What is it like living in Shetland?

Dec 2, 2021

The other day I came across an interesting question – someone asked: ‘What is it like living in Shetland?”

It made me stop and think about it. First of all I should say, in case you don’t know already, I’m not from Shetland. I moved here in 2004 after finishing my degree. My first encounter with the isles was in 1999 on a high school exchange and the minute we stepped off the P&O ferry St Clair, Shetland stole my heart. This was mostly down to my host family, their kindness, friendliness and their brilliant sense of humour. They filled my short time in Shetland to the brim with wonderful experiences and walks and showed me some of the most magical places I’d seen.

Some of my favourite Shetland reading:

Shetland with Laurie blog
10 favourite books about Shetland
Shetland Wool Adventures Journal vol. 1-3


  1. Liz says:

    Wow! Thank you for sharing your wonderful photos!

  2. Judith Clark-Upton says:

    Beautiful photos. And that is exactly what I tell people who want to move to the Oregon coast. Come spend some time here in winter…. That would undoubtedly be more true for Shetland. It’s definitely a move that some of us here have considered.

  3. Thank you, Misa! Shetland stole my heart three years ago—my hope is to visit again soon. It really is magical, beautiful, and full of soul.

    • Misa Hay says:

      Aw, so lovely to hear from you Mary Jo, I think fondly of our time spent together in Shetland. I hope you can return soon!

  4. Elaine Salt says:

    Wonderful photographs. Shetland is clearly in your heart you as you speak of these islands with such passion.

  5. Elaine Salt says:

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful photographs. Shetland is clearly in your heart you as you speak of these islands with such passion.

  6. Malcolm Turner says:

    What a fantastic feature keep up the great work and sending all things Shetland cannot wait to visit again next year

  7. Sue Sloan says:

    Misa, you keep teasing us! My family background is Finnish and Norwegian. Shetland made me feel very comfortable. I feel that northern tug.

    • Misa Hay says:

      Hello Sue, I remember you mentioned that before. And I know what you mean about that northern tug – I feel the same 🙂

  8. Courtney Sparkes says:

    I love the comment about going for a cold walk and coming back for a nice warming bowl of stew! I can totally relate to that growing up in Newfoundland! Also your photos are stunning! I wish I could pop on over for a couple days!

    • Misa Hay says:

      Isn’t it the best! I love coming home to warm and enjoy a hearty meal. Hopefully one day I can visit your part of the world too, I’d love to do that!

  9. Jenece says:

    One day I will get there when we can travel again. Shetland keeps calling me !!

    • Misa Hay says:

      I hope your Shetland trip dream can come true soon! In the meantime I’ll keep supplying you with photos of the place through the blog 🙂

  10. Barb says:

    Thank you Misa for sharing your thoughts and love of Shetland, we visited UK 6 years ago but didn’t make it to Shetland and sadly won’t be travelling from Australia to UK now.
    Have a lovely Christmas and keep up your lovely correspondence

  11. Jan Stoney says:

    Living in Shetland from 1982 to 1985 was wonderful. We miss it every day. Lovely people, fantastic scenery, even got used to it being windy every day., even though it nearly blew my first son away when we got off the plane with our second son who had been born in Aberdeen. Hope to go back one day. The most wonderful place to live!

  12. Tim O’Dell says:

    We came to visit from Newcastle last October and, since then, we’ve not been able to get Shetland out of our heads, so I know what you mean about it taking a piece of your heart. As my wife is now retired, and I’m not far behind, we’ve just started toying with the idea of moving up to Shetland, so your thoughts have been very welcome.

  13. Tim says:

    Great to hear that people love Shetland, however I have been numerous times now due to work and find I dislike it more each time. The bleak harsh landscape lacking in softness, the lack of trees, everyone knowing everyone’s business, these are not for me. Yes there is also great beauty, but overall I find it a depressing, run-down place and always feel relieved to get away.

  14. Deborah Bouch says:

    Thank you for these inspiring words. I am a life sciences teacher and passionate about nature, being in big spaces in nature and everything to do with yarn, I am never without my knitting, even at school when doing break duty. My dream is to come and live in Shetland with my husband who is a chef and nature lover too.

  15. TheOldRanger says:

    Love the pictures and your dialogue. I do love nature and prefer rural areas to live. I’m retired (age 81) but would love to visit Shetland and stay a while; however, my wife’s health prohibits such a visit at this time. I also love your passion for Shetland and it speaks volumes that a lot of travel writers cannot get across. I’m Irish, Italian, and Native American, but I’m sure I can fit in anyway… lol


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