10 reasons NOT to visit a Russian dacha

Vladimir Pesnya, Ekaterina Chesnokova/Sputnik; Legion Media; Getty Images
The romantic aura of a cozy countryside house is just the tip of the iceberg. Do you know what really awaits you there?

1. It’s hard to get there

'Dachniki' on a suburban train station

The problems start at the very beginning - how do you get to the dacha? If you have your own car, be sure you will spend three hours in a traffic jam, because you are not alone in leaving for the dacha - everyone is on a Friday evening or Saturday morning.

And if you don’t have a car, you will have to take a crowded suburban train or bus where you will have to stand because that woman with seedling pots needs to take a seat, you rude boy! Then after the station or bus stop you will have to walk several miles to the dacha, and don’t forget all those bags of food and stuff you have for two days.

2. You have to work hard

Your dacha host will give you all the possible jobs

If you imagine a dacha as a heaven where you will lie on a sunbed with cocktails, you are living in a fool’s paradise. At the dacha you have to work, because there is always something that needs to be fixed, repaired, or planted, while the lawn also needs mowing. Of course one can cover all the territory with concrete… but then it will look even less like paradise. But even in that case - there is always something to fix inside the house - or at least cleaning.

3. Mosquitoes…

Prepare a repellent!

Ok, it’s late evening and you did almost everything and have sat down on a rocking chair outside to finally enjoy your cocktail and listen to the cicadas singing. But you won’t have a chance to sit calm. Because when the sun goes down, it’s mosquito time!

Funny how when you get to the office on Monday, you can always identify dachniki - they are scratching themselves like hell.

4. All your clothes smell of smoke

A usual shashlyk man's outfit

A weekend at the dacha is always about BBQ or shashlyk, as we call it in Russia. There is always one man who is in charge of grilling everything. But it doesn’t depend on whether you are this man or not… your clothes will still smell smoky. And you have to go back to the city with those stinking clothes before you can put them in the washing machine. Ah, hang on... Russians have a way to deal with this: They just have special dacha smoky clothes!

5. Crazy neighbors

Neighbors are watching... Will you be able to get rid of the weeds better than them?

Well, in your apartment building, you also have several neighbors and for sure some of them are noisy. But they at least don’t see you! In Russia’s countryside those who can afford it, build high brick fences so that no one can see them. However, most dachas just have a chain-link fence or a wooden one - both allow your neighbors spy on you. It means you can’t work on your all over tan… And crazy parties and midnight guitar singing from neighbors on both sides are always a problem. 

They can start mowing grass with that awful loud noise at 7 a.m. Sunday, or they can start burning dry leaves when it’s +30 C outside. And there is no escape from that awful smoke, not even your stinky clothes will save you. 

But there is a good thing about having crazy neighbors - you can celebrate a crazy New Year with them, setting off fireworks and drinking outside all night.

6. Toilet? What toilet?

This is a toilet!

Most classic dachas have wooden shacks in the garden for calls of nature. So if you need to go at night you will need to get dressed, put shoes on, take a lantern and pray no nocturnal beast will pounce on you.

Another THING about these toilets is that they rely upon one deep hole that gradually fills up during the summer. And then they need to be emptied into a septic tank. You will know about that just by sniffing once you are inside. Plus, these little wooden huts are heaven for dozens of kinds of insects… Well, if you happen to be a brave biologist or entomologist, you will have fun!

7. Hot water, shower? Go back to the city, sissy

Russian dacha bathroom designs

Outside toilets can be considered almost a luxury compared to the fact that it’s a rare house that has hot water (or water at all) and a shower. At the best there will be another cabin with a solar heated water reservoir. If you don’t have a water supply you will have to fill it yourself clambering up a ladder with buckets. And if you have a water supply, you still have to pray that the summer will be sunny and the water will be warmed up at least a little. Good luck or better wait until you are back home in the comfort of the city before taking a bath.

8. No heating

Dacha hosts will always find an old jacket for you, don't worry

When it’s a warm summer, that lack of comfort with the toilet and shower seems not so bad. And wooden dachas always keep some pleasant cool chill when you step in from the heat. But if it’s a rainy +15C summer, you will have to put on all your smoky clothes inside as most houses don’t have heating or gas. That’s actually why Russians usually don’t go to dachas during the winter. Electric portable heaters are unable to warm up an entire house that really was frozen during the winter. 

9. Bad mobile signal (and no Instagram shots!)

During this coronavirus quarantine some people installed special signal booster devices to work from the dacha... but still no Wi-Fi connection

We used to say “It didn’t happen if it’s not posted on Instagram”. Following this saying, Russians just don’t go to dachas - they just can’t post all those great flowers or babushkas tomato and strawberry beds. Not to mention those cool casual smoky outfits! A friend sent you a video with funny cats? You’ll have to be patient until you are back in the city, where your signal is strong enough to watch it. Getting a takeout via the delivery app? Don’t even think about it, and if you do succeed, they just won’t come!

10. You have to leave the dacha someday

A dream house

The most unpleasant and sad things about the dacha - that there is always the time when you have to leave and return to the city, traffic and work. Those sunny weekends when you were arguing with the BBQ chef about how rare you wanted your steak, or hunting mosquitoes at night with the whole family or being angry at noisy neighbors… Everything will be over. So with the dacha, you cry twice - when you arrive and when you leave. 

P.S. The author of this article has cried over each of these ten points and still set off to the dacha right after submitting her article to the editor. So what does that mean? Do take us seriously - a dacha is the perfect digital detox and retreat place. 

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