Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Do you fancy living on Skye?

It is all too easy for a holiday visitor to fall in love with Skye, so much so that they want to live here themselves. It is, after all, one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and the lifestyle is just so peaceful and comfortable – isn’t it?

Many have tried, and many have failed. Spending a few idyllic weeks on holiday here is not the same as putting down roots. So here’s a few tips…

  1. Try before you buy. Spend a winter on Skye. Let your own home for 6 months and rent a cottage here. (Rent one of ours if you like – we’ll do you a good price…!!) See how you get on with the wind, rain and lack of daylight. Don’t get me wrong – it can be very romantic to snuggle down in front of the stove on a stormy night, and we don’t have a problem with the rain, but how about you…?
  2. Check out the costs. Currently, a modern 3-bedroom bungalow here will cost you at least £210,000 – the days of ‘Skye is cheap’ are over! And be VERY cautious about buying an older property that is ‘in need of modernisation’ – this could mean a total rebuild…!!!
  3. Have back-up funding. So many people think they can open a B&B and live on the income. Unlikely, I’m afraid. Although the B&B market here is strong, you would need 4 or 5 letting rooms to make enough income to live on, and managing a business of that size takes a huge amount of work. You might be living on Skye, but all you will see is hundreds of breakfasts and mountains of laundry!
  4. I’ll get a job. Probably not. There’s very few opportunities for employment. There’s seldom many full time jobs in the local paper.
  5. I’ll start my own business. We have just about enough plumbers, electricians, roofers, etc. to meet demand. IT services are also pretty well catered for. There’s possibly a shortage of good value eating places... so you could be lucky – but don’t bank on it.
So many people get taken away with the romantic notion of living on Skye, but it is a locally known truth that the ‘average’ incomer survives for just two years. Living here CAN BE WONDERFUL – but you need to be totally committed and mentally prepared for it.

If I haven’t put you off - let us know when you are about to be our neighbour – we will VERY WARMLY  welcome you, as will all the other Skye residents. We look forward to meeting you!

48 comments:

Worcestershire Turnip said...

Sounds like sound advice. Personally I know I couldn't cope with the Winters and also I like to be near shopping and cultural facilities, so I'm happy to be where I am in Worcestershire. But everyone is different, and for some folk I can see that places such as Skye are ideal.

Anonymous said...

Great Blog. After 2 years deliberation we have started the ball rolling in our quest to relocate to Skye. Every year we visited it got more and more difficult to leave and from day one our hearts have been on Skye.
If everything works out we should be living on Skye by July/August and we cannot wait.

Regards,
Nick and Sylvia

Richard said...

Nick and Sylvia - Very best of wishes to you. Don't pass Roskhill without calling in !

Julianne Adams said...

Hello
We are a couple just about to qualify as physiotherapists. We love Skye and believe that there is a business opportunity for us to set up a clinic. We are coming to Skye in June to look at property but it would be great to meet you if you had the time. We have considered renting a place for 6 months over the winter just to start planning the business and witness a winter. Any comments on what we are trying to do would be appreciated.

Cheers
Julianne and John

Richard said...

Hello Julianne, Thank you for your interesting comment. You might be right that there is an opening for a physiotherapy practice on Skye - we would be delighted to meet you in June and have a chat about living on Skye. We could also help you out with a long-let over the winter in one of our holiday cottages - so please send a personal email to me at richarddorrell@aol.com and we'll arrange for you to call by.

Anonymous said...

Hi again Richard. Well fingers and just about everything else crossed, we will be your neighbours by the end of July. We are in the process of buying a property in Roag overlooking the Loch, so hope to meet you soon!

Kind regards,
Nick and Sylvia

Richard said...

Hello Nick and Sylvia! Great news! That'll be number 21 then? I nearly made a bid on that one myself...!!! It has a wonderful view. See you soon!

Anonymous said...

Hi, me and my partner are thinking of moving to the island next summer with our two boys. As I live in the west of Scotland I no what it can be like to live somewhere remote. My only concern is I am a beautcian and would I get the buisness. My partner have a lot of family on the island and say I would.

