The Resele family

A forever home in the High Coast

The Smit-Moerman family had a garden of six square meters in the Netherlands. In the village of Resele in the High Coast, they have almost three hectares of land with a farm house and buildings – their dream of working and living close to nature has been realised. “We want to live here in Resele forever, that’s how we feel right now,” says Maaike Smit-Moerman.

“A big part of life here is family oriented”

Seven years ago, Maaike Smit-Moerman and Ibe Moerman decided to move, together with their two children, from their townhouse in the Netherlands to rural Sweden to fulfil their dream of living close to nature. They felt strongly drawn to the High Coast straight away and started to look for a house to live in.

“The nature here is fantastic and it just breathed possibilities. We fell in love with it,” says Maaike.

When visiting the region, Resele in Sollefteå municipality caught their eye. Resele is a village about 100 km from the coast on the river Ångermanlandälven. After a guided tour given by a local, they knew they had found the perfect place.

“We fell for the stories of entrepreneurship, and how many associations there are and the local engagement in the community. We felt there is a good drive here, and a belief in the future. Then we visited the village school and there was so much love there that the decision was made,” says Maaike.

Today, Make runs a rural development project and is also project leader for a number of tourism projects. Ibe is a jack-of-all-trades who sometimes drives a logging truck, and together the two of them run their own company Resele Adventures, with small-scale nature tourism and nature experiences in the inland area. They are renovating their farmhouse and farm buildings and in the future they hope to be able to offer accommodation. It has never been hard to find something to do, rather the opposite, they say.

“I was like a kid in a candy store,” says Ibe when asked to describe their early days in Resele and Maaike adds:

“There are so many possibilities here and before we knew what was going on we were involved in a lot of different things. Holding ourselves back has been the challenge,” says Maaike.

The High Coast is one of Sweden’s fastest growing tourist destinations and has been voted by the Swedish people as Sweden’s most beautiful place. In 2019, there was a 30% increase in visitors to holiday parks on 2018. And 2020 was another record year.

“You have the river, the sea, the mountains, the wilderness and the best of all four seasons here. Wonderful winters and fantastic summers. There is a lot of Sweden here in a relatively small place,” says Maaike.

Maaike and Ibe see the High Coast inland as having enormous unrealised potential and have decided to work hard to make the most of the opportunities they see.

“Make hay while the sun shines, as we say in Holland. And the sun is shining just now,” says Ibe.

But the move to the High Coast was not primarily a move for work, it was a move to increase their quality of life. The family spends a lot of time outdoors and living where they do, there are endless opportunities for a rich outdoor life. They see the balance between private life and working life as being different here from the Netherlands.

“A big part of life here is family oriented,” says Ibe.

The Swedish welfare system is famous all over the world. There is free healthcare, schooling and childcare here. Maaike and Ibe think that it is easy to focus on their family here in Sweden.

“If you have sick kids, no employer here will tell you to sort it out, or raise their eyebrows. It is acceptable to stay home and take care of your children. It’s a luxury that there is this kind of understanding and respect for family life,” says Maaike and continues:

“We want to raise our children here and live the rest of our lives here – this much is clear. I have never felt like a local patriot, but I have become one now.”

Maaike´s tips for those wanting to move to the High Coast

1. Don’t try to organize everything before arriving

It can be difficult to get a job in sollefteå from the netherlands. But you should dare to take the leap and trust that something will work out. Make sure you have enough money to live on for six months and learn the language. Within this timeframe you will find something.

2. Get to know the area before buying a house

Look for a community that you feel you will fit into. Start by renting a house or visiting on holidays at different times of the year. It’s not just the nature that is important but also the people in the area where you live.

3. Get involved in the community

When we moved here I saw on Facebook that volunteers were needed to clean up local picnic areas. Through this we were quickly welcomed by the local community and it was really good for learning swedish, being accepted and we got lots of tips and advice.

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