Housing

Shetland offers many kinds of housing, from coastal locations with stunning views to a cosy pied-a-terre in the heart of Lerwick’s Lanes Conservation Area. There are many options in between.

Check out the Council’s Housing Service comprehensive online guide for current housing options available in Shetland.

Renting

If you’re moving to a new job here, the chances are that you may want to rent a place, at least to begin with. That’ll give you a chance to look around, decide where you want to live and work out what sort of property you want to buy. If you’re planning to move your work base or business here, you may be able to buy before you finally make the move. Either way, we have a few tips for you.

There are usually some privately-rented properties on the market. They may be advertised in the pages of the Shetland Times, or you could place an advertisement seeking accommodation. Rentals may also be advertised in shop windows or on their notice boards. Sometimes, winter lets of self-catering holiday properties may be available. Solicitors may have details of property to let, too; there is a list of solicitors operating in Shetland farther down this page. You might also check the ‘Accommodation’ section on the Shetlink website, which usually has rental property available; again, you can place a ‘wanted’ advertisement there.

Shetland is the most wonderful place on earth and if I could, I would move there in a heartbeat :-)
I would love to live there some day. It looks unspoilt and ridiculously beautiful.

Buying Property in Shetland

When it comes to buying, there is a steady supply of property on the Shetland market. Most property is detached but it comes in many forms, from restored croft houses to modern bungalows. In Lerwick particularly, older stone properties of considerable character are sometimes offered. There are relatively few flats for sale. A little more speculative building has been undertaken in recent years, but it would be a matter of luck if a new property were available to suit your moving schedule. It’s much more common for house-buyers to acquire a plot of land with planning permission and then commission a builder to construct the house of their choice. There is also a tradition of self-build or self-completion. If you are interested in finding a site and developing it, or in renovating or extending an existing house, you’ll find indispensable advice in The Shetland House (pdf, 3.3Mb download), published by the Council’s Planning Department.

Houses are advertised in the Shetland Times and on the websites of the various firms of solicitors operating in Shetland, details of which are given below.

Council Housing

Council and Hjaltland Housing Association houses exist throughout Shetland but are in heavy demand. Occasionally, a property in an area distant from Lerwick might be available at short notice and, if you are prepared to be very flexible about where you live, the Housing Service will be able to identify any opportunities that may exist.

Croft Houses

Shetland’s rural areas have many houses that are in crofting tenure, a form of property holding that is regulated by the Crofters’ Commission. A croft house may be held on a lease or may be owner-occupied. It is occasionally possible to buy a croft and croft house, subject to Crofters’ Commission approval. Crofting leases are unusual in that there is security of tenure and the lease can be passed on to the crofter’s heir. More information is available on the housing options website or from the Crofters’ Commission.

Shetland is heaven on earth and one day, not too far away, I would love to move there to live and work.

Solicitors offering property for sale in Shetland:

CompanyAddressContact
Anderson & Goodlad52 Commercial Street
Lerwick, Shetland ZE1 0BD
Telephone: 01595 692297
Fax: 01595 692247
Dowle, Smith & Rutherford113a Commercial Street
Lerwick, Shetland ZE1 0DL
Telephone: 01595 695583
Fax: 01595 695310
InkstersBaltic Chambers
50 Wellington Street
Glasgow G2 6HJ
Telephone: 0141 2290880
Fax: 0141 2290550
Michael Inkster & Co159 Commercial Street
Lerwick, Shetland ZE1 0EX
Telephone: 01595 696901
Fax: 01595 696904
Mobile: 07753 842169
Neil RiskNordhus
North Ness Business Park
Lerwick, Shetland ZE1 0LZ

Telephone: 01595 695262
Fax: 01595 695331
Mobile: 07765 251458
Tait & PetersonBank of Scotland Buildings
Lerwick, Shetland ZE1 0EB
Telephone: 01595 693010
Fax: 01595 695999

Although estate agents are active in Scotland’s main cities, homes in Shetland are generally sold through solicitors, who also carry out all the associated legal work. The Scottish system of submitting offers over an indicative price applies and this typically means that a house may fetch perhaps 10% to 30% above that price. Occasionally, houses may be advertised at a fixed price. If you’ve been used to the English market, it’s important to note that, in Scotland, an offer is binding once accepted by the vendor, provided that any conditions attached to the offer are met, for example, a stipulation that the survey is satisfactory.

It’s hard to give any more than a rough indication of house prices, since so much depends on the location and quality of the property in question. In Lerwick, a modern, three or four-bedroom detached bungalow or an older, stone-built semi-detached house might sell for somewhere between £220,000 and £350,000. A one- or two-bedroom flat could go for between £100,000 and £160,000. With about ten miles of Lerwick, restored traditional croft houses are sometimes available, typically for between £100,000 and £180,000. Prices tend to decline with distance from Lerwick; twenty miles out, the equivalent house might be £30,000 to £80,000 cheaper. In the islands, costs are substantially lower; for example, a three-bedroom former Council house or older bungalow in Yell, Unst or Whalsay could fetch between £60,000 and £100,000 The price of land is, by UK standards, relatively low. Sites in or near Lerwick sell for between £30,000 and £60,000 and the price reduces with distance from the town.

In a very few cases, a house may come with the job. Some employers, for example the Shetland Islands Council, may offer some form of settling-in allowance or grant assistance towards rental costs.

Lastly, if you’re keen to rescue a ruin – and sensitively restore a part of Shetland’s heritage – you can browse the Buildings at Risk Register online. You should speak to the Planning Service’s heritage staff on 01595 744800; they can advise on the planning procedures and, depending on the property, may be able to offer advice on sources of grant aid.

Council tax is lower than in most places in Scotland

  • In 2011-12, the average Band D Council tax bill in Shetland was £1,053; for comparison, it was:
  • £1,163 in Highland
  • £1,178 in Argyll and Bute
  • £1,169 in Edinburgh
  • £1,213 in Glasgow
  • £1,037 in Orkney
  • £1,024 in Western Isles
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