A Bulgarian Present - An Apartment

It is traditional in Bulgaria for the parents to provide their children with a home of their own this is normal. This is the main reason why mortgages are rare in Bulgaria the homes are passed down to the siblings without any need for them.

Today was such a day where this happened and the thoughts and emotions of the day were quite profound from everyone who was party to it.

Galia has two sons and two homes in Yambol, one home is the family home in Yambol where here mother and son who will end up with this home. The other is an apartment on the other side of Yambol which where many years ago she worked hard to pay for this over most of her working life, solely to provide for her other son. This is even more of an achievement being a single mother in Bulgaria.

How sensible that this tradition takes place and how unfortunate that the tradition is on the point of collapse, as the housing market prices have rocketed due to tourism, EU admission and greed, not necessarily in that order. The purchase of a new home in Bulgaria for Bulgarian children is beyond the reach of most people here without now the aid of the Banks who are laughing in the face of tradition here with their incessant need to control people and breed credit just for profit. No wonder there are so many banks in Yambol now, many Bulgarian need them to achieve their goal of finding homes of their children and can’t without them.

The tragedy is that the land and credit they can get from banks isn’t enough for property now as the price of an apartment is now longer commensurate to securing a loan based on wages here. Modern Bulgarian families now face the prospect of children who will become homeless when adults with their own families, will this lead to families sharing homes or finding work elsewhere and extended families fragmenting the very foundation of traditional family values in Bulgaria?

The other fact about Bulgarian families is that sensibly only have one or two children, this is purely practical in view of the responsibility that comes with parents. If you can’t afford to have the children and provide and set them up into adulthood with a home then don’t. How many other people in other countries look at this value when considering a family?

Back to the apartment that is now going to be handed over to Galia’s elder son, he has his girlfriend with him this evening. They called at the house at 8:30 it was dark and we all went see the apartment, which is now empty from the previous rent paying residents being ousted for this moment.

We arrived to be greeted by all the neighbours who were sitting out in the street talking. The smell of barbecued peppers and Rakia was strong but I couldn’t quite see where it was coming from, perhaps on of the many balconies that hung out of the small apartment blocks. It made my mouth water, even though we had had barbecued peppers to eat earlier that evening. It was a full 20 minutes before the talking stopped and we went inside the block.

Everyone is excited, Anton and Koyna for this was the first time they were to see the apartment. Galia as she was proud that all her lifetime efforts were now seeing a result in her son having his own home. Not least me as this was a totally new concept for me to see, a parent providing security for here son with the knowledge that she will be giving everything she has away. No need for wills to be made promising inheritance; this is all based on family trust and custom here. She will be looked after in the family house with her other son and future partner until she dies, he has the bigger share and therefore the responsibility of looking after his mother, just like Galia is looking after her mother in the family home presently. The idea of living in a home that you don’t own is something I find very hard to accept. The degree of family trust and a total materialistic stand off are the reasons that this happens here.

In the ground floor entrance was a series of brown painted metal post boxes as Anton checked his with number 8 written on it. He joked when he saw nothing in there saying that it will be full of bill for the apartment soon.

The basement of the block was explored, each apartment has a basement room for storage and we saw there were stacked metal shelves with lots of glass jars full of preserved tomatoes and peppers and old Russian Christmas decorations and a big wooden barrel that had some ancient wine in. On the top shelf was a new plastic covered single bed, something the previous resident had either forgot to take or will come back for as it is far too good to leave.

We finally got up to the first floor where the apartment was, before we entered Galia gave Anton the key and that was the formal acceptance of the apartment as a gift. He gingerly opened the secure front door amidst three other very individual doors in the hallway with hand made mats and slipper placed on them.

On entering the place was swarming with insects and a stale smell greeted us, but we were all beyond that as we explored the kitchen living room, bedroom and wet room (bathroom). There was a box room next to the kitchen and a sealed balcony with interconnections with the living room and bedroom overlooking the street.

For us all the place was a home but needed a lot of work all the tile were falling apart in the kitchen area and the rest was just in need of a total stripping and redecoration, the place has never been modernised since it was built some 30 years ago. We of course will all work together as a family to get it into shape. Money was offered to help with this as the gifting goes on. But I feel that Anton was overjoyed as for the first time he has now a place he can call his own home, but of course this will be passed down to his children in around 25 years time. No need to die to give.

We locked up and reflected on the moment of handing over and what work was still to be done and ended up in a local bar where the owner is a Bulgarian television celebrity. Ivo Anton brother had just finished work and was invited there as well as we all finally sat drinking a beer or two in celebration of the day in which Anton was given an apartment as his home. A lovely end to a day of giving.

ADD: I just noticed the Christmas tree on the post in the middle of the lower picture, this is there all year round, not early for this coming Christmas!