New York Family Finds Home on Scotland's Fair Isle

Liz Musser, son Henry and Tommy Hyndman i i

Liz Musser, son Henry and Tommy Hyndman moved from upstate New York to Scotland's remote Fair Isle nearly six months ago. Tommy Hyndman hide caption

itoggle caption Tommy Hyndman
Liz Musser, son Henry and Tommy Hyndman

Liz Musser, son Henry and Tommy Hyndman moved from upstate New York to Scotland's remote Fair Isle nearly six months ago.

Tommy Hyndman

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Auld Haa or Old Hall, where the island's lord used to live i i

The house the family lives in is known as the "Auld Haa" — which is Scottish for "Old Hall" — and is where the island's lord used to live. Now, it's an inn for the many birdwatchers who flock to Fair Isle. Tommy Hyndman hide caption

itoggle caption Tommy Hyndman
Auld Haa or Old Hall, where the island's lord used to live

The house the family lives in is known as the "Auld Haa" — which is Scottish for "Old Hall" — and is where the island's lord used to live. Now, it's an inn for the many birdwatchers who flock to Fair Isle.

Tommy Hyndman

In September 2005, Liz Musser was stuck in traffic in Saratoga Springs in upstate New York when she heard a story on All Things Considered about an unusual advertisement in a Scottish newspaper.

The local government in the Shetland Isles was looking for a couple to come take over the laird's (or lord's) house on one of Scotland's remotest islands, Fair Isle (pop: 71).

The rent would be $1,200 for the year, and the occupants could run a bed-and-breakfast inn in the old stone house.

Musser, a former producer of educational videos, and her husband, Tommy Hyndman, an artist and hat designer, are in their 40s. They were chosen from 800 applicants, and they and their 6-year-old son Henry moved to Fair Isle nearly six months ago.

The family has made it through their first winter on the blustery island — which is 25 miles away from the nearest speck of land and wasn't as cold and bleak as they thought it would be.

They love their new life among the sheep, seals and seabirds, and the sense of community on the island, where no one locks their doors and everyone helps everyone else.

"You would think on a remote island, people would come to get away and be isolated from other people, but the opposite is true. Everyone is very interdependent on each other," Musser says.

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