If asked to name the happiest place to live in the UK, few respondents would immediately pick the Shetland Islands, but they came top in a recent national survey conducted by the UK Government. Those with limited knowledge of Shetland may question how that could be the case, but the reality is that Shetland offers a fantastic work-life balance, particularly for those involved in the engineering or oil and gas industry.
Shetland is the most northerly part of the UK and is a key location for the offshore oil and gas industry. Historically, the industry focused on the North Sea to the East of Shetland, with oil from huge fields like Brent and Ninian being landed at the Sullom Voe Terminal. However, in recent years, there has been a further renaissance, with Shetland now also the gateway to the exciting developments in the offshore oil and gas industry to the West of Shetland.
For those who have the good fortune to live in Shetland, there is a wealth of positive benefits; from high quality housing and great local amenities and services; to fantastic schools for those with children. But the greatest benefit to living in Shetland is the landscape and natural environment – a true jewel of Scotland and the wider British Isles.
From unspoilt and deserted white sand beaches, to heather covered hillsides, for those that like to enjoy the best that nature has to offer, it is all easily accessible in Shetland. It is a bird watcher’s heaven with huge colonies of nesting seabirds. Other wildlife is abundant, with seals a common sight and for those with the patience and sharp eyesight, otters abound.
Forget the 40-minute traffic jam you currently endure on your way to work, in Shetland your commute could offer the opportunity to spot whales and seals, rather than traffic and tail lights. The colour of the landscape is ever changing, making daily journeys a pleasure rather than a chore.
The strong community aspect of Shetland is much valued, providing a safe and supportive environment for children to grow up in. The crime rate is extremely low, so parents can feel confident that their children can have the freedom to roam and explore in safety.
Shetland’s strong and unique cultural tradition also offers plenty of interest, with traditional music a particular strength. The Shetland fiddle style is renowned around the world and provides a great draw for people to attend the annual Folk Festival in Lerwick, putting the islands on the global music map.
Reflecting its location in the north-east Atlantic, the weather can be dramatic and changeable, which brings its own challenges, but also opportunities; with the long summer nights compensating for short days in the winter, allowing Islanders to enjoy a round of golf at midnight!
BP is investing significantly at the Sullom Voe Terminal, updating the site for the next 30 years of its working life. For those who want to balance a challenging and diverse working environment, with a high quality of life, both for them and their family, Shetland can offer a uniquely attractive future.