Finding somewhere affordable to live in the Hebrides can be a difficult task. House prices are often higher due to demand from holiday and second homes, whilst building costs and plot prices mean self build can be expensive and getting a mortgage on island wages can be difficult. The Scottish Government promotes initiatives to help first time buyers, but some like the Help to Buy scheme and the MI New Home initiatives are mainly available for new build housing in locations outside of the Hebrides.
Open Market LIFT may be accessible, however access to financial support is currently limited and house price thresholds are low. Islanders may also be able to get help to buy through the Mortgage Guarantee Scheme
Securing a rented house can also be hard. Private lets are limited as many are used for the holiday market. For years young folk in the Hebrides have made do with a winter let of a holiday home – moving in spring to a summer caravan then back to the winter let in the autumn.
In many island communities there is very little social housing – in small communities the limited amount that was built has been sold – leading people with housing needs to seek homes in the main island towns such as Stornoway and Portree, or Oban on the mainland. And awareness of the lack of local options means islanders dont think there is much of a chance of getting housing locally so dont register their interest – leading to underestimates of need on small islands and limited new building to meet this need.
This guide to housing in the Hebrides aims to do two things:
outline all the island housing options available throughout the Hebrides in Argyll + Bute, Eilean Siar and Highland Council areas including social housing, private rented housing, home ownership and self build. It will highlight what housing is available, where to register for social housing, where to find houses for sale, where to find help to buy, where to find plots for sale and where to find funding to build.
outline how island communities can go about creating new housing options – by building houses themselves, working with housing associations or making land available for local people to self build. The guide will outline what grants/loans/support is available to communities, how to go about putting a project together, how to manage property and where communities have done this before.