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Anyone live(d) in Guernsey?

(60 Posts)
TracyK Tue 12-Mar-13 18:23:59

Good things? Bad things?
me and dh in 40's with a 9yo son and dog.

dikkertjedap Tue 12-Mar-13 19:30:40

Are you already there or definitely going or still considering it?

TracyK Tue 12-Mar-13 21:36:19

still considering

TracyK Tue 12-Mar-13 22:18:41


dikkertjedap Tue 12-Mar-13 23:18:01

It is very very small. There is very very little to do, no matter what the locals will tell you.

Almost everything will be closed on Sundays and weekdays after five.

You will always be an outsider, there are guerns and the rest, who are basically second class citizens who should be pleased that they are allowed to stay on the island for a fixed period.

You will pay little tax but make up for that in hugely overpriced housing due to the points system, very high travel costs if you regularly want to return to civilisation, shopping is very expensive and choice is limited (internet shopping is very expensive as sending stuff to CI is expensive, plus many shops don't ship to CI so you have to go through intermediary).

Schools are nothing to shout about and it may be hard for your 9 year old to reintegrate in UK system afterwards.

I would say it is a nice place to visit for a long weekend when the weather is nice, but that is about it.

dikkertjedap Tue 12-Mar-13 23:18:51

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

dikkertjedap Tue 12-Mar-13 23:21:01

Healthcare is expensive (as all other insurance on the island as there is limited choice of licensed providers) and nothing to shout about. The local hospital is basic and for anything slightly complex you have to go to Southampton.

kohl Tue 12-Mar-13 23:54:33

I was a local, left ASAP and now will almost certainly never return to live. However it is an extremely beautiful, very safe and peaceful place to live: people will know your name, there is a real sense of community, especially in the more country parishes, neighbours are friends, you will bump into friends all the time, children can go off for bike rides, play in the streets etc. Friends and family of mine love it and couldn't imagine living anywhere else.
For me, it's too mono-ethnic, mono-cultural and there seems to be no real desire to engage with the outside world or other ways of living. Tiny issues seem world shattering, and as it is so small it can be difficult to escape people. There is no real opportunity to experiment without fear of it haunting you. (Though it sounds like you might be less worried about that than I was as a teenager!)
I don't think it's significantly more difficult to be accepted as an outsider than in any other small community
Travel to and from is quite expensive so it can feel suffocating and isolated and also it can feel 20 years behind the rest of the world, but again any more so than any other small community? Don't know.
It is also extremely difficult (if you don't work in a niche area) to obtain right to live/right to work permits.
Hope this helps-have tried to be balanced, as, for all of the above, it will always be a special place for me (albeit to visit only!)

TracyK Wed 13-Mar-13 07:41:23

Thanks girls. We are thinking of moving for a 3 year term only. dh made redundant last month (in the insurance industry) and has been offered a job over there. I thought ds could see out his primary school years and return to UK for secondary education?
So it will be short term only, hopefully to return to UK when jobs are more plentiful and we have saved a bit of money?

dikkertjedap Wed 13-Mar-13 08:59:15

Personally I wouldn't.

A 3 year term is very short, so you will probably need to start job hunting towards the end of year 2 and depending on how quickly you find something may need to move after 2 or 2.5 years, ie during school year. You will not being able to stay with your child to complete the school year if your DH is no longer working on the island.

It is not that easy to leave the island. Travel is very weather dependent. Ferry is very regularly cancelled. Flights are quite limited and often fully booked. It is difficult if you decide on Thu or Fri to go to France or UK or Jersey on Saturday as you may have extremely limited choice or it may not be possible.

I don't think it is easy to make friends there. I have lived in many many countries but this was by far the most closed to outsiders. So you tend to only socialise with other outsiders. And many just want to leave, so not the most cheerful company.

I don't think the island is that safe either. It is no good for cyclists due to small roads and too many cars (many households have 3-4 cars), so there were accidents all the time (some fatal). Alcohol abuse is similar to the UK, but more difficult to avoid as the island is so small. Youth tends to be quite bored.

