Now that the snow is (almost) gone from Moscow and (some) leaves are appearing on the trees, you may be thinking about summer. And instead of imposing on your dacha-owning friends, maybe this year you ought to rent one yourself? Why not? There is nothing better than a weekend out of the city, snoozing in the sun and firing up the grill.

First Things First

Before you even begin your search for a dacha, you have to decide a number of issues.

Are you or is someone in your family going to live there full-time during the summer, or is this just for weekends? Do you have a car? Are you planning to always drive to the dacha or would you take a commuter train or bus? If you are a one-car family, will the car stay at the dacha or go into the city on most days?

Do you want to live in the heart of a community or away from other houses? Do you want to be near a swimming spot or woods? Do you want a wooded lot or open space? Do you want to grow flowers or vegetables? Do you want a lot of land or just a yard? Do you need it fenced in?

What level of comfort do you want? Do you want to get away from it all at a dacha with spotty or no electricity, no WiFi, outdoor plumbing, a well, and a “summer kitchen” (a separate structure with a stove and sometimes water)? Or do you want to rent a suburban house with all the modern amenities?

Once you’ve thought this through, you’ll know what to look for, like a dacha that is walking distance from a train station and shops (if the family car will stay in the city), or reliable WiFi and satellite television (if you need to stay in touch with the world).

The next issue is which direction from Moscow. If you live in the northeast of Moscow, you don’t want a dacha 30 kilometers out of the city to the southwest — that would add one to three hours driving time. Try drawing a “pizza slice” on a map with the center point at your apartment and the crust at your preferred maximum number of kilometers out of the city. That’s your search zone.

And then — how much can you pay? The smallest house with no modern conveniences might cost 15,000 rubles a month (or less); a modest dacha with some or all conveniences averages 25-60,000 rubles a month; a modern suburban-type house starts at about 100,000 rubles a month and goes up from there. The season is three to five months (June through August or May through September), and sometimes there is a security deposit (one half to one month’s rent). If you go through a realtor, you will have to pay a commission (from a third to one month’s rent).