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Thursday, March 23, 2006 

Profiling property in Rousse

There is a hardly a week that passes without a story about the latest property hotspot in Bulgaria, be it a small town on the Black Sea coast, or a perhaps the latest discovered village just a hop, skip and a 4x4 away from the ski lifts at Bansko.

I’d, therefore, like to start by saying that Rousse is not such a place (and let it always be so!). However, since our company opened an office in this small town exactly one year ago, it has emerged as a popular place for many of our clients. In fact, the ratio of viewings to purchasing has been as high as in our offices as in the more traditional locations of Varna and Veliko Turnovo.

We first introduced Rousse to the UK property scene through the British ITV’s equivalent of the programme A Place in the Sun. The first clients - three Scottish ladies - bought two traditional cottages in front of tens of thousands of viewers, leading to a great interest in the Rousse region.

For those not familiar with the locale, is it more akin to the rolling hills of England than to the mountainous areas to the south. Its quiet villages are home to thriving, if ageing, agricultural communities and to a healthy and reviving agricultural economy (boosted by SAPARD funding in recent years). Its proximity to the Danube and numerous small tributary river valleys make the area abundant in wildlife. In years past the region was better known to British bird spotters than to holiday homebuyers.

Rousse also has some key location advantages, which house buyers are quick to pick up on. Being only 65km from Bucharest means that there is an international airport on the doorstep. European Union (EU) membership will make the border crossing easier, bringing the airport ever closer. A new river passenger terminal is also planned for the town to cope with the growing demand for cruise ships plying the Danube from Germany. And, of course, as the only bridge crossing the Danube between Romania and Bulgaria, the roads are part of the EU’s trans-European transport network, giving rise to major road investment both now and in the future. With direct rail connections to several major European cities, it is easy to travel to and from Rousse.

Over the past year, we have had an interesting range of buyers, from an English lady wishing to move from a village near Veliko Turnovo because there were too many Brits (!), to a couple who sold their holiday home in California’s Joshua Tree National Park to buy in Rousse’s own wonderful National Park only 20km from town. From holiday homes, to retirement homes, to investment opportunities, the region provides a wide range of property. Prices for apartments in town average about 460 euro a sq m, making it very competitive with Varna or Sofia, while village properties range from 10 000 euro to 100 000, depending on condition and size.

The very essence of why cities and regions grow, prosper or decline is because of the individual choices we all make about whether to live, work or spend time in a place. Judging by the response of the British to the Rousse region, the area still has the ability to attract people and provide a pleasant place to live and perhaps start a business.

Source: Sofia Echo

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