For what seems like the longest time now (well, probably since I got back from my first visit and started having the urge to live in my boyfriend’s country…) one of my cures for boredom has been to hunt for houses in Sweden, just to occupy the time. I began on svenskfast.se before discovering hemnet.se which seemed to list all the houses from multiple real estate companies. I would put in my search terms: Villa, min 5 rooms, max 2,000,000 kronor, location Östergötland. I wasn’t finding much. But when I took away the location, and searched the whole of Sweden… houses galore! Well, I suppose that’s understandable, but now I was getting a whole page of new listings every day. So, those listings could be a bit further out of the way to where we may or may not end up wanting to live close to Johan’s family – and currently with Johan in the north, our future residence could really be anywhere and depends on where there’s work! But even if I don’t know the location of where to search – even though I could be looking at a house in the very south of Sweden one minute and the very north the next (and honestly, I don’t pay too much attention to the location maps!) it is enjoyable and feels meaningful.
If you have never tried this with your partner, I suggest you put it on your to do list. It can be so much fun, and so informative. In the beginning we would look at houses together, and still do sometimes, although nowadays our days get busier and I just tend to link the best ones worth looking at. The point is, we would look at the house together and all of the photos (I came to recognise the ALLA BILDER button on every external site and now I’m learning to read all the captions!) and discuss everything we did and didn’t like about the house and the style and design choices people had used in their homes. It is a great way to connect with your partner and learn how your tastes are both similar and different, and helps you to think about the type of house you may want to share with them in the future, however far off that might be.
For instance, I love wooden kitchens. Johan likes them too, but he doesn’t like whole houses filled with too much wooden decor. He’d also like a kitchen with all the big appliances fully built in, where as I don’t mind so much because I’m used to microwaves and fridges having large gaps around them – which was one thing that did surprise me a little, it’s like they have no room to breathe at the sides in a lot of Swedish homes! Which is another thing – a lot of the time renting, and even buying in Sweden – your main appliances are included – including the fridge, drier and washing machine! He’d like a sauna; I’d like a nice big patio to have an evening’s hot chocolate on. The list continues, but for the most part, we have similar tastes in home designs, it’s the furnishings that will likely cause us some trouble when we can’t decide on things and will need to make compromises! I’m sure that when the time comes, it’ll be an absolute nightmare, but I think we’re pretty well prepared to tackle that, partly because we already know each others likes and dislikes and have talked through them.
As for the Swedish housing market and my 2,000,000 kronor limit, with plenty being under that (as of now, that’s approximately $294,000 AUD, although it was $305,000 when I first started looking, and $335,000 when the Aussie dollar was really low a year and a half ago! *fingers crossed the Swedish SEK stays low for a few more months*), what have I found we can get for that much? Some very beautiful homes! You have to remember that Sweden is a very old country (think Viking ages!) and so admittedly there are a lot of older homes (and even the odd school!) on the market, many in the 1950-1970s. I’ve even seen some from the 1910s – homes with a hundred year old history! But once you put that aside (this coming from an Australian where in Australia we have new housing estates are popping up everywhere, and everyone in my immediate family seems to be living in a house that’s under 10 years old, or building brand new ones … our house is just over that at 15 years old and even our previous house is only as old as me), you realise that most of what looks a little old and aged on the outside, is not a horrible retro 70s style on the inside (though I’ve seen a few of those, too!) So, so many of these houses have had renovations to make them look brand new on the inside, and I’ve been caught out more than once by surprise – it’s truly a don’t judge a book by it’s cover example. A lot will also have antique old stoves and fireplaces that have remained in the redesign of a new kitchen or living room, giving off a continued remembrance to historic days. What’s even more fun is watching the house photos change throughout the year with spring, summer, autumn, and winter photos – “well, I know that this house has got a lot of snow – that’s a good sign!”
For two years now I’ve been dreaming of a stereotypical, red wooden house somewhere in Sweden which we will call our own. I mean, we’ve even gone as far as imagining ourselves in daggy yard clothes, repainting the house red. Imagined ourselves fighting over the colours to paint our walls indoors – Big White, Snowy White or Crisp White. Imagined ourselves trying to straighten up picture frames. Imagined ourselves eating pizza on the first night in our own home surrounded by boxes and sleeping on the couch. And it’s a beautiful thing to imagine, to dream and to know that it’s all worth waiting for. ❤