Richard said...

Hmmm... Thanks for your comment. I am less convinced than your partner's family about making a living from a beautician's business. Do the maths - there's about 9,000 permanent residents on Skye. About half will be men. About half of the women will be too young/too old to be interested in a beautician's services. That means you will be marketing your business to a total of maybe 2,000 people. Out of 2,000 people - how many regularly use the services of a beautician? Not enough to provide a living income I doubt. Also - I know there is already at least one hair/ beauty salon operating in Portree. What work does your partner do?

Jen said...

Hi, my husband is currently considering a job post in Portree. We currently live in West Lothian, we have 2 young boys and a dog and 2 cats! I am a principal teacher in a. Primary school. I have read inspection reports for both primary and secondary schools for the boys and I'm happy. However, concerned about a teaching post for me. Any thoughts? Thank you in advance.

Richard said...

Hi Jen, I suspect your dog and cats will adjust to Skye life without much of a problem. Your boys will probably be happy here too - there are some excellent primary schools, and the High School has excellent modern facilities and will give as much as you and your sons put in to it. Job-wise, I am afraid I am well out of touch with the teaching situation. I made some tentative inquiries about teaching here before we moved up, but that was several years ago - then, the prospects weren't too great. Probably best to get friendly with a few schools and do supply work for them in the hope that a school will like you when a permanent position comes up. Very best of luck - and do get in touch by personal email if you think I can be of any further help - richarddorrell@aol.com

Jen said...

Hi Richard,
Thank you for your prompt reply. We have been on holiday in Aviemore so not been able to reply sooner.
Thank you for your advice. I've made enquiries about supply work via Highland council. She also suggested contacting head teachers directly.
Have been making a list of pros and cons for moving from central Scotland to Skye.
I will maybe get in touch with you via personal email if you don't mind.
Weather here perking up yesterday and today. Here's hoping, lol!
Kind regards
Jen

Richard said...

Hello again Jen, Yes, the direct approach to schools worked well for me when I did supply work in England - many years ago! There are agencies these days too, but they don't pay as well as going direct to the schools. I'm certainly happy to chat 'Skye' by personal email.

Zak Miller said...

Hi, I am actually looking to leave America to start a new life in Scotland, and Skye looks absolutely perfect. It's breathtakingly beautiful and its remoteness is exactly what I'm looking for. If anything, I'm looking to just take some time away from my old life and just live. I'm 21 years old and am saving up money from my job to make the move some time next year. I read your post and found it very helpful. I was wondering if I could get some more current information (seeing as this post is 3 years old), like if the cost of living is still so very high, if it's possible to rent or buy a cottage for an extended period of time? (Potentially years) And would it be possible to find a job or two in town either as a waiter, or some other odd job? Would it be enough to live there? I'd like to talk with you guys.

Richard said...

Hi Zak, Thank you for your comment. It is unusual for someone as young as you to want to come to live on Skye. Most local people of your age (and younger) cannot wait to leave Skye and go to live in places where there are many other people of their own age. However, there is some seasonal employment in summer in the bars and hotels, and some of these even provide basic accommodation too.
Life here for a single young person would be more difficult in winter. The resident population is mostly older people. The pubs mostly close, the nights are long, and it can be cold and wet - there's not a lot to do! You could probably find a holiday cottage to rent for a winter period, or the cheapest decent housing starts at around £100,000 for a small bungalow or ex-council house in one of the larger villages. If you get in touch by personal email, I'll happily give you some contacts and websites where you can do further research. richarddorrell@aol.com

Roos said...

Hi Richard, you have a very interesting blog going. I am a Scot in exile at the moment and plan to move back some time over the next two years. If I do move back it would have to be the west coast. Every time I visit Scotland I always make time to visit Skye and Lewis and would prefer Lewis but however, I will need to compromise as my wife does not like the idea of a two hour ferry crossing to Stornoway. But I do love Skye just as much and has easier access.
I guess the main thing for me would be access to an airport, so that would be either Glasgow or Prestwick. We hope to come over in October for a look around yet again and hope to make a gradual transition. Looking forward to coming back.

