Thursday, 31 July 2014


It’s been 15 weeks since we arrived in Shetland and we have been reflecting on the move. This may help someone thinking of moving to Shetland. We fell in love with Shetland on our first visit back in 1987 and always said we would like to move here someday. This is the norm with any holiday, you get around and see the good parts and just dip into the `living’ part.
                                                                                                 Sumburgh Farm

Since the first visit we have always enjoyed our return visits making 14 trips in total. On each visit we gained more experience, talked to people, kept up to-date with the news and looked at things that you would not normally done on holiday, such as keeping an eye on estate agents, getting info on the Scottish way that houses are sold and bought, facilities for residents and of cause the weather.

Then back in 2012 we made the decision to make the move but due to the recession houses were not selling so we postponed the move and started the process of selling our house in 2013. At this time many people thought that we would not actually make the move.
                                                                                    Wind House Yell (said to be Haunted)

It took 16 months to sell our house and we received a lot less than the asking price, at the same time we kept track on the housing situation in Shetland. Some houses in Shetland also sold for less than the asking price and a number that we would have been interested in past by. Generally houses come on the market from May and drop off in October, with only a few in between this period.

We followed blogs of others making the move, some coming as far as Canada, Australia and New Zealand, some of these people having never been to Shetland before. Also of interest was comments made on Shetlink, another good source of information- but beware some people are very negative.

Our house in Sheffield at last sold and we used Specialised Movers who had already taken people to Shetland before, to do all our packing- a lot less stressful than doing this yourself. Our things went into storage in Sheffield to be transported when we bought a house. Expect to pay around £12000+ to move here with estate agents, solicitor, removal and storage fees, even more if you don’t manage to get a place quickly.

At present the housing situation in Shetland is very difficult, with most houses selling for around £20,000 more than the asking price. The situation will not be changing for at least another 5 years with the continuing work at Sullom Voe, a new Power station and School as well as a harbour extension which have led to an influx of construction workers, which at present stands around 2500.

                                                                                       Sullom Voe Gas and Oil terminal

Rents have gone through the roof with some people paying £2500- £4000 per month in Lerwick or further north. Some local people who have had problems with workers just don’t advertise and will only rent to people they know or that are recommended, this is how we managed to get one.

With only a limited housing stock people are also buying land and building their own house, but beware of crofting rights if you are buying land, it may have to be de-crofted first, best see a solicitor which also act as estate agents. This means that all the local builders are extremely busy and also material cost a lot more than down in the rest of the UK with between £60-80000 quote to build on an extra two bedrooms onto an existing building. Then you have to get planning permission but with only two surveyors, one which is constantly working on the major projects it is taking around 18 months before work is past.

One thing to note is that the seller has to get a Home and Energy report in place before the sale, which takes care of you having to do a survey unless you feel that problems have been identified. What you save on the survey is swallowed up by the solicitor, the fees being a lot more than down in England.

The internet is slow here, but if you don’t have any connection then use the library, that what we have been doing since we arrived, they have around 20 computers for use as well as an excellent range of books and other information.
                                                                                                   View to Spiggie

Council Tax includes the water rates and is generally cheaper than England, but the main area for cost is the way you heat your home. With no gas it’s going to be either oil which is always going up in price or electric storage heaters which is not normally sufficient to heat a house in winter, some have solid fuel heating as well, but think whether you want to be doing this when you are getting old. It’s good to have a mixture if possible as you never know when the power cuts will hit.

With grants available for insulation and other heating methods, we have applied to have an Air- Air heating system which is very efficient and warms the whole house quickly. No word on this yet. If you are over 60 you can apply for a free bus and inter island ferry pass and at the same time get a couple of free Northlink ferry tickets. There is better medical help in Shetland, with free prescriptions but for major operation you have to go to Aberdeen, they supply an air ticket and for most things you come back the same day.

If you have been stuck in traffic jams, then you are in for a treat. The roads are in excellent condition and mostly traffic free, although you can always tell when a ferry or plane has arrived. Be aware that some people have little road awareness and often cut right across the front of you, or back out of a parking space without looking.
                                                                                       Lerwick Harbour

During winter the roads are only gritted Monday – Friday due to cut backs, and although snow generally doesn't stay long due to the salt in the air there are roads where black ice is a problem. Also make sure you get winter (all weather) tyres fitted October- April, a thing that I would never would have thought about.
If you are into shopping then forget about coming  Shetland, there are no M&S or other large shops, but this is one of the things we wanted to get away from, Meadowhall was on our doorstep but we only went in got what we wanted and came straight back out. It does seem amazing that during one day at Christmas it held 5 times the population of Shetland 110,000 people.

Tesco dominates the scene in Lerwick with only the Co-op as competition. They have just introduced a delivery service throughout the islands which may seem great but just think about the small shops, once they close they never come back, this has already happened to the once at Cunningsburgh. You also have to get use to the empty shelves, this happens at any time of day and any day of the week.

I am sure there is much more we could say so if we can help in any way please feel free to e-mail me at and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

You can never have enough information to make your decision. We don’t regret the move at all and wish we had done it sooner, what makes it difficult is leaving all our family and friends behind, however there is always Skype and (Holiday) visits south.

No doubt you will have many reasons that you want to come to Shetland, this is our story, and we hope your move goes as well as ours. Shetland is a stress buster, the quality of life far better than we expected but make sure that you get involved with the community, there is a lot happening. For us it’s the wildlife, the people, music, and a slower pace of life where you feel safe and valued and part of a community and much more.

It was our 31st wedding anniversary on Wednesday, so it will be great to get the house keys . It’s still hard to believe that we are here at last and as we ate fish and chips at the award winning Frankie’s in Brae, we reflected that the world has become a smaller place, in fact Diane’s sister was in Tokyo at the time 5446 miles away perhaps eating sushi, fried locust or even a McDonald's.  It’s not like the Alan Wicker way anymore (Showing our age now); you too can go on a life changing adventure.

This is not the end of the blog, just the start really as we experience more of the Shetland way of life. Please join us on our other Shetland Blogs

Good luck, more from us next week.
                                                                                                  Fitfull Head

No comments:

Post a Comment