A Village in Rural Romania

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What do you imagine Romania is like? I’ll stake cash that you wouldn’t imagine the rural paradise we’ve found ourselves in. Fate has brought us to a village in rural Romania, Breb, in Maramures. It’s quite possibly the most beautiful, unspoiled place I’ve ever been. Maramures is the county in the north of Transylvania tight on Romania’s border with Ukraine and it’s very close to paradise.

A meadow in a Romanian village

Bucharest was an eye-opener, a city we loved far more than expected.  A pleasant sleeper-train journey to the north of Romania and we are in another world and time. The little village of Breb in Maramures County is the most lovely, peaceful, beautiful place I think we’ve ever visited.

There is no traffic, no noise, just birdsong and humming bees. The grass grows long, lush and studded with wildflowers. Every villager produces fruits and vegetables in the gardens of their traditional homes and owns at least a few chickens if not cows, sheep, rabbits, goats and pigs.  It’s early summer here, some days are hot, others cold, the weather is yet to make up its mind. There is still a little patch of snow up on the mountain.

There are no real shops, pubs or restaurants. Everything seems home-made, but these people aren’t poor, don’t think that. They live well in this village.

My children have been wandering the meadows, picking wildflowers and playing in the icy stream. They can roam around the village safe from traffic and any other hazard, with the unlikely exception of wolves, bears and giant Romanian shepherd dogs.

We’ve seen none of the above around the village, but we have seen deer just outside town.

I thought I’d share with you some images of this beautiful place. I wish I was a “real” photographer, I’m not, but these photos will give you an idea.

This is our home in the village, a loft room above an animal shed, currently occupied only by chickens. The wooden shingles are made in the village. We have good wifi and electricity, the kitchen and bathroom facilities are in another building.
Every home has an outside toilet, a good way from the house.
 Sledges wait for winter snows on the side of the barn in a Romanian village.
Sledges wait for winter snows on the side of the barn.
Not many village buildings are painted, but most have these poo shoots to muck out the dairy cattle housed inside.
Traditional Romanian dancing on Sundays in a neighbouring village. With a handy bottle of polinka stashed in a belt.
This wasn’t put on for the tourists, there are hardly any.
A posy of wild flowers my son picked in the meadow.
A friendly cat to stroke
Dam building in the stream that flows through the river in Romania
Dam building in the stream that flows through the village.
Chef gets a cookery lesson in this village kitchen, which is also a bedroom. The stove keeps this room warm in winter.
The wood fired cooking stove.
A village garden
A house well stocked with wood for heating and cooking.
Another typical village house and barn.
Horses in the orchard.
This is billed as Prince Charles’s hose. It’s not, but he was involved somewhere. Huge gates and outside pots are typical of Maramures.
A shot of home made cherry palinka before dinner

So what do you think?
Would you like to live here or would it be your worst nightmare?
I ask because we’re seriously considering buying a little place here to use as base. The kids love it, but could we take this much peace and quiet and harsh winters? We can afford it, but would it work for us?

I don’t know yet, watch this space.

UPDATE: Romania won. Our hearts are forever lost to this village. It’s now one of the places in the world that we call home.

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About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

26 thoughts on “A Village in Rural Romania”

  1. We are a traveling family- kids 7 and 14- in Breb now ( October 5-15th). We really love it here and the people are so kind. I’m curious which house you bought, as I am considering doing the same. We are staying at Casa Din Vale, owned by Roxana and Florin, and we eat at Ana’s every other evening. Hoping to bump into you guys one of these days!. We will be at the church for coffee and cake on Sunday.

    • We’re in Nepal sorry! The house we bought fell through, it’s outside the village. The house we lived in is very close to Roxy and Florin.

  2. Not quite so idyllic in the – 30 temperature of the Romanian winter I suspect.

  3. It looks amazing Alyson but yes, probably as a base and a retreat to come back to rather than as a place for life. Romania is on everyone’s lips right now but be careful with the exchange of contracts. It has to be legal in Romania and a Romanian Nortar will have to be involved so that there’s no “argument” about who actually owns the property. Oh, and don’t forget to buy the land with it as that’s the norm on the continent!
    Good luck. 🙂

  4. Wow!!! Amazing nice place and picture and their culture….i know about something about Romanian people.they are very friendship…. next August i will go Europe tour and i hope i will go Romania……….

  5. Hi Alyson, I’m following your post with great interest, I’m travelling with my children, 9 12 & 15 years for 12 months, trying to find a slice of heaven. The place you e photographed in Romania looks amazing. I would love to live somewhere like you have found. Reading your post, your list of reasons for and against heavily weight towards ‘no reason not to do it’. I look forward to the outcome and wish you and your family the very best x Barb travelheads.net

    • I wish it were that simple to decide Barbara, it’s such a big step and the amount of work is scary. Good luck with your journey, if we do buy, come and visit, we have an idea for family home/un schooler retreats. A place where city kids can experience rural life, a fully equipped learning room full of books, games and DVDs and a peaceful break for mum or dad, or both. What do you think?

  6. Well you got the Dutch and English living in Breb and its becoming a bit of a tourist trap. Its ok as you say lots of wild pastures to roam around and attractive houses. Some wooden churches near by and of course the holiday camp at Ocna Sugatag. I used to run tours from our back packers hostel in Sighet to the highlights of Maramures and occasionaly we would visit Breb
    but the prince charles connection is a bit tennuous and theres lots of villages around there very like Breb.

