Living on an Island

Ask An Islander

Living on an Island

As a young(ish) person living year-round on remote North Haven island, I field a lot of how/why do you do it-type questions from mainlanders. I get it — I’ve spent most of my life dwelling in cities and suburbs and once had these same questions myself. Here’s how I respond to the FAQs. Have a query I didn’t cover? Leave a note in the comments and I’ll be sure to weigh in!

How did you end up on an island?

I first came to North Haven with a friend who was dating someone here. I met my husband, Alex, that weekend and it was pretty close to love at first sight. It took him almost a year to convince me to move to Maine from New York, but it was one of the best decisions of my life. Second to marrying him, of course! After spending a few years in Portland, we moved to the island so Alex could pursue lobstering as a full-time career. I am fortunate to have a job that allows me to work remotely from anywhere so it has worked out! And here’s the inevitable follow-up question:

Do you eat lobster all the time since your husband is a lobsterman?

Honestly? We probably only eat lobster a handful of times a year. It’s something I love to eat, but not something I care to eat (or shell/pick) every day. It’s not pizza.

Summers on the island seem idyllic, but what about winter?

As I type, our power is flickering while the wind whips around the house. The ferry has been shut down due to high gusts, and our small three-aisle grocery store is out of just about everything, so it’s probably going to be PB&J for dinner tonight. Winter can be very trying.

But it can also be a magical time for reflection and simply putting our feet up. You can’t really do anything but relax when there’s nowhere to go. Things we rely on heavily at this time of year include Netflix, weekly dinner parties with friends, bundled-up walks in the woods and on deserted beaches, board games, and down comforters. Ultimately, I don’t think we’re that different from other Mainers — we’re all just waiting it out until summer.

walking around North Haven
walking around North Haven


What’s the craziest ferry ride you’ve been on?

I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to the ferry, so I pay close attention to the weather and have frequently opted to stay at a friend’s house in Rockport if a ride looks like it will be too rough. I’ve definitely been on boats when the waves have splashed onto the cars parked on board though, and when we’ve coasted on giant swells all the way to Rockland. But luckily the only time I’ve gotten sick on the ferry was simply due to being pregnant.

How often do you leave the island?

This answer has changed quite a bit (as I alluded to in a past blog post) since having my son, Austin. I used to leave every week. Now I probably get on the ferry a couple of times a month. And during the recent deep freeze, I barely left my house. It helps to have a well-stocked pantry and a chest freezer in the basement filled with frozen meat, pizza dough, and ice cream. And when we’re running low on pasta and canned goods, there’s always Amazon Prime Pantry.

Do Amazon Prime deliveries actually get there in two days?

Yes and no. We islanders have come to count on a three-day window, but there have also been packages that have shown up the day after I placed an order. What would we do without Amazon?

What happens in an emergency?

We have an incredible EMT team out here and a clinic that is open daily and staffed with two nurse practitioners, one of which is always on call. If there’s an emergency, you’ll be transported to the mainland on the ferry — Pen Bay Medical Center is 10 minutes from the terminal in Rockland — or via LifeFlight of Maine. I’m sure there are plenty of people in rural towns who live farther from a hospital than we do!

How many people live on North Haven year-round?

According to the 2010 census, 355. But I think we’re closer to 400 now. My son has four baby friends who were also born last year. Our community is growing! Want to join us?

Cover image: This is pretty much what my world looks like right now: frozen!

One Comment

  1. Leigh

    Sounds — and looks — amazing to me 🙂

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