top of page

How did we end up moving 186 miles south of the Arctic circle ?

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

A very popular question !

So, this is where we lived before. A 3 bedroom cottage that dated back to the mid sixteenth century and was full of rustic cottage charm... exposed beams, inglenook fireplaces and beautiful, thick stone walls all made for a very cosy, charming and restful home.

We loved this house so much, our girls were both born here and we lived happily, our beautiful family were all nearby, we were surrounded by lovely neighbours, near an excellent school and life was good. There is no dramatic tale full of woe... no life filled with drama, stress or struggle, no story I can tell you that led to a hasty departure... so why did we choose to up and go ?

Literally a life changing holiday.

Jonathan and I first talked about moving away shortly after we returned from a family trip to Finnish Lapland in December 2019.

We had taken the girls to meet Father Christmas and to celebrate my 40th birthday. I have dreamt since being a little girl of going to the North Pole to find Father Christmas, and finally that dream was coming true... lets face it, we are never too old for such magic!!. We had the most AMAZING time, the trip exceeded any expectations and to escape from all the talk of Brexit was just wonderful. We spent 4 heart warming nights in a fairy tale bubble where nothing mattered but having fun, enjoying our time together and taking time to stop and appreciate the utterly stunning surroundings and to reconnect with each other, with nature and with pure, joyful happiness.

Little did we know it but that holiday was to be the catalyst of the biggest change we could imagine for all of us. Leaving Lapland was awful. We all felt a huge sadness and didnt want to get on the plane, quite truthfully we could have stayed there forever. That's how we all felt. We returned home, touching down at Manchester airport at around 5pm. The weather reflected our moods, dark, heavy, oppressive and downright miserable ! Sure, we have all had holiday blues before right?

And honestly we thought the feeling would pass and we would slip back into life as it was before and we had Christmas to look forward to.

I had two seperate businesses in the Uk and I loved them both. My primary work was as a therapist offering holistic and beauty treatments from a room in my home and the other was a craft business selling handmade home decor, illustrations and greetings cards. My husband works in mobile telecoms and commuted everyday to offices in Leeds and later Wakefield, not too far from our house.

We settled back into work and preparing for the festivities but we just couldn't shake the feeling that we wanted to be back in Finland... having always had a love of scandinavian culture it became very clear that we were all suddenly craving more from life... and the constant barrage of consistently bad news on the TV only exacerbated the feeling !

And so we began to think seriously about if this was a feasible idea or just a dream , but hey, if We could meet Father Christmas and his elves then surely anything is possible !

So having decided that life in England was for us no more and we had a spark in our heart called Sweden... but did you know we had never even been to Sweden before arriving here on December 10th 2020 with all our (well, what we could fit in a transit van) worldly possessions ? Are we mad ?...probably, but we all know what Alice in wonderland had to say about that.

The very hardest thing about deciding to move away is leaving your loved ones behind, whether you are moving to another town or another country, goodbyes are always quite simply the worst and so, after delivering the news to those we hold dearest - which in itself was extremely tough - we agreed on "see you later" instead, which felt much less final.

Full steam ahead then... We finished smartening up the house and put it on the market ! Stamp duty had been paused and the market was abundant - our house was sold STC in the week !! Great stuff , we can be in Sweden for the autumn, absolutely fantastic ! But we were forgetting about the small matter of a global pandemic, and with solicitors having to split time in the office and work from home, land registry not working at full capacity and banks and mortgage lenders taking forever and a day, it took a little over 17 weeks to complete !

We thought it would be plain sailing, it was a small chain... we had no chain here in Sweden and our buyer was in a position to proceed quickly, but delays came from further along and with the Brexit transition period end creeping ever nearer to say the pressure was on is rather a huge understatement !

You see, we had to be in Sweden residing in our home before midnight struck on December 31st 2020 or not only would we turn into pumpkins but we would have to halt all proceedings while we applied for visas... which could take over a year resulting in losing our buyer and our house in Sweden. We landed exactly 3 weeks before the deadline !!!

I guess you might be wondering what the process was behind buying our new home in Sweden... boy, compared to selling our house in the UK it was sooooooo easy !!

Basically, having spoken to someone who had already made the move with her family 18 months or so previous to us, we narrowed down the search for a house to Skelleftea and knew that we didn't want to be more than an hour away from a large town or city, with smaller amenities nearer by. We knew we wanted a 4 bedroom house and lots of outside space with out-buildings or a barn. And a bit of woodland wouldn't go a miss either but we realised we may be starting to push our luck now ! And so the search began is a great place to start if you want to look at Swedish houses on the market and that is indeed where we found our place ! I am going to tell you the whole story of our house purchase next time because we certainly believe that the house came to us, not the other way around ! Having found what could be the perfect place we prepared to visit at Easter 2020 but sadly covid 19 put a stop to that so all viewing was done online by a very obliging estate agent and through personal messages with the current owner. Happy with what we saw, we settled on a price, had it accepted, waited for the paperwork to arrive in the post, signed it, sent it back, paid a deposit and voila !! done !