Richard said...

Hello Roos, Thank you for your comment. As a place to live, Skye certainly has many advantages over most of the more remote parts of the west of Scotland. Although we have an airstrip on Skye, it is never likely to be developed to become a commercial airport. Inverness airport is only 2 hours from the Skye Bridge. There is plenty of property for sale on the island just now, so I wish you and your wife all the best with your plans.

Richard said...

PS - Roos - we have some self catering availability in October (in various parts of the island) if you are looking for somewhere to stay during your visit.

Roos said...

Hi Richard,

During your four years in the Isle of Skye did you ever wonder if you made the right move. I love the Western Isles and I am thinking of moving there myself one day having spent many years there during my childhood. Thats probably the only way I would move back to the UK. I must admit I do prefer Lewis but will have to compromise for my wife, the bridge being the easy route on and off the island. If we do move it will be a gradual one over at least two years and then decide for sure from there.

Richard said...

Hi again Roos, The only regret I have ever felt about relocating to Skye is that I didn't do it sooner. Everything about living here suits Sue and I perfectly - though be VERY aware that Skye wouldn't suit everyone. Check out this post - written 15/05/2011. http://skyecalling.blogspot.co.uk/2011_05_01_archive.html

Anonymous said...

Hi Richard,

Having just returned from another amazing break on Skye,the feelings have intensified as to what it may be like for us to make a permanent move to Skye,something that has been on our minds for a number of years!We have 2 young children,I am a music teacher and my wife an IT specialist. Any advice or comments would be most welcome.

All the best

Will.

Richard said...

Hello Will, It is so easy for visitors to fall in love with Skye, and the right minded people can certainly relocate here and be very happy - we are good examples of that! But do your research VERY thoroughly, especially if you will need to make an income in order to live here. Teaching jobs are as rare as hens teeth. If you wife can work from home, then she may be OK, but there are more IT specialists living here looking for jobs than there are jobs needing filling. So I would say your chances of finding employment in your current careers to be virtually nil. As for children - youngsters will adapt without much trouble, and the schools are good, but the vast majority of school leavers don't just leave school, they also leave Skye, and not many return.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sue and Richard, a fabulous site. My husband and I moved to Skye a year ago and what a year, a mix match of emotions! You are right people should rent first to experence Skye life, we love living on the Island but there is such a lot to consider before such a life changing move, as you say the winters, jobs and my most difficult one missing family.
However as I say we lOVE Island life and I wish anyone considering the move the very best of luck.
Judith

Richard said...

Hi Judith,

Thanks for adding your comment to our blog. I'm delighted to see you love Skye as much as we do. I actually LIKE the winters - the rain lashing against the window, the cosy stove, and everywhere so quiet! Skye Magic!

Anonymous said...

Hello, I was hoping you could tell me if there was any need/jobs on the island for a bus/coach driver. Me and my partner have been to the island a couple of times and we love it. I also wondered if you knew what the rental market is like price wise as we was considering renting for a year or so until we got settled. As you can tell we are in the planning stage so any help would be great fully received. Many thanks Ryan

Richard said...

Hello Ryan, Thank you for your message. There are two companies operating coaches on Skye - Citylink, which is National, and runs buses from the Outer Isles through Portree to Glasgow and Fort William, and local buses are operated by Stagecoach. We have a friend who is a Citylink driver - from what he has said, I get the impression that new jobs are very few and far between, but there's no harm in getting in touch with the companies and asking! As for rentals, prices for long-lets tend to be around the £500 per month figure, plus bills, though there are occasionally small flats on offer which are cheaper. The Skye estate agents would be the best place to look - http://www.iosea.co.uk/ and http://www.skye-property-centre.co.uk

Good luck, and please leave another message here if you decide to 'try Skye'!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your help. I will take your advice and contact the bus companies. I will keep in contact and thank you so much for your advice. Many thanks Ryan

Richard said...

You are welcome. Skye is a perfect place to live, if Skye is perfect for you. But remember, if you move here, you will be a long way away from the friends and family you leave behind. Very best wishes, Richard

Anon said...

