My Mid Life Orkney Crisis

by Steve Bray
(St Margaret’s Hope)

So I was 50. I thought my life was settled and then, bam! Redundancy struck.

What to do?

I could have stayed in Somerset and tried to get another job, or I could bite the bullet and do something completely random and out of my comfort zone.

Moving to Orkney had always been a dream, way in the back of my mind - something I would love to do when I retired. But there I was in August of 2017 with no job.

I sat down and wrote a list - pros and cons.

Pros were easy: I had no ties, no partner or children. I rented my flat, so no big sale to arrange. I had some money in the bank.

The cons: Well, that was hard. The removal fee would be huge.

I had a great life, and even more importantly some amazing and close life long friends. I couldn’t just up and leave them. I had a fantastic social life. How could I just move to the other end of the country?

I sat down with my close friends Lorraine and Darren, and we talked. It soon became clear that they wanted me to at least give it a try even though they would miss me. They didn’t want me to look back in a few years and have regrets about not doing it.

So I did it.

I found a house to rent and booked a local removal firm from Orkney. I handed in my notice on my flat, and in November 2017 I moved to Orkney.

Now it’s Feb 2019.

So the Verdict!

Well, the removal fee was huge but then I did move all the way from Somerset. They were amazing.

I still miss my friends like crazy but we speak all the time. Planning trips to go and visit or have them come here is fun.

I now have a lovely, old two bedroom house overlooking the Pentland Firth. I am so lucky and happy with this house.

I'm working and have made some really nice friends. And I have a social life, but it’s more than that.

The way of life here is so different.

You have to plan things well in advance and I love that.

The pace of life is slower.

People are so friendly and willing to help with anything.

The stunning scenery and all the history of the islands are just amazing.

It’s very easy to get to the mainland with discounts for islanders on ferries and Loganair flights.

You can get most anything delivered here via Amazon and other carriers.

No traffic jams.

And the amazing weather in winter. I’ve just done my second winter. You have to love wild, windy, stormy days.

But the summers. Warm and balmy, long nights do happen and are magical. Thank God for blackout blinds, though, when we reach the summer equinox. It just doesn’t get dark.

As I am typing this the Northern Lights are streaming above my head!

It was worth it.

And yes, I’ve never been happier.

Comments for My Mid Life Orkney Crisis

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Midlife Adventure!
by: Rhonda

Thanks for sharing your story, Steve. You took a real chance coming to Orkney without knowing a soul. Good for you!

St Margret's Hope is such a pretty place. Have you ever been stranded on the Mainland by storms?

(For those who don't know, St Margaret's Hope is on the island of South Ronaldsay, which is connected to Orkney's Mainland by the Churchill Barriers, built during WWII. The barriers sometimes get closed during rough weather, as the waves will crash right over them.)

Best of luck to you in your new life, Steve!

Rhonda and Tom

by: Anonymous

I’ve been really lucky so far and not been stuck by the barriers being closed. You can follow the OIC Roads twitter feed which gives updates when the weather isn’t great.
I always take a flask of coffee and a blanket just in case I get stuck. Lol.

Great ideas!
by: Rhonda

Ha ha! Those are some great ideas, Steve. I know some people have friends that they stay with in Kirkwall if they can't get across the barriers.

Removal company
by: Cheryl

Hello, would you mind sharing th name of the removal company you used, I would be interested to know the costs, we are looking to reocate to Orkney from Derbyshire. I am wondering if it would be best to use a local company in Derbyshrie or an Orkney firm?

The results are in!
by: Rhonda

Hi, Cheryl.

I took a Facebook poll yesterday. The results were evenly split between McAdie and Reeve and Littlejohn Removals, both in Kirkwall. People had glowing reports about both of these companies, with one person noting a bad experience with M & R. Good luck!


Removal company
by: Cheryl

Thanks for going to so much trouble Rhonda, this will be really useful nearer the time. I've also got a horse to transport so that will be interesting! Our first priority at the moment is to sell our house, it has just gone on the market, so we are a way off yet - plenty of time to be researching!

by: mark

hello im 57 single no ties lost 6 family memebers in three years need a new start been looking at scottish isles like my privacy and small gatherings slower pace of life liked your story about move

Best of luck
by: Rhonda

I hope you find your new life, Mark. Good luck to you.

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Mermaid image (Rhonda's pages) and storyteller image (Tom's pages), and all other illustrations except where noted are here by the courtesy of our dear friend - Stromness author, artist and historian, Bryce Wilson MBE, who owns all copyrights. Thanks, Bryce!