Several thousand dollars was spent on completing basic construction of the house, making it liveable for year-round use. Almost all this money went to a work brigade that we have been very satisfied with. The workers don't drink and do their job well, and the foreman accounts for all money spent and comes around periodically to take a look, give instructions to the workers, and collect money.
Conditions in the house are still very spartan, but there is now a functional kitchen (small water tank, sink with drain into bucket, electric stove, samovar, fridge, countertop) and shower/bath (80 liter washbin behind a curtain where you can pour water over yourself). One does have to carry water around a lot, but the inconvenience is relatively minor. It's liveable. There are two electrical heaters that provide adequate heating for winter.
It is refreshing to live on your own land after being in the city for so long. And it's not decorative landscaping like modern suburban dwellings, but an actual plot of land with natural soil where useful things grow or can be grown. It's nice to walk out at night and see the pitch black sky, to sleep in total silence, and to wake up in the morning and walk around the lot to see what's going on.
Transportation to the city from the dacha turned out to be adequate and even somewhat better than expected. On the way into town you can just hail down a car and get in for the same price as a bus. On average it takes about 35 minutes to get to the center. This is better than most places around Kiev. Buses are not as full and I almost always get a seat. Buses run from 6:30 to 20:30 and have a semi-predictable schedule. Many evenings I end up returning on the last bus, which is convenient because it leaves at a set time. On rare instances I have taken a taxi to get home.
Interestingly, Sevastopol is the only place I know in Ukraine where they say "topik" instead of "marshrutka" (minibus) and passengers pay the fare as they exit. In fact, people often get off through the back door and walk up to the front door to pass fare to the driver as they leave.
Sevastopol has a lot less going on than Kiev, but I have met a number of interesting people and am looking forward to meeting more. Our Spanish club has also been successful, with 5 regulars.
3. Other benefits
How about fresh goat's milk and homemade dairy products? Some berries can be collected in the vicinity. For the first time in a long time I've been eating quite a bit of local produce.
The local beach is awesome. Predictably, I ended up not getting out there as often as predicted — only about once a week. But still... The water is now quite cold (10 C), but there are people who swim in it year-round, which supposedly boosts the immune system and provides other benefits. The 170-meter drop down to the beach provides an excellent workout.
There is also an archaeological dig 10 minutes away that I still haven't gotten around to looking at.
With the "5th Kilometer" bus station nearby, there are a lot of options for getting into the hills and doing some hiking. I've been on 4 day hikes in 2 months, which isn't much, but I was tied down by the ongoing construction for much of the period. Here are some pictures.