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Moment of truth

Dream place
September 22, 2022
The final decision
October 4, 2022

Thursday 4th of August - Brøttum


At the same time we discover the house on top of the hill, another house comes up for sale down the street from Peter and Tine. It is a red, small house, but it lacks the cozy and cozy feeling (photo below). The plot of land is very small, with no actual garden, and the view is on the neighbours' house. Our references are Per and Ingrid's dream houses. Then this little house stands out shabbily. Olivier thinks it's a fine place, Zoe anything but. Still, we know there aren't many options on this street and we shouldn't be too critical. The viewing is next Monday, but then we'll be in Sweden for the adventure race Dropped in Sweden. We call the broker and get a private viewing two days before we leave for Sweden. The house lacks all the coziness we are looking for and the layout is particularly odd. Zoe was already convinced this isn't it and after the viewing Olivier thinks the same. Besides, we have only been in this area for a few days and want to get a feel for the place first. The asking price is €160,000. A bargain for anyone used to the Dutch and Belgian housing market, and actually cheap for the region around Lillehammer. Still, we find the price high, especially for a house that does not attract us and has a lot of flaws. Peter and Per also think €160,000 is way too much for this house. We do have to make a decision because the bidding is next week.

In Norway, the bidding process begins the day after the viewing. Anyone can submit a bid before noon. The highest bid is published at noon after which anyone can bid higher. The process is completely transparent and everyone who was at the viewing receives a text message or email with the new bid. In Norway, offers are also binding. During the bidding process, we are participating in the adventure race in Sweden. Our phones are sealed and there is probably no coverage at all. Peter thinks that the house will not be sold so quickly and says that it is best to be patient. We decide not to make an offer and wait until we get back from Sweden.

Peter was right, the house wasn't sold. There hasn't even been any offer which confirms our feeling of the high asking price. Moreover, our mind isn't focused on that house at all. We think of only one thing, our appointment with Ingrid to visit our dreamhouse and convince her. We wait at the fence at the edge of the meadow. Ingrid comes walking on foot from the farm, sportily dressed with typical Norwegian sunglasses on. We walk together to the house and get acquainted with Ingrid. There is an immediate click and a good feeling, although her heart is also full of the house. The key to the door is in the flowerpot on the windowsill. She opens the door and invites us in. Inside, too, it meets everything we want. Cozy, small and a touch old-fashioned. It is more spacious than it looks from the outside and very well maintained. All the old woman's furniture and things are still there, as if she was here yesterday. If we could live here...


Next to the house is a large barn. An artist had a studio there for a while. The upper floor of the barn is insulated and in our imagination this will become a beautiful loft for our guests. We can transform the first floor into a workshop for our projects. We dream as we follow Ingrid through the barn and across the rest of the property. Are we driving ourselves crazy or are we allowed to dream?
'I'm definitely not going to sell the house,' Ingrid says suddenly.
It hits us right in the face. The firmness is surprising and a bit defensive. Is it pure self-protection or is she trying to provoke us? We react to it neutrally and try to discover which part is so important to her. We learn that she has a strong emotional attachment to the place because she came there so often during her childhood. Secretly she dreams of one day living here and no longer in the farmhouse. She still has two young children so that's a distant future plan.
'What if you have the first right to buy it back from us,' Zoë suggests.
Her interest is piqued. Is this the key? Giving her the option that she can always get the house back if we ever sell it, just like the Odelsrett?

Ingrid invites us over for coffee over the weekend. This way she has some time to think and we can get to know her husband. Our confidence grows, our dream comes one step closer. Until night falls. Ingrid sends a message.
"Jeg er 100% sikker på å ikke selge - I am in love with that place. Det vil være min cabin og fristed." In other words; I am 100% sure I will not sell. It will be my cabin.
Zoe bites her tongue, again hiding the tears. She takes a paper and begins to write a letter to Ingrid. She writes down the path to our dream, how the bicycle led our search and how we finally arrived at this house. The place from our dreams and the place meant to come by bicycle. The puzzle made perfect sense. We found each other, Ingrid, us and the house. It has to be like this! Zoe brings the letter to Ingrid the next day, hoping to change her mind after all.

Sunday afternoon we ring the bell of Ingrid and Jacob's house. They tell us about their year in the remote cabin on Spitsbergen. They lived there for a year as trappers, completely isolated from the world. They carried food for an entire year, hunted seals and sometimes had polar bears at the cabin door. Fur hunting is a very old tradition in Norway that is banned today. They hunted white Arctic foxes all year and then sold all the pelts. A very special tradition and culture. We look at their photo albums and are inspired by their adventurous life. Life on a large farm to which they are tied seems almost the opposite world. When we have seen their photos and they have read through our book, Ingrid starts talking about the house. Her decision hasn't changed, she won't sell it, ever. We can rent it, though, for €600 a month. So much for the dream.

We don't say a word as we walk back home. We don't need words and don't want to use words. What are the chances of us finding another place that meets the perfect dream picture? Our search began with Sweden AND Norway. Gradually the circles got smaller and smaller, until we ended up in Brøttum. Should we enlarge our circle again? Do we have the energy for that? We don't know what our next step is or how we are going to do it. First, we can be very disappointed for a while.


  1. simoninvarmland says:

    Hej, I’ve read all the articles in this series of updates. Lillehammer is, as you found out an area with quite high house prices. I can certainly understand that you have set your dreams on the area, and you don’t want to give up searching there. I’m sure you are looking forward to getting a place of your own, at this time of year, as the days become shorter, and hibernating in a cosy cottage seems idyllic. Yet I’d urge you to be patient; yes, perhaps broaden your search again. I’m just over the border in Sweden, and as I’m certain you already know, house prices in rural locations are far less here (that’s why so many Norwegians have holiday homes in Värmland), and the general cost of living is less, such as food. Lycka till (Good luck).

  2. WeLeaf says:

    He Simon,
    We are working hard on broaden our search area again. Lillehammer is a beautiful area and we have build a nice network already but we know we can do the same in many more areas. Sweden has always attracted us, and not only because of the prices. Zoë just loves Swedish houses, forests, lakes and the more gentle landscape. Also, she wants to have a bigger piece of land and that’s a lot easier on the other side of the border. Värmland and Dalarna still are high on our list. We will see where the road takes us 🙂

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