Going on three months. I have planted enough roots to have the pretty good idea that I would like to stay here at least for a number of years. When I first visited this town a decade or two ago, it would never have occurred to me that I would bother with that idea but for the moment it seems like a good idea. The job market back in the states is no better, or at least was no better for me when I left. Here everything is literally word-of-mouth. That is a mixed blessing because good comments travel just as fast as bad one. This café I like exists almost exclusively on word of mouth and does pretty consistent business. I don't know the busy days or times but the times I am in, the clientèle is varied with a slight weight on older folks. That is hardly surprising if you bother to look at the population spread of this area where the main age bias is over 50. On a regular basis I feel like a youngster even though I know quite well that is irrational.
Back to living here, the living costs are not much higher for basics if you take the exchange rate out of the equation. Milk is no higher, and the local mid-size shop has 2 for 1 specials which cut prices even more. Cereals are the same and if you don't burn through the gas in your vehicle's tank, getting around shouldn't cost any more either. The main cost is going to be if you just buy small amounts of things i.e. if you are one person with no storage. This is when finding specials really comes into it's own and you need to find 2 packs of 4 yoghurt for 2 pounds when they are normally one pack for 2 and a quarter.
Splitting costs is critical for getting around unless you have some method of shovelling the cost onto some government agency. Buses are OK if you have absolutely no other way of getting somewhere but are hardly fun or quick or cheap. Trains are much faster but are more expensive. Walking is free but takes forever and a day. Bicycling is faster than walking but the roads around here are not exactly what I would call “safe” and unless you have a bicycle with some form of suspension on it, you will not have the smoothest of rides.
The main problem is the ferry times... The last ferry for CalMac is 8pm and the latest Western is around 10. If you miss either of those, you will be stuck getting an unbelievably expensive taxi ride or finding a hotel somewhere. This limits those people w/out their own transport to a fairly small bubble. This is not as bad as it sounds. This town is pretty self sustaining with a decent store, even a motorcycle mechanic within walking distance, the largest highland games in late summer, and some of the best rainbows around.