Move to Överkalix - Inspiration

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Emilie and Romain from France: "We longed for forest and clean air"

Romain Menez, 41 years old, and Emilie Berman, 32 years old, from France, have grown up and lived their lives in big cities. Now they have moved to Byträskvägen, south of Svartbyn in Överkalix.

 We longed for forest and clean air, says Emelie.


Romain is employed as activity manager at the hotel in Överkalix. Emelie, who before moving to Sweden worked in a health food store, is at home with their daughter Emma.

Their three cats are named Oslo, Rio and Tokyo. It is minus 28 degrees today, but they are not afraid of the cold and can go in and out as they like.


The idea of ​​moving here has emerged. Romain was already visiting Sweden in 2011 and 2015. He made Swedish friends and fell in love with the country.– I really liked Sweden and longed to return, he says.


In 2019, he and Emilie traveled together in Sweden for vacation.

– It was clean and I liked the mentality and the people, says Emilie.

They decided to start looking for a house. It soon became apparent that Norrbotten would be the best place to live, both because they wanted to be close to nature and because the house needed to be relatively cheap to afford it.

Emelie was pregnant, so Romain went ahead to look for a job and a place to live. In 2022 he arrived to Överkalix. Through other French people in the town, he got recommendation to look for a job at the hotel where there was a need for labour. The fact that he speaks French is an advantage, beacause many French-speaking tourists come and stay at the hotel.

Soon he had a job and he also found the spacious house on Byträskvägen in Överkalix which costed SEK 600 000. On the other side of the road there is a smaller house where the couple has a dream of eventually building up a tourism business.

We want to attract other French people who want to experience nature, clean air and the northern lights, says Romain.

There was some bureaucracy around the move, but they didn't think it was that hard.– Compared to France, it is nothing, but it has still taken time to get all the papers in order, says Romain.                       

In November 2022, they both moved into the house and in April 2023, their daughter Emma was born at Sunderby Hospital.

– Giving birth in Sweden was good, says Emma.They haven't started in SFI yet, but they are determined to learn Swedish in the future. Emilie is currently at home taking care of Emma and they hope that Emma will have a brother or a sister rather soon.

– I am 32 years old and have already managed to work and gain professional experience. I have ideas about what I would like to do in Sweden, but I am not there yet. Emilie and Romain feel well received in Överkalix and all their expectations have been fulfilled. When they are asked if there something has been negative, they think for a while.

– Everything has been positive about living here. The only thing that has felt a bit strange is that it gets so dark so early, says Emilie. The first time, when she was expecting a child and was home alone during the days while Romain worked, was tough, she admits, but there is a difference now. She has acclimatized and made new friends.

– There are three French women in Överkalix who have all have babies that I meet often, she says. Both Romain's and Emilie's parents and relatives have visited.

– Emilie's mother has been here four times, says Romain smiling.

– They are completely overwhelmed by the fact that we live here now and what life looks like here, the nature and the people. It's nice to show them, everyone is so delighted, says Emilie.

– Although they were a bit shocked when they heard that it was 40 degrees cold, adds Romain and laughs. In the spring and summer, family and friends will come in batches and help renovate the guest house. Romain and Emilie plan to fix it bit by bit as they save more money.In their spare time, they have started skiing and would like to continue doing so.The idea is to stay in Sweden for good. They think that living this close to nature as a great benefit. Romain points out the living room window.

– Out here we sometimes see reindeer and foxes!

Text and photos: Ulrika Vallgårda

Daisy and Jeroen from Netherlands: " We immediately felt that this was where we wanted to live"

After traveling around Europe in a camper van, the Tappel family came to Sweden. Immediately they felt that this was where they wanted to live.

In social media, they call themselves De Avonturenfamilie and now all their tens of thousands of followers know that they have bought a house and settled down in Lansån in Överkalix.

The Tappel family consists of Jeroen, 34, Daisy, 34, and their three children Benthe, nine, Beau, six, and Sterre, two.

At the end of 2022, they took time off from work and their stressful lives, packed the children's school books and everything they needed to go on a long camping trip.

– We wanted to look for a new place to live that we all loved. We weren't sure if that place was south or north in Europe or maybe somewhere else in the Netherlands, says Daisy.

The house they lived in at the time was big and fancy and so was the living area. But they were not happy.

– There was a lifestyle there that made you constantly think you needed more and more and bigger and bigger. It was like a competition, says Daisy.

– It took a lot of energy and besides, we almost never saw the children. We wanted to take back responsibility for them ourselves and not work so much, says Jeroen.

