I have not been very helpful so far in
suggesting any alternatives to living/buying real estate in
the UK. Certainly I would not advise moving at the moment to
anywhere in the EU, and that does include the usual tourist
areas of the zone. I am seeking to sell property in
Portugal, so I am taking my own advice and seeking to leave.
By all means come over and buy my spread, and you may love
it. I'll post a picture or two, why not, but I still think
it's the wrong move.
Here's my home on the cover of my book on life in the
And a view from the top of the garden:
There are alternatives, but although they are in Europe,
most are not in the EU. Oddly, however, one country is
seeking to join the EU!! That may sound like insanity, but
that's the way things are. On the other hand, with the
length of time it takes EU politicians to think and check
out the parameters there may well be no EU left by the time
the think tank comes back with its answers.
There are other websites documenting this subject, one at
least written by someone who hasn't a clue what he's talking
about. What's new? Another gives a list of the ten poorest
countries in Europe. It's an interesting list.
Bulgaria: apparently 35% of the country live in poverty.
It's a decade or so since I was last there, and I must admit
I found the place a trifle depressing. You can buy houses
pretty well anywhere for five thousand euros and up. Away
from the big cities there is no work and no money. A
perfectly good breakfast in a restaurant could be had in the
sticks for €1.70. We hired a three bed apartment for a
couple of days, and it cost us a little over €10. Sure it's
cheap, but I think you'd get very depressed. I dont
Next on the list is Montenegro. I am going to do a special
entry just on this country in another blog, so let's fast
forward to the next on the list.
Serbia. 12% of the country live in poverty, and once again,
the cost of living is very cheap. I dont recommend this
place either unless you speak the language and have
relatives there. You can see the ravages of the past
disagreements. It really does echo the general view from
outsiders. This is the Balkans, with all that implies.
Highly dodgy. Great for a holiday, especially in the capital
city, but not a place to live.
Belarus. I have a friend who lives in Minsk, and it is only
a couple of years since I was last up this way. Again, I do
not recommend. It's cheap to live here, but is rather
soulless. You would do much better to stay slightly to the
west in one of the Baltic states. They do at least have a
certain charm. I'll come back to them in a later blog.
Macedonia is next. Apparently unemployment is over 27%, and
70% of the population live in poverty. It's a decade since I
was last here, and the mountains are very quiet, and there
are constant claims of brigands. How true those claims were
I didn't stop to find out, but the Albanians next door had
at the time a bad reputation.
Albania was one of the places I was expecting to rise from
the ashes of a ghastly fascist state run by a megalomaniac
who had the whole place under a fierce surveillance. It was
rather unnerving looking across the fields at the
mushroom-like bunkers which used to house the security
police. I didn't master the language, and although I once
decided to move to Saranda, opposite Corfu, I have
subsequently changed my mind.
Kosovo, Moldova, and Ukraine are the last three on the list.
I'm not even going to discuss these. You dont want to know.
Just one short mention about Ukraine.
When I was in my late teens I had this crazy idea of asking
Dmitri Shostakovitch to write a percussion concerto. I
cobbled together five thousand pounds (dont ask me how),
which I thought ought to be enough, and I headed out to
Moscow. I only had a vague idea where Moscow was. I thought
if I started in Paris and headed due east I should
eventually hit the place.
Clearly my grasp of geography was a bit off-centre because I
ended up in a place called Lviv. Which then led me to Kiev,
the capital of Ukraine.
It was winter-time, and the landscape wherever I looked
consisted of various shades of dirty white, from the snow
underfoot to the smudges that were villages, and a dirty
mess which was the sky. I was not impressed.
Okay, let's move west. Let us take a mental stroll down the
eastern side of the Adriatic. I've done this trip many times
before. It's an intriguing coastline, and I have long
harboured a desire to buy a home somewhere along this
coastal edge. Let's have a closer look.
When I first travelled through this part of the world it was
all part of the country then known as Yugoslavia. It's all
part of an area which used to be known as The Balkans, and
was considered a dodgy part of the world, full of
anarchists. It has certainly been very unstable even over
the recent past, and the last time I ventured inland there
were marks of violence everywhere, with ruins in evidence,
and walls pock-marked with bullet holes and damage from
Probably not the kind of place you'd want to move to. But it
isn't all like that. Let's home in on a small part of this
area of Europe.
Let's say you go east from Venice. You come to a rather nice
country called Slovenia. It's what you might call a pastoral
country with a small coastline onto the Adriatic. Here are
some basic property facts about the place.
In Ljubljana´s city centre, a 50-sq.m. apartment can be
rented for around €771 (US$ 884) per month, while a bigger
120-sq.m. apartment has an average monthly rent of around
€1,716 (US$ 1,968). But let's move back to the coast and
have a look at the tourist area just south of Trieste.
I will add two or three unusual properties for sale in
Slovenia to the Unique Property site members' section.
Gosh, these pictures take me back. My first holiday with
Julie all those years ago was in Istria. She flew out to
join me, and I picked her up at Marco Polo airport just
outside Venice. We got off to a bad start. I was in a
hire-car and the gearbox was a bit stiff, and Julie had just
opened a bottle of pear-juice, and instead of drinking it,
the sticky stuff went right down the front of her blouse as
I slipped the clutch. Nice start to a holiday! And it took a
while to improve.
Once we'd settled in we found it was a very nice neck of the
woods and not particularly expensive. But that was long ago.
I must re-visit some day.
Going south we come to Croatia. This is a large and somewhat
confusing country with a very long coastline scattered with
islands, with the amazing city of Dubrovnik in the south.
Here are some basic facts about the place.
At the moment, like most of Europe, the country is showing a
serious drop in GDP (-6.7%), inflation is below 1%. As with
most of Eastern Europe there is a considerable percentage of
the population living at or below the poverty line (14.4%)
with youth unemployment around 11%.
In other words, all is not well, but on the other hand, the
country is not doing too badly, and the cost of living is
not high. The place to be is clearly close to the Adriatic,
Next week we'll explore a few other places. And if you have
any questions about any of these places do get back to me
and I will do my best to answer them.