Living on an Island

swim suits and beachwear

Our Snowbird Stint

Living on an Island

They say if you love something, let it go. So adiós, North Haven. It’s time to seek out some sun.

The question I get asked the most about living on an island is what it’s like to live here in the winter. I’ve written about this before, but I haven’t been brutally honest with you — until now! My number-one tip for surviving out here in the winter is to leave.

At least for a little while.

No one gets cabin fever worse than my husband, Alex. Every year after the holidays wind down and the realization sets in that summer (his busy lobster-fishing season) is looming, he panics and says he needs a vacation. I tend to be a bit more reasonable and remind him that our finances and schedules don’t always allow for one. But by March — when I start imagining the island (below) abloom with leafy trees and wildflowers only to have my hopes dashed by reports of yet another snowstorm — I want out of here too.

So this year we cashed in five years’ worth of airline miles and booked flights to Mexico for a week. We’ve rented a small apartment directly on the beach, which should make it easy to prep meals for our nine month old, Austin and put him down for naps.

Of course, living in the middle of the sea, we can’t just get up and go. We usually tack on at least 24 hours at either end of our trips to allow for the ferry rides to and from Rockland, the car rides back and forth from the airport in Portland or Boston, and the inevitable delayed/missed flights, in which case we rely on the kindness of mainland family and friends who let us crash with them. Leaving behind a household of animals is another worry. Luckily, we have friends who are willing to take in our dog and plenty of family members who can check on the cats.

When we built our house, we knew that our long-term goal was to always get away in the winter. This is why we chose to install pipe-free direct-vent heaters instead of a furnace. The thought of heating pipes bursting in the cold weather would definitely put a damper on vacations.

Depending on how things go this time, we may consider leaving for a longer stretch next winter. I work remotely, Alex doesn’t fish in the winter, and Austin’s not yet in school, so why not take advantage? I just hope Austin doesn’t expect the ocean here to ever be as warm as it is in Mexico in March!


  1. Edward Suffern

    Nice post and interesting comment on pipe free direct vent heaters. As I think about building for retirement in Maine, I have the same concerns. What is your fuel source…. propane? And do your water supply pipes for the kitchen and bathroom get drained easily when you go away for a week? You need to have a well designed plumbing to be able to drain those easily, huh? Thanks for the article.

    • Laura Serino

      Hey Edward! Thanks for the kind note! The great thing about the propane monitors are that you can keep them running at say 62 degrees so you don’t worry about pipes freezing. We don’t need to drain them that way. Our house is well-insulated since it’s a new build so we aren’t worried about draining pipes for a week away!

  2. Stephen Sheehy

    Minor quibble: Furnaces heat air. Boilers heat water. So you could have installed a furnace and still not worry about heat pipes.

    • Laura Serino

      Fair enough! And true point. For us it saved us a lot of money to not install a furnace when we were building and to rely on a wood stove and backup monitors to heat the house instead. It was largely a financial move!

  3. Lori Bridges

    Have enjoyed reading about your life on the island. Good for you both to get away! Wishing I too could be enjoying some warm sunshine about now– as well. Love living in Maine, but always nice to break away from the cold for a little “recharge”.
    Hoping you have a wonderful trip and safe travels home???

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