  7. Easy to put an inside toilet in Maria, modern homes have them, but they all still have the outdoor ones too. Amazingly, they don’t smell, and there’s no toilet as such, just a hole with a plank for a seat. I’ve got used to going outside to the main house for the loo this week, it’s no big deal. The Americas would be no good to us, too expensive to get to London or Australia, although we really loved Lake Attitlan in Guatemala, I could live there. We lived on a beach in Australia and never went, kids aren’t bothered either, so that’s not a big deal for us. We’re checking out a house here today, lets just see what happens, if we love it, we’ll buy it.

  8. Hi,

    Lovely images and a true paradise.

    I want to visit Romania at least once; my grand dad was Romanian. Grew up in Transylvania and moved to the States when he was young. I enjoyed his Romanian cooking skills, the garlic flavored meat paddies, from the grill, and all the rich stories he shared of a colorful if somewhat grim upbringing in an intriguing country.

    Thanks for the heart warming share!


  9. Wow! I started reading earlier but had to leave! Was not expecting to be related to you other question about cheap places to live.

    I think I agree that maybe you should spend a bit longer before deciding, our last trip was mainly Costa Rica because my husband was obsessed with the idea of moving there, he is a “beach boy” and for us will make sense as my family is in Colombia and Miami is not so far to connect to the world, we are not yet ready to take the plunge, but will rent there for a bit before committing but for us will be a big investment, land is not cheap!
    If you can get something there that is not breaking the bank you can always make some money of of it when you are not there! We will definately love to see that bit of the world ( you may not be a “real” photographer but the photos are really making me curious!)
    My only issue will be the toilet…I usually get up one or twice in the middle of the night and that looks like a long walk… Bears? Wolfs?

  10. I forgot : would your home also have an outside toilet ?? I guess I wouldn’t get used to thet , certainly not in winter!

  11. Wow … I admire your adventurous minds – t sounds idyllic – for a few months…
    Are there other kids in the village for your boys to be friends with ? I know your worldschooling, but the boys might want to try some “traditional” education at some point?! If there are no pubs and restaurants, is Chef going to change jobs? How difficult is the local language ? Are there any people you can be friends with, so that you can get a nice chat away from your relatives whenever you need it ?
    IIs the village far away from anything remotely related to a city? If you feel happy there – maybe you should just go for it. But a few months ago, you said something about making London your base … and the two are sooo extremely different that I’m … well … surprised !! (not the first time you surprise us, Alyson! I should get used to it!! ;-)))

    • We don’t need to work full time Talitha. He could fly back to London and work any time if we need extra cash and the blog still pays, we could buy a place outright here, cash down tomorrow, no overheads. I’ve seen plenty of other kids riding their bikes around the village, I’m sure the boys would make friends. We still adore London, we’ll be there for 10 weeks this summer house sitting. By base I mean somewhere to dump our stuff and call home, not somewhere to actually live long term. We could buy a small flat in London, but never with a garden to grow fruit and veg ( and chickens) and never with room for the kids to roam. London is my home and we’ll always visit whenever we like, it’s a short and cheap flight away. 4 flights out here cost us under 100 pounds, flights to Asia from here are equally cheap. It’s all making sense, the tricky part is finding somewhere, no estate agents, no online ads, just word of mouth. The school thing…maybe, maybe not, but I think we have at least 4-5 years before they show any interest. We have iGCSEs in the UK, they could go back just to sit exams if they wanted to, if not..whatever. The whole thing makes a lot of sense, IF we can find somewhere. Outside toilets are better in winter, frozen solid works better outdoors, but many have inside too. In winter we probably wouldn’t be here though, once the novelty wore off. But I need to look at costs in rural Wales and Spain, although being practically IN Asia is a big draw here. We need somewhere to call our own, pretty soon.

      • I understand the need to have a home … the way you put it, I’d say : go for it!!
        Why would British people not be able to live in europe?? ther’s lots of you guys in France!

  12. You had me with the village garden tulip photo. Do it!!!! Yes, change of seasons, bike rides, good location, good prices – how’s the political scene there? You are so right in not wanting to come back to Oz – things here are getting more absurd and more expensive on a daily basis (see recent budget). And you can always rent it out if you get sick of the harsh winters.

  13. Yes, it looks idyllic and there are times when I feel like doing something like this to get away from the trappings of modern life, but…….I’m a townie at heart and would definitely dislike harsh winters. It would be interesting to see how we would cope, especially my teenager who would probably die if she didn’t have a skatepark to scooter around. 😉

    • I really miss seasons Melanie, they do serious seasons here, hot summers, snowy winters ( skiing nearby). I’m a city lover too, but we need a base, London prices are insane and we don’t want to go back to Australia, we think we’d still be travelling regularly and flight and overland connections are excellent from Bucharest…just thinking aloud. The kids could have bikes, they miss their bikes.

      • I though I missed seasons as well until I came back to Europe in winter. That place looks way too quiet for me. I’d love it for a day or two and then would have to leave. But it’s what suits you that counts, as we’re all different. Our base/home is Bangkok, and that’s perfect for us. Maybe stay a few months before buying and see what it’s really like. A few days or weeks probably isn’t long enough to decide. I’ve been to a few places that I’ve though I could live, but a few days later I’ve wanted to leave.


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