Living in the Scottish Highlands for 3 Months (Almost Unintentionally)!

How’d we end up living in the Scottish Highlands for 3 months?

Long story short: we needed to be in the UK for 3 months, so…

…we considered splitting it 1 month in England, 1 month in Scotland, 1 month in Ireland…or something like that.

However, there’s something to be said for picking one country and really enjoying it!

(Also, especially while you’re working full-time remotely AND you’re living with kids, not having to move countries every month does make things easier!)

Gin while your children play in a castle: does it GET more Scottish than that? 🤣
(One of our favorite small random local Scottish gins tasted at a restaurant which we promptly purchased for emergencies. And yes, we did have glasses although if you’d like to picture us drinking straight from the bottle, you are free to thus amuse yourself!🤗haha Enjoy!)
One of the coolest experiences we had: getting a pro sheepdog demonstration by a man who’d lived here on his family’s STUNNING property for his whole life! And his are actually last year’s Champions but they played with our daughters just like regular playful dogs–their favorite game was “Someone hide the rock under your shoe and I’ll try to find it!”
Do you see us? Via Ferrata + ropes up and across a waterfall…a mother-daughter date! Will share more below…
Your eyes do not deceive you. Scotland has some really lovely beaches! We had 4-5 favorites I’ll share with you!

Logically, Matt and I also decided that because we have this unique opportunity of being able to live and work from anywhere in the world, we wanted to pick more

out-of-the-way, takes-longer-to-get-there

locations when we could!

I’d traveled through Scotland a few times before and had a fair idea of what I liked (and didn’t). So as I searched for homes we could rent in the areas I wanted to go back to for a much longer, more leisurely time…

…I found unique homes in the unique areas that felt like such a treat to get to actually live long-term in!

Yep, we lived in this croft house AND during lambing time! This pic shows you before all the grass gets super green!
Just like we did in Portugal, the girls and I found some good stables where we could ride more frequently and consistently.
Whenever else will our daughters get to play in old Scottish croft ruins?🤷‍♀️ They invited us in for tea after setting up house…
(We learned SO much about crofts and laws during our three months, from living on one to visiting working crofts to all the conversations with local people about the crofting laws and history…fascinating!)

Living in these consistent places allowed us time to

  • Go repeatedly on our favorite walks along beaches and hills and hikes through the highlands
  • Find our favorite cafes and restaurants, where the owners start asking and knowing our names
  • Find our favorite grocery shops (one of which had THE most talkative kind owner that you had to allow quite a bit of time for each trip just in case)
  • Do things we like as mom/daughter time such as consistently horse riding on old Scottish trails the local laird would let people ride through, or visiting local libraries and playgrounds
  • Find our favorite beaches (yes, Scotland has some great ones!)
  • Make friends with neighbors

…such as when we were renting a house on centuries-old farmland where the owner and his wife let us come over to pet baby lambs, brush down a neglected horse, let the girls ride another horse…

I mean, if you’re going to befriend the neighbors, these are the ones!🤣 That view of the ocean too!
We bought bikes! Used and perfect for the amazing, famous Oban biking route…so much cheaper than renting and when you’re there long-term, why not? Even one of them was free from a local women giving her child’s old one away! Score!

Looking back, it’s amazing to me how much the various Scottish people embraced us when they learned we weren’t just there for a few days as regular tourists. Depending on what you’re comparing it to, three months may sound long or short, and we could definitely find reasons to stay in MOST of these places even longer…

…yet if you do move somewhere and really embrace it, we recommend frequently visiting the locally-run stores and little shops and cafes and talk to the neighbors and let your kids ride bikes down the old dirt roads past the sheep making a ruckus everyday or whatever it is…the neighbors know. 🙂

And it was unexpectedly heartwarming to see how quickly some of these people accepted us!

Just another day in Wellies, frolicking along the river behind our croft house.
Did I EVER think I’d be a woman with 180 photos of lambs? NO…and yet here I am. I’ve narrowed them down for you…OH MY GOODNESS, NEWBORN LAMBS ARE EVEN CUTER IN PERSON. I’m not even an animal nut. That should tell you something about the high levels of adorability. 😂
Learning to gather, card, and spin wool IN ALL THE OLD WAYS! So so fascinating! See below about Laura Ingalls Wilder to understand how my 8-year-old even KNEW about and BEGGED to be taught this!

Let’s have some fun now and find out WHO’S REALLY TO BLAME FOR OUR LIVING IN SCOTLAND:

Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I’ll explain🤣… As a mom looking for books for my speed-reading daughter to devour, I discovered that there were other “Little House” series, not just by Laura Ingalls Wilder…

…but whole series based on her mother, and her grandmother, and her great-grandmother! Totally fascinating, and the great-grandmother lives in this house on the remote hills of Scotland over a loch…

So, while I’d thought all my travels to Scotland prior to motherhood were good enough, I started envisioning our family living in an old, original stone cottage on the top of (or I’d accept the side of) a hill in the Scottish Highlands.

Bonus points for having a view of the loch, like in the books.

This girl and I hiked this area too many times to count, from cold days to warm days, from dry days to wet days…even one day after a snow came!
If you find 3 different kinds of snow within 2 meters of each other, you might be in the Scottish Highlands…

So as I searched for Aforementioned Dream Cottage in Jess’s Brain, I discovered several different houses as potential candidates.