Hi we have just come back from a lovely holiday in the highlands and spent some time on Skye. I first visited the island over 20 years ago and have fallen in love with it all over again. My husband and I have talked about moving permently. My husband works from home and we have 4 secondary age children so was wondering what the schooling and the Internet connection is like as this is essential for his work.
Thanks Deborah

Richard said...

Hi Deborah, Firstly, to answer your questions - there is only one secondary school on Skye, the High School in Portree. Inspection reports, etc. will be available online if you Google for them. The building is virtually brand new and shares its library, swimming pool and sports facilities with the public. Generally, the school has a good reputation on the island. Pupils from the far-flung parts of Skye are bussed to Portree daily, which can be a long trip, depending on where you live.

The internet is very widely used throughout the Highlands - it's rather a life line for many of us who live here! Broadband connection speeds vary widely, again depending on where you live. It can be very slow - less than 1mb in places. There's no fibre-optics here. No 3G mobile phone signal either (no mobile signal at all in many places). Again, specific information can be obtained online from the broadband providers.

One serious tip - before you take the plunge to move here, be VERY sure that ALL the family will be happy to leave behind all their friends and other family members. Skye is not a great place for teenagers to live - VERY limited entertainment, etc. and huge distances between where your friends live. Public transport barely exists. The vast majority of school leavers also leave Skye as soon as they can, and not many return.

Anonymous said...

Hello Richard, Me and my partner have 4 children, we would be looking for a place to rent as neither of us work and the government wont pay mortgages! We would have about £850.00 a month to pay rent and would need a 5/6 bed house, are there many available for this price bracket? I would also like a double garage. thanks big baz

Richard said...

Hi, Thank you for your comment. Frankly, I don't think Skye is for you. Read the other comments to this post and my replies - your questions are mostly already answered. The largest house I am aware of currently on offer for long-let has 4 bedrooms. Larger houses VERY seldom come up for letting and almost no houses on Skye have garages. For what you are seeking, your budget would not be enough.

Richard said...

I spent 2.5 years living on the semi-tropical Japanese island of Ishigaki. Having since moved back to the UK I can't help feel that Skye would offer an interesting contrast to my island life in Japan.

Perhaps Skye's dark, wet winters, would be no harder to deal with than Ishigaki's relentlessly hot summers.

I think you make a very good point that people should spend an extended period in a place before they decide to move there permanently. Still, in the meantime I think I'll drive up to the island this may, as I gather that the weather on Skye can be agreeable at that time - and with few of those pesky midges which I keep hearing about!

All the best, Richard

Richard said...

I couldn't take heat, Richard. One of the reasons for moving to Skye was to get away from the south of England's dry summers! May can be lovely on Skye (as can any time of year) but you are right about beating the midges, and the spring flowers will be blooming too.

Anonymous said...

hi richard. we live near landsend cornwall very rural,we are going to rent for 12 months on skye to test the waters before buying there if all goes well.plan is my wife is a registered nurse and like to find employment in that field if pos rmn or rgn. i have parkinsons but am still very able at most things, i'm 46. would 300, buy us a bit of land with ou property for horses. do you do long term rental..so many questions
at least here used to horizontal rain and wind although slightly warmer.any feed back apprieciated.
great blog.
from rich

Richard said...

Hi Rich, You are wise to try Skye for a year in a rental property before relocating to here. You will find Skye rather chilly after Cornwall! There's a lot of property for sale on the island just now. I'm happy to chat about Skye, but it's probably best to email me directly on richarddorrell@aol.com

steve said...

hi richard,what sort of price would we be looking at for a long rental in one of your lets?,do you have anything within 10 miles of portree?,we are a couple thinking of relocating to skye we have a 4 year old son too,we were bitten by skye on our first visit 5 years ago and have been back at different times of the year and the place just gets better,a concern of ours is obviously the job front,although myself and my wife are very adabtable and have done jobs from cleaning/ironing to shelf stacking/factory work and shop manager,and I can turn my hand to most diy jobs,any help would be much appreciated,mant thanks steve.

Richard said...

