Housing and living
Moved to Skellefteå after couch surfing with Pierre
Pierre Bäckström offers travellers in Skellefteå a place to sleep in his house in Sunnanå. This is via the internet-based network Couchsurfing. Almost seven years ago, Frenchman Hugo Goldstyn came to visit and Pierre showed him several of Skellefteå's gems. Hugo fell in love with the place and today he and his family have settled in Furuögrund.
- "We love the open and helpful people here and the balance in life that parents can have in Sweden," says Hugo, who came to Skellefteå by pure chance.
Hugo comes from the town of Castres, less than 50 miles from Toulouse in south-west France. In 2015, he felt the need for a change of scenery and decided to travel. He took out a map of Scandinavia, closed his eyes and put his finger on it - Skellefteå. He
packed his backpack and via London he was able to fly directly to Skellefteå Airport.
- "I didn't know anything about the place, but I got off to a great start when I stayed with Pierre.
The plan was to stay for two days, but he had so much to show that it became two weeks," says Hugo. They visited cafés and Bonnstan, toured the countryside and ate surströmming.
- He showed me how to eat it properly. He invited me and a few others to his cottage where we could also swim and sauna. Today I am a big fan of surströmming," says Hugo. During the two weeks in Skellefteå, he also had time to visit the Woodstock Festival. Today he is a business developer for the festival and works with the Skellhell Exchange project together with a French and a Dutch music organization.
After the two weeks with Pierre, Hugo moved on to Sweden. In Tierp, he worked as a volunteer on a farm, which was to be turned into a cultural center, and there he met his partner Elizabeth Gold from Wimborne Minster in the south of England.
- "We tried living in both France and England for a few years, but we didn't like it, so I told
"Liz" that I knew a good place in the north of Sweden," says Hugo.
They contacted Pierre and stayed with him for 1.5 months before finding their own accommodation. Today they live in a house in Furuögrund with their 1-year-old son Mael.
- "We usually say that Pierre is Mael's local grandfather," says Hugo with a laugh.
Getting many things back
Pierre himself lives in the house in Sunnanå and therefore has two vacant rooms where guests can sleep.
He says that it is usually about visits of between one and three nights.
- I have a curiosity for new cultures and have discovered that if you have a person with you for three days, you have time to get to know each other very well. If you open up and offer yourself, you get a lot in return," says Pierre, who often has participants in the winter swimming competition as guests.
- "I have had people from Brazil, Argentina and Italy here and some have stayed with me several times. They become like friends. Last summer I had a visit from an Italian who had cycled 6,500 miles in five years and was going to cycle for two more years. It was interesting to listen to him and hear about his experiences," says Pierre.
'I have a curiosity for new cultures'
Must help each other
Helena Renström, Marketing Manager Skellefteå municipality, praises Pierre's initiative.
- He shows a nice personal hospitality, which is exactly what Skellefteå needs. We see
that our residents are good at taking care of people who come here and we will
continue to do so," she says.
"Our people are good at taking care of people who come here"
Helena notes that Skellefteå is in a situation where everyone has to work together to solve the housing shortage. Many private individuals have shown an interest in renting out rooms or homes and therefore Skellefteå municipality has set up a housing pilot who can give advice and refer interested parties to private housing agents who can help them further.
- We want to make it easier for private individuals to take the step of renting out. The demand for housing also applies to shorter periods and there are opportunities to rent out for those who have a summer cottage or accommodation that they only stay in for part of the year," says Helena.
There is a housing supply plan for the coming years, which means that many new homes will be released on the market.
- In 2022, 1,000 new homes are expected to be completed and then a construction rate of about 1,000 homes per year will follow. The capacity of temporary housing will also increase. It is gratifying that several contractors regularly present new projects. Construction will continue at a high pace and based on the plan that has been made, so the current housing situation is temporary in a few years' time," says Helena.