So I am sitting here after maybe five months thinking that I have learned some very important, generic, lessons for anyone who is thinking of moving out here and I figured that putting together a brief list of them, out of the normal round of blog posts, would be a good idea.

So, in no particular order (at the moment) I give you my Top Tips for Emigrating.

Sort your EHIC

Getting residency here was not a problem for me. I opened a bank account, managed eventually to get proof of address (more of a challenge for me because I bought an old school which didn't have a number) but I was delayed as I had not listened to advice and had neglected to get my EHIC prior to leaving.

An EHIC is free so do NOT pay a single penny for it. You can just fill a form out online (linked here) and pretty quickly it will arrive in the post. I was lucky that I could still do this from over here and get it sent to my old address where I could get J to send it on to me. I wish I had listened to the advice earlier though.

Do not pay for services into your own account

So this may seem obvious but when you are in a situation which is unusual and stressful you won't always think things through and this caught me out. If you are buying something and the person says "here, we'll open an account in your name and you can send the money to that and I'll have power of attorney to get it out, cos that's how things are done here" then Just Say No. As I say this may seem really obvious and now I type it it is, but at the time it wasn't so I wish I'd had this advice before buying over here.

Be paranoid about any car you bring with you

Right, this is the thing which prompted me to start this page. I am currently going through lots of pain trying to get Julian registered onto local plates. There is more than one thing which I have learned so I will bullet point them below.

1. Source lights for this side of the road through second hand market in the UK.

One of the things (one of the only things) which they check is that the headlights are pointing in the correct direction, both horizontally and vertically. It is very cheap indeed (well it is here) to get lights swapped out but the parts are expensive. Also, it seems that having reflector strips is not acceptable. My friends were stung trying to get around this and it cost a bit of money so just do it right, first time.

2. Make sure your paperwork (V5) is in order

This is what is biting my backside right now. Whoever first registered Julian with the DVLA did not do a very good job; they got the "first registered date" wrong and also a typo snuck onto the form where a "9" has been transposed to a "G". This would have been really simple to fix if I had just checked everything before heading over as DVLA allow you to amend their details.

So, whatever you do, go over EVERYTHING with a fine tooth comb with enough time left before you leave for a new, corrected, V5 to be sent to you if you need one. You may find you need paint stripper and a torch to get to the chassis number which seems to always be hidden well under a wheel arch.

3. Buy a left hand drive car

If you do, you will fit in much more when you drive around, are less likely to get stopped by the police, and it is also just more comfortable driving with the steering wheel on the correct side for your driving position.

4. Try and get LPG

Bulgaria has LPG as an option everywhere, and considering the cost of benzene (petrol) and diesel, being able to fill up and run on LPG is a great thing economically. So try and find either a car which has it already, or one which is cheap to convert.

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