Could You Live in a Romanian Village?

This is an article that I wanted to write for a looong time, but never got the chance to. Today is finally the big day and I’m going to share with you some details about living in a Romanian village and our hands on experience on this matter.

Sometime in 2012, we have purchased an old house in a small village here in Romania, just 35 kilometers (22 miles) away from our city. I was surfing the internet and stumbled upon this add from a person selling the house and a lot of land for just 5,000 Euros (about 6,200 USD).

It seemed too good to be true, so we hurried to check it out and we bought it soon after as it was a really sweet deal. Funny enough, when we bought the house we didn’t even own a car, so it was pretty much impossible for us to get there, but we were in no hurry. We knew we were going to buy a car so we just had to take advantage of the great deal.

Yup, we bought a house for just 5,000 Euros!

Now, looking back, it wasn’t exactly a super hot deal, as we first thought. The house and its yard are on just 900 square meters of land (about 9,700 sq. feet) which is not an awful lot by village house standards. We also got 5,000 square meters (1.2 acres) of land – but it’s far away from home, on some hills, so we will probably never put that to good use.

We were actually told by our neighbors that we can’t grow anything there because it’s where the villagers take their sheep and they would destroy anything. Fencing the area would be one way to approach this, but we were also told that most likely the fence will be either destroyed by the villagers or stolen. So… useless land for now.

Even more, I kept checking the market and every now and then a 5,000 Euros village house pops up, so it’s not uncommon to find such an impressive price. Also, other houses in similar villages, but most of them in a better condition, can be purchased for anything between 5 to 10 thousand Euros, while 20,000 Euros gives you a pretty nice house in village here. So yes, they are indeed cheap!

So… what kind of house are you getting for 5,000 Euros? Well, it won’t be a villa, that’s for sure! The house that we got was in a pretty poor condition, but in reality it isn’t as bad as it looks like and the good thing is that we can take our time with it as we plan to develop it over the years.

Here’s how our 5,000 Euros house looks like:

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The main house and a 1982-made Dacia 1310. You don’t get to see a lot of those anymore!
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Small porch to enjoy the nature. I personally love those columns!
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A small front yard, perfect for Wife Romanian’s flowers
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Way to the back yard. No ideas what to do with this space πŸ™‚

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The back of the house: the open barn and two more tiny rooms that we plan to use as storage. Oh, and another Dacia 1310!
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The back yard inspected by Baby Romanian’s Godfather and Wife Romanian. The yard is actually a bit bigger than it looks like here, but usually you could expect way more from a Romanian village house

Doesn’t really look like a dream house, right? Well, we are always able to see the potential, as we did when we bought our Romanian apartment and managed to turn it into our dream home.

Here are some more details about this house:

– It has two small rooms and a small hallway. We don’t plan to live there, so it should be enough.

– Extremely important is the fact that it has a bathroom and a kitchen and running water. Most villages in Romania don’t have running water, and toilets are at the back of the yard, basically a huge hole dug in the ground – truly horrible!

– The electrical wires were all changed and updated, again something that you rarely get from a village house.

– It has a small basement and a huge attic.

– It has an open barn and two more tiny rooms at the back. In extreme circumstances, they could be turned into bedrooms, but we plan to use them as storage rooms because animals were grown there and getting the smell out would probably be too much of a challenge.

– The yard is not too big and unfortunately divided in two: a small area in front of the house where Wife Romanian has plans for a flower garden; and the back area where I plan to soon plant some veggies and start learning how to grow my own food.

Since purchasing our Romanian village house, we’ve had little time for it: when we got it, Wife Romanian was pregnant, then Baby Romanian came, then we got our apartment so we always delayed starting working on our house.

My plan is to take it slowly as indeed there’s no hurry here, but I ultimately believe or at least hope that we will be able to turn it into a decent property where I will move over the summer – or part of it – and work from there.

There are so many beautiful things about village life, things that I don’t get here in the city: the air is incredibly clean (the house is on the hills), the silence is amazing and you have nature all around you. Birds chirping and not much else offer an amazingly relaxing background noise, everything is extremely slow paced there, nobody is in a hurry and you feel a lot more relaxed.

Plus it gives one a chance to grow their own vegetables and fruit and work for their healthy harvest at the end of the summer – something I so much want to do and I will do sometime – hopefully starting next year.

However, despite of all the positives and despite the insanely reduced cost of living or the nice people there (every time we get there, our neighbors gift us things, like fresh chicken eggs and vegetables), Romanian village life might not be the perfect fit for everybody.

I am not completely sure I can do it either, but I so much want to give it a try and hopefully next year will be the one when no unexpected things will appear and we can start working on this and especially start growing our own food. That would be really amazing!

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12 thoughts on “Could You Live in a Romanian Village?”

  1. It sounds idyllic. It would be nice to have someplace to go to, away from the hustle and bustle. It would be nice to grow your own food. What happened to the cars? Would you ever flip it?

