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From the page: "Hungary: Live the Romance of âOld Europeâ on $11,000 a Year
Posted on July 29, 2010 by Steenie Harvey
Thereâs something intriguing about Hungary. Take away Budapest, goulash and gypsy violins, and itâs practically unknown to the English-speaking world.
Did you know Pecs is one of 2010âs European Cities of Culture? Or that Lake Balaton has thatched-roof villages and vineyards? When I told friends Iâd been to towns like Dombovar and Kormend, it produced the same puzzled reaction as if Iâd said Iâd explored the far side of Pluto.
So it isnât surprising that ripe-for-restoration cottages list for $10,000. Or that traditional homes of the move-into variety often sell for under $50,000. Nobody knows rural Hungary exists!
Of course, Iâm exaggerating. Although thereâs still only a trickle of westerners, Hungaryâs low cost of living and affordable properties are starting to get attention. Pensions stretch a long way here. Annual property taxes rarely exceed $60, and youâll find two-course lunch specials for just $2.70.
In May, I journeyed into the provincesâ"the heartland of the now-vanished Austro-Hungarian Empire. From Lake Balaton to the baroque towns near the Austrian border, countless places are sprinkled with enchantment.
Nostalgia seems embedded in the collective psyche. This is the forgotten Europe of piglet markets and horse-drawn carts, of stray chickens and arcaded farmhouses where paprika peppers are hung to dry during the hot summers.
Wild boars roam the forests and handsome csardas (inns) serve roast duck and dumplings for $6. And itâs no rumor. Thereâs often a âoeman down the laneâ who turns villagersâ excess apricots and cherries into palinka (schnapps).
Hungaryâs Far West
One newcomer is Bruce Sylvester, an American medical journalist living in a village outside Kormend, in western Hungary. Bruce enjoys lifeâs good things and dines in Kormendâs best hotel every day. He puts his daily living costs at between $20 and $30.
Thatâs less than $11,000 a year to live in what he calls âoewonderland.â And, incidentally, wonderland comes with a nearby private medical clinic and all the connectivity needed for a work-from-home Internet business.
Bruceâs story illustrates the likely restoration costs of a traditional cottage. He paid $8,000 for his, plus $2,000 for the land. Including the purchase price, the total cost was $45,000.
On the edge of a national park, the Kormend area is great for seeking rural bargains. Farmhouses and cute cottages with thick walls and stout oak beams, for instance. I saw a 200-year-old cottage here for $14,500. It needs modernizing, but labor costs are low. Knowing the expense of thatching roofs in Ireland, I was astounded to learn the price here: $9,000 for a typical cottage.
Oh, and if you need it, Austria and its ultra-private banking system are but 20 minutes away.
A refurbished farmhouse in Lake Balatonâs vineyard country is yours for $159,000. Thatâs not as inexpensive as Kormend, but Balaton has star quality for Hungarians.
At 48 miles long, Balaton is Central Europeâs largest lake. With golf, sailing and imported sand beaches, itâs known both as âoethe Hungarian Seaâ and âoeBudapestâs Summer Capital.â And Hungarians arenât the only ones who flock here in huge numbers during summer. During Communist times, many West-German families vacationed in Balaton where they met East-German relatives separated by the Wall. There are now many German retirees here.
Balaton is most attractive on its hilly northern and western shores. Surrounded by vineyards, numerous storybook villages hug the north shore. To the west, my favorite towns are Keszthely and spa town Heviz. I stayed in Heviz, built around a thermal lake. Even in winter, its waters are warm enough for bathing. Unless teenage discos are your thing, avoid the flat southern shore around Siofok. Itâs overbuilt and rather down-market.
To the Manor Born
I wanted to view some castles firsthand, but most medieval ones were destroyed during wars with the Turks. And baroque palaces now usually operate as hotels and wellness centers.
Small manors and villas often appear under the German word Herrenhaus, meaning âmasterâs house.â Most were built between the early 19th to early 20th centuries.
Outside the town of Dombovar in southern Hungary, Marta Dudas showed me an immaculate Herrenhaus dating from 1907. Its German owners renovated it two years ago and installed under-floor heating. Painted yellow and white, many of its fixtures and fittings are German-made. Thereâs a guest cottage in the equally immaculate grounds that include cherry, apricot and nut trees. Living space for the two properties amounts to 2,795 square feet. Price: $274,000.
With mosaic domes and wedding-cake houses, the city of Pecs is 40 minutes away. I only explored for a few hours, but
From the page: "Creating A New Nation - MicroNations & Principalities"
Paying off the National Debut is Easy.
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