Romanian Village Life

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Our lifestyle isn’t conventional. We travel and have done for over 2 years now, we do unusual things like falling in love with Romanian village life and buying houses in rural Romania, some people think we’re crazy, but that’s cool.

Sometimes I think we’re crazy too.

Yesterday I reshared an old post, a reader had asked “What do you do all day?” We were on Ko Phangan Thailand for 6 weeks, partly the result of my husband’s emergency surgery, partly just because we liked it.

This reader couldn’t understand how we managed to pass so much time, pleasurable, in the absence of apparent things to do. Y’know, work, school, all the boring stuff. That post seemed to go down well so I thought I’d give you a new version, what are we up to now, up a mountain, in one of the last, if not THE last, peasant cultures in Europe. So here goes, Romanian village life as we know it.

 Romanian village life. A typical Romanian horse and cart, loaded with hay for the milking cows.
A typical Romanian horse and cart, loaded with hay for the milking cows. Picture perfect rural Romania.

Where Are We Living?

We’ve rented a little oak beam house, two bedrooms that double as living rooms, a kitchen and a very basic bathroom with shower. We have hot and cold running water and an inside toilet, we weren’t expecting to have any of those luxuries in rural Romania, so we don’t take them for granted. We anticipated Indian style bucket washes with a scoop, so to be able to take a hot shower is brilliant.

The house is costing us little, under $10 per night and comes with a huge orchard, garden and barn. A stream flows down one side which the boys enjoy poking about in. It’s very simple, very basic, filled with traditional furnishings and decorations, we love it.

Digging potatoes. Romanian village life
The boys help with the potato harvest in our rented garden.

We had a few days of stress while we found this place, it seemed nobody in the village wants to rent out houses, I just don’t think they need the money, but it all came good in the end.

Modern Technology and the Problems it Brings

You may know that we’ve had massive problems with the websites over the last few days, this one has been totally down, which cost me a lot of money and brought ( still is bringing) considerable amounts of stress. The change in hosting companies didn’t go smoothly and I’m still trying to sort out problems. It’s not easy here on TERRIBLE internet, particularly as most of my time is taken up by the kids, cooking and cleaning.

Romania has excellent wifi, some of the best in Europe, but for some reason we just can’t get a decent signal in this house, we’ve bought a booster aerial, which does nothing,  so I’ve been offline a lot, not-working on the websites.

At the moment I can clearly see how nice life would be without computers.

Not Living Like The Locals

We’re here, among the villagers. It’s an honour and a priveledge, but do we live like them? No, we live in traditional houses and that’s about as far as it goes. We stick out like sore thumbs. We’ve been welcomed, our neighbours have been great.

Romanian Village Life

So how are we filling our days?

This is the ultimate in slow travel, really getting to know a place yet still not “living like a local”. I don’t like that expression. We don’t work in the fields all day, we don’t have to milk cows and feed pigs, the kids don’t go to the village school and I don’t go to church on Sunday in my best floral skirt and headscarf. But we can observe, this is slow, in-depth learning about a place, people, language and culture. I like that right now. When itchy feet kick in, I don’t. I seem to be needing this quiet time.

The language they speak here is different to that in Bucharest, simpler. Very easy to pick up. For the first time ever my schoolgirl Latin is actually useful. I can’t have a conversation yet, nowhere near, but we get by.

Below is an account of how we spend our time in Rural Romania.  

Good Morning Rural Romania!

I wake up as the sun rises. Admittedly, we’ve had a lot of late nights in the last few weeks, drinking and carousing with fellow ex-pats, so that hour creeps further and further into the day, but dawn is my preferred time to wake up. I don’t want to miss a second of sunshine.

The boys and Chef will still be slumbering in our solid and supremely comfortable beds, made just last week from bits of wood from the barn.

I flick on the kettle. I always fill it the night before because our water supply is unreliable. It’s a long story. Swimming pools up the road take all the water on hot weekends and holidays so sometimes the taps dry up.

If it’s cold I pull on jeans straight away. The days have been hot here, 36 degrees, but nights can be chilly.

Bun Bun Blood-Bringer the rabbit goes outside. She’s been sleeping in the covered porch to protect her from the cold and any fearsome Romanian predators that might be prowling. We have polecats, foxes, wolves, and bears, in theory. I sweep the floor.

 A baby hegdehog. Romanian village life in Rural Romania.
A nest of baby hedgehogs we found in the meadow. Animals, wild and domestic, are a big feature of Romanian village life.