  2. Calin:
    Quite a spread! I assume you got the house checked out by contractors or (friends) to make sure it’s not going to collapse on you;-) Just kidding!
    Actually, it looks for the most part pretty solid. Will you share interior photos at some point? Also, I don’t think you’ve posted finished interior pictures of your apartment, have you? (Or did I miss something;-)
    (A VERY funny movie to see is the oldie [1947] “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.” Cary Grant and Myrna Loy star. Yes it’s in b/w, but there’s a colorized version out there, too.)
    At least your village house has some amenities–plumbing, water, etc. I do like the architecture and columns, too. The house does need some paint, eh?
    You could build a carport or a patio on the side.
    Will you landscape the place? Adding green grass and some pine trees or trees that DON’T require raking of leaves–ha, ha! What about some fruit trees–the fruit would make up for the need to rake?
    So, ultimately, will you sell the apartment, once you get this place fixed up? Where will Young Romanian (Calin Jr;-) attend pre-school? Are there
    tykes his own age? Will you get a pet or two?
    It sound like your neighbors are cool. It’s nice they are so sharing. (That sure doesn’t happen much here, anymore, sadly. You know I always have to give at least one “dig” to the USA;-)
    Thanks for sharing these pictures and story. Very interesting reading, for sure!
    ~Teil (USA)

    • Teil,

      Funnily enough, we’ve actually bought this house one year before getting the apartment, but never got the chance to start working on it. We’re not made for village life, so we plan to keep the apartment and visit this place during the weekends or maybe more during the summer when the weather is nice. We didn’t spend much time there, so we don’t know if there are kids the same age as Baby Romanian, but I would guess not because most younger people run away from the villages πŸ™‚

      Regarding the landscaping, we’re still debating: Wife Romanian wants green grass and a nice view, I want plots with vegetables and such, but we still don’t know what we’re going to do. Since we took these photos (when we bought the house, almost 2 years ago) the neighbor removed his horse and some vegetation replaced the all-tan view and made it look a bit better, a bit more alive.

      The interior of the house is insanely dusty as we didn’t even clean that up (just went inside a couple of times) and the photos look disgusting, a lot worse than the exterior πŸ™‚ But the structure itself is pretty solid, so that’s all that matters.

      Regarding the apartment, I haven’t posted any photos with the finished rooms because we aren’t done yet :)) There are few extra touches that I wanted to add before posting the photos, and we’ll get them sometime during the next week, so the final apartment renovation article should be coming sometime in December πŸ™‚

  3. Well, you got yourself God’s little 1/4th acre! Many Romanians do that, they buy a little house in the country and just commute on the weekends. You got a great deal. The 900 square meters and the 5000 square meters on some hills alone are worth it, but you have a serviceable house too. What should you do with that empty space next to the house? Are you really a Romanian????????? String some wires over it and grow a grape vine canopy, you numbskull!!!! Park your Dacia Logan under it (when you get one or just put a picnic table there until you do), pick those succulent grapes in the fall and make some delicious vin domestic. Don’t worry, it practically makes itself. Definitely grow some vegetables in the backyard, I strongly recommend gulie (kohlrabi). That barn with the two rooms? Don’t use them for storage, make some nice guestrooms out of them because I and the rest of your readers are coming to stay with you! The toilet may seem like a downer, especially in winter, but I have a suggestion. Now you’re going to ban me from your website for this, but here goes: make yourself a nice wooden box toilet with a normal seat and lid and put it inside the house where the neighbors can’t see you. Then make your “deposit” into a plastic bucket underneath the seat. Immediately pull the bucket out of the box toilet, go outside and deposit the contents into a special compost pile with lots of brown material like straw or old leaves. Check out the Humanure website. They have a free download of the old Humanure Handbook which explains how to compost human manure properly (it needs at least 12 months to cure). My gardening philosophy is try to use free inputs and avoid expensive fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Pesticides? My thumb and forefinger. Herbicides? My thumb and forefinger. Rototiller, tractor? My arms and some hand tools. Don’t sell those 5000 square meters either. You can grow corn and sell it, plant fruit trees (make Ε£uicΔƒ) or even just collect hay for some goats or a cow. Imagine the delicious brΓ’nzΔƒ you can eat! Heck, you can just picnic there and admire the beautiful view. The possibilities are endless!

    • There are some nice ideas here, Stuart! The grape canopy actually sounds pretty nice, and I haven’t thought about it so far. The only problem might be the fact that that area doesn’t get too much sun throughout the day, but it certainly is a good option. And I already have the Dacia Logan πŸ˜›

      The house has a working toilet (plus the one in the back yard), so the guests won’t have to contribute to the Humanure deposits πŸ˜€

      I am also against all chemical pesticides and fertilizers and I am sure we’ll manage to do without them. The locals, though, said that if I were to plant trees or anything on the 5,000 square meters and not live in the area, it will all get stolen, unfortunately so right now I don’t think it’s worth the investment. But keeping it as a picnic area is certainly a good option, especially since there are already a few trees there to hide from the sun after you fill up your belly πŸ™‚

  4. Hi there.
    You think i could live in a village like that one for around 500euros a month?
    Rent, food and all the other basic things.

    • I don’t really think it is possible, Mario. First and most important, nobody rents houses in villages (there is no demand and no offers) so you would have to buy. You could find something for around 10,000 Euros that is semi-decent and in this case it might be doable on 500 Euros per month, especially if you plan to grow your own vegetables and livestock. But if you’d have to pay health insurance, for example, that would cut your budget a lot. You would also need a car because there are just very small shops (usually overpriced) in villages, so you would not be able to have access to things that have to be refrigerated and such.

      Bottom line, I don’t think it is doable unless you are going to try to go for a very basic, strict and self-sustaining type of living.

  5. Interesting article. I actually did Romanian village life many years ago one summer. I am from the US so it was quite an adjustment as we stayed in a home with no running water and an outhouse in the yard (hole in ground). We had to walk to the village well to get water daily. Every evening at around 5pm, there was a traffic jam on the dirt streets, a traffic jam of cows literally coming home to their respective houses. The stench of outhouses and animals is a smell I still remember. Yet the warmth and love of the generous souls I met while there is something I’ll carry with me always. They gifted me with handmade lace doilies and other things to remember them by. I would have remembered them for a lifetime irregardless of the gifts. These people were truly precious and I’m grateful for my summer in a Romanian village.

    • Happy to hear that, despite the negatives, you left with good memories. The smell from outhouses is indeed terrible (especially during the summer) but fortunately more and more people have a regular toilet nowadays. But still a lot of improvement to be made here.


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