First they spent nine months on wheels in southern Europe. But even though it was lovely to celebrate Christmas on the beach, they realized that they didn't want to continue like that in the long run.

They began to dream of starting their own business and running a campsite. It was just a matter of finding a place where they could do it.It was now that they started to travel to the north.

– When we came to Sweden, it felt like coming home, says Daisy.The eldest child said one morning: “Mom and Dad, I've had such a wonderful dream. I dreamed that we bought a house here and that I can go to school here and that I liked it!”

– We just looked at each other. We had the same feeling, says Jeroen. They continued their tour north, and at the same time they checked out the Swedish school system and started looking for a house at Hemnet.

Finally, the choice fell on Överkalix, more precisely a small red house with a workshop, guest room, garage and sauna on a farm in Lansån.

–This house and this place are everything we were looking for. There is a field where we can build a campsite, the school seemed fine and the town has everything we could need.

At the end of August 2023, the move took place and since then the children have been attending Swedish school and preschool. They feel that there is less pressure on the children here than in the Netherlands.

-At first they were scared, of course, because they can't Swedish, but they learn quickly and they've started to learn us too, says Daisy.Daisy and Jeroen are just about to start the Swedish lessons (SFI) themselves.


In the Netherlands, they both worked in offices, he with insurance, she with salaries. Now they want to do something completely different and Jeroen has got a job at the bakery.

Daisy decided to stay home with the children for the first time, so that they get a safe and harmonic start.

– It is a big adjustment for them to move here, away from friends and family, she says. She has an offer to work at the hotel but wants to wait a bit. Right now they also only have one car.

Before Christmas, when she was going to Ikea in Haparanda, she got a slip and drove off the road. She was not used to slippery road conditions.

–I know I have to start driving again in the winter, otherwise I won't get anywhere for half the year, but we still don't have a new car, she says.

The move to Sweden went smoothly, although there was a lot of paperwork to fill in. They sold their house in the Netherlands and were able to buy the new house for SEK 700 000 without taking out a bank loan.

The plan is to start a simpler campsite already in the summer.– There are a lot of people from the Netherlands who want to come here. But they are welcome from all countries.They would like to cooperate with other tourism operators in the area, so that visitors can, for example, see moose and reindeer.

In their social media channels – Youtube, Instagram and TikTok – where they have tens of thousands of followers, they talk about their new life in Överkalix.

–The latest film is about what happened to my hair when it was wet and I went outside in minus 27 degrees, says Daisy and smiles.There are many who believe that it is snow all year round in Överkalix and dark at least half the year.

–I like to tell people how it is in reality, both good and bad things, that it is very nice and not as dark as they think, says Daisy. Of course, there are also disadvantages, especially that it is far from friends and family.

But they have a standing invitation from the neighbors to come over and drink coffee. In addition, the family has visited several times and will come back and help them build the campsite.

Social media is Daisy's main hobby, but she also likes to ski and would like to teach the children.

Jeroen likes mountain biking and is thinking of taking up hunting.For the children, they have built a small skating rink out in the yard. When it's time to say goodbye, the children put on their outerwear and go out skating.


Text and photo: Ulrika Vallgårda

Maaike and Sjonnie from Netherlands: "You can see the dream through the window"

In Lansjärv, north of Överkalix, Sjonnie Klaver, 33, Maaike Klaver, 28, and their children Joanna, six, and Milo, four, have found their dream farm in the countryside.

– You can see the dream through the window, says Sjonnie. The family moved here in August 2022. They also have two dogs, a horse and two ponies.It's minus 33 degrees, but Maaike has braved the cold and is out looking after the horses.

When she comes in, Sjonnie makes coffee and lights a fire in the stove.

– I had horses in the Netherlands too, but have always wished to live on a horse farm so that I could have the horses at home, says Maaike. The couple moved from Holland to Sweden because they dreamed of a different kind of existence.

– Holland is really crowded. 18 million people in such a small country – it's like living in a box and every day you feel the stress around you, says Sjonnie.They talked to others who had bought houses in Sweden and decided to do the same. They went onto Hemnet and made a list of houses from north to south which they then went and looked at.

The house in Lansjärv was the first they came to and they immediately felt that it would fit perfectly. They paid just over SEK 1.2 million and at the same time they received almost double that for the house they sold in Holland, which allowed them to buy the new house without taking out a loan.

It is large and spacious with several bedrooms, bathroom with sauna, laundry room and heated garage. In addition, they have a summer guest house and a winter furnished guest house as well as sheds so that the horses can go under cover.

