Ema Shortel was once a city girl living in Edinburgh, but no longer.
Shortel and her partner now live a quiet life on the Isle of Skye with pet chickens.
She told BI that rural life comes with fewer distractions than city living.
A millennial who left her life in the city to move to a Scottish island is sharing her experience, and the perks of a slower life.
32-year-old Ema Shortel, who moved from Edinburgh, Scotland, to the Isle of Skye in 2020, documents her life on the island on TikTok, where she has over 84,000 followers.
By leaving the city, Shortel has opted for a more remote way of life. The Highland council area, where the Isle of Skye is located, has the lowest population density in Scotland, according to its website. It has just 9.2 typical residents per square kilometer, compared to 1,946.5 in the City of Edinburgh council area, according to 2022 census data.
Shortel's TikTok videos show her positive experience of a quieter life on the island, where she has now lived for several years. She's highlighted her ability to keep pet chickens, the impressive mountain views, and sightings of cows and sheep on the roads as quintessential features of her everyday life.
While she loves the lifestyle, it hasn't always been easy.
It took a while to figure out how to make her new life work
Shortel and her partner, Frazer Henderson, moved to the island together for a change of pace.
"It was a huge change in lifestyle, but one we had always dreamt of: a slower and more intentional way of life by the sea and the mountains," she said in a September 2023 post.
But the couple's move wasn't an easy one.
In an email exchange, Shortel told Business Insider that in Edinburgh she worked as a self-employed beauty therapist and her partner was a joiner.
She's previously explained that when she first got to the Isle of Skye, she took on a remote job, and spent time building a cabin that she and Henderson could rent out as a source of income. But she told BI that during that period Henderson had to travel back to Edinburgh every other week for work. Shortel said that building the cabin created a huge financial and mental strain on their lives.
She has since shared in a two-part video series that she later quit her remote job and began working in a local cafe, and also does photography and social media managing for additional streams of income.
Henderson now also works locally and has been able to cut down his working hours, she told BI.
"For us, this move was entirely about building a life for ourselves where we had more time to follow our own passions and what brings us joy," she told BI.
The difficulties are worth it for the peaceful lifestyle she now enjoys
Though Shortel often shares glowing reviews of life on the Isle of Skye, there are downsides that have come with it.
In a November post, she shared that working remotely when she initially moved to the island was a challenge and made her life there feel isolating.
"Coming from a city with lots going on to a really tiny remote village, it just made my life feel really small," she said, adding, "I thought I would be fine working from home over a long space of time in a remote place, but human interaction is so important and I find it so beneficial to just be out of the house."
She also said in a December TikTok that winters can be tough to get through due to the weather conditions.
"The wind and rain are absolutely relentless," she said.
Despite these difficulties, Shortel is happy with her choice. She told BI that rural life is peaceful.
Her viewers have often said they admire her island lifestyle and long to experience something similar themselves, reflecting the way remote living is often favored on the app more broadly, while hustle culture and corporate lifestyles are falling out of favor.
"Life out here forces you to live with the seasons and fully feel present," she said.
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