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Are Bulgarian villages springing back to life?

Photo: Pixabay

Until no more than three-four years ago, Bulgaria, along with Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, was top of the grim list of countries whose rural areas were rapidly losing their population. At the time, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) was predicting that by 2050 the population of Bulgaria’s villages would dwindle from 1.8 million to 800,000, and the share of the rural population in the country would drop from 26% to 14%. Fortunately, this chilling tendency was broken, abruptly, by the advent of the pandemic which caused many people to seek solitude in small towns and villages.

Official data show that last year alone almost 90,000 people went to live in villages. The reasons why more and more Bulgarians have been choosing village life include the clean air, the peace and quiet, the natural and healthy food, the lack of restrictions and safety. Financially, and especially now, as electricity prices are beginning to soar, the simple life in a village looks all the more alluring. Living in a village is cheaper – no need to pay for public transport, for expensive clothes, for bars and restaurants. Keeping fit costs nothing because physical exercise is part of rural life.

According to data of the Association of Bulgarian Villages people will continue to leave cities for villages in the next five years, with 50,000-60,000 people settling in rural areas every year.

“These are people of working age,” the Association’s chairman Borislav Borisov says in an interview for Bulgaria ON AIR TV:

“What people are looking for here is a restart to their lives,” he says and adds: “More than 90% of Bulgarian villages have fast internet and that means distance work. Many of the people who move to villages are of working age and have a high level of education.”

And this “migration” is affecting the improvement of the infrastructure, the development of projects and the promotion of tourism in rural areas. New communities are springing up which organize all kinds of initiatives, cultural and sporting events.

The exodus from big cities is having its inevitable effect on the real estate market as well. Demand is up, and so are prices. Until 2-3 years ago village houses went for 10,000 – 15,000 euro, now the going price has reached 35,000 euro, or the cost of an apartment in one of Bulgaria’s smaller towns.

Editor: Darina Grigorova

Photos: Pixabay

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