Recently, we have seen many natural disasters like Covid-19, earthquakes, heat, floods ... The small Bulgarian town of Bansko was one of the first to suffer from the epidemic. We wrote about this at the very beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, now this ski resort has another problem as there is a shortage of housing in the town, I do not mean the shortage of hotels - there are enough of them in Bansko for those who want to spend their vacations in the mountains. I am talking about the real estate acquired for a longer-term stay or a permanent residence. Moreover, not only the Bulgarians rushed to buy apartments and houses here, but also the people of other countries.
Marinela Kuzmanina, the owner of a real estate bureau:
- What’s going on in Bansko?
- Since the beginning of the pandemic, the demand for apartments and houses from residents of large cities has increased greatly. During this time, all inexpensive options have been sold out in Bansko. To date, the prices have jumped by an average of 10,000 euros per apartment.
- Why did Bansko suddenly become so popular?
- It turned out that it is much easier to endure the Covid-19 restrictions here as you can walk in the mountains, and the air is very clear in the town. Bansko is surrounded on three sides by the Pirin, Rila and Rhodope mountains, which creates a special microclimate here. There are many pine forests around the town. People from big cities like this very much.
- Do you mean the Bulgarians from Sofia, Varna, Plovdiv?
- Yes, but not only them. Apart from the Bulgarian citizens, the Israelis are now actively buying the apartments here. The buyers are from Europe, and even from the USA and Canada.
- In your opinion, will such a large influx of people affect the ecology of the resort town? After all, now many people come here not only on vacation, but also for a permanent residence.
- No. Bansko is not a very small town, there is enough room for everyone.
Evgeny Nenov, a resident of Sofia:
- Why did you leave Sofia?
- Sofia is a city for young people. You can work in this city, make a career, and raise children. For me, as a retired person, it is no longer so important. In Sofia, I have an apartment in the in the heart of the city, where it is noisy due to heavy traffic, and there are parking problems all the time. Moreover, in recent years, it has been very hot in summer for a long time. Even despite the thick walls of the old house, the air inside the flat is very hot. The air conditioner cannot help. If you open the windows at night to have some cooler air, the noise of the big city comes from all sides because of the sirens of ambulances and police cars, the noise of cheerful crowds, the hum of air conditioning units. It’s impossible to sleep! My wife and I suffered and bought an apartment in Bansko.
- Why in Bansko?
- The mountain resort is far away from the industrial hubs. It’s just a couple of hours drive from Sofia along the new convenient highway. We were offered an inexpensive apartment with a beautiful view of the mountains. We didn’t even think long, we immediately agreed to buy.
- What is your impression of Bansko after moving from Sofia?
- We live like in in a village! We enjoy silence, calmness, good air, good quality and tasty food and clean water. We are happy.
- Do you miss your friends?
- No, we don’t. Actually, we met rarely before because everyone was busy. My wife works remotely, and I go twice a week from Bansko to Sofia. My work schedule is 24 hours once in three days - it is not a problem, although my job does not give me a lot of money. But it’s enough for us. To be honest, this kind of work brings me some variety in my life. Well, and the opportunity to talk to my friends.
- This is not your first day in Bansko. Is there anything that annoys you here?
- Well, first of all, in winter, there is smoke from the chimneys. And this is not always the pleasant aroma of firewood. Many houses are heated with coal or even with something else, which I do not know. Something must be done about it. Second, in summer, motorcyclists drive through the Pirin National Park, so there is rumble and exhaust gases that do not add to the resort’s ecological attractiveness. Thank God, there are not many of them yet. And third, it is absolutely exotic for us: sometimes, you can see a cow on the sidewalk – a real cow, or a cowpat. And there are not enough sidewalks here, especially in the area where we live. But it’s all a mere trifle in comparison with the life in a metropolis. We like it here and we are not going to leave the town.
Galina Amolenkan, a designer:
- You have been living in Bansko not so long ago - even the apartment is not fully furnished yet. How do you like the town?
- Bansko is exactly the place that I have been looking for for a very long time. Before that, I lived in Dubai, but I realized that the climate of the emirate is not good for me.
- Where did you come from to Dubai?
- I came from Khabarovsk, where I got a cold allergy. And before that, I lived in Togliatti, where I became allergic to chemicals. As a result, I had a complex of allergies, and I had been taking antihistamine medicines for a long time. So, I had to look for some ways to improve my health and be able to have a high-quality productive life, and what I need is an environmentally-clean place. Therefore, when I was offered a job in Dubai, I went there with enthusiasm. And for good reason, as I forgot about my tablets there - my allergy symptoms got much better.
- Why did you leave this heavenly place?
- Gradually, other problems appeared like heat and a summer season all the time. Also, a constant feeling of being in an unfamiliar cultural environment. I had to start looking again for a comfortable place to live in.
And when I arrived in Bansko, I was surprised that everything suited me down to the ground in this town – it was and is a clean place, people are close in mentality, landscapes are amazing, and the climate is mild. There are also excellent organic food products here, and I am sick and tired of “plastic substitutes” instead of normal food.
- Aren’t you worried that many houses in Bansko are still heated by stoves? After all, smoke can be harmful for a person with an allergy?
- Before moving here, I visited the town in winter and saw that this problem exists, but it was not so critical for me. In my apartment, I installed a split system with special filters for allergy sufferers. And outside, I can feel the smoke, but it is not toxic to me.
- Don’t you get bored in a small resort town after so many years in megacities?
