ANTTI WANTS TO SELL YOU A PIECE OF FINLAND

Antti Kosunen is selling small plots of land in Salla, the Finnish Lapland.

Antti Kosunen is selling small plots of land in Salla, the Finnish Lapland.

How would you like to own your little piece of Finland? Now almost anyone can. Antti Kosunen, 48, is an entrepreneur and a dreamer with an absolutely unique business idea: The father of five children is selling small parcels of land in the Finnish Lapland for 399 euros (543 dollars) a piece on the internet. Don’t worry about the paperwork – it’s all taken care of. And anyone can buy, but Kosunen targets his service mainly to ex-pat Finns.

Entrepreneur Antti Kosunen

Entrepreneur Antti Kosunen

Finntimes recently interviewed Antti Kosunen while he was on a trip in Thailand. This is how he describes the philosophy behind his idea:

-One should have a possibility to buy a dream – experience a place that you can visit every time you close your eyes. The most important thing is that it is something real – a place of your own that you can visit. This lot is yours – that’s the whole idea.

The name of his real estate business is Unelmaa.

-The word is a combination of a dream and land, Kosunen explains.

Antti Kosunen loves nature.

Antti Kosunen loves nature.

He is not new to business.

-I’m an entrepreneur. I have founded and the sold software companies. For the past ten years I’ve been a business angel. We also established our own fund two years ago. Currently I’m an investor investing in technology companies.

Marshland near Salla.

Marshland near Salla.

How did you come up with the idea for Unelmaa?

-It wasn’t really my idea. We are four guys – friends, and we all have an international background. We’ve been living in different places. I have lived in the United States and Asia.

-In the U.S. I lived a year in Silicon Valley in 2001-2002 and before that I was an exchange student in New York.

Antti Sihlman surveys the swampland in Salla.

Antti Sihlman surveys the swampland in Salla.

Kosunen and his business partners developed the idea together.

-The idea of having something permanent was something we were thinking about. There should be a possibility for people with Finnish heritage to have something by which they can show themselves and their families where their roots are.

543 bucks will buy you this piece of land.

543 bucks will buy you this piece of land.

-We decided to buy a big piece of land and divide it into a hundred square meter (1,076 square feet), parcels and sell them. That would give people a feeling that they are closer to nature and Finland and have something real.

Salla borders Russia in the Finnish Lapland.

Salla borders Russia in the Finnish Lapland.

Unelmaa Company’s land is located in Salla, Eastern Lapland, by the arctic circle and bordered by Russia. The vast municipality covers an area of 5,872.21 square kilometers (2,267.27 sq mi), but only has some 4,000 inhabitants. So, one is basically alone up there.

Salla is vast but sparsely populated.

Salla is vast but sparsely populated.

The partners started the endeavor a few months ago but haven’t marketed it yet. So far they have sold a couple of tiny parcels to friends. They have a capacity to sell a whopping 12 thousand lots!

-Frankly, we don’t know yet whether this is a business or a hobby. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Taiga - or northern forest in Salla.

Taiga – or northern forest in Salla.

What is going to happen to that land?

-It’s a piece of nature that stays there whether people visit the place or not. But we would recommend people to visit the land. Salla is a nice place. When you visit your land you form a bond with it. Somebody actually said he would like to place a plaque there – something that would be permanent. It should be a place that anybody could visit – have a cup of coffee, make a fire, camp for a day or just visit with a local guide and perhaps pick some berries on your own land.

A bird's nest in the forest.

A bird’s nest in the forest.

How does a person locate his or her particular parcel?

-With a GPS coordinator. We have been discussing with local people in Salla to provide different kinds of services for visitors – such as locating their parcel. Someone will take you there and help you set up camp, make fire, or have a glass of champagne – whatever you wish. And if there is an item – like a family heirloom – you wish to place on your property, we can also have that done.

Antti Kosunen mountain climbing in Finland.

Antti Kosunen mountain climbing in Finland.

Let’s say you are flying from the United States to Finland – how do you get to your property?

-You can fly from Helsinki to Kuusamo and take an hour bus or train ride that takes you to Salla. After a half an hour car trip and another half an hour walk and you are on your lot.

Summertime in Salla.

Summertime in Salla.

What kind of a connection do you have to Salla?

-I spent quite a bit of time hiking in Lapland as a kid. That’s where I get my warm memories of nature. I enjoy hiking and camping in the wilderness. I love to listen to silence.

What is the nature like there?

-It’s a forest and a swamp. There’s a lake next to it. And when I say forest, it doesn’t look like a forest in Southern Finland, the trees are smaller, but it’s a forest nevertheless.

Visitors can enjoy a lake view on their own land.

Visitors can enjoy a lake view on their own land.

What’s a good time to go there?

-Anytime is good. It’s always a very different experience. We acquired the land in the winter time when there was snow on the ground. At that time of the year you see reindeer and snow, hear nothing but silence, everything is white – it’s like a Santa Claus country. In the spring everything wakes up. I personally like the forest the best but foreigners seem to prefer the swamp.

In the fall you can see “ruska” – autumn colors as trees turn. In the dead of winter the sun never rises and in the summer there’s no night but you can experience the midnight sun.

Different seasons offer different treats in Salla.

Different seasons offer different treats in Salla.

-One of the most unique experiences there are the northern lights, aurora borealis or “revontulet” in the winter.

-We figure most of the lots would be sold to people with a Finnish heritage. Another group would be Asians – Chinese and Japanese, because Finland is exotic to them. And the idea of owning a piece of land is impossible in many countries. There’s mystique in it.

Kosunen might have just the gift idea for that uncle turning 50 or that aunt who already has everything.

-We are no longer collecting things – we don’t want stuff but on the other hand would like to have something permanent. We are hoping a piece of land would be that “something”.

013 UNELMAA

For more info go to: www.unelmaa.com

 

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