Britons find Bulgarian prices are right for holiday homes
An industry study, by currency specialist HIFX, shows the former communist state has risen to third most popular destination for foreign boltholes, behind only Spain and France.
Bulgaria leapt ahead of Florida, Portugal, and Dubai after marketing the Black Sea coast for summer holidays and inland mountain ranges for skiing.
The country is currently being touted as the best place to buy, a country where you can get more for your money than in Spain, Portugal, or Greece while enjoying the kind of lifestyle that was affordable in Mediterranean Europe 30 years ago.
With the Black Sea coast averaging nearly 300 days of sunshine a year and a good meal for two with wine costing less than £8, Bulgaria has also been voted the UK's favourite holiday hot spot by First Choice, and the Association of British Travel Agents expects UK visitor numbers to have reached 200,000 this year.
The cheap prices mean it is ideal for holiday home buyers or investors with limited budgets. But when Bulgaria joins the EU in 2007, second home owners can expect the value of their properties to soar.
Bulgaria has been criticised, however, for failing to tackle organised crime. A British man was recently taken hostage there by bogus estate agents, who demanded £44,000 for his release.
Chris Fanos, 59, was picked up at Sofia airport by an Iranian man who had offered to show him property. Instead, he was bundled into a car and driven to a hideout. Police laid siege to the building for 48 hours and Mr Fanos was eventually freed after a gun battle.
The latest study also showed Florida's attractiveness is falling after a year in which the dollar rose against the pound forced prices up in the sunshine state.
Alex Wright, HIFX director, said: "Bulgaria is booming. The resorts are reminiscent of Spain 20 years ago; investors are buying in their droves and there is similar activity in some of the ski resorts."
Jake Mason, from Validus, an international property specialist, added: "Britons are looking at the Eastern bloc countries that have recently joined the EU, such as the Czech Republic and Poland. There are many tax incentives. For example, VAT on new build property is only 5% instead of the normal 19%."
Where Brits are buying property abroad and if the trend is up, down or staying the same:
Property hot spots
Spain - 26% (falling)
France - 24% (falling)
Bulgaria - 8% (increasing)
Australia - 7% (unchanged)
US - 7% (falling)
Dubai - 6% (increasing)
New Zealand - 4% (falling)
Cyprus - 4% (unchanged)
Canada - 4% (increasing)
Italy - 2% (increasing)
Turkey - 2% (increasing)
Portugal - 2% (falling)
Switzerland - 1% (increasing)
Brazil - 1% (increasing)
Others - 2% (increasing)
Source: The Herald - Glasgow,Scotland,UK