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'The Local set this off': Small Swedish town's one krona plots go viral

Becky Waterton
Becky Waterton - [email protected]
'The Local set this off': Small Swedish town's one krona plots go viral
Hällekis, where two of the one krona per square metre plots have already been sold. Photo: Götene Municipality

When Götene, a quiet lakeside municipality in Western Sweden, launched a campaign in April to sell plots of land for one krona per square metre, they never could have guessed that they'd be fielding thousands of calls from across the world a few months later.


When The Local spoke to Götene's mayor Johan Månsson on June 24th, the municipality was happy with the results of its campaign, selling three plots since April after receiving 20 expressions of interest. But as it turns out, that was just the beginning of a story Månsson described as “completely surrealistic”.

“We started in April and sold a few plots, then not much happened after that,” Månsson told The Local when we spoke to him again a week later. “We managed to sell two more just before all of this blew up.”

“All of this started last Monday, when SVT Väst [the Swedish public broadcaster's western Sweden station] picked up the story,” Månsson said. “Then TT [the main Swedish newswire] picked it up, and Aftonbladet did a TikTok thing about it, which went viral nationally.”

Employees at Götene municipality could already see an “explosion” in the number of interested people after that, Månsson said, although up until this point it had only gone viral within Sweden.

Götene's mayor Johan Månsson. Photo: Götene Municipality

'Viral media snowball'

“After that came your article in The Local, which I think made this explode on a global level,” Månsson said.

“On Wednesday, we could see it spreading in Europe and then globally, set off a viral media snowball which rolled across the world, getting bigger and bigger by the day.”

“You could see it rolling over Europe, to Asia – mainly India and Pakistan, with it all culminating later in the week when CNN got in touch with me. I just spoke to The Washington Post yesterday, which has led to an interest from the USA, South America and Australia.”

“I think I can safely say we’ve reached all the corners of the earth by now.”

All the media attention has put Götene municipality into “crisis mode”, Månsson said, while describing the situation as “like winning the lottery”. There are only one or two people manning the phone lines, which have been ringing constantly for the past week.

“It’s impossible to handle, we’ve had to pause the campaign until August 7th so we can catch up with all the expressions of interest.”


'I'm convinced there will be more than enough potential buyers'

It’s not entirely clear how many of the thousands of interested potential buyers will culminate in a sale, Månsson said, as buying property doesn’t give you the right to live in Sweden, so many buyers will need to find another way to stay in the country.

“It’s hard to see exactly what the situation will look like [after August 7th], but it would be very, very strange if we don’t break a new record in the number of plots sold. I’m convinced there will be more than enough potential buyers left over.”

The municipality itself is still open to selling the plots to anyone, whether they currently live in Sweden or not, but Månsson underlined the fact that buyers should make sure that their immigration documents are in order before committing to a plot.

“We can check that the house is being built – that’s our rule. Of course, you need to have the right to stay in Sweden, but that’s not our responsibility, that’s checked elsewhere. And we’ve had to explain that to a few people, of course.”

The municipality has also introduced a new rule, that anyone interested in buying a property needs to have a Swedish bank account, although this isn’t in order to limit the plots to people already living in Sweden, but rather to combat money laundering, Månsson said.

“Anyone from abroad who wants to come here, contribute and enrich our community is more than welcome.”


'Every family is worth their weight in gold to us'

So, how much would it mean to Götene municipality if all 30 plots of land are sold to families who build homes and settle in the region?

“Every family is worth their weight in gold to us, and it would also make a huge difference to our tax income as such a small municipality,” Månsson said, while adding that schools in particular would benefit from more children in the area. 

“Every single person, every family is worth its weight in gold.”


The equivalent of 'millions of kronor worth of marketing'

The media interest has also resulted in “millions of kronor worth of marketing” for Götene, Månsson said, with CNN describing the lakeside region as “idyllic” and “rural Sweden at its finest”.

“I’m not convinced that those of us working in the region or the people living here have really taken in what’s happening and what has happened,” he said. “I think it will take a while before we do. It’s fantastic.”

The municipality isn’t sure yet what the next steps for the campaign will be once sales reopen in August, although they’re in discussion about whether more plots could be included. 

“We’ll have to see what happens,” Månsson said. 


Comments (1)

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ML 2024/07/03 08:25
This is a really heartwarming story, more like this please :)

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