The realization that I would not be able to stay in Ukraine long-term anyway because of the immigration restrictions led me to begin thinking about spending more time elsewhere. Just a week later, I began planning my move to Sevastopol, Crimea. Here I will also be subject to the 90/180 rule, but there are big advantages here for me. I can live at my own dacha, carefully chosen in a convenient location just outside the city.
Dacha plots are not available for purchase by foreign citizens unless they have been privatized. Privatized plots cost quite a bit more. 6 or 7 years ago a Ukrainian friend and I bought an unprivatized plot together on her name and began the privatization process, which is standard and can be arranged for a set fee so that the owners just pay and forget about it. A year or so later, the process was completed.
I am a geographer (by nature, if not yet by profession), and I understand that location is everything. Here are the criteria we considered when choosing the plot:
- close to bus stops where city buses run
- walking distance to an awesome beach (arguably the most scenic in the region)
- at least a few neighbors live at their dacha year-round
- some investment in construction is taking place in the vicinity
- electricity and water
- not too close to the water that seaspray would suppress plant growth
Furthermore, because Crimean cities are small, it is realistic to live at a dacha just outside the city and enjoy the benefits of city life while living in a more tranquil location. In Kiev this is basically impossible due to the large size of the city.
Crimea has tons of scenic variety — sea, mountains, cities, historical sites, etc. — plus great numbers of tourists from all over Ukraine and the former USSR. Many places in Crimea attract interesting types of people — artists, scientists, wanderers, adherents of various teachings, etc.
I have long felt that this might be the best place for me within Ukraine in terms of lifestyle. Until a few years ago I was basically tied down to Kiev because of work, but now I can work from anywhere if I have Internet.
In the past year a modest house has been built on the dacha plot, and at the moment some relatives of my friend are installing the electrical wiring. Within a month this place will be quite liveable, albeit with primitive "facilities."
Now I am beginning to establish a social life in Sevastopol and Crimea. I already have some acquaintances here, and I've established a Spanish conversation club in town. All Spanish speakers are invited, particularly natives. My daily routine includes a hike down to the spectacular "Jasper Beach," with nearly 800 steps leading down a 170 m high slope to the secluded beach below (see some photos here). It's just a short bus ride away to a kind of avtovokzal (bus station) where one can take buses to destinations in the hills to the east where all the good hiking begins. From the dacha to the center of Sevastopol it's typically about a 40 minute trip, which is average for living in Kiev. But here I breathe fresh air and live in my own house.
The plot cost $4500 USD, as much as $12-15k will be invested total in the house and landscaping, the rent is nonexistent, and utilities amount to about $10 a month.