What if you spent every day looking for One Beautiful Thing?

This (Really) Old House


I have always wished I had the skill set (and the bank account) to buy and rehabilitate old houses. So today, in lieu of screwing up my retirement with a money pit, I’m bringing you my latest Instagram obsession, Cheap Old Houses. When you check them out, please be sure to click through the photos (there’s a little arrow in a white circle that appears at the right of Instagram posts with multiple photos). I just can’t get over how magnificent some of these houses are. I want to rehabilitate them all!

“Fear no fixer.”

– Elizabeth and Ethan Finkelstein

The pandemic of course sent many people home to work. While it was a bit weird at first, now, at least for me, it feels completely normal. And if you’re not commuting, you don’t need to be proximate to a big city. In other words, 2020 just might have a silver lining for small towns. People are looking to move out of big cities, and these bargain houses can make that move even more attractive.

“We’re Elizabeth + Ethan. We’re dreamers. We love old things. And we believe that you’re being sold the wrong American dream. Contrary to what everyone else says, you don’t actually need to buy a million dollar house and go into extreme debt to live a satisfying and beautiful life. But don’t just take our word for it—we’ve brought together over 1 million people who feel the same way, and who are masters at celebrating the beauty of cheap old houses.”

– About Cheap Old Houses

The more skeptical among us refer to the site as ruin porn, but I think it’s fantastic. In case you’re not ready to buy a desperate fixer-upper, the Finkelsteins also run a vintage real estate website called Circa, with fewer fixer uppers and more turnkey listings. Only the bargain-basement offerings from that site make it to the Cheap Old Houses Instagram.

You can see more of the amazing, heartbreaking Cheap Old Houses on Instagram. And you can check out Circa on their website and on YouTube.

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Ebersbach, Germany — I’m preparing my first Cheap Old Houses Abroad newsletter (inaugural issue going out tomorrow – subscribe through the link in my bio!!!) and nearly lost my $@!* over this old hotel in Germany. I couldn't wait to share it, so here you go! Listed for €56,500 (roughly $61,803) by Sneddon & Lock Ltd. OMG. . “Welcome to the sale of the Lampelburg Hotel, a large property with plenty of potential, run as a hotel until 2015 when the owner retired. The opportunity now arises for a new owner to purchase the property and run as a successful hotel, a specialist retreat or very large home with its very own private full sized bowling alley. The property itself sits on 1200SQM land and has an ample built area of 350SQM. In terms of land, there is a large courtyard, beer garden and seperated private garden to the other side (Left) of the property, this would be a suitable garden for the owners to use for friends and family. The location is Ebersbach-Neugersdorf, with a healthy population of 12,000. . The hotel (known officially as the Lampelburg) includes annexes, formal gardens, a yard and substantial outbuilding complex. Unusually the property benefits from a purpose built single lane full size bowling alley. The restaurant windows are high quality stained glass, hand made to order when the property was built. . Attractions in this Ebersbach Neugersdorf include the "Alte Mangel" historic house, built in 1782 An interesting place to visit is the Bismarck tower, a wonderful gem built in 1904, the tower offers a wonderful view of the city, the Upper Lusatian highlands and northern Bohemia. Opposite the tower there is a park and ice cellar, part of the brewery (That you can also visit). Visit the half timbered houses in the Am Büttnerborn area. . Last but not least (Well not quite, because this city has another Czech sister city across the border, and there is loads there too) is the water tower, a preserved architectural gem. There is also the movie theatre, and "theatre barn", an old barn that was converted by actor and director Ernst Busch into a wonderful theatre of art.” — link in profile #cheapoldhousesabroad #cheapoldhousesgermany

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Castel Focognano, Italy — Oh by the way if you need me, I’ll be camping out in my 13th century Tuscan castle. Listed by Property Hunt Italia for €300,000 (roughly $352,564 USD) "In one of the wonderful valleys in the province of Arezzo in Tuscany, known as Casentino, we find this fantastic section of a castle, called Castello di Salutio, built around 1200's and with a great historical significance. It is located in Castel Focognano, in a strategic position which allows to reach other places of interest easily. The unit on sale measures 300 sqm to be renovated and distributed over 3 levels. The house is totally independent and attached only on one side to other buildings of the castle. Entering from its private entrance, on the ground floor we find a very spacious kitchen with a majestic stone fireplace, three rooms and a cantina space. From this level it is possible to access the outside. In fact, the property includes a private garden of 800 sqm. Taking the wonderful original pietra serena stone staircase, we reach the first floor composed of a large kitchen with a unique and original fireplace, a spacious and bright living room with a view and another open fireplace , two smaller rooms. Going up to the second floor, we find four bedrooms which overlook the garden. This is a property with a great charm and potential, thanks to its original historical features, such as the panelled ceilings, the Tuscan cotto floors, the majestic fireplaces and wonderful stone stairs and portals. The property also includes an annex which is ideal to become a small outbuilding or guest room. It's a unique property with a great charm to be rediscovered!" link at