Flick on the computer which lives in the kitchen, check email/Facebook/Pinterest, etc. over coffee. If I can get a signal.

Make myself some breakfast. My digestive system seems to have been destroyed by the antibiotics I was given for a suspected Indian parasite, so for now, I’m off gluten and dairy and feeling MUCH better ( thanks for asking!). So breakfast for me normally involves eggs, potatoes or polenta, always with lots of garlic. They eat a lot of polenta in Romania, which reminds me, I need to write a post on Romanian food, it’s good.

Settle to do some work until the family wakes up, or listen to a podcast, I’m into Tim Ferris. (see the book that got me into our new way of living here)

Watch the villagers heading to the fields in horses and carts or pushing wheelbarrows.

Not Boiling Eggs

They wake up, slowly, usually Boo first. Sometimes he makes himself pancakes or fried eggs, he’s enjoying cooking on our little stove.

I saw some ridiculous chart the other day of “chores” kids should be able to do by particular ages. One of the chores was to boil an egg and I think the suggested age was 6. Well, he can’t boil an egg, we don’t eat boiled eggs, but he makes killer pancakes! Sometimes he’ll even make enough for his brother and dad. Boo reads as they eat at the table in the porch. I don’t care if it’s bad table manners. I love that he reads so much.

Incidentally, he can’t tie shoelaces either. He’s never owned shoes with laces so why would he learn? Just another of those things kids are expected to know by the “right” age that are actually, totally ridiculous. Update: He got his first hiking boots for Nepal a year or so later. Shoelaces were mastered in no time.

The morning sunshine streams in and warms the boys, I flit around providing drinks, condiments, coffees, and general support.

After breakfast, they usually go outside, collect bunches of clover and dandelions for Bun Bun, ride their bikes or generally muck about.

 Romanian village life, picking fruit from the orchards in late summer.
Pears, apples, and plums in the orchard. In Rural Romania fruit trees and the strong alcohol they produce, are a big part of village life.

I wash up and clear the decks.

I do the laundry by hand in the mornings and peg it out to dry, it dries fast, the days are hot at the moment.

Sometimes Maria, our landlady, turns up to do something in the barn or garden. They’re busy harvesting plums, pears, potatoes, carrots, beans and apples  ( don’t think they’ll eat the fruit, they all get distilled into halinka or tuica, a fearsome and ubiquitous homemade spirit and cure-all).

 Village life Romania. Storing potatoes under the house for fierce Romanian winters.
Storing potatoes under our rented house for winter.

She usually cuts a block of grass from the orchard too, cuts it with a scythe and takes it away by wheelbarrow for her milk cows. The boys have been known to help, sometimes disappearing with her to try their hand at milking.

She often brings us gifts of food, some fat home-smoked bacon, milk or fruit and veg. Her visits are really helping my Romanian along, she’s a gem and has taken a shine to the boys.


We don’t do much. We use resources such as Studyladder ( when the internet works) and the Carol Vorderman books (her textbooks and workbooks, we like both a lot).
Sometimes we learn a bit more Romanian and sometimes I find a great documentary on YouTube for the boys to watch. They’ve been into the Ancient Greeks this week. Rarely I persuade them to do some art, they really aren’t into art but occasionally see it as a soft option.

We are now the joyful owners of a printer, something we haven’t had for the last 2.5 years, it’s so good to be able to print out maps to colour. I’ve been longing to do that, so the boys can really see where they’ve been and create a record.


I have to cook, no convenience foods or take-aways here. I usually have to peel potatoes, something I normally do once a year, at Christmas. Strangely, I’m enjoying cooking here, I’m known for my usual loathing. I’ve been roasting, stewing and souping up a storm.

We have a small supermarket about half an hour away along with several huge ones 50 minutes away. We also have two tiny village shops that stock bread, crisps, sweets, beer and, sometimes, OK wine. Drinks are really cheap here, a large bottle of beer about $1, a bottle of wine well under $5. Food is cheap.

Lots of hours disappear in food preparation and washing up, which often has to be done with a bucket and a kettle when the water fails.

Other Time Fillers

Village life in Romania. Traditional Maramures outfits are still part of life in rural Romania.
Maria in Sunday best, her daughter in traditional Maramures dancing costume, take us along to a dance in the next village.

Maybe a walk or a bike ride, maybe a trip somewhere. We have some great attractions in the area and we often visit local markets to check out the animals and produce. The Merry Cemetery is a short drive away, as is the Barsana Monastery complex. The churches of Maramures County are UNESCO listed and really spectacular.

