Published in Quest Magazine Thursday, 18 December 2008

In the current economic situation, many Brits are worried about whether they can live in the UK on the state pension. We take a look at how far a UK state pension goes in the UK compared with Bulgaria. Making sure you have enough money in retirement is high priority, after all everyone will retire some day. Increasing prices, together with rising inflation can really eat into your pension only a few short years after retiring.

How much money you’ll need will change compared with when you were working. You will probably not have a mortgage, nor have the costs of commuting, etc. However, you may have additional costs regarding health and heating.

For this year, the basic UK state pension is £90.70 a week for a single person and £145.05 a week for a couple. The RPI figure for the month of September is used by the government to calculate the following year’s increases, so from April 2009 single pensioners will have a rise of £4.54 to £95.24. Weekly payments to pensioner couples will rise by £7.26 to £152.30.

PD*26504560How far will this go in Britain today, let alone in a few more years time? The answer is not far at all. Although we all know that it is wise to save additional monies to put towards our retirement, most Brits will be relying solely on the basic pension when retiring. Many years of buying too many things, taking on large mortgages and not being able to save take their toll.

According to the AA, the monthly cost of filling up a car is over £100 for the first time. Energywatch, an independent watchdog, states that the average household has to spend £1,020 a year on gas and electricity – over £100 more than one year ago. Gas and electric alone have risen by about 40% this year. Other prices: 12 free range eggs £2.45 at Tesco and a pack of butter is 62% more than a year ago. These increases mean another 400 pounds per annum for most households.

Despite the average property having lost more than 27,000 pounds in the last few months, the average price to buy is still at a staggering 172,108 according to a recent report by the Halifax. Council tax bills are continuing to surge, with up to a 5% increase from next April, making the average band D council tax 1,436 pounds.

It is no wonder that pensioners are worried as to whether they will be able to afford their retirement bills, with most of their pension being gobbled up by basic essentials. Whilst inflation figures of 2% are reported, pensioner inflation remains at 6% per annum.

Why not sell up in the UK and retire to Bulgaria, where your pension will go much further?

Apart from the low price of property in Bulgaria, there is also a much lower cost of living. Combine this with a much better climate… what a great and happy retirement possibility!

Depending upon where in Bulgaria you decide to buy your home, a 3 bedroom detached house which you can move straight into, will set you back only 30,000 to 50,000 pounds. Of course, if you want views over the Black Sea, you’ll pay considerably more than this.

Council tax is significantly lower, ranging from 20 pounds to 200 pounds for the whole year.

Food prices are another winner. Those free range eggs which are 2.45 at Tesco, will cost you less than one pound in Bulgaria. To sufficiently heat an average house with a wood burner will only come to 200 pounds for the year – and if you are already claiming the winter fuel allowance in the UK, you can still claim it whilst living in Bulgaria. For those who like to eat out, then a meal in a local restaurant will be around 10 pounds for two people, including wine.

A UK basic state pension will go about three times further in Bulgaria than in the UK.

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