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Skye student pleads for parcel of land to ‘live off grid’ while 60% of income goes on bills

Nicole MacIntosh and her dog Watson, on Skye. Supplied by Nicole MacIntosh.
Nicole MacIntosh and her dog Watson, on Skye. Supplied by Nicole MacIntosh.

An IT student and full-time worker on Skye has made a plea for a bit of land to live “off grid”.

Nicole MacIntosh, who juggles full-time work, her own jewellery business and full-time study to scrape together what she needs to earn just enough to live on the island, has called time on her way of life.

The 26-year-old has now put a plea on social media to help her live differently, with less of an impact on the environment and has been “shell shocked” at the support she has received.

Last year, a campaign was launched to help local people access affordable homes and for more jobs to be created to help retain the indigenous population.

Campaigners claimed Skye was caught in a “perfect storm” that was making it impossible for young people to stay on the island, and an online petition was launched – with more than 2,500 signatories calling for MSPs and the Scottish Government to act.

Glendale is a fragile area with a lack of affordable housing. Picture by Al Mearns

60% of what I earn goes into the house

Ms MacIntosh, who moved with her mum back to the island at the age of seven, is among those struggling to stay on the island.

She said: “At the moment 60% of what I earn goes into the house – from rent, council tax and bills. On top of that I have a car that gets me to college and to my work at Skyeskyns, and tannery.

“At the end of every month I have about £100 left. And that is working four full days, making and selling jewellery and studying. My whole life is consumed by making enough money to survive, and I will never have enough to buy a house – because there is no money left to save.”

As well as her love of the outdoors and the impact of her life on the environment, she made the decision to look for a small bit of land to use for a semi-permanent home. She wants to live off-grid and while she is doing that, save enough money for a house of her own in the future.

Dunvegan, Isle of Skye. Picture by Sandy McCook

‘I always wanted a Hobbit house’

She added: “As a child I always wanted a Hobbit house, something built into the landscape. And hopefully in the long run I can have that.

“In the meantime, I put a post on Facebook looking for help and I have been a bit shell shocked with the response.

“From people offering help and suggestions, to offers and to those who are already living off grid offering support. I am definitely not the first to do it.

“Ideally I would like to have a good few years on a bit of land to have stability, and from there I would like to be able to have my own land.

“I have always loved nature and I want to live in a much smaller way, and to have less of an impact.”

The computing and IT with psychology student says she has been contacted by people of all ages to say they want to do the same.

“I am sure that there are lots of people who want to do something very similar because working all our hours to pay money for something that will never be ours can not be the way we want, or should have to live,” she said.

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