Leader comment: Island life is not an easy option

The scenery in the Orkney Islands is impressive, such as here at Marwick Head, helping to make it an attractive place to live.
The scenery in the Orkney Islands is impressive, such as here at Marwick Head, helping to make it an attractive place to live.
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It may be an open secret for those who live on Orkney, but the news that the archipelago’s residents enjoy the best quality of life of any rural area in Britain will likely encourage interest among city dwellers looking to up sticks and relocate.

There can be little doubt that Orkney is a beautiful place, rich in culture, heritage and natural wonder. Its latest accolade takes account of other factors that families routinely consider when moving home. The average house price, for instance, is just £108,244, less than half the UK equivalent, while Orkney enjoys some of lowest population densities and traffic levels anywhere in Scotland.

Like so many of the nation’s islands, it offers a superb way of life. Provided, that is, you are committed to living in a rural community.

There is a world of difference between being attracted to island life, and being able to adapt to it. The survey points to a good choice of public houses being available, but few who work the land on Orkney will consider this to be vital to their well-being.

Likewise the issue of scenery. Our island communities can look idyllic, especially at this time of year when spring is starting to blossom, but ordinary families have little time to sit back and soak up the sights. They must work hard to make a living, like anywhere else.

It is pleasing to see Orkney given its moment to shine, but the danger of surveys like this is that it sends out a message which suggests the good life is just a ferry sailing away. It probably is if you are a tourist, and we would encourage you to visit if you like what you have read, because it is well worth a trip.

But just because a place is idyllic, it does not mean the living is easy.