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Friends work together to make dream come true.

Not many people can claim to go on holiday and come home with a new house.

But that is exactly what Steve Blacker and two of his friends did.

Steve, Sami Awsi, Mark Phillips and their families went on a summer sunshine holiday to Bulgaria in August 2005 and loved the country so much they decided to buy a property there.

"We have been friends for years and had talked about buying somewhere abroad for ages but never did anything about it," explains Steve, a father of two boys, from Llandaff, Cardiff.

"When we went to Bulgaria on holiday we decided it would be a great place to buy and so the search began. It is such a beautiful and charming place and we realised it is going to become very popular with British tourists. And that is how our dream started to become reality."

The trio decided the charming town of Balchik, about 25 miles from the coast, was the perfect place to buy. After drawing up a shortlist of properties, they found an old Bulgarian house set in 2,500 square metres of land that needed a lot of renovation - but it did come complete with its own vineyard.

They bought the rundown house for pounds 35,000 and the plot next door for pounds 18,000.

In Bulgaria buying a house is very different to the UK and it took only two weeks for the transaction to be completed.

The next step was to renovate the house.

Apprehensive about leaving the work to local companies, Sami, from Fairwater, Cardiff, decided to stay in the country to do the renovation work himself and put in a swimming pool.

It took four months of hard work and long days but the trio are delighted with the results and the amazing transformation from rundown villa into a beautiful home.

And Sami likes the country so much he has decided to live in Bulgaria full time.

The business has snowballed since then and they now have their own estate agents and renovation company helping other British people buying out there.

Sami, 39, said: "I just love the way of life out there. I am single at the moment so I could pretty much do my own thing. In the summer the weather is fantastic, no rain like you get in Cardiff and there is just no rush.

"Everyone is so friendly and when you are at work it doesn't even feel like you are working.

"The day doesn't really start until 10am. It means you finish later but that doesn't matter."

But while Mark and his wife Linda, from Mountain Ash, and Steve and wife Karen, have no plans to move out to Bulgaria at the moment, they love going for holidays.

For more information, their website is Why Bulgaria?: Bulgaria is an all-season country, where you can sunbathe on the beach in summer, and ski on the mountain slopes in winter.

It is never too hot, and never too cold.

It is a beautiful country now emerging from dormancy.

After a difficult period of change with the demise of communism, it is now waking up to an era of economic recovery. As a result of this, the standards of infrastructure in areas of natural beauty and historical interest are also rising.

At the minute, holiday homes in Bulgaria are relatively cheap, compared to countries like Spain, but this situation is changing rapidly.

There are flights to Bourgas, in Bulgaria, from Cardiff International Airport.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 3, 2008
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