Imagine your job sends you and your family to a different country for work. Then imagine distant relatives you've never met happen to be living just blocks away from your new home. That's what happened to Jakob and Helena Hult and their two daughters in 2017. Now, with suitcases packed, they prepare to go back to their home country — Sweden — having made lasting friendships in their three years here.
"We knew we had relatives in the Portland area but we had never met them," Jakob Hult said.
After signing the lease on a visit to the U.S., Jakob Hult got the home address of his U.S. relatives from his aunt. It wasn't until then that they realized they had just signed a lease on a house blocks away from his second cousin once removed — Gregg Swanson.
"The world seems small sometimes," Hult said.
Swanson's grandfather and Hult's great-grandfather were brothers, making them second cousins once removed.
Hult works for an aerospace company and was considering moving from Sweden when the opportunity arose to move to America. Hult's wife, Helena, said they jumped at the chance.
When his family moved to West Linn in 2017, they didn't know anyone. Helena Hult said when they first moved, people helped them adjust to living in a new country.
"Everyone has been so welcoming and so friendly and so helpful," Jakob Hult said.
The Hults and the Swansons spent many holidays and sunny days outdoors together during the Hults' stay.
"For a Swede it's a pretty amazing place to live," Jakob Hult said adding that the weather is better in Oregon than Sweden.
The family has so many favorite things about West Linn and Oregon in general.
"I feel like we met so many wonderful people," Helena Hult said. "It's hard now to go home because we have made such great friendships."
After connecting with relatives here and making plenty of new friends, the family said it's going to be hard to leave.
"It's bittersweet," Jakob Holt said.
Helena said they love doing outdoor activities like skiing and hiking to waterfalls.
They board their flight back home to Sweden this week and are already planning to come back to visit next summer.
"I love Oregon — the nature," Jakob Holt said. "You have the coast, you have the valley, you have the high desert on the other side of the mountain."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.