of moving to Bulgaria. More recently a number of glossy magazines such as Vagabond and Just Bulgaria have emerged on the market whose content is more lifestyle and arts focused.

Foreign magazines and newspapers such as Time or Cosmopolitan are available from most newspaper stands in the larger cities or from petrol stations. You can also buy many of the large European national newspapers (including those from the UK or Republic of Ireland) from Sofia and the major tourist resorts. These papers tend to be a couple of days old and are sold for inflated prices.

If you want to receive a subscription to one of the foreign newspapers or magazines the post office can arrange it. The prices tend to be at least 5 times the price you would pay if you were buying them from the country of origin. They are delivered door-to-door. If you wish to order through the post office subscriptions are on an annual basis and the subscription can only be made during the last 6 weeks of the year leading up to Christmas.

We realise that internet is the media which would interest everyone moving to spend some time in Bulgaria but as it is a broader topic we will cover this issue in some of the newsletters in the near future.

Tryavna Apartments - an Excellent Opportunity for Investment and Holidays

The Mountain Lake holiday complex is being built in the town of Tryavna in the central part of Stara Planina Mountains. Purchasing an apartment in Mountain Lake is much more than just acquiring a holiday home in the sunshine. Many of the owners view their new properties also as solid investment and indeed a source of additional income.

The town of Tryavna in the heart of the Stara Planina Mountains is one of the most picturesque towns which preserved its authentic atmosphere and offers excellent conditions for short and long term holidays. The town is located in an area famous for its fresh air and clean nature. In addition there are a number of recreation facilities and historical attractions which make the town one of the preferred places for family holidays all year round.

The historical and architectural monuments of Tryavna are among its main attractions with some of the best examples from the Bulgarian Revival period and rich museum and art collections. In addition it has a wealth of outdoor activity attractions nearby and the historic centre has many lively bars and restaurants to keep the visitors entertained.

What we offer is properties in a development which is the first of its kind in the area. There will be 76 apartments, a restaurant, a spa center, shops, outside swimming pool, situated just on the shore of a beautiful mountain lake. The total building area is 7,800 sq m. All apartments will be finished to a high standard with fitted kitchens and installed bathroom equipment.

The buyers of the Mountain Lake will be provided with first class management service including guarded entrance, cleaning and maintenance of all common areas, garden and swimming pool, payment of bills, optional rental management and much more. Some additional services will be property rentals, boating, wind surfing, jet and water ski rentals, mini-golf, horse riding, excursions, and guides.

Changes in the Bulgarian Ownership Legislation

Last week the Bulgarian Parliament voted the changes in the ownership law including a change of the restrictive regime of ownership for foreigners. According to the old law foreigners did not have the right to own land in the country under any circumstances. The changes in the law give the right of land ownership under conditions required by contracts between the EU and Bulgaria. According to the changes only EU citizens who settle in Bulgaria as self-employed will have the right to acquire land. Although these changes have been enacted it is still unclear exactly how they work in practice. We will keep you informed of any developments.

Grand Exhibition of Thracian Treasures Attracted Visitors in Paris

From October 14, 2006 to January 31, 2007 Parisians and tourists were invited to visit a grand exhibition of the most outstanding Thracian treasures found in Bulgaria. It consisted of 125 Thracian artefacts, most of them gold and silver. Nearly 100,000 visited the exhibition in the Jacquemart-Andre Museum in Paris. Museum representatives said that this had been one of the most successful exposition hosted by the museum. The Thracian treasures exhibition is travelling around Europe. After few weeks in the Bulgarian National Museum of History in Sofia it is now shown in the city of Basel in Switzerland.

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