Why a young family decided to move to a tiny Maine island

CBS News

Isle au Haut, Maine — If you take a ferry to Isle au Haut, an island community way off the coast of Maine, you can visit a gift shop and general store. And that's it, because there are no other businesses on the island.

"People who live out here are resilient, they're creative," Bob Olney, president of the Isle au Haut Community Development Corporation, told CBS News. But there aren't enough of them, Olney said.

The island's population fluctuates between 45 and 50 people. "It's essential that we continue to attract families," Olney said.

Last year, this community put a post on social media and on the island's official website hoping to woo a new family. They were careful not to oversell the place.

"Though it's not everyone's cup of tea, who knows, it may very well be yours," the post read.

And they got a taker: a young family from central Massachusetts.

Dakota and Hannah Waters, and their children Flynn and Amelia, moved here a few months ago.

"Our whole family thought we were psychotic," Hannah said. "They're like, 'A remote island in the middle of the ocean?'"

And yet here they live, the newest members of a dying breed. At one point, there were about 300 communities out here on Maine's most isolated islands. Now there are just over a dozen. And keeping the communities alive will require attracting people who seek a different lifestyle, people who value solitude over Starbucks, and really don't mind a little adversity.

"People have traded the good life for a convenient one," Hannah said. "And convenience isn't always the best."

To that point, the Waters raise some of their own food and work multiple jobs. Dakota does plumbing, lawn maintenance and even works on a lobster boat. As for the children, Flynn was one of just two students attending school on the island's K-8 schoolhouse.

The place is just that small. But Dakota says the tininess is more blessing than curse.

"We have so much more bonding time with the kids," Dakota said. "It's indescribably wholesome."

Hannah plans for the family to stay.

"I'm not moving my stuff off this rock again," Hannah said. "It was too hard to get it here."

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