My “loch view” house wasn’t an old stone cottage, and I know now that my dream doesn’t technically exist (and why they don’t put the old stone cottages on the hill like my brain envisioned).

An almost straight-uphill scramble to get to this remote spot on Skye…we loved it so much we did it twice one week.

Like I said, Scotland isn’t just dramatic highland scenery, they have wonderful beaches to play at! We found 4 or 5 favorites we kept going back to.

We’re definitely coming back to this one, and next time I want to camp here!
A view from above of a beach we frequented too many times to count…it was awesome when tide went out, look how far you could walk (then climb up the rocks)!
Another favorite, mostly because of the swings but also just beautiful and peaceful.
For names of each of our favorite discovered beaches, you’ll need to email me! 😉

Another day I was musing on our time in Scotland and wrote the following:

Living somewhere is different than experiencing it as a tourist traveler.

You go slower, you don’t “do” everything but you still do more, more slow interactions with locals and talking with people, getting attached to a place, getting a pulse on the people and “vibe” of a place…

The most delicious forests! This one had massive rope swings. The girls begged to go here over and over again. Just a remote little place on the property of an old ruined castle. We claimed it as ours finally.

It can be tempting to compare yourself to the tourists that whisk through and check off all the sights they’ve seen, or all the ground they’re covering…

…but we’ve learned it’s just a completely different sport so there’s no comparison, and it’s fun to listen but mostly we just naturally end up talking to locals. Not because we don’t want to talk to tourists but 1) tourists are in a hurry, 2) tourists aren’t there to chat and 3) the people we run into on slow activities like walks or bike rides are usually local people.

Regular life also involves libraries…
Another addition to our “Playgrounds of the World” book.😆
One of the most famous castles for photos + girl with her arm broken from our last day in Sevilla.

So funnily enough, we don’t interact with many non-Scottish folk. The most we’ve heard of the German, French or American accents is at cafes and restaurants while ordering food, and they’re usually in and out faster than we are bc they’ve got a busy sightseeing schedule to stick to.

We’re getting into long conversations with

  • our landlords
  • the people that work at our favorite cafe down the road
  • our riding instructors and other local riders
  • random people we meet on hikes, walks, bike rides, hanging out at the beach…
  • the man who was flying a non electric glider off beach dunes and gave our daughters a lesson in aerodynamics…
  • …the woman who still rears her own sheep, works the wool and knits it into sweaters all the old way, by hand…teaching my daughter to spin her wool…
  • …the farmer who trains his working sheepdogs and let the girls play with them for an hour…

No, I can’t even begin to list them all off…but we have really, deeply enjoyed it.

See our little croft house over there to the left? A cold day but kids still want to play in streams! This is coming down from the snow melting on those hills…
When you’re traveling for 1 1/2 years, you can’t bring a lot of toys…so my daughters get creative with cardboard!

The longest non-Scot conversation I got into was with the New Zealander who guided my daughter and I with another couple on a via ferrata up and over a waterfall…

This was her first Via Ferrata and afterwards she became OBSESSED! “When can we do another one, Mama?”

…so, as soon as I heard that Kiwi accent, you know I had a few questions.🤣

We climbed and talked for hours about life, education and homeschooling, to both being the oldest of 5, to growing up with special needs siblings!

The other couple was Scottish and my daughter and talked to both of them as well, hearing about their farm and travels in their camper van.

THE COOLEST part about this was that the other couple was so nervous, so our guide had me go first then my daughter, which meant they had an 8-year-old to follow, which the woman said really helped give her confidence to do it herself too! 🙂

DUDE. WE LOVE VIA FERRATAS!
This was my Mama walk in a far, far north part of the highlands. Matt would play at a nearby beach with the girls alone and I’d come here and just pray and listen for hours.
Another day, another castle. (This one along our favorite stretches of the Oban bike path.)
Our last house had an old tube the girls played in on the river day after day when it was hot!
This is in Glenorchy, a super-touristy and easy-to-get to spot but still gorgeous!
Although if you go to Scotland, you GOTTA find your own remote spots with no one on them–the Scottish “Right To Roam” laws mean you can go ANYWHERE you want! (Just be respectful and careful/stay away from their livestock.)

Ending up living in Scotland for 3 months was NOT something we planned on when we started this…

…but it ended up being surprisingly refreshing, relaxing, and rejuvenating!

BUT…where will we go next? 😉 Somewhere veeeeeeeeeeery different! (Click to check our “Adventure” page for the latest updates!)

If you missed it, we were in Spain and Morocco before this…

You can also check out where we lived in

  1. The Azores Islands
  2. Our long holiday in Madeira
  3. Living in The Canary Islands
  4. Our trip to Morocco
  5. Living in my favorite place in southern Spain

Why are we doing this, for how long, and all your other questions are answered in this post! 🙂

PS: Yes, we are working full time while we do this!😅 Another good reason we do it slower.

PPS: To support our small business, check out this page full of helpful guides we’ve created! I highly recommend starting with this #1 step!

(I honestly believe EVERY human being should get this. It’s hitting what REALLY matters in life so I’m proud of its direction. If you get it and don’t like it, just email us for a refund. I want you to love it like I do and I want it to HELP you…for REALZ!🤗)

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