How Lives in Latvia in Amatciems - a premium eco-village

We met Olga and Sergey in Krabi on one of the meetings. Then the guys told us about the Amatsiems village in Latvia. And since we have always been interested in the topic of eco-settlements (and somehow we lived in Ecosettlement Glorious in Moscow region), then I asked Olga to write a post about howthey are there in Latvia, especially since there he is of premium class, which means that everything must be of the highest standard. Still, in Russia, as a rule, ordinary people, not millionaires, move to eco-settlements.

Soon there will be four years, like my husband and Iarrived in Amatciems. It turned out here by accident. We stumbled on the Internet for a note about the “city of the sun”, she was intensely browsing the net at that time, and decided to go to Latvia for a couple of days to visit friends in Riga and see with their own eyes. We thought to walk for an hour or two, look at unusual houses with a reed roof and admire the beautiful nature. But it turned out so magical that we did not want to leave. To the picturesque landscapes that we admired in the photographs, we added air — thick, pine, tasty — an atmosphere of comfort and coziness and wonderful people. As a result, we are now starting to build our own house in a premium eco-village called “Amatciems”.

The content of the article

And here "eco"

The prefix "eco" in the name of the village is associated withattitude to the nature of its owner and founder, the Latvian businessman Chiris. Aivar Zvirbulis - that is actually his name (we learned this three years later, because everyone calls him Chiris) - he comes from these places himself. Once he sold one of his main businesses, a printing house, bought land there and began to “play” with the territory - making picturesque biases, planting pines, digging lakes. And then he decided that life in harmony with nature could not only please him, and slowly began to create a village, selecting people with similar ideologies as neighbors. Today, more than 20 million euros have been “buried” in the village, it continues to expand, Chiris predicts that in 20 years there will be 500 houses (now 100), and the very concept of living surrounded by nature, without fences and contrived restrictions, will become a trend , and many more such Amatciems will appear in the world.

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To date, the average for the year areAbout 20 transactions for the purchase of real estate in Amatciems. Until 2000, mainly Latvians and sometimes foreigners bought, after the adoption of a law under which it was possible to apply for a residence permit after buying a property, Russians began to buy everything. Soon the law will be tightened - amendments will start to apply from September 1, now you need to buy real estate in the amount of over 250,000 from the whole of Latvia (earlier you could get by buying 150,000 in Riga and 75,000 regions), plus, which is less pleasant, you will need give 5% of the transaction amount to the state treasury. But this is unlikely to hit sales a residence permit for buyers of this village - no more than a bonus. I have not met a single person who would have bought a house here for the purpose of a residence permit, for this purpose it was easier to get an apartment in Riga or in some small village outside the Riga district. In Amatciems real estate in the amount of 75,000 in general has never been, the price threshold of entry is higher here, if we talk about the plot with the house - it is close, if not equal, to the new norms. And on them an empty plot, by the way, will no longer be bought.

Ban on fences and wooden houses, or on the rules of Amatciems

Life in harmony with nature with minimalintervention - so, perhaps, you can describe the ideology of Amatciems. So that the rights of nature are not violated, there are a number of rules in Amatciems that all residents of the village follow.

The most important of all the rules is thatAmatciems looks so impressive - the lack of fences. Thanks to this, the whole territory looks like a single whole, and this is the task of the houses - to fit into the landscape, and not of nature - to tune in with people.

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Landscape is the main thing that distinguishes Amatciems fromall other villages visually. There are solid hills, forests and lakes. The plots are designed in such a way that neighboring houses are not visible from one house to the maximum. Each plot necessarily has access to the water - either to its own small lake, or to the “common” large, when buying a house, a part of the water is also acquired. By the way, they often ask if mosquitoes are being eaten here, since there is so much water around, and so, at a dacha in the Moscow region, they are many times more. Not that mosquitoes did not exist at all, but they do not interfere with life, you can sit quietly on the veranda in the evening without splashing with chemicals.

