Hej dear friends!
A lot of you have asked us why in the world we would want to move to the north of Sweden and not somewhere ‘easier’ like France, Spain, or Germany. This is a very good question and Sweden wasn’t actually our first choice. We looked at many, many countries where we might possibly want to move to, but there were certain criteria that we went by such as: climate, topography, remoteness, real estate prices and politics.
For us the climate had to have destinct winters and summers and so we can forget about most of western Europe. A sure metre of snow every winter was the minimum for us really. We loved the romantic idea of being cut-off from civilization during the winter months and in the summer work hard on getting everything ready for that solitude. And when we are working hard in the summer, we’d prefer it if temperatures aren’t between 30 and 40 degrees for months on end. Trust us, nothing would get done. So say goodbye to southern Europe and many other parts of the world for that matter. We’re also in love with mountains, partly because Caroline grew up hiking the Scottish Monroes and Vince has seen enough of flat lands growing up in Holland.
When we started looking for places to live based on the above we were left with 4 areas in the world that we found interesting: Alaska and Scandinavia in the northern hemisphere (we even had a glance at Siberia) and New Zealand and Patagonia in the southern hemisphere. Most of these would take us so far away from friends and family, we were quite sure we’d never see them again and that wasn’t the point of our ‘escape’ to the wild, so we landed on Scandinavia. We were looking for mountains which left us with Norway and Sweden and since Swedish real estate was so ridiculously cheap (see our blog titled ‘The House’), this was the country we started to focus on.
Funnily enough, at the time this all happened Vince was working in a Swedish sports bar in Luxembourg called Crossfire which had nothing to do with our decision. Yet we made some friends there that helped a lot in giving us a good idea (and some incorrect) of what life could be like up north. The more we heard the more we wanted to see it for ourselves and finally in 2018 took a trip around the country by car only to find out what we already knew, we were going to live in the Swedish mountains and that was that!
We were never worried about growing food up north. Sure, we knew that not everything could grow here, so you need to adapt. Most people here have greenhouses and raised beds in their gardens, so if you’re thinking of some barren land where only pine trees grow, you’re mistaken. Everything that we’ve planted outdoors in the ground so far has had great success. Don’t forget, in midsummer it’s light all day AND all night! Your veggies will grow faster than you think. As long as you start right after the frost is over and choose hardy veg to grow you’re going to enjoy a great harvest come September. For example, the first thing we planted in May was potatoes. We watered the things twice in the beginning, left them to their own devices and then harvested about 10 times what we planted in September! Other things that worked great outside were carrots, beets and radishes. Like we said before, last year was just a trial year. This year things are getting serious, the growing area in the garden is going to get a huge extension so we’ll have a lot more feedback on how things grow outdoors and in the greenhouse and under what conditions. The more exotic things you need to start indoors a couple of months in advance and place them in your greenhouse when you’re sure they can handle colder dips in the weather. This is all part of the experience and we wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.
Winters aren’t as brutal as people think either. Sure you don’t get to see the sun for a couple of month (December and January), but even on the shortest days of the year around the winter solstice it’s light for at least 4 hours a day. Everyone puts their Xmas lights and decorations on throughout the day, so the place looks magical. And once the ground is covered with snow (which then stays on the ground for about 5 months) even when it’s dark it never is really dark.
And with winter you get all the winter fun: skiing, snowboarding, sledging, snowmobiling, ice-fishing and a few other things that we never heard of before we got here like pulkas (a sled you put behind your snowmobile, skis or bicycle) and sparks (a kind of chair on long skis that you stand behind and kick-off to get moving, or just walk behind, used by young and old. The literal translation for ‘spark’ is kick).
Then there is the remoteness that we’ve been looking for for so long. After having lived in cities for years and years on end and having experienced real silence and remoteness while hiking, we knew which one we preferred. And that you can find out here within just half an hour drive. The beauty of nature here is absolutely breathtaking and never gets boring. The wildness gives it that extra excitement and you need to know what you’re doing if you decide to go on a hike or a boat ride, cause you’ll be lost before you can say ‘where am I’. That’s the adventure we were looking for and it’s all here.
We’ll skip the politics of why we’re here, but some rules and regulations certainly played a part in choosing where we’d live. This would be normal for anyone that moves to another country of course and so it was for us.
Hopefully this has cleared up some questions as to why we moved to where we are. Every decision we’ve made, from the moment we bought a caravan, to selling the apartment, to moving to Sweden has been the best for us. Without getting too spiritual here, something was guiding us and rewarding us with every move we made. We truly believe that, because everything that was thrown at us that could have made us say, ‘forget it, we’re going back to the old life’, we pushed through it and every time that happened things just got easier and easier. There are too many ‘coincidences’ to say that we got lucky. You have to create your own luck.
You’ll be hearing more from us soon!
Love from us all,
Caroline, Vincent, Amber and Fraggle