- No, I’m not bored at all. There is always some activities in Bansko - after all, this is a ski resort. It offers everything for an active life: ski trails, horse riding facilities, pools with mineral water. And also festivals, shows, exhibitions are held in the town. Here, I feel both healthy and full of energy. It seems that after long wanderings around the world, I finally came home.
Dmitry Raikhman, an employee of The House Restaurant:
- Dmitry, have you been living in Bansko for a long time?
- No, my wife and I moved here when the child was born. Before that, we lived in the regional centre of Blagoevgrad.
- And what was the reason for moving here?
- The main reason was that we wanted to improve the living environment for our child. Blagoevgrad is a good city, but it is quite densely populated, the traffic is heavy and there are industrial enterprises. The air is rather polluted. And it is more difficult to find a good job there.
- Are there more job opportunities in Bansko?
- Strangely enough, but in the restaurant business, it is easier to find a better-paid job here. After all, Bansko is a tourist centre with many cafes and restaurants. And in Blagoevgrad, there are a lot of students, for example, there are over ten thousand students at the Southwest University “Neofit Rilski” alone. These young people are always ready to earn extra money for a small remuneration, which greatly reduces the income level of permanent workers.
- We worked in different places and saw many cities, - Alina, Dmitry’s wife, joins our talk, - But as a result, we chose a quiet, beautiful place with unpolluted air for our family life. After all, Bansko is located at an altitude of almost 1,000 metres above sea level. There is a calm, homely atmosphere, friendly smiling people, no noisy public transport. Children are safer here than in a big city. I grew up in Kishinev, and I can compare the places. It’s also very important that the local water is good quality and we can buy organic food in the rural Sunday market.
Olga Berezovskaya, a housewife:
- Why did you decide to change your place of residence from Israel to Bansko?
- Over the years, it becomes difficult to live in the Israeli climate that is humid on the coast, and dry and very hot in the middle of the country. And the hot season lasts 9 months a year there. It’s very hard. Therefore, when I got retired, I began to look for a place for a comfortable stay. Bulgaria attracted me with a reasonable procedure for obtaining a residence permit for retired persons. I travelled around the country and I chose the ski resort of Bansko.
- How did you like it?
- I like everything here! I enjoy the clean town, tranquility, the incredible beauty of the mountains, snowy peaks, coniferous forests. There are many cozy inexpensive restaurants. They serve delicious healthy food, including fruits, vegetables, milk, meat - all is local and organic. The air is pure here. And mineral water flows from the taps - this is something unique! Although I am recently in Bansko, I already feel that my health is better here.
- But there can be no city without some deficiencies!
- Of course, there are some deficiencies. Electricity is very expensive in Bansko, however, as in all Bulgaria. In the summer, this does not greatly affect our utility bills. But in the winter months, you have to pay quite significant sums. But cold weather do not last long here.
- You are from Belarus. Why didn’t you want to return there at your “silver” age?
- Of course, I thought about this option. After all, before Israel, I had lived in Minsk for 40 years. I love Belarus and Minsk very much - this is my childhood, my youth. I understand now that a long cold winter is no longer what is needed at this age. Therefore, I chose more comfortable Bansko for myself. This is a very pleasant town and I feel great here.
Elena and Dmitry Tyuneyevs, the owners of a store in Bansko:
- My congratulations to you, Elena! You seem to have recently purchased an apartment in Bansko.
- Yes, thank you. Just the other day, we made our old dream come true - we moved to Bansko.
- And where did you live before that?
- We lived in Varna for some time. But we didn’t like it there for several reasons. First, the climate is not good - hot summers, chilly winds in winter and constant humidity, that is why fungi are formed. Moreover, it occurs not only on the walls, it also appears in wardrobes and closets, everywhere. Second,
Varna is an industrial city, it is polluted, noisy and crowded. And we decided that this is not the place where we would like to live.
- And how did it happen that you came to Bansko?
- Once, we were on vacation in the neighbouring village of Banya and were fascinated by this place as it was quiet, green, with the forest around, mountains, lambs grazing in the meadow. Our little child ran barefooted on the grass. And after that, we no longer wanted to return to Varna. We bought an apartment not far from Bansko, in the regional centre of Razlog. We speak Bulgarian, and we have many Bulgarian acquaintances in Razlog, nevertheless, Bansko is closer to us mentally as the people from different countries live in it, it is much easier to integrate into this international cultural environment. Gradually, in Bansko, we made friends, and some business appeared, so, we decided to move here. And now, we purchased an apartment right next to the Pirin National Park.
- Dmitry, many people say that it is possible to buy good quality organic food products in Bansko. If I may ask you, where are they from?
- These are food products by local producers. Just an hour ago, I arrived from Petrich (a city in southwestern Bulgaria), there is a vegetable storage where small private farms sell goods. The farmers bring very little of their products for sale, including vegetables, fruits, honey. But these are the most delicious natural organic products. It’s great that they are here on sale. We offer them at our shop.
Michael Rapoport, a painter:
- I know that you were born in Alma-Ata, then lived and studied in Tashkent. In the early 1990s, you moved to Israel. Your paintings are in different countries. And recently, you built a cozy house in the suburb of Bansko and even equipped an artist’s studio in it. Are you going to live and work here?
- Yes, I would like to spend more time in Bansko. And I like working here.
- And doesn’t your wife, Irina, get bored in such a secluded place?
- Not at all, she likes to do something on our land area around the house.
- Why did you choose this remote place in the mountains for your home?
- When I came here, I had the feeling that I had returned to my childhood. The spirit of some kind of calmness, serenity reigns here. Stunning nature is around, and the people here are friendly. It was as if I was transported from the today’s world to some wonderful timeless atmosphere. Perhaps, this was the main reason that we settled here.