Also think that it will be very disruptive for your dc education and friendships what may be during a very important period.

Finally, it may financially look like a very attractive proposition, but in reality it may turn out quite different once you have considered lots of extra expenditure you face there compared with UK (high living costs, high rental costs, high insurance costs, including health insurance, high travel costs, high costs of entertaining, costs of keeping your own home in UK).

All people I know who have been there for a number of years are very relieved to have left.

kohl Wed 13-Mar-13 09:46:01

Have you visited at all OP? If you're just moving to save some money-I couldn't recommend it as the cost of living is extremely expensive (everything is flown in).
If you like the idea of moving somewhere new, experiencing a unique place, you could try a long weekend holiday and see how you find it? I do know several people who have moved there and loved it, and really didn't want to return to the UK, or have chosen to stay for the long term.
What kind of things do you enjoy doing? What would be a deal breaker for you?
Maybe look online at the Guernsey Press (local newspaper) to give you a sense of what's happening on the island.

Morgan Wed 13-Mar-13 10:01:26

I moved to Guernsey two years ago having spent 5 years in the Middle East and we love it here . We are lucky as got a 15 year licence and intend staying here . I have a DS 11 and DD 7 .

I have found it v friendly and welcoming . My DCs are in the private schools so a mixture of locals and other incomers but no problems settling in for us or the kids . Lovely countryside , beaches , v safe feeling .

Disadvantages - it is small so don't upset people or slag anything off without being sure you're not talking to that person's cousin , brother in law etc !!

Shopping etc ltd and food expensive . Internet shopping pretty easy these days . Getting off island is expensive unless you can book way in advance . Housing is expensive - you would need to check your position carefully and some rented houses won't take kids or animals .

Overall we are v happy here . PM me if you have any specific questions.

dikkertjedap Wed 13-Mar-13 16:31:01

Not sure about the beaches, don't go to Cobo Bay where raw sewerage is discharged directly into the sea very very close to the beach and as a result washes back to the beach. Disgusting, especially as this is a nice sandy beach.

Also be careful with tapwater as there have been lots of problems with contamination. First the airport chemicals leaked into the main water reservoir and people were only told about this several years later, now there is the umpteenth outbreak of legionnaire's at the Princes Elizabeth Hospital. Standards are very different from the UK.

For clean beaches I would go to Jersey.

Morgan Wed 13-Mar-13 17:31:30

No such problems in Rocquaine where I live . Think you are being a bit harsh about Guernsey sad

dikkertjedap Wed 13-Mar-13 19:12:51

I think that I have lived there a bit longer than you probably ...
Also, there is a huge difference in how people are regarded with a short(er) term housing licence and people with a long-term housing licence IME.

TracyK Wed 13-Mar-13 21:38:18

We live in Scotland at the moment and have had 3 years of crappy summers. So peed off with it now.
dh and I have lived in various parts of the uk and love the south coast.
dh was quite highly paid, but was made redundant last month. Not many highly paid jobs in Scotland at the moment.
His old boss has asked him to come and work for him in Guernsey - I think they will provide a house or cover the rent.
We are thinking about it seriously - but only for 3 years or so - till secondary beckons for ds - then we'll prob move back to Scotland for the better education system.
We all like sport/gym/dog walking/swimming. we are all very sociable and make friends easily.
The travelling complications worry me - but not a deal breaker. I'm worried about the size of houses. We are currently in a large 4 bed house with large gardens. We have large furniture and are all tall! Are the houses wee and quaint types?
How much is the private schooling for a 9yo - going into P5?

kohl Thu 14-Mar-13 00:16:47

I would say definitely go for a visit, as, to me, the south coast of England does differ in feel quite a bit from Guernsey.
The houses aren't all dinky cottages; there's a huge variety of housing, but property is extremely expensive on the open market, so lots of space may be a problem (though if your DH's employer is providing may not be such an issue). Have a look at Guernsey property online yo give you a sense of what's available.
There is quite an outdoorsy scene, so that shouldn't be a problem.
Your options for private schools are Beechwood (nominally cofe) and Blanchelande (RC) fees are £2,853 per term and £2,200 per term respectively.

dikkertjedap Thu 14-Mar-13 13:51:34

Houses shouldn't necessarily be a problem. You can look on the website of Martel Maides in St Peter Port.

