In the middle of 2009 – August time, the height of summer in Dubai – we were sitting around after dinner with some friends and the topic of conversation came up “where are we going to live and what are we going to do when the UAE is finished (or our work in UAE is finished)?” We had no home anywhere (‘home’ has always been where we are since 1996), no property, nowhere for our kids, nowhere to go to when the expat jobs finished – nothing. You could say or argue that we are bad parents, bad planners, poorly organised, financially irresponsible – all of those things – because they were simply not in our plans. And perhaps to a greater or lesser degree they are true in parts.
Over the next few days we decided that we really needed to DO something.
Anyway, we got thinking and praying – we knew that we didn’t want to go back to the UK. We haven’t lived there since the early 1990’s. But we wanted to be relatively close as we have family in the UK and having lived in the Middle East for quite a long time we fancied the seasons (winter, spring, summer, autumn) in our later years. We definitely were not keen on city life and wanted something rural – for many years Nick has wanted a small-holding (growing veggies and raising some livestock) and Jane has always wanted space to have a horse again.
The Vision for Alekovo
More importantly we wanted “it” to be more than just “our house” – we wanted to have something that could serve others in some way, doing something useful in our retirement years – whether that was a retreat centre or a small educational centre for local kids and adults – we are not yet sure about the “what” and how that will pan out – so watch this space!
But we had to decide the “where” and that was as much about cost as anything else – and after loads of research into the areas of Europe where property and land was relatively cheap we eventually got hooked into Bulgaria, weird right? But we didn’t know anything about the country and the little village of Alekovo certainly was not on our radar.
How did we end up in Alekovo?
Probably like many others, we spent hours and hours and hours trawling through property website, sending out enquiries, getting daft replies and dealing with some nice people and some timewasters. We eventually settled on a pretty good estate agent who was responsive and helpful and had a healthy number of “real” properties and so we narrowed down our choices that way. Eventually, after much prevarication, some false starts and a few missed opportunities, second guessing and lots of ‘shall we’, ‘shan’t we’ type of conversations – in May 2010 we finally took the plunge and purchased a ramshackle house in the tiny village of Alekovo in Bulgaria, with a barn and outbuildings and a decent size plot.
Early pictures of the property
When we purchased the property in Alekovo we had to come up with a company name (although the rules have changed now) – and after a lot of thought and discussion we ended up with “Promises”. And that made sense to us – as God promises us that he will look after us in every way, provide for us, protect us – and His plans for us are perfect and for our good. And so we went with that – and so that is what we are working toward in various ways. We took up residence in August 2015 and the house was finished in the first week of October.