Urban Flight?

It is interesting to see the “countryside” of Bucharest as people here call it. Located just outside the city limits are the “suburbs” as we’re used to. When you here Buhcarestians referring to “countryside” people which you surely will, they most likely are coming into the city from these outlying villages. These villiages can be as close as 5km from town, one larger village in particular lies only 8km from the Marriott. So the shock and awe of someone living waaayyyy out in the “countryside” is dismissed as nothing beyond normal for the average American, as suburbia is just another “day in the life”. At first glance it appears as though everyone would want to live in the countryside. I mean… who wouldn’t want a new construction 100 square meter house with land for less than 100 grand? You get a garage, you get a yard, you’re outside of the hustle and bustle of the city? It makes perfect sense right? Everyone should be leaving the city; trading their in-city residence for the “American Dream?”! Well not exactly. First off, a car is a necessity as the bus lines barely run to 25% of the communities. Once you have your car you now have to figure in the third-world infrastructure that demands a minimum hour commute into the city from a measly 10km’s away. Don’t believe me? Try it out one day during rush hour. Living in partially completed suburbs with pothole ridden dirt roads and incomplete “red” houses isn’t the ideal setting you picture in your suburban daydreams either. Since the crisis many out of town developers went belly-up, leaving these partially complete, unattractive communities. Will more lenient bank lending help the suburbs and these dense planned communities fill up?

So here’s the interesting part of why the majority of the new houses (basically McMansions) in the “countryside” are being sold… Image. That’s it. As sure as people by overpriced houses in Dorobanti, as sure as people properly stack and position their fancy cell phones and key fobs on coffee shop tables, as sure as people with “fancy” cars have the right-of-way, the vast majority of Bucharestians are buying houses in the suburbs as second, or vacation homes. Why wouldn’t one buy a vacation home in a “vacation” area like anywhere between here and the mountains? Simply because your vacation house MUST be close enough for you to whisk your unsuspecting friends and family members away to for a quick barbecue! But isn’t this typical anyways?

That leaves the rest of the older houses in the more established communities. These are people that choose to be “away” from it all, or that have lived there through multiple generations. Quite often these people own quite a bit of land, and still have beautiful gardens in which they grow a lot of their own food. It truly is a different lifestyle and does have a hint of desirability.

For someone looking to get a taste of the suburb life while still being close “enough” to Bucharest, try looking for re-sale homes outside of the pre-planned communities. Maybe even consider a nice restoration project with a large parcel of land, as you’ll more than likely “beat the banks” on appreciation.

So will people from the “big city” spread out to image-conscious McMansions? Will they buy in to the master-planned communities? Will they say to hell with the city and buy an older farmhouse? Who knows! Only time and progress will tell!