So I decided to move to Åre…
Trying to make the best out of some very complicated times
The COVID-19 pandemic completely changed the way we work and live during the year 2020. In an effort to flatten the curve of infection, many governments around the globe recommended offices to ask their employees to work from home if possible to avoid people getting contaminated by others during the daily commute, not letting the virus spread even more.
That has been my life since March 2020. I’ve been sitting on my improvised home office desk at home doing what I used to do at the office: programming. Our office meetings became online but the rest of our way of working didn’t change much since all we need in my team is a computer with access to the internet to perform our job, no matter if we are at the office or in another planet with internet connection.
And there I was, in my 25m² apartment in the heart of Södermalm, a very nice and lively area in southern Stockholm. Surrounded by pubs and close to my favourite night clubs, it is the best place to live if you want to enjoy the town (in my opinion). Well, it is the best unless everything is closed or access is restricted, as it is right now. So my favourite clubs are closed, the concert places that I love to go (because I’m a live music aficionado) canceled all their shows for the year, the pubs have opening time and capacity restrictions, and these things made me think about: is it worthy to pay this much to live in such a tiny apartment in the middle of the action when there’s no action going on?
I toyed with the idea about living in a cheaper apartment in other distant parts of the town to save some money but then I’m trading the good location for being far away from everything with a price drop that is not that big since Stockholm has some quite high rent values no matter where, specially when you have to do it on the second hand market (I could write a whole article about this “second hand/first hand” rental market, but not now).
Then, I started to wonder:
Do I even need to live in Stockholm if I don’t need to go to the office?
With that thought in mind, I decided to check for apartments elsewhere in Sweden. But, where? It wouldn’t make sense to go away from friends and colleagues to live in another random town just for the sake of saving money. It has to have a meaning. And that’s when Pablo, a former work colleague and now a good friend of mine, moved up north with his family. He work as a consultant and his wife works from home and both them and their kids love snow activities, so it made sense for them to sell everything they had in Stockholm and find a better living up north in a small village called Tegerfjäll, part of the Åre ski resort. And this got into my mind. I love snowboarding so much that I wish I could do it every single day during winter. Åre is considered the best ski resort in Sweden. And now I have a friend living up there. Why don’t I give it a try as well?
After talking to Pablo, he gave me some tips about websites and Facebook groups about living in Åre. I started checking prices for apartment rentals in the area and I ended up finding a nice building in Duved, a small village that is also part of the Åre ski resort. The apartments seemed quite nice, very spacious comparing to the one I had in Stockholm (going from 25m² studio apartment to a 39m² one feels like moving to a mansion after these four long years), only 3 blocks away from both the train station and from the nearest ski lift, and, most importantly: HALF the price of what I used to pay in Stockholm! So, I put my name on the queue for the apartments and waited (that’s how it works here in Sweden mostly: everything is based on queues) and basically forgot about it. Months later, I get a message on my inbox: I’m on the top of the list and I should confirm the interest in the apartment or else it would be sent to the next person in line!
I was thrilled! And worried at the same time. I mean, I wanted to be contacted but I wasn’t expecting it to happen to be honest and I had the place now, and I had to decide if I would take it or not. And, almost forgetting about it: I still needed to check with my manager if I could make this move. One thing is being “one hour away from the office” in case we need something urgent to do; another one is being “one night train away” since it takes around 10 to 12 hours by train from Duved to Stockholm. And with the predictions of the restrictions supposed to be lifted due to the virus going away during fall, it was a complicated situation. But, we all know how that situation with the virus went: the second wave came, the restrictions got even tighter, so, there was no plan in the near future to resume life as it was before. With all that, I got the green light to do it!
There was just one more person that I needed to convince for this to work: me!
I was born in a huge town, São Paulo, in Brazil. A place where 21 million people work and live every single day. OK, I lived my whole teenage years in the country side city of Limeira but, still, a country side city with a population of 250.000 inhabitants is not your average kind of “country side” city. But, my adult life in Brazil was spent back in São Paulo, where the job opportunities are, specially in my area of computer programming. With that said, I’m used to have a busy nightlife, being in the big city, being surrounded by people. Say what you want about New York but in São Paulo is the real city that never sleeps! You can go to a pub for an after work, then head to a live jazz club for some nice music, then take a cab and go for a pub crawl in the busy neighbourhoods, head to a night club for some good electronic music, then go to an after party club to party till the sun rises and eat some nice breakfast before going home… and all of this on a regular Tuesday! So, yeah, I like living in big cities. Or at least I used to like.
Nowadays, I feel like appreciating more a nice day of nature and sports than a night out partying like crazy. It is not about getting old, hell no! I still love a good night out with loud music. But, today, if I had to choose between spending the weekend out every night or snowboarding every day, I would go for the later. I fell in love with this sport since I first tried it in Italy in 2016 and this passion keep on going stronger and stronger. I spend most of my free time at home watching tutorials on the internet about tricks and riding techniques, or looking at ski resorts planning my next winter trip with friends. But, with this pandemic going on, how long will it be for all of us to be able to travel again to the mountains and enjoy it like we used to do? Being in Stockholm is nice. The nightlife is pretty good. The cultural opportunities in this town are amazing. But, when everything is closed and nothing is happening, it gives us time to think about “how we feel about ourselves”, about “what do we want from life”.
Anyway, to come from a 21 million people city to a city like Stockholm where the population is around 2.1 million people it already sounds like “leaving the big cities behind”. But, to go from here to a village up in the north where the last census in 2010 recorded a number of only 663 inhabitants is quite a change! And it took me a while to get the courage to do so. Would I leave the city life behind for real this time? Would I be ok not having all my group of friends nearby for a drink or two? Will I be fine with this new way of living up in the middle of nowhere?
But, when I stopped panicking and put my thoughts together I could realize that I’m not alone. In fact, we never are. I have a good friend living nearby and I have all my friends from Stockholm, from Brazil, from all over the world online anytime we have a time for a chat, as it already is right now. And, as a bonus, moving to a new place always gives the opportunity to meet new people, make new friends, discover new things. So, why not? And, I can use this time there to finally fulfil one of my dreams: to Snowboard every single day of the season! And let’s see if I can finally make this publication be what it was supposed to be: a snowboard riding diary.
Life is about taking risks. Controlled risks, but, still risks. I could be, right now, still in São Paulo, working my ass off for a job that I didn’t believe in, if I didn’t take the risk to be here. It is hard in the beginning, of course. But, in the end, everything will be alright. And, if it is not, we can always start it all over again somewhere else.
“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take” — Lewis Carroll
What about you? How did the pandemic changed your way of looking at your daily life? Any new changes coming up? Share your experiences on the comments below.
Cheers and have a good ride! And, most importantly: stay safe. ❤️
Also, if you’re in the area around Åre during this 2020/2021 season, drop a message and let’s ride together!