We have plenty of people to hang out with here. There are currently half a dozen young volunteers, Australian, American, Russian, Argentinian and Brits, working at the Village Hotel. They’re great people, travellers like us. The boys love them and want nothing more than to hang out and help. They haven’t bothered to approach the village children at all, they gravitate towards these guys. Maybe when they leave, which should coincide with their Romanian being passable, that will change.

Baia Mare Romania
Our nearest big town, pretty Baia Mare around an hour’s drive from the village.

Night Life

There are two small village pubs. We meet up with the volunteers and drink cold beers at the end of the day.  I take along one of our trusty card games for the boys, or they play with kittens and puppies while we chat.

Occasionally we have campfires and toast marshmallows or share meals. I’m having to force myself to stay in and have quiet nights.

What Next?

Train travel in India. Travel blog.
We’ll be back on the road again soon. We’re looking forward to more India, our last visit was way too short at just a month.

In a week or so we fly to London, spend a few days with friends, then drive back across Europe to our new home. We’ll be visiting France, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, possibly Austria and finally Hungary. More adventures to come!

By the time we get back here it will be cold, we’ll have to start using the wood-burning stoves. We’re hoping for snow by Christmas and a chance to do some skiing, at Cavnic, just up the road.

In January we will migrate to warmer climes, probably India and Nepal, to travel more, learn more and hide from the fierce Romanian winter. Then we’ll be back to build our house, we hope, if everything comes together in time.

I never thought that our story would take this turn, but I’m very glad it did. This is a lovely time in our lives and the boys are getting so much joy from it.

It’s difficult to write a travel blog when we’re not really travelling, I seem to have lost a lot of my drive and inspiration lately in the face of this simple village lifestyle. Does this post cover everything? Anything you’d like to know? What can I write about? Leave me a comment and thanks for still sticking with us. Back to our main Romania Page here.

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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.

21 thoughts on “Romanian Village Life”

    • Breb Shuki. We lived there for 3 years. This was our first post from there I think. Breb has it’s own category, loads of posts about it on our site.

  1. I have enjoyed reading your day to day living in Romania. I have been out of the US only once to Italy for fifteen days. Fascinating your adventures and self made travel very fascinating.

  2. Very interesting. I visited Romania as a child in the 70s. It sounds as if life goes on much as it did then. I’ve always been interested in how life is lived in different countries. Thanks for keeping us informed.

  3. Hi, it’s so nice to see how you and your family accomodated to the Romanian lifestyle. sometines it can be tough in small villages, bu most locals are usually very friendly. the countryside is just lovely, isn’t it?

  4. ‘Lovely to hear from you and your life in Romania. Don’t forget even though you’re on “stable” ground, for the rest of us, it’s entirely exotic so reading about the little things is enormously important!

    I live in Germany and even though I’ve been living here for years and I live and I’m married to a German, my life isn’t considered local at all. Not really. More expat upper-middle class but people still find it interesting to read about what I’m doing and where I’m going. Most importantly, how I’m doing it. And that includes the Germans themselves LOL!

    Love it. 🙂

  5. I really love that you are doing this. I think it’s a chance to dive deep. Post about the little things! It’s fascinating!

  6. You and your family definitely had a great life there. Wish i will visit Romania some day to complete my travel mission #intothebalkans. Just came back from roadtrip from slovenia-croatia-bosnia-montenegro-albania such a beautiful region.

  7. I like this post, Alyson ! What’s the story with the swimming pools? Are they private or communal ? Do people in your surroundings comment on the refugee-problem – it’s a huge issue at the moment, and everybody here is talking about it (I’m still in Belgium with my father). Keep on writing! I’m waiting for the food-post (a mystery to me … I have a “cooking disability”, but I love posts about food!)

    • Hi, there is a natural salt water spring in Ocna ( this is all in the Ocna market post), there used to be a salt mine there. The pools are huge, public, pay for admission. Many of them. We haven’t been yet. Some are indoor spa type things. It’s a big tourist draw.

  8. Thanks for your great blog. I love catching up with what your family are doing. We’re currently living in Thailand, Khanom Beach – just a short boat ride across the way to Koh Samui. Next stop Bali, some more Asia and then hopefully Eastern Europe or South America… it’s great to just go with the flow!!

  9. I love reading about what you guys are up to. Our life in Germany is very similar, we live here but not as locals. I like the idea of simple, rural living. Cant wait to hear about how the house progresses and what your first winter will be like.
    PS – I think a photo of you in your best floral skirt and a headscarf is definitely in order!


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