– We have plans to build a stable for the horses, but we have to take it step by step, says Maaike. There is a total of 8.5 hectares of land. Moving to Sweden has not only been easy, but thanks to the fact that they have made friends in the village who have supported them, most things have been resolved. Something that was completely new for them was the bank ID and it took some time to get it.

 If you don't have a bank ID, you can't do anything. You become a complete outsider in society, says Sjonnie. The electricity bill in December of the first year and a large bill from the land surveyor were two less fun "surprises".

At the very beginning Sjonnie worked at the hotel in Överkalix, but was dismissed and unemployed for several months, which was problematic. He had previously worked as a plumbing fitter in Holland and sent his CV to all the plumbing companies in Överkalix but received no response. Instead, it was a villager who helped him find work at a company in Gällivare that repairs trucks damaged in collisions, so now he commutes there.

In addition, he works extra at the municipality's swimming pool and ice rink to earn more and to practice Swedish. Maaike is a trained nurse and believes that it should be possible to apply for a Swedish nursing license. But right now she feels that she wants to develop a horse business on the farm in her own company. She imagines that she can rent out stables, board horses and maybe even breed horses.

– We need to have a plan b and a plan c, says Sjonnie.Another option is to start a tourist business, but right now it feels a bit too expensive.

The next thing they will tackle is learning Swedish and they have booked themselves into a Swedish course (SFI). When they meet other Swedes, they try to practice the language as much as they can.

In the beginning, some people could be a bit hesitant as they could not speak Swedish, they say, but today they have several Swedish friends in the village and they feel very welcome and like it here.

– Apart from the sound of the cars on the road E10, it is peaceful. At the same time, it's good to be close to the road, says Sjonnie.

– And the people are helpful, says Maaike. Last year their ponies escaped and were gone for four days. The whole neighborhood pulled together to help them search, and that's something they're still grateful for.

– They came from everywhere. After four days we finally found them, says Sjonnie.

The daughter goes to a free school in Överkalix and the son goes to preschool but only on certain days because it becomes too expensive to drive every day.

They like the Swedish school.

– In Holland it's like you herd all the children in the same direction. That's not the case here. They also start school two years later, so they have more time to be children, says Sjonnie. 

Sjonnie's and Maaike's parents and other relatives have been here to visit. Maaike's parents are currently living for a full six weeks in the guest house on the other side of the road.

– Those who come to visit from the Netherlands think it must be so cold and so much snow here. But once they get here, they don't think so. They think it's perfect!

A winter wonderland, says Sjonnie and smiles. Later this afternoon, the family will meet another Dutch family who live nearby. For dinner, there will be elk meat that they have received from friends in the village.


Text and photos: Ulrika Vallgårda

Överkalix friskola

"We work for community but also see the individual"

Ann Bergdahl, principal of Överkalix Independent School, describes the school as a place that offers security, knowledge, and joy.

- Here, you can be who you are, and we always start from each individual in our teaching, Ann explains.

Independent schools follow the same school laws and curricula as municipal schools, are tax-financed with school funds, and are not allowed to charge fees.

At the independent school in Överkalix, all over 60 students are offered breakfast and afternoon fruit, in addition to the free school lunch.

Teaching takes place in smaller groups all the way from preschool class (6 years old) up to grade 9, and there are plenty of spaces for creative work in the school.

When I ask Ann to tell me something she thinks is especially positive about Överkalix as a place to live and reside, she highlights the range of leisure activities and the fact that it is so inexpensive compared to larger towns.

- In Överkalix, you can try out several different activities without it costing a lot, she says.

Read more about Överkalix Independent School

Read more about Independent schools

"As teachers at Sfi in Överkalix, we have time to assist each student - we work flexibly and with small groups."

At the Swedish for Immigrants (Sfi) in Överkalix, currently around 35 adults from various parts of the world are studying.

Classes are held during the day, but the schedule is flexible so that you can work while learning Swedish.

The school offers study visits to various workplaces around Överkalix, benefiting both the students and the employers, who get to see the skills available. Additionally, there are language internships at different workplaces, which can lead to employment for the student.

"As a teacher at Sfi in Överkalix, you really have time to help each student, and it's easy to get to know and learn from each other since the groups are small," says teacher Maria Nilsson Tuorda.

The students are very satisfied with the education.

"Here, there are good teachers, it's close to the library, flexible, and it's free!" says one of the students.

Learn more about Sfi and who is eligible for the education.

Sfi Överkalix