“We are a family with children, working full-time, who have chosen the countryside over the city. It has very little in common with an article in House and Home; it is more muddy boots and constant surprises,” says Annika Billqvist Leander, tender coordinator and project administrator at ÅF.
Up until September 2018, Annika and her family lived in a 1960s villa in Staffanstorp, a pleasant suburb of Malmö, Sweden.
“We lived in a 250 m2 square home that we spent six years completely renovating. It was white and pristine, only 45 minutes from ÅF’s Malmö offices by public transport, but we never really felt at home there. We spent all of our leisure time ‘somewhere else’ – often hiking and camping in Söderåsen National Park, our favourite place. For work, we commuted in the opposite direction, to Malmö. The house was just a place to live, because you have to live somewhere,” explains Annika.
Out of nowhere, the family decided to “turn everything on its head” and live where and how they really wanted. Seeking to avoid the commute to work and travelling time to leisure activities, they began looking at houses in the Söderåsen area of central Skåne. They were soon smitten.
“We fell for Röstånga in Svalöv Municipality; a small village with 900 inhabitants but with a real sense of community. One day, the estate agent was late for a viewing of a 1970s villa so we took a detour to check out a for-sale sign on a property we hadn’t seen online. We suddenly found ourselves standing on a gravel road leading to a Falu-red cottage surrounded by woodland and pasture. The whole family simultaneously felt the same: ‘this is it!’,” says Annika.
Since last September, the family has been living in the 100 m2 Falu-red cottage, which dates from 1880 and has its own well and sewer unconnected to the municipal water network. Their closest neighbours are the deer and wild boar in the surrounding fields and forests.
“These days, I commute to ÅF’s Malmö office by public transport for most of the week. I sometimes work from my own ÅF office at home, where I can gaze out over the green fields under a clear blue sky during my Skype meetings. The broadband network will never reach out here but 4G works just fine. Here, I spend my breaks chopping wood instead of drinking coffee. Our wood-burning stoves provide plenty of heat in the winter,” says Annika.
So, what will she be doing for her summer holidays this year?
“Röstånga is surrounded by ridges and beech forests and we have the privilege of living somewhere that most people would choose to holiday in for ‘some peace and quiet’. We no longer need to visit the countryside, we live in it! These days, we prefer a staycation to travelling – who would want to leave all of this beauty? We have the forest on our doorstep and Söderåsen National Park only a stroll away. We buy our food from local farmers – sourcing local produce is easy where we live,” says Annika.
The family has a number of projects planned.
“An eight-week-old Rhodesian ridgeback puppy named Freja recently joined the family. The bee hives are almost ready for occupation, but the hen house will have to wait until the puppy is older. Holidays in Röstånga will be much less hanging around by the pool sipping cocktails and much more hiking, dog walking and crofting”.
What are Annika’s tips for anyone thinking of a similar move?
“You need to learn to own only what you actually use. We moved from a 250 m2 house into only 100 m2, so we had to sell or give away everything we weren’t absolutely certain that we needed. You learn to conserve your resources as you often have your own well and wastewater. That said, you have local produce at reasonable prices and you can holiday on the doorstep! By adopting this lifestyle you contribute to a thriving countryside; after all, not everyone can live in the city.”
Annika Billqvist Leander works as a tender coordinator and project administrator
- “I coordinate tenders and provide project support at ÅF, with my main responsibilities being regional and national tender coordination and providing text and layout for both tenders and presentation material and for internal ÅF publications.”