The Best Places to Live in the Outer Hebrides

Known for awe-inspiring views and rich Scottish history, the Outer Hebrides is the perfect place for those searching for a life bursting with nature, breath-taking scenery and coastal experiences.

This interconnected chain of Atlantic islands has a strong community feel, with their modest populations cultivating great neighbourly bonds and close ties. Great for raising a family, indulging in adrenaline-spiking activities and getting close to some of the world’s most diverse animals, the Outer Hebrides caters to all walks of life – provided you’re up for the remote living and popular tourist seasons.

So, join us as we explore a taste of life on the Outer Hebrides’ most popular islands.

The Isle of Lewis & Harris

The Isle of Lewis & Harris is the largest in the Outer Hebrides and spans an impressive 841 square miles. Sitting just off the west coast, Lewis & Harris are two parts of the same island, with the biggest town, Stornoway, nestled to the east of this dazzling and historic landscape.

Featuring dramatic scenes, fascinating history, and a strong Gaelic culture, Lewis & Harris is the most popular island for tourists and movers alike, boasting great community bonds and a family-friendly atmosphere amid stunning scenery and 5-star dining. Residents never get tired of the island’s wild mountain backdrop, gorgeous beaches (reportedly among the best in Britain) and panoramic skylines.

Lovers of the great outdoors can enjoy many activities right on their doorstep, from the Hebridean Way (one of Scotland’s most famous treks) to watersports, hillwalking and cycling, to name just a few. On the other hand, history buffs can spend the weekends diving into their new home’s rich history – from the ancient thatched blackhouses at Gearrannan to the mysterious standing stones of Callanish Visiting.

With good education options and a humble population of approximately 21,000 (not to mention low crime rates) – the Isle of Lewis & Harris is a great place to call home. Be mindful, however, that connection to mainland Scotland is by sea or air only, while food delivery and other essentials can incur a higher cost. At the time of writing, the average price of a home is £153,091.

The Isle of Barra

The majestic Isle of Barra is the most southerly of all the inhabited islands in the Outer Hebrides. Famed for its beauty, with golden beaches, spectacular hillsides, brightly coloured floral plains and moors all on one tiny island, Bara is a top-rated destination for visitors and movers looking to immerse themselves in some of the most sensational landscapes Scotland has to offer.

Families can spend their weekends exploring Barra’s many beaches, like world-renowned Tangasdale, with its white sands and crystal-clear turquoise waters. At the same time, fitness fanatics will be spoilt for choice with the breathtaking cycle and walking paths dotted around this compact but incredibly beautiful island. Like Lewis & Harris, watersports are a way of life for Bara’s residents, with sea kayaking groups, sailors and wild swimmers a usual sight year-round. 

Those with a passion for the past can learn about Barra’s local history at the island’s heritage centre, Dualchas, where its two galleries offer a changing programme of local archaeology displays, art exhibitions and cultural events. And at the end of a long day, new residents can make their way to Bara’s welcoming pubs and restaurants to sample delicious locally-sourced delicacies and rub elbows with the community. 

Barra is accessible by air or sea in less than two hours and has its own airport, which uniquely lands its passengers on the sandy airstrip of Cockle Strand beach between tides. Like Harris & Lewis, however, living in Barra can be expensive, with food deliveries and fuel services experiencing hiked fees compared to the mainland. At the time of writing, the average house price in Barra is £120,250. 

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