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Athens, GA — Free if you can move it! The wonderful @savingoldhouses is leading a campaign to save this one. Quoting him below: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ “I LOVE THIS HOUSE!!! AND… IT’S FREE!!! The hitch? You gotta move it! This circa 1923 Craftsman bungalow is loaded with charm. It is almost completely original and features 12-over-12 windows, 1/4 panel shutters with half moon cut-outs, oak floors, gracious spaces, four fireplaces… The list goes on! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, and 1,806 SF of opportunity to have an old house full of character on a site of your choosing! Offered by Saving Old Houses for FREE! An open house will be planned within the next week, so email me at for more information and be sure to include in the subject line “I WANT TO SAVE THE ATHENS BUNGALOW!” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So, here’s what you need to know: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The relocation process must begin on June, 1st 2021 ( that means that you have time to plan!) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The house will move in several sections and the roof must be removed and reconstructed on site ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Please have a location within 50 miles of Athens, GA ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Ensure that your site is accessible and that streets are wide enough to accommodate the move ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Please be willing to respectfully rehabilitate this awesome bungalow so that we can follow your old house journey and celebrate its new chapter!”

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Don’t worry. Every time I get the urge, I promise to rewatch this:

Author: Donna from MyOBT

I have committed to spending part of every day looking for at least one beautiful thing, and sharing what I find with you lovelies!

21 thoughts on “This (Really) Old House

  1. Well this is an account I am definitely going to follow in Instagram. There are some absolutely wonderful properties featured here, so characterful and with what look to be pretty good bones. I would personally shy away from anything involving a major engineering project but I would contemplate buying a few of these houses. In my imagination, of course, because I still have not managed to mug a leprechaun.

    We actually bought a doer-upper here. Our home had not been updated since it was built in 1968 with the exception of a kitchen that was installed in about 1990. We have been slowly updating it as funds allow while maintaining some of those original features. What the pandemic has taught us, with six people being home, is that the next big investment is going to have to be overhauling the electrics.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your home sounds wonderful! I can see why prioritizing the electrical system would be a necessity. For years, we lived in places where if you plugged in the toaster while someone was drying their hair, you blew a breaker, and that was only with two of us. After the hurricane, we had to replace all our wiring, so we don’t have those problems anymore. I do still love an old house, though!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m in. Of course I can dream of being able to put the house in Italy back into living but how and why did someone let it get to this station in life. So sad and think of the stories if these walls could talk.
    We did move the house I call home about 22 years ago.It was in the ‘town’ of Madden and we moved it to the edge of my parents farm…about 2 miles or so and had to put it back together. Never completely finished doing what we wanted to do but it has served its purpose.
    Now my sister is trying to redo my parents old house and having to decide just how much she is willing to spend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can sympathize. It’s a hard balance to strike, deciding how much money is enough when fixing up a house. We struggled with justifying the cost of our current renovation project against our house value. It came down to quality of life for us. We use our outdoor space all the time. We need it to serve all of our purposes-for kayaking, for entertaining, for fishing, and just for enjoying the remarkable place where we get to live. Now that I’m getting ready to retire, those things are more important than ever, because I’ll have the time to enjoy them.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. My house in Memphis was one of these. I was able to do a lot of updating but it still needed more work. I totally enjoyed living there for 28 years. Now that I am 80, I only dream of being young enough to buy one of these and go to work on it. Yes, having the money to do the upgrades is a must-have. I have loved old houses my entire life. St. Louis has a lot of them today. Hal

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s always been my dream, too! We did get to help fix up a house we lived in with a friend years ago. It felt so good when people paid it compliments to know that’s we did it ourselves! I was in my late Thur IO then, and I remember how achy I was every day, I couldn’t pull it off now, I don’t think.


  4. Hardwood floors, pocket doors, gorgeous light fixtures…what am I thinking?! I have neither the money nor the talent, but boy, did my imagination run wild here! I wonder why that house in Athens has to be moved. You hit an absolute winner with this post, Donna!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. LMAO! I love old, ramshackle houses too. Sadly none are that cheap here. Btw, I remember watching the Money Pit years ago. Loved it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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