Skallelv is a south-facing village surrounded by both cultivated and uncultivated agricultural land. The mouth of the river with the houses facing the road and the river situates the oldest farms. The livestock and hay barns are attached to the back of the house and behind them are the farms’ cultivated lands. Each farm also had uncultivated land which was used for grazing, hay making, harvesting wild berries, cutting peat for fuel and hunting. Skallelv was mainly built and cultivated by Finnish settlers from 1860 onwards. In spite of primarily being an agricultural village the inhabitants also relied on fishing in the sea.

The buildings at Skallelv are multifunctional, that is: both people and livestock lived under the same roof, which was typical among Finnish settlers (their descendants are the Kven people) in the Varanger area. This kind of multifunctional buildings can be found in several areas around Europe, but in Norway these are unique to the coastal areas of Varanger. Skallelv was not burnt down during the occupying forces' retreat in 1944.