If you like dog walking then you can just take them to the beach and let them poo to their heart's content grin.

If your DH is able too he might want to try to get a five year housing licence so you have some leeway. Nothing stops you going back earlier.

Morgan Fri 15-Mar-13 22:37:49

TracyK - let me know if you want any further info . I would say that if you are friendly and outgoing you should settle in ok . I agree come and visit the island and see if you like it !

dikkertjedap Sat 16-Mar-13 11:37:01

Never forget though, visiting a place for a long weekend is VERY DIFFERENT from actually living there day in day out. smile

dikkertjedap Sat 16-Mar-13 12:04:28

This is guernsey maybe worth looking at now and then to get an ideal how things work in Guernsey.

The comments on this article (bottom of the article) make interesting reading and are a good reflection how many (IME) guerns look at non-guerns.

dikkertjedap Sat 16-Mar-13 12:05:51

Even better would be to take an online subscription to the Guernsey Press for a few months, so you can see the full paper online.

sunshinemama Wed 20-Mar-13 22:26:08

Hi- I moved to guernsey from Bristol 3 years ago with mh DH and 4 children aged then 1- 10.
I am a bit concerned about what you are hearing from the other person.. true the winter months are long and a bit dull but spring onward make up for it and on any day the weather is a lot better than u and warmer...
If you want to be happy here you will! Just persevere- I found guernseymen quite shy to begin with but just be yourself and you will make new friends worth having. It is the perfect place to bring up a family- we do not worry about our 13 daughter who goes off to town etc.... the islands are delightful in the summer.. property is expensive- don't get sucked into hte north /south divide- Vale etc is great but people will tell you to stick to the south where property is more expensive....
do come you won't regret it
Kind regards

Polkadotfanatic Sat 06-Apr-13 15:57:58

Hi there op. I am 32 and have lived here all my life. It is a glorious place to live and bring up children and has some of the best weather in the UK as well as accesability to other islands in the Bailiwick if you fancy exploring. I would say that if you are an ''extreme sports / cocktail bars / adventure seeker'' type then it might stifle you somewhat, but for the most part it is glorious.

While I am not out to personally attack anyone on any mumsnet thread ever, I must contradict dikkertjedap's misleading post:

"It is not that easy to leave the island. Ferry is very regularly cancelled. Flights are quite limited and often fully booked. It is difficult if you decide on Thu or Fri to go to France or UK or Jersey on Saturday as you may have extremely limited choice or it may not be possible." - Nonsense - You have the choice of Aurigny or Flybe if you want to fly or Condor if you wish to travel by Ferry. Flights are not cheap so the earlier you can book them the better, but I have turned up at the airport before on a whim on a Friday at 5 and been in the Uk by half past seven. "Travel is very weather dependent." - perhaps you could advise on what travel wasn't?

"I don't think it is easy to make friends there. I have lived in many many countries but this was by far the most closed to outsiders. So you tend to only socialise with other outsiders. And many just want to leave, so not the most cheerful company." - I think sometimes people subscribe to stereotypes so much that they start to believe they are true. If you want to make friends over here and dont come already blindsided with ignorant views, then it is easy to do. Frankly by the tone of your posts, it isn't really a mystery why you didn't find it easy to make friends. It is well documented that Guernsey people are some of the friendliest in the World. smile

"I don't think the island is that safe either. It is no good for cyclists due to small roads and too many cars (many households have 3-4 cars), so there were accidents all the time (some fatal).
-''Accidents all the time, some fatal.'' I am 32 years old, there are perhaps 20 accidents a year. A fatal motor vehicle accident, I have perhaps known there to be about 12 in my life time....

