This summer we are going to leave Switzerland behind us and head back to Finland. We are moving out to the archipelago between Finland and Sweden to a small municipality called Houtskär (www.houtskar.fi). Both Anne and I were fortunate enough to both get a job there - I'm going to become the mayor of Houtskär while Anne is starting as a nurse in the local municipal clinic.
Our decision to making this radical change has brought up the same question among all our friends, so here's an explanation "why Houtskär?" in a nutshell (not including arguments why we got the jobs, I might add...):
1. We need a change where "family" can get at least an equal position with "career" (=I need to wind down from my weekly 80+ working hours and get more time with the kids and Anne needs to wind up somewhat on the work part).
2. Amanda has come to an age where we need to decide if we are going to stay in Switzerland or return to Finland
3. Having lived in Switzerland for eight years has shown what we most appreciate in Finland, and this is the sea and the nature - not Helsinki!
Conclusion: We are exchanging financial wealth for life quality.
Above you see a map of Houtskär. You can only reach it via a ferry (see picture) or with your own boat.
Some statistics of Houtskär:
- 662 inhabitants
- 1'650 islands
- 950 summer cottages
- 0 € debt
- 88,2% swedish speaking
We have been thinking more or less seriously about making a change and about moving to Finland for rougly a year. My problem has been, that I didn't want to move to Helsinki to do the same job for half the salary with Finnish taxes and most probably having 5 times more travelling to do than I have today.
Early February I read in the local Finnish web pages, that the current mayor of Houtskär is getting retired this year My parents had a summer cottage there for some years, so we know the region quite well. Anne and I threw around the idea of applying for a couple of weeks and the whole thing started to feel better by the day.
End of February I contacted the current mayor, Mr. Bengt Backman, to get some more information and got a confirmation of the upcoming vacancy. At the same time I heard that they also were looking for a nurse.
Both positions were declared vacant early March. We both applied and were called in for interviews early April. While my parents were here over the Easter holidays, Anne and I flew to Houtskär for interviews. In the picture above we are in Björkö, Houtskär having a picnic while my parents took care of the kids (picture right).
On April 28th we were informed that we had received the jobs. On the day after I resigned from my job here in Switzerland and we started all the cumbersome activities to be able to move during the summer.
Here's a picture of the municipality house in Näsby village where I'm to start working on August 23rd.
Here you have the local school where Amanda will start, hopefully on the 3rd grade, in autumn.
We forgot to photograph Anne's work, but it's on a very nice place from which you have the same view as in the first picture of this story.
Here's a picture of the temporal rental appartment where we are moving. It's very close to both our jobs, but it's quite small compared to where we are living now. You can find a small comparison below. We definitely need to have another solution within the upcoming 1 to 2 years.
Comparison of living quarters:
|Fislisbach ||Näsby |
|No of rooms||6+1||3+1|
|Central stereo system||yes||no|
|Stove in livingroom||yes||yes|