They sit almost as far west as you can go without hitting America; a cluster of islands with white sandy beaches, tiny crofts and a lot of sheep.

Occasionally the Screen Machine rolls in, a mobile cinema that consists of a screen tucked inside the back of a lorry. Sometimes the internet connection is good enough to stream some music on Spotify.

Uist’s population of just over 1200 is not quite Rhode Island, where 28-year-old Liam Crouse grew up and where the locals number over one million. And yet it’s where he’s decided to set up home.

READ MORE: Daily newspapers to be available on Uists thanks to new early flights from mainland

“I suppose I’m a bit of an oddity, I have no family connection here,” he says. “My friends on mainland and back home do ask why I’m out here.

“You can’t watch YouTube because it drains the internet, I can’t Skype my parents back home in Rhode Island. But you get acclimatised.

“It’s like ‘Oh well, I’ll not be watching Netflix, so I might as well go and speak to the neighbours’.”

Crouse, despite a distinct lack of Scottish blood, has spent three years living in South Uist pursuing his love of Gaelic and his passion for Scots culture. His girlfriend, Emma Axelsson, 23, is originally from Sweden. Like him, she’s chosen to make a life on a remote island almost in the middle of nowhere.

They’re not alone. According to new research, the cluster of islands that make up Uist in the Outer Hebrides appears to be attracting a new generation of young people, keen to lay down roots in communities which, while hardly bereft of the luxuries of modern life, are still a giant leap away from the hub of the cities and university life they’ve left behind.

READ MORE: Daily newspapers to be available on Uists thanks to new early flights from mainland

Research carried out by the community has shown that the islands that make up Uist seem to be bucking the long-term depopulation trend, with a rise in the birth-rate – it’s said to have jumped by 67 per cent compared to a decade ago – and an increase in the number of young people opting to either return to the islands where they were raised or arriving to make them their home.

It found that of 469 young people surveyed, most of them in their 20s and 30s, half are either newcomers to the islands or ‘returners’, with 253 children between them.

According to one of the researchers, Theona Morrison, the findings help to dispel popular images of the Outer Hebrides struggling to retain and attract young people.

“It’s a combination of things,” she says. “People come for the Gaelic language, for the different kinds of jobs, perhaps their partner is a returner, there are many reasons.

“But it’s a fallacy to suggest they come here for a slow pace of life – everyone here is very busy, but in a different way.”

READ MORE: Daily newspapers to be available on Uists thanks to new early flights from mainland

Gemma Steel, 26, is a ‘returner’. Born and brought up in South Uist, she originally couldn’t wait to escape the small island community. Ten years later, and she can’t imagine living anywhere else.

“I finished high school wanted to get as far away from here as possible. I wanted to see the big bad world,” she says. “I went to Kenya to work with orphaned children and then to Glasgow, to study occupational therapy.

“After seven years, I was desperate to come home. “

Today she is planning her October wedding to partner Shaun MacKinnon, 30, who grew up on Benbecula and is also back after living on the mainland.

“There’s a safe feeling here that you don’t get elsewhere,” she says. “You can’t get takeaways and cinema all the time, so when you do have them, they’re more enjoyable.

“There’s a modest way about the people here, there’s less pressure.”

Hazel Smith, 32, grew up in Sheffield and arrived in Uist in 2012 to carry out a socio-economic study of crofting for her MSc. These days she is the mill manager at Uist Mill, where wool purchased directly from farmers and crofters is spun for yarn and textiles.

“I grew up in a village where you said ‘hello’ to people on the street. Everyone knew who you were.

“It felt like that when I got here,” she explains. “There’s something about the ruggedness and the laid-back lifestyle and the friendliness that took me in.

“It’s the drama of the place, it’s exciting. The weather is not that wet, dreich kind, it’s dramatic. It can be extremely dark and wild. You have to make plans if you want to go anywhere and winters can be long and tough and dark.”

READ MORE: Daily newspapers to be available on Uists thanks to new early flights from mainland

According to the research, young people are changing the Uist communities. Mother and toddler groups are thriving; the new school on North Uist, built for 70 pupils, now has nearly 90 while the two children on Locheport on North Uist now have nine new playmates.

The survey also found at least one in ten of the young people surveyed have set up their own businesses, from beauticians to architects, photography and even a planned distillery. One who set up a new dog parlour business found herself juggling more than 300 dogs on her books.

Eilidh Murray, 38, runs the Westford Inn with husband Colin, 45, and their young son Straun, three. She returned to the island after 14 years of working for Lloyds in Glasgow. Today the pub has become the heart of a vibrant young community, with regular music, clubs and events aimed at a younger generation.

“We wanted to re-establish the pub, we have knitting groups, we sell fishing permits, we have meetings here, quizzes, music nights,” she says.

“I grew up spending lots of time surfing, boogie boarding and talking with friends around bonfires. Helping with the crofts, thrashing and bailing. It’s different life from Glasgow, and totally different pace of life.”

Amid the upbeat talk, researchers fear that a blinkered view of the age span within island communities is skewing the kind of services available – there is already a long running argument over health and dental services for some areas.

READ MORE: Daily newspapers to be available on Uists thanks to new early flights from mainland

Meanwhile Crouse, who works for Ceòlas Uibhist, as Gaelic media and communications officer, admits some will always struggle to see why a younger person would opt for such a remote life.

“There’s an anecdote about the poet Duncan Ban MacIntyre,” he says. “He wrote a love song to his wife, and one guy who had heard it stopped him and his wife in the street.

“He said ‘She’s not as pretty as you say’. MacIntyre replied: “Ah, but you’ve not seen her with my eyes’.”