After a long search I finally found myself a place in the Swedish countryside. In this post I’ll tell you a bit about the process of finding it and why I choose to live a simpler kind of lifestyle.
If you have been following this blog for some time or read my newsletter (sign up below if you’re curious), you probably know by now that I have a dream of wanting to build up a small Permaculture farm to live a bit more self-sufficient and offer courses and workshop on such topics. I used to have a mini-version of it when I lived in Portugal, but that was a rented house and other limitations restricted what I could do there. Life went on and I ended up living in Germany for some years before I decided early this year that it was time to move back to Sweden. I was longing for my home country and felt it was time to return, even if I didn’t know exactly to what or where.
I converted a van and lived part-time on the road during summer. That was a really great experience and I will write more articles about the van build and some of the places I visited at a later time. The idea with that kind of life was to be able to go around and check out different regions of the Swedish countryside and be able to attend house-viewings when new available properties came out on the market. So that’s what I did as well as enjoying my digital nomad life working from my van by lakes, in forests and seeing various cool places that are just waiting to be experienced. But let’s get back to the story about the house search and how I ended up in this place.
The shed which will later be converted to an office / studio.
A long process
Searching for a property to buy was a long process due to various reasons. First of all I had very clear wishes and criteria regarding what I wanted. I’m a person with a no-debt philosophy. My goal is to be fully debt free before retirement (if there will be such a thing as retirement I leave out for now). It’s difficult to buy a property without putting yourself into debt, so my compromise was a goal of finding something that I could pay off within maximum 15 years. That, of course, limits the budget. Another reason for that restriction was that I couldn’t get a mortgage just yet with the new banking rules in Sweden. You have to be a resident with a steady income for at least a year before you can apply for one. It didn’t matter that I could prove that I have had a steady income for several years in Germany and that I keep on working for the same clients. That is why I decided to solve it all with a loan from my father (thank you so much for making that possible!) but then of course, I had to limit myself to a rather small budget compared to what most people borrow to buy a house. Challenging, but not impossible in this country if you’re willing to compromise on other things.
Secondly, for me, a place needs to feel right. I viewed a lot of different properties that looked great in the ads and had what I looked for. But once crossing the doorstep I just knew that they would never feel like home. Several of them were enough to drive by outside to know that they weren’t even worth looking closer at. I trust my gut feeling on that.
The library part of the living room.
My list of criteria for the property
I made a list of criteria for what I wanted in a property, partially to restrict my search, but also to make sure I would only buy a place that fits with my values and personality as well as being aligned with my future plans. This is what my list looked like:
- A maximum price tag of 300 000 Swedish kronor (that’s roughly 30 000 EUR/USD give or take). I would have considered paying a bit more if finding just the right place, but I didn’t want to put myself into more debt.
- A plot of land of minimum 5 000 square meters, preferably over 1 hectare (10 000 square meters) to be able to develop the Permaculture project I dream of.
- Some kind of house/cabin or permission to build one.
- Cellphone reception good enough to be able to use 4G Internet or other Internet connection to be able to work.
- A well or other water source, but not necessarily plumbing connected to the house.
- Preferably an electrical connection, but I could manage off-grid to start with.
- Maximum 30 minutes drive to a village or town to do grocery shopping.
- Preferably located in the southern half of Sweden.
My view from the roof. The barn belongs to my neighbor.
How did I end up here?
I looked at hundreds of ads online, posted my own search ads on a few sites, asked around among family and friends, spent a part of summer traveling around in my van checking various locations and I was starting to think that maybe I’m just too picky. Maybe I should just compromise and settle for less. Or maybe I should just rent something and continue the search next year… Until I finally gave a chance to a property that had been lying on my saved list on a big property site for some months. It was a bit further up north than I had considered to move. But then I started weighing the pro’s and con’s. The distance seemed far at first, but then I compared the traveling times between this location and some other I had been looking at in terms of going to an airport (yes, I still fly when traveling to gigs with the bands I play in) and saw that it was more or less the same. I zoomed in on the satellite images on Google Maps and saw that the shape and location of the land seemed good from a Permaculture perspective. I checked out the growing zone and saw that it was the same as some locations I had considered further down south thanks to it being rather close to the coast + here you get more daylight in summer. There was too much saying that it was worth at least checking it out. I’m so very happy that I did.
Actually, the only box that my current property didn’t check on the list was the location. It has everything else that I asked for, so I decided it was worth the compromise considering that the location is perfect in terms of distance to services and it happens to be a very beautiful region with lots of potential. Check out www.hogakusten.com and you’ll see what I mean. I’m now only 10 minutes away from the nearest village where I can do grocery shopping and fill up gas and only 20 minutes away from a small city with all services I could ever need.
The kitchen is far too white for my taste, but I’ll update that later.
With the price tag of this place (I actually only paid 180 000 SEK = less than 20 000 EUR/USD and I’m not saying that to brag, just to give you an idea what’s possible on the Swedish countryside) and the bonuses it has in terms of a small stream at the bottom of the land, optimal solar alignment for growing vegetables and that the cabin was possible to move into straight away, I couldn’t say no. It was one of those places that gave a homelike feeling right away and after the viewing I sat outside on the stone wall below the house and just didn’t want to leave. I actually presented my bid to the realtor right before she left, then she called back 40 minutes later when I was driving back to Stockholm and said that the owner had accepted my offer. I was just thrilled and couldn’t believe that it had happened so quickly!
