House hunting was one of our favorite pastimes before we started to travel full time. Okay, maybe it wasn’t a pastime. Maybe it was more of an obsession. I mean, it’s not like we went to open houses every weekend, but we did at one point have a condo in St. Paul and a house in Minneapolis, and even then continued to look up houses that had fresh ‘for sale’ signs in the yard.
I can’t say why this was the case. Maybe it was a natural extension of years of working for a retail furniture company? Maybe it was that one of my freelance clients was a huge real estate broker in the upper Midwest? Maybe it was a seed of our perpetual wanderlust growing in aberrant ways. This desire for new scenery and details that a new home (or location) would offer.
It comes then as no surprise that we greedily jumped on the idea of representing the homeowners of our current house sit in their quest to purchase a small farm here in Norway.
I’m not even sure how the topic came up, but there we were, eagerly offering to drive a few hours to a part of Norway that we’ve never seen or heard of to document the viability of purchase for them.
As a side note, this is definitely one of the things we miss the most as full time travelers. Well, that and whatever food item or spice we haven’t seen in months on end. People may think it strange, but there it is. We crave the mundane.
The first farm we visited wasn’t a scheduled showing, so we just drove there and took pictures and video and broke into the barn to take a look around. This was much easier than you would suspect because Norway is super safe and most people don’t expect criminal minded Americans (like us) traipsing through the middle of the country where few visitors ever go.
But the second house we went to see was a bit different. I scheduled a time to view it with the realtor. Only it turns out that she couldn’t make it and just gave us a bunch of keys and a pat on the back. What would have been more helpful than keys was an actual address so that we could find the house.
After driving roughly to the point where the road should be and not finding it, we started to look at the marketing materials provided by the agent to cross-reference our location. Have you ever done this? Look at an aerial view taken by a drone and try to find real life landmarks (is that a farm where the road veers away from the river over there?). It’s not a recommended approach to find a house in a foreign country.
We turned down one rutted road and surprised a mail delivery van parked for a mid day snack. How lucky can we be?! The post officer would certainly know every house along this stretch of river, right? Right? No. Turns out no. He shrugged his shoulders and removed his bifocals and pointed up the road a bit as if to say, “Just keep going…you’ll find it.”
Little did I suspect at that low moment, but he was right. We kept going and Jill spotted the smallest of Til Salgs (for sale) signs on the side of the road and hit the brakes. Hard. I didn’t see the sign, so was quite surprised as the seatbelt choked me a bit. She found it!
There was no need to break into this property since the agent gave us a few keys and told us where to find more. I opened everything I could find. Every door. Except the one in the basement that seemed to be locked from the inside. That shit just creeps me out. I finally found out how to get into that room – there is a trap door in the kitchen under the rug. I kicked the iron ring that opens the door and listened for a response. There wasn’t one, but that just lead me to imagine a few dead bodies down there. Overactive imagination? Yes.
We ate lunch on a big wooden bench designed just for that purpose and I stared at the house for a bit trying to imagine living there. It was remote. There was only electricity in the one tiny house. It was cute. It was on a well. I’m now over thinking well water is romantic, especially after needing to conserve water due to the massive drought in Norway. There was no running water, no shower. It was basically 1840 out here. I loved it for that, but couldn’t see myself there.
Which is fine, because it wasn’t for me, right? This is the greatest thing we’ve done in all our travels! Shopping for houses for somebody else in a foreign country! It was our own version of House Hunters International, but we were representing these mysterious buyers who were overseas and busy with …other matters.
When we were finished we drove back to the real estate office and returned the key and marveled at how inexpensive the farms are out here. No kidding, it’s tempting to find one and get some sheep.
On the drive back to our house sit I remembered that the smoke detector needed a new battery in the front hallway, so texted the realtor and told her the owners would be in touch.