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2021 -- Part 12: The Best and the Worst Places to Live in Europe

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 Algarve:

Life in the Algarve

And a view from the top of the garden:

Life in the Algarve

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 recommend.


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.

Saranda, Albania

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 mortar bombs.

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, especially Dubrovnik.

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.

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