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Our site in 0.26 hectares (26 acres) - the mostsmall in the village. We spent a week, proceeded far and wide, estimated the location of the house and the sun on the bed in the future bedroom, and eventually chose what we dreamed of - a small but cozy area between two mountains, with its own little forest covered with soft moss. In the summer, we regularly find mushrooms there and pick berries. Most residents have much larger plots, there are several, the sizes of which are calculated in hectares.

Another rule - at home can only bewooden, only natural colors, with a roof of one of three types - red tiles, shingles and reeds. The idea of ​​our house breaks this last rule a little bit, and now we will start negotiations with the construction committee to get approval. We want to make the first green roof in Amatciems, that is, a grass roof. So far we have no idea how Chiris will react to this idea. :) He personally assures all the projects of the houses so as not toThe general style of Amatciems was broken. If he is satisfied with everything, according to Latvian law, he will also need to obtain an official building permit, that is, to collect a lot of papers. So it's easier, of course, to buy a ready-made house to avoid all this bureaucratic red tape and save nerves.

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How much does a house build

We are often asked why we bought the plot, butnot a finished house, because it is not only easier, but almost always more profitable. The fact is that I am very picky about interior design, I want to thoroughly plan the space, and only frame house gives such flexibility in planning. At the same time, all the houses for sale are made of timber, in Amatciems only this year they began to build frame houses, while there were two or three of them for the whole village. It was supposed that ours will be the first, but we have strongly tightened something with building :)

A house of timber dictates the interior - whether you want to orNo, you get a wooden house, not only outside, but inside the house. Making plasterboard walls is expensive and not practical. Wooden houses, for my taste, are wonderful if you spend your holidays in them, but for the permanent residence I personally are not comfortable. Plus the house here is not small - the average footage from 300 meters. We originally planned a house no more than 200, and now we have completely “cut” the project into two floors and accommodated 75 meters of everything we need. Every extra meter is not only large sums for construction, it is also finishing, furniture, heating, repairs, and, simply, cleaning.

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About housing prices - on Amatciems websitereal numbers are given, no additions and no cheating will be, they can be trusted. It also indicates whether only the plot is for sale, or there is already a foundation, foundation or a whole house. How much will it cost to build a house from scratch can only be said very well - from 1,500 euros per square meter, if we are talking about a bar house, and from 1,000 euros, if we talk about a frame house. In our experience, I can say that these figures are the very minimum, they are calculated on the basis of a house that stands on a flat surface (and not on a slope, like many houses here), has a shingled roof or tiles (cane is much more expensive), without large and numerous windows, with a primitive heating system and minimal decoration. If you put a heat pump - a system that buries itself in the ground and organizes heating or cooling a house with the help of temperature differences, you can add about 20,000 euros to the total amount, but in the long run this will save you money on electricity. If you cover the roof with reeds - you can safely add the same amount, and so on. Amatciems is still a premium class village, you should not expect low prices. On the other hand, for the amount for which you can build a good house, in Moscow you can only buy a two-piece apartment somewhere not very close to the metro.

Residents of Amatciems - who are they?

For the most part in Amatciems buyReal estate people are wealthy, for whom money is not the main question, who simply want to live in comfort, peace and quiet, with peace of mind letting children ride bicycles. Here you really feel very safe. This is paradoxical, but there really is not the slightest fear of leaving, say, a bicycle at home, or going for a walk without locking the locks. Even at night, when real, rustic darkness comes, it is absolutely not terrible to go for a walk or visit. However, just in case, all the houses are connected to the alarm system (fire and security), the territory of the car of one of the private security companies is on duty.

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There is a guest house in Amatciems, whichcalled Zeni, anyone can stay there, but most of the rooms are rented by those who either look after real estate in the village, or have already bought and are building. When we came, we always stayed there, now we rented a room in one of the houses for the summer, because everything was already booked in Zeni. And so often it happened - you go to cook dinner in the communal kitchen, and there already someone is sitting, eating. They invite you to the table, sit down, talk - about nature, about ecology, about the ideology of Amatciems. All as one people at such dinners came across open, pleasant, interesting. And then someone is so completely sincere, without any pretensions to show off, just to continue the conversation, he says: “What do you think, isn’t it possible to build a helipad here? Let's discuss with Chiris, if those who wish are gathered. ” Or “I tried the local beer here - I did not like it, I decided to open my own brewery. I learned what and how, only 500 thousand are needed! ”Anyway, the environment influences us, and being among financially secure, self-reliant people is very motivating.