Hello Steve, I can add little to what has been said in other answers to this post. Skye is not the easy place to live in that it might seem to be when you visit for a holiday. Be VERY sure that you have the right mindset to live here, and also be sure that the family/friends you leave behind will be happy that they will not see you as often, or see your son growing up. I've said several times now, but will say again - THERE ARE VERY FEW JOB OPPORTUNITIES ON SKYE. You will need to bring with you a VERY LARGE pot of money if you do not have a means of income. Living here is expensive. As to houses to rent - they are as scarce as jobs. If you can find one, cost-wise, expect to pay around £600 per month plus bills for a 2/3 bed property. Our cottages may be available for long-let from October to March - if that is any use to you, then get in touch by personal email, and I'll give you more details. Best of luck!

Thistledubh said...

Dear Richard

Next in line wondering about moving to Skye. Take your point about spending a winter there but difficult to do a half measure. We want to move - do around a four bedroom B&B - our preferred area is Isle Oronsay - we are keen sailors and would also hope to offer day trips on our yacht which we could moor locally in the season. I am an accountant and provided I can get good internet access can work remotely and still travel to major clients.

Attraction is the link by road as well as ferry - but how difficult are the roads going south in the winter? Seen how the central belt grinds to a halt with 2" of snow.

You say jobs are poor - we are both self employed now and have been for many years so think that we would find additional income sources as we needed them. How long is your rental season now - do you shut Oct to March? Look forward to hearing from you.

Richard said...

Hi Thistledubh, Thank you for reading my blog. I don't think you are being very realistic with your dream. Do you have B&B experience? Make no mistake - a 4-bed B&B will be a full-time job (It's no joke laundering 56 towels and maybe 35 sets of bedding per week, plus ironing it all, cleaning four bedrooms and bathrooms every day, up EVERY DAY 7 days a week at 7.00am, cooking 56 breakfasts, washing up, cleaning the dining room, and doing all the shopping, then there's the 'meeting and greeting', taking all the bookings and answering email and phone call enquiries...) You could employ a housekeeper or cook and out-source the laundry, but there goes all your profits... When do you plan to fit in all these day trips on the yacht???

Additionally - supply of accommodation on Skye probably exceeds demand for all but the peak summer season (July/August). Some B&Bs are struggling to fill their rooms these days. There are virtually no visitors seeking accommodation between Mid September and Easter. May/June is unusually quiet this year too.

Road travel south from Skye is fine, so long as you like driving. It takes about five tiring hours on twisty, hilly (but VERY scenic) roads to get to Glasgow from the Skye Bridge. Allow longer if you are using the Armadale ferry. That means a VERY early start and VERY late return if you are going for a business meeting. I wouldn't want to do it too often...!!! However, snow is rarely any more of a problem here than anywhere else in the UK.

Finally - broadband speeds on the island are woefully slow (no fibre optics here, no 3G phone either), and there are apparently no current plans to improve the connections.

My suggestion is that you spend a bit of time doing some serious research into the viability of your plans.

Thistle Dubh said...

Hi Richard

Yes we do have some B&B experience. Interesting that you say B&B's are struggling because I have been unable to get booked last week or this week as all full. Also been trying to book for October and similarly struggling to get booked.
I do agree with the pessimism angle tho' (I'm an accountant - it's my job to tell clients the downside and bring them down to reality) But at the same time if you don't try you will never succeed. As to how we will fit in the sailing - if you spec the rooms highly and find the right staff then the sailing can also be a money earner. Your earlier comments say that jobs are hard to find - that also implies that there is probably a good pool of people looking for work. I have previously had a staff of 17 working for me and my partner currently has a staff of 50 working for him so we are used to managing staff and understand the issues. As to possibly commuting to clients it may not be ideal but it is a realistic way to move but keep the funds flowing in. I have an established client base here and I can continue that work even though it would mean recruiting to help run the B&B. As I work for myself I can plan hours to suit. I've done the drive so I know how long it takes. But look what I would be coming back to! And the boat on my doorstep! If you don't think that this would work who do you think could re-locate to Skye? Only wealthy retirees?

Richard said...

