At the height of the first wave of the pandemic, real estate agents in Sweden reported that vacation houses were selling at a faster rate than they did before. Actually, even before the coronavirus health crisis, owning a private retreat or at the least, having access to a vacation house was already a norm. The main reason for this is that Swedes traditionally “hemester” when taking their annual leaves.
Hemester in Sweden is a term coined from the words “hem” for home and semester. It simply means taking time off from work either during the summer or holiday season, by staying most of the time at home or at a vacation house. Although citizens in other countries found it difficult to endure stay-at-home orders, staying at home for Swedes, is just like the traditional hemester they take every year.
However, since the COVID-19 health crisis in the country had taken a turn for the worse, owning a second home became a necessity. That way, families can make certain they’ll hemester in a COVID-free space. Parents, particularly those raising families in apartments, have to provide a safe but healthy environment for their children; one in which children can safely experience outdoor activities while the weather still permits them to do so.
Presumably, this must be the reason why according to the country’s national statistics, even the sale of villas deemed as suitable for year-round stays, also increased by 2%. Yet the increase in sales is more pronounced for vacation homes. Sweden’s leading property portal Hemnet reported that compared to the previous years, the number of summer houses sold weekly, increased between 15% to 25%.
Why Swedes are Obsessed with Vacation Homes
Gunnar Andersson, a Stockton University professor of demography explained that taking a hemester is part of the traditional Swedish lifestyle. Many Swedes come from families that have lived in farms or near forests for generations and have been exposed to the Swedish tradition known as “friluftsliv,” which means spending time to commune with nature.
Once a couple’s union produces offsprings, having access to a home in a rural area suddenly becomes very important. Mainly because the hemester tradition is largely linked to the people’s rural roots, even as they work and have an apartment in a city.
The tradition continues to carry on, since the Swedish government wants parents to encourage children’s curiosity and thirst for knowledge. Providing them with natural environments is critical in developing their potential as future leaders, teachers, scientists, innovators, inventors or entrepreneurs.
Besides, spending time to connect with nature is the best way to recharge after having spent a cold and dreary winter season.
Sweden’s Family-Friendly Policies Help Parents Maintain Work-Life Balance
What makes it possible for families to experience hermester as a regular annual event are the country’s family-friendly policies. Aside from paid parental leaves that enable them to maintain work-life balance, the Swedish government also gives parents monthly child care allowances, free medical care, free education and free transportation to ensure parents can provide well for their offsprings.
However, such benefits also come with greater parenting responsibilities. In the event there are indications that a child is not being properly cared for, and raised in accordance with Sweden’s basic child protection laws, the government takes action by removing a child out of his or her parent’s care.
In Sweden a Babyvakt or a baby monitor, especially those outfitted with a camera is essential, as being able to constantly check on their children gives parents peace of mind. The device is a must-have especially when staying in remote vacation homes, so they can make sure their children are intact and safe,