Since it has been standing mostly empty for the last 20 years and only been used as a summer house on rare occasions there are of course a bunch of things that need to be fixed and I’m sure I will find a few ”surprises” here and there, but I’m prepared to take care of those and restore and update the house bit by bit over the years.
The neighbor’s horses help keeping my land open for now.
Choosing a primitive life
So this place has electricity, but no running water. It has an old well but I have to hoist up the water in buckets and since it hasn’t been used for a long time I’m currently getting my drinking water from the neighbor until I have time to flush it out properly. There is no bathroom but I built myself a composting toilet. I shower at the local gym and wash my clothes by hand or at the neighbor’s house for now. It may sound crazy to a lot of people to willingly choose to live like this, but just like I chose to live in a van over summer I don’t find this to be a big sacrifice. Actually, I feel more alive when I have to work a bit to get the things I need and I believe a lot of people would value what they have and what they use if they did the same. You will be careful with the resources you spend if you need to struggle a bit to get them. In the long run I will update these things, but I will do it in a way that still leaves me mostly independent from larger systems. They should work on-site and with renewable resources.
The main point for me is that I want to know that I can manage on my own. I’ve always admired people living a self-sufficient life and been interested in learning such skills. That’s why I started growing vegetables and got in contact with Permaculture to begin with. Right now I don’t have working fireplaces, well, not officially approved at least. They would be possible to use in case the power goes down and my heat pump stops, but they need to be updated and the chimney needs to be fixed to live up to current Swedish standards. That’s something I’ll take care of soon. But let’s take this to a little bit more philosophical level rather than talking about my particular situation.
Guest room upstairs – also far too white and will be re-painted.
If you’ve been keeping your eyes open in the news lately you should be aware that climate change is coming our way, that biological diversity and soil available for growing food are on a decline and that we can expect the effects of these things happening to impact our lives more and more over the coming years. Before, it was something that mainly hit places on the other side of the globe, but now it’s beginning to affect the western world as well. Wildfires, drying wells, animals not having enough feed for winter… These things are happening for real while you’re busy with your Netflix escapism…
There are ways to fix a lot of the negative impact that humanity has had (and keeps on having) on the environment, for instance with the help of Permaculture / regenerative design in agriculture. But to be honest, I don’t believe that the will or the awareness of the general public will come fast enough. We’re too comfortable in our current lives to want to trade them for something else. Especially for something less comfortable unless it’s absolutely necessary. But personally, I cannot justify pretending like nothing anymore. It just doesn’t feel right and I want to make sure to build a positive example of what can be done at the same time as I am protecting myself. To show that it’s possible to grow your own food in a way that has a positive impact on the environment rather than the opposite. To show that it can actually feel meaningful to live a bit simpler. The long-term goal is to have to work less for others and have more time for my own projects and interests. That should be a motivator that could appeal to others as well. Regardless of their social status, what most people I meet mention, is that they wish they had more time to spend on their hobbies or being with family and friends.
The lower part of the land where there is a stream.
Misanthrope, world savior, or both?
In a way, I’m standing with one foot on the misanthropic ”prepper” side and one foot on the ”world savior” Permaculturist/idealist side. One part of me wants to dig a moat around my land and have radioactive tapirs with laser eyes swimming around in it to protect me (sorry, internal joke that just had to be included). The other wants to build a welcoming place and invite people to learn how to grow their own food or how to do historical crafts. To create a space where it’s possible to also talk about how we feel about what’s going on in the world. I guess the final result will be somewhere in between (well, maybe no radioactive tapirs unfortunately…).
This contradiction is something that I’ve been struggling with for some time but finally I’ve decided to not filter it anymore. That’s just not me. I do play in black metal bands for a reason. I’m not a 100% peace love and hugs hippie… even if I’m mostly quite nice. My world view comes from a darker place and I’ve felt like a lot of what I’ve presented here in the blog and on social media has been a censored version of myself, not expressing the full anger that I feel over a lot of things. So expect that it might change on this platform and on my other channels as well. I will most probably become more political here in the blog. That might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but it feels less and less important to write to please others. There are a billion super-positive self-sufficiency blogs out there and those people play that game a hundred times better than I ever could. I can only do me. The weirdo black metal musician who chooses to live alone in a cabin in the woods to be able to dig deeper philosophically and channel that through her music and crafts. And at the same time choosing to live in a way that has less of an impact on the environment, figuring out methods to repair and regenerate my plot of land and leading a fulfilling life.
The old fireplace. Chimney needs to be fixed before I can use it.
I’m thinking that there’s a need for this kind of place and perspective as well. Not everyone feel at home in the fluffy pink environment that many other blogs on these topics represent. The misfits who are allergic to the perfect American housewife aesthetic or worldview. So to those of you (however few or many you may be) who feel that this resonates a bit more with how you are: Welcome! I hope you might feel a bit more at home in a place where it’s also allowed to express the despair and anger against what you see happening around you. Those of you who want to kick people in the head for not caring at the same time as having days where you feel like it doesn’t matter anyway, and in the next want to fix it all. All of that can fit in one single person and it’s better to allow it rather than try to fight it.
There are a billion more things I could say about these topics, but I’ll leave it at this for now and let the upcoming posts speak for what I mean. This is also a small call-out or invitation for other people thinking this way to share your thoughts and feelings on this platform. If you would like to be interviewed or write a guest article, feel free to contact me. My door is also open if you need a time-out from the ordinary world and just try out another kind of life for a few days. Just get in touch.
For now, welcome to the necro cabin ? and hope you’ll follow along on this ride.