"All people I know who have been there for a number of years are very relieved to have left." I am very relieved you left too smile

OP, what I would say is think very hard about what you are looking for. I am definitely not saying Guernsey is perfect but it will suit a certain personality perfectly. If you enjoy the outdoors, picnics, bike rides, cliff walks, tanning on the beach the whole weekend, getting excited about the snow when it comes and then wondering why the island comes to a complete halt when we have about four inches (ahem), afternoon teas, the fact that people sell things on the hedge still, friendly rivalry between us and Guernsey, the fact that we are fiercely proud of our heritage and make that known, the fact that if you are sick you can phone the doctor and you can get in that morning or afternoon usually, the fact that everyone will say hello to you if they pass you in the street, the fact that our education system is some of the best in the whole of the UK... then come.

I don't want to appear biased (just realised how long this post was, sorry) so here are the ''worst'' things about Guernsey:

Many places simply wont deliver here. And some places will try to charge you £12 to deliver something, which would have been less than a pound in the UK (eBay is a nightmare for this) - Shop around. Amazon delivers for free AND takes the VAT off.

If it's cold and rainy it can feel like the most depressing place in the World.

The cinema is shit. No other word for it. Simply, shit. smile

This next point could be a plus or a minus based on what you like - there are barely any ''well known'' UK brands here, eg you wont find:

Macdonalds: BK: KFC; IKEA: Tesco: Sainsburys: Homebase: Lidl: Spar: Pixxa Hut: Dominoes: DFS: Toys R Us: Superdrug: Mothercare: BHS: Primark (sobs) (these are just a few)
However, for me (and a lot of locals) this makes taking a visit away from the island to the 'mainland' a whole lot more fun, we tend to make full use of the 20kg baggage allowance! smile

(You will find- Boots, M&S, New Look, Dotty P, Waitrose, Iceland, Co-op, HMV and loads of other 'local' shops, too.

You have to explain constantly to people where you live, no it's not the Isle of Man, no you're not French, yes you are British, yes you are under the Crown, yes you have your own government, no people do not marry their own sisters, yes we get running water/electricity/broadband, yes we have pound notes, no they cannot be used in the UK, yes we can use English money...etc smile I find it fun and sometimes pretend not to have heard of things if people ask me something particularly stupid (I once had ''do you have washing machines over there?'') lol smile

It is a VERY expensive place to live. Very. To rent a one bedroom flat you will be starting at £750 for something not that great. A purpose-built one bedder will go for about £1,100. Essential shopping items: Loaf of bread (Co-op do an own brand at £1.35) but for Warrys (Island Bake) It's near to £2 for a loaf. Litre of milk £1.09. Block of cheese £2.00, Packet of mince £4.00, 4 chicken breasts - £5. Again, this depends WHERE you shop -if you go to iceland, obviously everything is cheaper, but I shop at Co Op usually. If you are looking to buy make sure you have in the bank at least a 5% deposit and 3%for your legal fees before you contemplate looking. A three bedroomed house will start at about the £380k mark for something quite average... (local market).

Jobs are a rare and precious commodity. The good news is that if you do get one, the pay is higher than the national average, depending on what skills you have/profession, etc.

Choice. You aren't exactly spoiled for it. You will find internet shopping to be your friend and then will have to listen to arguments about how internet shopping is taking over our economy, whilst the shops still refuse to get anything new in smile

OP, sorry for the long post, I realise that all of our posts are subject to our own experiences, but I moved away from Guersney for 18 months when I was in my early 20s (followed a boy to Ireland - you know the rest ;) ) lol and I missed it dreadfully and whilst there is no place like it in the World, I am proud to call it my home.

If you want any more info, please ask! The sun is shining right now, so I am going to get on the bicycle and see if I can find some fresh ''hedge fruit'' to buy for a pound a punnet smile

Take care! x

ClayDavis Sat 06-Apr-13 16:46:50

Aah. 'hedge veg'. One of the things I miss most about living in the UK.

I'll second what polka says about the PPs comments about road safety. Yes, like anywhere else there are accidents and a handful of those are fatal but it is a handful. I'd disagree with what she says about cycling as well. I've spent plenty of time cycling on both small lanes and main roads. It certainly feels much safer than cycling in the UK.

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