Why doesn’t everyone just move abroad?

by | May 27, 2022 | Bulgarian life | 10 comments

UK readers, please tell me, why are you still there? Why haven’t you buggered off abroad yet?

I don’t want to come off as an ingrate. The UK did alright by me. I turned 18 in the late 90s, a particularly optimistic time to be a Brit. I went to university when it was not free, but significantly cheaper than it is now. I scored a job in publishing because, in those days, desirable industries didn’t expect people to intern for free for six months just to get a foot in the door (which, let’s be honest, favours only certain sections of society, i.e. mostly those who can afford to work for free because they have rich, indulgent parents who continue to support them). In my day – she said, sounding like a huffy 80-year-old – you just applied for dozens of entry-level jobs and eventually got one. And you got paid.

It wasn’t perfect, life in the UK. But (at least, as a white, hetero female fuelled by self-confidence and cheap cider), I grew up feeling there was everything to look forward to. That I could be anything I wanted. It was a privilege to grow up in that time. And I’m talking about a distinctly working class upbringing, in a council house in Portsmouth.

Fast-forward a couple of decades and the UK looks like a country on the wane. Maybe every generation feels this way, but I think my generation was the last to have it good.

I look at young Brits entering adulthood now and think, Jesus wept, get out while you’re young. Why pay £9,000 a year to study in the UK? Go to uni in Europe, where it’s cheaper (or, where it’s not cheaper, at least you’re getting an interesting life experience for your money).

I look at my youngest siblings, yet to buy their own homes, and cannot fathom finding £250,000 (or more) for just a regular fucking house in the South of England. Not a mansion. Just a little house or flat, with a postage stamp garden if you’re lucky, and neighbours practically up your nostrils.

I see friends and family hit with surging energy bills, with more price rises on the way, and their own government basically telling them, ‘Just save money by buying supermarket value brands, you dumb plebs.’

Why isn’t everyone marching on Downing Street? Or better yet, why don’t they take their hard-earned money and move to a country that doesn’t seek to openly mug off its citizens? (And I know no country is perfect. But it really does feel like the UK government is taking the piss.)

You can buy a house in the Bulgarian countryside for a very low five-figure sum – sometimes even less than that. Our fixer-upper on a quarter-acre plot cost £10,000. (Maybe double that again in renovation costs.) And it was one of the more expensive houses we viewed. For a higher five-figure sum, you can buy something positively luxurious.

Yes, you’ll need to find a way to earn money here, either working online or starting your own local business. And the language is hard. And there’s all that lovely European bureaucracy to deal with. But you’ll never have to look at Boris Johnson’s face again. Every now and then he catches me unawares, popping up on the Radio 2 headlines, and I cringe as I hear him splutter his latest bullshit. But I haven’t seen his lifeless face for years. And it’s been brilliant. You should move abroad, if only for that reason.

It’s not all doom and gloom, of course. Life in the UK is free from war and persecution. It’s still a beautiful country. The sausages are good… I just feel increasingly disconnected and disheartened by my homeland. Which is pretty sad, really.

Believe it or not, I sat down to write something altogether more positive, about the wonderful benefits of moving abroad. But this is what poured out of me, in a trance-like state. Sorry about that. Anyway, it’s really quite nice abroad. You should think about it.

Just a little soothing nature to offset my rage.


  1. Katt

    I agree Aunty, I’ve been back in our Bulgarian house for a week, husband returns to the UK tomorrow to look after his elderly mum but I’m staying until I get a NHS appointment for my knee but I must say it’s not been too bad since I came back into the sunshine. Why am I an old woman going to move here full time? Well when Rishi spends more on heating his outside swimming pool during the summer than I get in pension in a year I believe that the government doesn’t care . Boris doesn’t care that I’ve had to turn my water heater off before Christmas because I couldn’t afford the bill, he doesn’t give a dam that my food bill has increased and that I gave to buy £1.50 fruit and veg boxes from Lidl and bread reduced to 20p a loaf to freeze why should he, he gets organic foods delivered to his back door free curtesy of a Tory diner. I’m so, so pleased that I got Bulgarian residency before Brexshit so I at least have the right to live here, cultivate my garden and live a simple life that even now remains well within my means. Yes Aunty I really don’t know why people stay in a country that thinks so little if the people who keep it going under this Tory government.

    • Auntie Bulgaria

      That’s an interesting perspective, because it’s so easy for younger folk to look at older generations and think ‘Christ you all have it so good, with your cheap property and good pensions.’ A timely reminder that people of all ages are struggling in the UK. Shameful, shameful state of affairs. You made a good call, choosing a simpler life over here. You won’t regret it.

      • Katt

        Thanks for your reply Auntie, if I’d have been younger I’d have gone to the outside of a village with more land and so on but our garden must be roughly the same size as yours in a lane behind the main village square, plenty of shops but still peaceful and quiet out if the main wedding season of August . We live about 45 minutes by car away from the coast. People I know who live nearer to the black sea have been asked ” can you hear the bombs ? Can you see the warships?” Because many people have no idea where Bulgaria is.

          • Katt

            Yes but not too close thought, our home was affordable, the village is large due to external employment opportunities, and while I’m here now on my own there is a limited local bus service. Yes I think that we have the best of both worlds.

          • Auntie Bulgaria

            We’re similar in that we’re in the mountains but just an hour from Sofia. Best of both worlds!

  2. Rod Jones

    I couldn’t agree more.

    We moved out in 2007. It was obvious that life was about to get nasty in the UK; we were within 10 years of retirement; and, most of all, I couldn’t stand Brown. I still shudder when he appears on TV to pontificate (much like Blair).

    Can it possibly be true that we get the government we deserve ? We must have been awfully bad…

    But, yes, I have often wondered why more people don’t emigrate to Bulgaria. Only 7 million in a country nearly the size of England, with beautiful countryside. OK, crap infrastructure but the UK is going the same way…

    I think the country got a bad rep during the communist era, of course; and also most people don’t even know exactly where in Europe it is. We should call it “North Greece”, that would attract them.

    • Auntie Bulgaria

      Too true, people don’t know enough about Bulgaria, or even where it is. The number of times people have said something like, ‘Do you get much of a summer in the Baltics?’ or ‘It must get cold up there near Estonia/Latvia/Russia?’ And I say, ‘I have no idea. I’m in the Balkans, not Baltics. We’re next to Greece!’

      Despite the challenges facing Bulgaria — poor infrastructure, corruption, etc. — it still feels like a country on the up (at least it does to me). We’ve seen so many positive changes during our time here, while back home seems to be going down the drain.

  3. Simon

    Dear Claire, one of the best reasons for moving to Bulgaria is that in BG there really is a health service. The never-ending crisis in the NHS is so bad that many are “going private”. Here in VT, the hospital is decidedly tatty and could do with several coats of paint. There are no expensive machines that go “ping1” The good news is that Bulgarian doctors and nurses know what they are doing. Unlike the UK, Bulgarian hospitals even have beds! Anyway, I ALWAYS enjoy reading your blog and i have given it several “plugs” on my blog, http://www.bulgariawithnoodles.blogspot.com

    • Auntie Bulgaria

      Thanks for sticking around here, Simon. And I agree, the NHS is in crisis. We’ve not had many dealings with the Bulgarian health service but, when we have, it’s been fine. Very easy to access (if you need to see a specialist, for example, you can make an appointment directly and see someone within a matter of days), and extremely affordable. No complaints.


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