Expats moving to the Channel Islands may be surprised to learn that finding and arranging accommodation is often a complicated matter involving a lot of red tape. The relative ease of a property search and subsequent rental or purchase typically depends solely on one's residential or work status on the islands.

Types of accommodation in Channel Islands

Accommodation in Guernsey

In Guernsey, housing is divided into Local Market and Open Market housing. Local Market housing can be purchased or rented only by select groups of people, namely those born on the island, those with strong family ties on the island, or those who fill a vital skills shortage on the island. Local Market housing makes up about 90 percent of the property market in Guernsey.

Open Market housing is not only limited in terms of the number of properties available (around 1,600 total), but is also generally larger and more luxurious than Local Market housing. Accordingly, it is also more expensive.

The Guernsey government website has more information on regulations.

Accommodation in Jersey

To rent or buy a house in Jersey, a housing permit is needed. The possibility of obtaining a permit is determined by a person's residency, work or financial status on the island.

Everyone living on the island is assigned one of four categories, each of which has associated privileges. The categories are as follows, from highest to lowest:

  • 'Entitled' status: Those who have lived on Jersey for more than 10 years
  • 'Licensed' status: Those considered essential employees
  • 'Entitled for work' status: Those who have lived in Jersey for at least five years or have a spouse of equal or higher status
  • 'Registered' status: Those who don't qualify for any of the above

'Entitled' residents can rent, buy and sell property as they wish. 'Licensed residents' can rent or buy any one property, excluding social housing or first-time-buyer housing. 'Entitled for work' residents can rent without restriction but can only purchase property with a spouse who has a higher status. 'Registered' residents are limited to living in boarding houses, tourist accommodation or lodging in private homes.

For more information, visit the Jersey government website.

Finding accommodation in Channel Islands

Because accommodation and space are limited on the islands, demand for housing is incredibly high, and this makes it even harder for expats to find a place to live in the Channel Islands.

Laws governing foreigners’ rights to rent or buy property also differ from one island to the next. For this reason, expats are advised to contact an estate agent, immigration specialist or property lawyer based in the Channel Islands to ensure they find a suitable home with minimal hassle.

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