Now in Amatciems sold about 110 sites,a hundred of them are at home. At the same time, 19 families live in Amatciems permanently, that is, all the year round - six of them are Russians, the rest are Latvians. Their life is no different from the life of people who live in a good cottage village. The houses have everything you need for life: heating, hot water, sewage, Internet, in many houses there are baths or a jacuzzi, saunas and other joys of civilization. People go to the nearest city of Cesis for food and for solving everyday issues - it is 15 kilometers away. There is also a hospital, supermarkets, kindergarten, school.

Fruits, fish and medieval city

Cesis itself is a completely wonderful town -quiet, medieval, with cobbled streets, beautiful and well-preserved architecture, with everything necessary for life. Soon there they will open a concert hall, where they will give concerts of classical music, which is written, including by our closest neighbor, some famous Latvian composer. To a larger and more modern city - Sigulda - 30 kilometers from Amatciems. There is a cinema, restaurants, sports entertainment, and hypermarkets. And to the capital - 70 kilometers - it turns out an hour or less, depending on how you follow the speed limit. :) If you wish, you can get from Amatciems to Riga by bus (the stop is 3-5 km) and by train from Cēsis, but in general it is inconvenient without a car.

We usually go for cereals, oils and otherlong-playing products in Cēsis, and fresh vegetables, fruits, berries are bought in a small market, which arrives in Amatciems every summer Saturday in the morning. Farmers who personally grow up ecologically pure production gather there. In my opinion, it is very cool to buy potatoes from a person who personally planted it, raised and harvested it.

The funny thing is that all local naturalfruit-vegetables, insanely fragrant, grown on live beds, sun-drenched, are cheaper than in an ordinary Moscow supermarket. When I get to the Moscow store after all this luxury, I have tears in my eyes - how can I eat these rubber tomatoes that don't even smell?

We take dairy products from living bythe neighborhood of the family of Latvian farmers, a liter of milk from a cow costs 50 eurocents (20-25 rubles, depending on the course). There is also a fish farm nearby, where sturgeon, salmon and trout are bred, but only trout are given for sale - 4 euro per kilogram. The rest of the fish is released into the rivers to restore the population.

Many residents of Amatciems provide themselves with fishcatching her right at home. There is some amount you need to pay for a fishing license, but usually, if the pond is small, it is only your business to run a fish into it and then catch it. So do the owners of the house in which we are now renting a room - they released trout, carps, and someone else whom we feed with barley per day. My husband and I tried to go fishing, but, having caught a carp, we realized that we were too sorry for him, let go and promised not to take the bait.

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Our fate is to collect mushrooms, which in the neighboringThe forests grow so much that, as soon as the season begins, we stop driving to the store. For lunch, mushroom soup for dinner - potatoes with mushrooms or Italian pasta with them. Walked through the village - and the full basket is collected. By the Latvian law, by the way, it is possible to pick mushrooms and berries in any, even private, territory. But according to the unwritten rules of Amatciems, taking mushrooms and berries on foreign plots is not considered very decent, so we go to harvest in the neighboring forest or to our own plot. Lingonberry and blueberry grow in the same place.

City without wires, but with deer

Another distinctive feature of Amatciems isAll communications here are buried in the ground, so the wonderful views do not spoil the endless poles with electric wires, as happens very often, even in the most beautiful places. Sewerage, electricity, water supply are connected to each house. A few years later, Chiris plans to build his own electrical substation, while the question is being discussed whether it will be a hydroelectric power station on the nearby Amata river or windmills. Also, high-speed Internet is being brought to the village right now - they are making a branch from some cable that goes either to Germany or from it. They say there will be the fastest internet in Latvia. This combination of the unique beauty of nature and modern technology is exactly what hooked us so much in Amatciems.

