Monday, 16 March 2020

#14: Thinking of moving to a remote corner of Scotland?

When Lucy and I told our friends in Essex that we were relocating to North East Scotland the overwhelming response, aside from the initial positive pleasantries, was ‘You know it gets cold and dark up there in the winter don’t you?’ Since moving we have met many like-minded folk from England who have also made the best move of their lives. Now it appears that we may have just moved ‘ahead of the rush’ as more people start thinking about living a quieter, less frenetic life, characterised by community and outdoor activity and not filled by jobs and commuting. An outdoor life with family and others first. If you are thinking of moving to Scotland, I would say do it! But if you are needing a bit of guidance I thought it might be helpful to share our personal search criteria list for a family relocation to Scotland.

This time last year we made the trip from Essex to Aviemore and beyond to look at houses in the North East of Scotland. Our goal whilst on our house hunting holiday was to find a new family location and home which could house the four of us (Lucy and I, along with our two children, now 13 and 10) as well as my parents, as we looked to sell two houses in the south-east and buy a larger family home together in Scotland. The six of us sat down and drew up the following collective criteria for our new home:
  1. Waterside, view of water from the property
  2. Close to a park or green space
  3. 5+ bedrooms (for our extended family: 4 adults and two children)
  4. Downstairs bathroom and/or bedroom (if my parents might need it in the future)
  5. Upstairs bathroom (and/or ensuites)
  6. Two lounges downstairs
  7. Large kitchen diner
  8. Potential for two desk office space (for working from home if needed)
  9. Garden with side/back access big enough to grow our own fruit and veg
  10. Shed or wood store
  11. Off-street parking for 2 cars
  12. Sunroom/garden room
  13. Solar panels or eco/energy-saving features
  14. Conservatory
  15. South or West facing orientation
  16. Independent kitchen/space for Mum and Dad
  17. Storage space/loft
  18. Local clubs for swimming, cycling, running, sailing
  19. Local pub (never really had a local pub, within walking distance before)
  20. Local shops and amenities
  21. Less than three miles to good schools
  22. Local hospital, medical and social care if we need it (Mum and Dad have both had health scares)
  23. Broadband and good mobile phone reception
  24. Access to outdoor adventures
  25. Access to a train station and bus station (so we are not reliant on the car)
  26. Access to Inverness airport (for holidays and work trips in the UK).
The more we spoke about what we were looking for the longer the list grew until we had over 25 items on our list. In that week-long house hunting trip it quickly became obvious that Nairn ticked nearly all of our boxes. But it was the magnificent beaches that ultimately sold us on Nairn. 

Nairn central beach at low tide looking over firth towards Cromarty

The house we chose, in the end, didn’t have eco features, nor a downstairs bedroom and there wasn’t an independent kitchen for Mum and Dad but these could be added at a later stage if we wanted and needed them. But amazingly we found very much what we were looking for. There is a wonderful Scottish phrase we have often heard since ‘Whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye!’ There may well have been a healthy dose of destiny in the mix too. 

If you are thinking, maybe because of Brexit or because of the recent global challenges, it is time to think about and plan a move to Scotland, rest assured there are many rural communities, like Nairn, who will welcome and support you and your family. Six months into our new location and with a new job starting tomorrow we have very much settled into life in our remote corner of Scotland. So make some time, sit down with your loved ones and draw up your criteria list - where would you love to live, how would you like to live, what would you like to be doing? Make your list and start looking at places on-line, book a house hunting trip and you might just surprise yourself at what you can find. Rural Scotland might just be the answer to your problems.