Digital Lifelines to the Rural & Remote

My Old Home

Can you see that wee house in the distance?  That used to be my home.  We only lived on the banks of the Kyle of Durness in Sutherland for a year before we moved to the slightly more populated Kinlochbervie, which is a small collection of hamlets skirting the far north west coast of Scotland, about 1 hour from Ullapool & around 2 hours from the city of Inverness.  After a year in KLB we made the decision to move back to the central belt of Scotland, and it’s one of the central reasons for that decision that I want to discuss in this post.

Perhaps it was because of the timing in my life (I was newly married with a 13mos toddler when we moved up & when we moved back down south 2 years later, I had a 3yr old, a 2yr old and an 11day old baby & I had completed my undergraduate degree) that this place had such an effect on me, but it was only when we visited there this year that it really hit me that if I lived there today, knowing what I do now, I may not have felt the need to move away.

One of the central reasons why we left was the lack of opportunities I could see opening up for me.  My husband had a good job at the local high school, but while he was out earning our income, I was at home with my very young children, miles away from anyone, with no television reception and a dial-up modem.  To make it worse, I don’t drive, so when my husband left with the car in the morning, that was us stuck.  This sense of isolation and being stuck was not confined to my physical presence in this beautiful but harsh location, as it pervaded my whole being, causing me to feel that I couldn’t become the person I needed to become while I lived there.  I felt cut off from the rest of the world and this, in turn, blinkered me to the gift living in that environment most surely is.

I realise here that I’m painting a rather bleak picture, but I have to stress again that Sutherland has left a lasting impression on me – its beauty, its wildness, its remoteness all sing to my soul.  And I know I’m not the only one!  Many people decide that they’ve had enough of the ratrace and are leaving the frantic urban spaces for the rural idylls of which fantasies are made.  However, as much as there exists a demand by those who wish to move into more remote areas, there are also those who wish to continue living there.  Those that were born and bred in the far flung corners of the map, and whose traditional industries have suffered huge setbacks of late, are finding that they have to move out of the place they recognise as home due to economic necessity.

One resource that I think could help those who either wish to move to these rural places, or who live there already & are struggling to get by, is Lea Woodward’s blog Location Independent.  In the past Lea has focused on those who are living, or who desire to live, a lifestyle characterised by international travel; the intrepid individual who strikes out to travel the globe whilst supporting themselves through online business or freelance work managed from a distance.  For me, however, Location Independent as a concept is one which could offer sustainability to these small remote communities by helping the individuals of those communities to create their own opportunities without resorting to relocating to more populated areas.

I have been in discussions with Lea about the applicability of the Location Independent to those who wish to pursue the freedom & choice which comes from living that lifestyle whilst remaining in one remote situation, with the result that I am now the team leader for the ‘Remote Communities’ team in her new Community Street Teams Project.  My role is to help promote  the Location Independent concept to those who are either living in remote communities currently or who have a desire to make the move from the urban to the rural.  This is a role which is going to allow me to express my passion for creating sustainable communities both online and off, so I’m really looking forward to where it takes me & discovering what I can achieve in this role.  As you can probably tell from the background I’ve shared in this post, it’s a project which is close to my heart.

So, over the coming weeks and months you can expect a few posts which take this project as its focus, as I intend to write reviews of products which can provide advice and support for those living in remote communities, as well as sharing some more thoughts on how digital technologies and social media can help provide opportunities to those who choose not to live in urban or suburban locations.

Are you aware of any projects currently focused on achieving this aim or similar?  Do you know of any bloggers/twitterers who I should connect with who share a similar passion?  If you have any thoughts on the relevance of the Location Independent concept and remote communities, or indeed how best to promote online communities as a way of ensuring remote communities remain viable, please do leave a comment.

11 responses to “Digital Lifelines to the Rural & Remote

  1. Amy – I’m so excited to have you as part of the LI “tribe” and you’ve developed the concepts of location independence & applications of these in a hugely positive way.