All of that took place in May 2020 and we were so lucky that the owner was prepared to wait until we arrived for the final payment and closure of sale... which took about 20 minutes once we finally flew in the December ! Stress free, uncomplicated and very fortuitous that we had a lovely lady selling to us...

Finding a new home in a place you have never even visited was never going to be easy right? I mean, where do you start... how do you possibly know which is a good area, what the schooling is like, and not forgetting that we would be buying a timber house, something we have no knowledge about !!

When you have no guidelines and you are making a big move like this we figured we were going to aim high and see where we landed. After all if you are going to flip your world upside down you had better make sure its for something pretty amazing so we dared to dream big... and I am so glad that we did !

My research into various parts of Sweden began with a lady called Cassandra. I found her on Facebook in a Lapland holiday group, of which she was an admin. Cassandra is really knowledgeable on the North of Sweden, as well as other Scandi/Lapland destinations... and so I began to pick her brain. It was great talking to someone who had already made the move themselves, as she had with her husband and family about a year prior to me contacting her, she lives in a village not far from where we are now actually and I still badger her with questions even now !

Talking a lot with Cassandra really helped us to narrow down an area and it was Skelleftea that we settled upon. An up and coming place with a lot of regeneration going on, new major green industry developing further in the city and a safe haven compared to that of where we were. It was also a city actively encouraging diversity, welcoming residents from all over the world... building record breaking wooden eco buildings and celebrating all walks of life and it seemed like a shiny, exciting and all encompassing place to be !

Now we knew where we wanted to be we had to decide what we wanted from our new home, so we began our wish list and it read something like this...

*4 Bedrooms (so we have a guest room) *Woodland (an acre or so)* Large garden for the girls to play in *Out buildings suitable for a workshop and chicken hut * Garage *No huge renovations *rural village location

After speaking with Cassandra she told us that this was totally achievable and attainable... it was just a case of finding a house that had the living standards we required and didn't need huge renovations. Often times you can find a real bargain but it doesn't have any broadband and you have to pay for the cables laying, or maybe there is no running water, a friend of ours Elle looked at one house that had no bathroom !!!

It's at this point that I will introduce Elle , she lived in the UK too but was also moving to Skelleftea and was further along in the process then we were. We were introduced by Cassandra and we spoke and messaged often, it was great to have another person who totally understood our reasoning behind wanting to move from the UK and knew the ins and outs of it all, and it was in the summer the year before we left that Elle and her family moved and started their new amazing life in a very sunny, glorious Northern Sweden.

Excited to see how wonderful life was for my new friends and very eager to get a bit of that for ourselves the search began ! I was searching obsessively on and for houses ... and every now and again Cassandra or Elle would forward a link but nothing was quite right until one day when my phone pinged with a message from Elle ...

Elle wrote " I saw this and thought of you - I thought you could do this up to be lovely and a lot of big stuff has been done so it's just decorative. Amazing price xxx"

And so I clicked the link and showed it to Jonathan and we fell in love with it , our only concern was the 45 minute journey to the city but everything else was beyond what we hoped for, a four bedroom house with underfloor heating, modern bathroom and lovely big kitchen, a very spacious living room and loads of room for all of us to enjoy, 2.11 acres of land and woodland, a huge barn that had a chicken house and fire and chimney inside perfect for a blacksmithing workshop, a garage, and a totally unexpected added bonus of a small cottage sitting in the grounds - the old baking cottage !!

We literally could not believe our eyes and so I got back onto facebook and started doing a bit more research. One thing I did was to write in the expat page for Skelleftea a simple question, " Hej, Please forgive my ignorance, we have seen a house for sale in Vebomark that we are very interested in... is it acceptable to put an offer in before bidding or is it considered bad etiquette? Thankyou." ... the resounding answer was "GO FOR IT"! So we decided that the next day I would email the estate agent to start a conversation.

However, later that same evening I got a message from an unknown person through my facebook account. I opened it up to see it was a lady, Sussanne, that I did not know and she wrote that she is selling a house in Vebomark, she also sent the link to the property, it was the very same house ! And so our fate was sealed ! I spoke to the owner of the house every day and to the estate agent who sent us so many videos and photographs of the property and eventually (after a failed attempt to get there to look around in person, thanks covid) we agreed on a price and paid the deposit.

This all happened in May 2020 and I explained that we would not be in a position to move until around October/November time, turns out this was perfect as the house had tenants in it until November 2nd. Therefore the owner was happy to wait for us and complete in the winter when we arrived... don't you just love it when a plan comes together ?

And another funny thing, turns out I had been avidly following our amazing neighbour Sofia on instagram who along with her beautiful family made us feel so welcome and introduced us to so many people in the village. They really helped to make our move so much easier by simply being the kind, lovely people that the Swedes are !

And so to close todays blog post I would like to thank Cassandra, Elle, Sussanne and Sofia who we owe a lot to in one way or another for helping us to find our wonderful new home... and the power of FB too I guess !!

Thanks for reading lovelies !!

53 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page