Imagine yourself sitting in your home officeyou work through high-speed Internet, and wild hares graze on the lawn outside the window ... A very real picture! Animals here are many. We have often seen hares, which at first were accepted (not to laugh) for deer - they turned out to be so huge, and in fact, the deer themselves. There are also foxes here - our owners complained that if you dig up the remains of fish under a bush to fertilize the plants, the fox will come at night and dig up everything.

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Still at some point in the largest lakebeavers settled. They were noticed when photographing the village from the air. At first, they were delighted, because beavers live only in very clean waters. But then the beavers began to cut trees and swamp the area - this is, after all, their essence - and they had to be resettled.

In order not to scare the local living creatures (and localresidents), it is forbidden to leave pets on the street, dogs must be either under the control of the owner or inside the house This is also one of the rules of Amatciems.

Violators of the rules - why are they not here

Sometimes on the Internet I met comments, they say,What other rules, they are not written at the legislative level, who has the right to prohibit doing what you want on your own site? This position seems strange to me. If you are not satisfied with the local order, look for the place where you are satisfied, or where no one will forbid you, the benefit of such - the majority. In reality, there is no one in Amatciems who is trying to fight with the local "authorities" in the person of Chiris and break the rules. Probably all thanks to a preliminary "face control".

This, of course, not like in nightclubs - no onelooks at what you came and what you wear. Just before buying all potential tenants must meet with Chiris. It does not look like some kind of official interview, just a friendly conversation, which allows you to understand whether new people will fit in well with the existing conditions. Now, those who want to build a two-meter fence around the house and put a Caucasian Shepherd Dog on a chain do not come here, they already understand that they will not be comfortable here. But before that was the case.

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On our first visit we were told veryindicative case. The project developed at a rapid pace, and at some stage it took the attraction of external financing, that is, a loan from a bank. They bought lands, gave credit, but then a crisis struck - and sales stopped. And so, on the eve of the next payment, when there was no free money, a man came to Amatciems, who was literally ready to get packs from his pockets - and to acquire a considerable piece of land. Chiris went with him to watch the options. Stopped, left. And then Chiris noticed that a man parked his car right on the road. When asked to move, he answered something like "Nitsche, they will wait." Here it became obvious that this man does not suit Amatciems. Despite the financial interest, the man was told that he had better go to look for housing in the direction of Jurmala. And just a few days later, another person showed up - with more correct thoughts about the world around him - and bought the lot even more than the first one was going to.

“Will you sell us?”"- we asked timidly, then, in fact, without seriously considering such an option, we came only to see. "You - yes." My then future husband and I were just starting to establish a common life, had not yet discussed the issue of joint real estate. But this village hooked us so much that the puzzle began to take shape on its own - and about a year later we acquired the plot.

Unicorns, Peppers and President of Latvia

Our site is called "Vienraji" thattranslated from Latvian means "unicorns". All plots in Amatciems instead of numbers have names, and all names are somehow connected with nature and / or forest. The first plots were called easily, but when the score went to dozens, the employees of the sales office, who, in fact, deal with almost all issues, had to open a botanical dictionary - and look for natural names there. Therefore, everyone was very happy when we asked ourselves to name our site - we bought it on an unmarked territory, so it was possible. We did not know then, but in Amatciems everyone knows each other and is named not by name, but by the name of the plots. That is, we are not represented as Olga and Sergey, but they say something like “this is a Viennese.” Next to us there are Peppers, Nasturtium, Buttercups and many more things that Google interpreter cannot cope with. The house opposite, by the way, almost bought Chulpan Khamatova, but in the end chose some other site.

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Famous people in Amatciems are not uncommon - last summer, for example, the President of Latvia came to visit. I don’t know if he bought a plot here, but I wouldn’t be surprised to meet him sometime during the evening walk :)

If you have any questions, I will answer with pleasure, but for now I will go to feed the fish and water the plants. Drinking tea brewed fresh mint, thyme and sage, damn nice!

Olga Zakharova - http://frequenttraveller.ru
Some photos taken from the official site - http://www.amatciems.lv

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