    Many of the places we’ve visited/lived in over the past couple of years have been small communities which I’ve really thought could benefit from social media & digital lifelines…but despite it being right in front of my nose, I’ve not quite made that connection between the relevance of many of the freedom & choice concepts that the LI lifestyle is based upon….so I’m glad you have 🙂

  2. Nice start Amy. I live in Cornwall and although not as remote as the places you describe I do very much feel remote from what is going on in the world. I need to get back to London every quarter for my own sanity. My kids are now growing up here so I support them to develop themselves in one environment and allow them to make their own choices when it comes to leaving education.

    Additionally, once a few things are aligned I do intend to spend more time travelling and showing my children the world. I hope this will be a prelude to becoming more location independent in the future.

    Good luck with the articles.

    twitter: crazyoval

  3. I think you’re dead right about ‘digital lifelines’ and remote corners of Scotland, Amy… or even the less remote corners, and I look forward to hearing more. 🙂
    almost everytime we’re in the highlands we talk about living there some day, but our jobs are very urban-centric at the moment.

  4. While I love the idea of traveling about the world and making money at the same time, my goal is similar to yours. As current college students, my wife and I are locationally dependent. However, we want the freedom that comes from creating our own incomes, without having to rely on some chain store or someone else’s whims.

    To this end, we are pursuing the Location Independent goal, so that we can create our own lives, and when we decide to move, can take all of it with us, including our income source(s).

  5. Sarah van Niekerk-Steyn

    Hi Amy, a light bulb just went on while I was reading your ideas. I want to take this idea to the rural parts of South Africa, I think it can make a fantastic impact on people who struggle for work and can bring a whole new angel to them. It’s an idea I have been working on for my own LIP future, I also didn’t connect the dots as well as you did, but lots of applications come to mind. A whole lot of ideas are popping right now. Thanks for setting them off.

  6. Welcome! We’re just becoming aware of the Location Independent Professionals community ourselves, and are soaking up all of the resources.

    I’ve lived a location independent lifestyle for about 15 years, previously on a beach in Florida supporting my clients worldwide. Two years ago, I joined up with my life partner and hit the road full time traveling/living/working in a small solar powered travel trailer. We enjoy having a mix of urban and rural locations in our routing and work/living locations. With mobile internet, we can be almost anywhere, and we love the variety! Our travels have us visiting a lot of folks living in very remote communities, and it’s fascinating to learn how folks keep connected while being rural.

    We look forward to following you!

    – Cherie /

  7. Amy,
    You’ll be great at it. Your writing always takes me there, where ever you want me to be.
    I grew up in a very rural area (literally 60 miles to anywhere). For almost my entire childhood, I had an hour and a half each way school bus commute. Grocery shopping was an all day affair, prepared for the way I prep for a weekend away now. I neither hated nor loved it when growing up, but found I prefer the rural life to city living as I matured.
    Now we live closer to a large town, but the area’s still rural with neighbors far enough apart to give me some elbow room.
    I’d love to give you any input you need for growing up in the boonies and/or making a life/living in a rural setting.
    I’ll be reading you avidly as usual.

  8. Although for the immediate future my wife and I are location dependant. We have ambitions to build an LI income so that as soon as we can break the bonds we will.

    There must be many, also like me, for who the dream sometimes feels like a fantasy.

    Fortunately I view it as an opportunity to build slowly, a positive program of new knowledge without the pressure of needing it now.

    Keep up the good work .

    Be reading you soon 🙂


  9. Amy,
    Thank you for embarking on this journey: one which I wish to travel along as voyeur and contributor, too. My path is heading in the direction of Independent Gravitator. I study now full time on-line at Swinburne Uni in Melbourne, and live in an idyllic tourist town, Gold Coast, Aust..
    I imagine that soon I will be travelling to remote regions to help small enterprises arise from impoverished and physically challenging societies around the world (who knows where?).
    To that end I want to develop skills, connections, and opportunities that lead to Location Independent income generation – for the benefit of all! Hope I can help in our joint venture.
    Love Always

  10. Hi Amy – interesting new development, not least as it brings together two such creative and intelligent women 😉

    I couldn’t have moved to the west coast and a small town without social media – I’d have felt too cut off. It’s allowed me to enjoy two different sorts of ‘home’ one virtual, and one physical.

    I still need to get to know more people in my local community, but having the online network makes me feel happier and more confident about doing so

  11. Pingback: Why You’ve Been Hearing More About Location Independent Recently… | Location Independent | Live and Work Anywhere You Choose

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