Life in the Channel Islands

Life in the Channel islands

Want to know what it's like to live and work in the Channel islands?

Want to know what it's like to live and work in the Channel islands?

Fast facts

  Jersey Guernsey
Population 101,000 63,000
Capital St Helier St Peter Port
Area 118.2 km2 65 km2
Average annual sunshine 1905 hours 1864 hours
Average annual rainfall 865 mm 838 mm

 

Overview

 

The Channel Islands are located in the English Channel, off the coast of northern France. The Bailiwick of Jersey includes the largest of the Channel Islands, Jersey, plus a number of uninhabited islands, rocks and surrounding reefs. The Bailiwick of Guernsey includes the jurisdictions of Guernsey, Alderney and Sark, each of which comprises a number of smaller islands.

The term 'Channel Islands' is purely geographical. The Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey are completely separate British Crown Dependencies. They have their own governments and are not part of the UK, but are represented by the UK in international affairs. The States of Jersey and the States of Guernsey issue their own banknotes (which are legal tender in the islands but not in the UK) and set their iown direct and indirect taxes.

The Channel Islands share a rich history, closley tied with neighbouring Brittany and Normandy, and at one point were invaded by Vikings. The islands have been self-governing since the thirteenth century. Much more recently, they were occupied throughout the Second World War, with devasting consequences for the islanders. Liberation on 9 May 1945 is commemorated by an annual Liberation Day public holiday.

Nowadays, the Channel Islands are recognised as important international centres for the finance sector, particularly in funds, private wealth, banking and insurance. Tourism, agriculture and fisheries also contribute significantly to the local economies.

 

Quality of life

 

Perhaps the greatest advantage of living on an island is the ease of commuting. Many people either walk to work, ride a bike or a scooter, or drive a short distance. A typical commute is less than 15 minutes. Doing things before or after a day in the office is a reality!

Island life is generally more relaxed than elsewhere. People tend to be friendly and welcoming. Unemployment and crime rates are exceptionally low.

As the southernmost region of the British Isles, the Channel Islands enjoy a milder climate than might be expected in the UK. Summer is long and warm, winter can be somewhat wet and windy, but it seldom snows. Those who enjoy the great outdoors, whether for sports or recreation, will find a range of activities available year-round.

Both Jersey and Guernsey offer stunning beaches with surfing, sailing, rowing, jet-skiing and diving facilities. Both also offer coastal footpaths and golf courses with views of France and other islands, and quiet 'green lanes', ideal for cycling. The islands also boast a variety of pubs, clubs and beach bars as well as Michelin-star restaurants owned by celebrity chefs. 

 

Getting here

 

A number of airlines fly from regional and international airports in the UK and Ireland to the Channel islands. Flight times start at 45 minutes to Southampton or London Gatwick. Direct flights to European destinations are mainly scheduled for the skiing and summer seasons.

The Channel Islands are connected to England and France by frequent ferry services. Journey times vary according to the service, but the faster craft take three hours to travel from England to Guernsey, one hour from Guernsey to Jersey and 75 minutes from Jersey to France.

 

Cost of living

 

The cost of living is generally on par with the UK, outside London. Rent is often the greatest expense. A one-bedroom apartment might cost £800-£1000 per month depending on location. Many people moving to the islands choose to house-share, both to reduce their rent and share living costs, and to make new friends.

The top rate of income tax is 20% and social security is 6%. There are no capital taxes such as inheritance tax or capital gains tax. While neither Jersey nor Guernsey has UK VAT, Jersey currently applies a Goods and Services Tax of 5% on almost everything, including food. 

 

Healthcare

 

Emergency treatment only is free in the Channel Islands. All other services, including visits to the GP, must be paid for. Many employers offer comprehensive health insurance that covers most healthcare services. Medical emergencies and cases requiring specialist care are occasionally referred to the UK (typically Southampton) but the hospitals in Jersey and Guernsey deal with the vast majority of medical cases. 

 

Education

 

Both Jersey and Guernsey offer a range of state-sponsored and private schooling options. Nurseries and most pre-schools are private, except for those attaching to a state-funded primary school. The quality of education is excellent and the islands generally outperform the UK in national exam results.

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