Hello again! It is good to get feedback on one of my comments! I am pleased to hear that you have already covered some of my cautionary remarks, and wish you the very best should you make the move. If you are offering job vacancies, then yes, I suspect you will have little trouble finding applicants for the posts.

As for who should relocate to Skye? Not everyone who thinks about it - that's for sure. It has to be people who have the right mind-set. The lifestyle is so very different to that of the South (England) or of any large town. And Skye is a very long way from the family and friends who are 'left behind'.

But life on Skye is fantastic for some. It certainly suits Sue and I, and we have friends here who have also successfully relocated. But, in our short ten years or so of being involved with Skye, we have met so many people who have sold up their homes and moved here full of dreams, only to find their dreams fade away after a few months of living here. So now I urge everyone who approaches me for my views about their plans, to think long and hard if Skye is really for them.

Regarding B&Bs being booked - this week includes a bank holiday - so everywhere is busy. Is the October week you are trying to book the school half term week by any chance?

My best wishes to you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Richard, I agree with many of your comments concerning relocation to Skye.Having lived on the island for the last five years and only having recently returned to south of the border due to family illness, I would argue that there are more employment opportunities for people than many would think.
If you are prepared to be flexible in your ways of work then you WILl without doubt find a job.
It helps if you are prepared to go and introduce yourself to people and enquire locally about current or upcoming vacancies.
Although the bulk of employment is within the tourism and hospitality areas, there are opportunities within the aquaculture, Highland council, construction etc regularly advertised. You just have to be prepared to look and maybe accept that what you earned in the south will invariably be a lot more than you would hope to achieve on Skye.
Before moving to Skye I was employed in the oil industry (not the type of work found on Skye) and I'm proud of the fact that I never went without work for the last five years.
I still own my property on Skye, a large 4 / 5 bed detached with a double garage. I may consider renting this out to any of the people who have contributed to your great blog, just to give them a chance to see if a life on Skye is for them.

Many thanks Iain

Richard said...

Thank you for your useful contribution Iain. You did well to stay in employment during your time on Skye. I personally know several people who have unsuccessfully searched for work for many months. As you say - it is very much a matter of being prepared to take on pretty much anything, and accept less money than you might have hoped for. Also, of course, you have to have the necessary skills...!!! I have written a post (September 2012) in which I said much of the above. What concerns me most is people who come here for a couple of weeks on holiday, think 'wow what a wonderful place to live' and then move here expecting that they will be able to earn easy money.
Finally - regarding your house - you will find there is a huge demand for long-term renals. Advertsise in the Free Press, and you'll have a queue of potential tenants pretty quickly - especially if the location is good.
Thanks again for taking the time to write your comment.

rmeek said...

Hi there my husband has just got a job on Skye and we are looking to move up asap just need long term let! If anyone can let us know of one that would be AWESOME! Thanks, Ruth.

Richard said...

Hi RMeek, Congratulations, and welcome to Skye! I know of a modern two bedroom bungalow near Broadford which may be available for long term let. If that may suit your needs - contact me by personal email - richarddorrell@aol.com . Otherwise, I suggest you try an 'accommodation wanted' advert in the local newspaper - West Highland Free Press. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Richard -
- We have been coming to Skye an awful lot over the last two or three years, Including a winter - the wind is interesting!!) - but each time the pain of leaving grows greater. We desperately want to move there.
Now my wife can work from home, but I am a musician, singing teacher and guitar teacher. Is there a market for that type of employment\service on Skye? -

- G

Richard Dorrell said...

Hi, Thank you for your message. Yes - 60 mph winds aren't too unusual here. It's no probklem providing it's not raining at the same time... 60mph driving drizzle works its way through almost all waterproof clothing!! As to teaching music/singing/guitar - there is a strong music culture here, so there could well be work for a private teacher, though bear in mind the population here is widely scattered, and there are only some 10,000 residents on the whole island. Could maybe create work doing workshops with visitors in summer..?? Could also contact the High School to find out if they employ people with your abilities. Very best of luck. Many people now read this blog and will be interested to know how you get on, so please keep in touch.