In brief, great weather, fantastic architecture, varied wildlife, historic sites, traditional lifestyles, and wonderfully friendly people!
To be honest, anyone who has truly seen Transylvania won't need to ask this question. The Tarnave Mare region, which encompasses the medieval citadel of Sighisoara and many of the Saxon village, has some of the most stunning living landscape in the country. Beautiful rolling hills and untouched villages nestling in green valleys, locals working their smallholdings using traditional methods, scythe gangs in the fields load hay onto horse-drawn carts, village woman bake loaves by the dozen in traditional wood ovens, the men gathering at the village still to distill the plum harvest into 'rakiu'. It is a truly a living history.
The region is also famous for its wildlife. Foundations such as ADEPT have worked hard to ensure that the wonderful biodiversity of the area is protected. A myriad of bird life, wild flowers in the hills and on the plains, wolves and even bears in the forests (but don't worry, they almost never trouble humans), harks, buzzards, eagles, and stork are a common site in the skies.
In addition to the natural beautiful of the area, other organisations, such as Prince Charles' Mihai Eminescu Trust, are endeavouring to retain the architectural beauty of the villages. Villages such as Viscri and Saschiz are famed for their traditional Saxon architecture and its rare to see a modern house amongst the ancient smallholdings. Property owners are encouraged to embrace local traditions and learn the benefits of alternative construction materials such as lime mortar and locally-made kiln-fired bricks and roof tiles.
In recent years, more and more people have started taking an interest in the Saxon village region of Transylvania. Prince Charles himself owns a house in the area, in Viscri, and has invested much time and effort into the preservation and promotion of local handicrafts and produce. Other companies, such a the British-owned 'Transylvania Food Company', and the French-Romanian run 'Casa de pe Deal' (The House on the Hill) have been producing and promoting local food products, especially jams and syrups, both for the local market and for export. Companies such as these have worked closely with local smallholders to facilitate the use of local labour and harness the inherent knowledge and experience of local traditional cooks and gardeners.
Many of the villages in the area, such as Saschiz and Viscri, are also protected by UNESCO meaning that if you do choose to invest in the area, you can depend on the natural architectural beauty of the surroundings being protected to a certain degree. The town hall in Saschiz has recently (summer 2012) implemented a project to make local residents aware of their architectural heritage and create an open forum for the discussion of methods for protecting it.
From an investment point of view, the area also makes a lot of sense. Recent years have seen an increase in westerners looking to buy rural retreats abroad. In the past, these were mostly limited to France, Spain and Italy but in the last decade purchases of properties in Bulgaria and Hungary have started to grow. Transylvania is, in my opinion (of course) a far more attractive region, both in terms of its natural beauty and the lifestyle it offers. Another advantage would be the language, Romanian being far more accessible to English speakers than either Hungarian or Bulgarian, meaning you can immerse yourself into the community more rapidly - if you've learnt French or Italian, you'll probably find Romanian quite manageable.
The fact that Transylvania hasn't 'boomed' in terms of sales of properties to those from the west means that there are still great deals to be found. Lack of utilities might worry some people, but the area is in development at the moment with sewage systems and waters water supplies being added to many villages, so it would make sense to get in at the ground floor before the area becomes even more popular with foreign and domestic holiday home buyers. The airport at Targu Mures has direct flights to Luton and a new airport just outside Brasov is being built, meaning accessibility to the area is improving, not to mention the Transylvania highway which is currently under construction (and which will thankfully mean a much appreciated reduction in truck traffic along the main road through the Eastern Tarnave Mare region, not to mention greatly reduced driving times to the rest of Europe).
Another attraction for would-be purchasers is the weather. Starting from March, you can expect good weather, spring is truly beautiful in the Tarnave Mare region, which abounds with wild flowers and where the villagers are especially keen on planting out their front gardens with many varieties of season blooms. The summer is generally dry and warm, with temperatures reaching the high 30s in August, but with cooler evenings than in the south of the country. The weather frequently stays quite warm during the days into the month of October, when the trees turns and a wonderful autumn prevails. Be warned, though, that the winter can sometimes be harsh in Transylvania, with temperatures dropping to -20C in January, and sometimes deep snow covers the entire region.
If you would like to know more about the region, leave a comment or contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org