Situated in the English Channel, the Channel Islands are an archipelago just off the coast of Normandy, France. The two largest islands are Jersey and Guernsey, while smaller inhabited islands include Alderney and Sark.
Living in the Channel Islands as an expat
The Channel Islands have been a dependency of the UK since the 11th century, but technically they aren't part of the United Kingdom. The islands are governed as two separate bailiwicks: the Bailiwick of Jersey and the Bailiwick of Guernsey.
Each bailiwick sets its own policies for central issues such as healthcare, immigration, homeownership, schooling and more. Britain is responsible only for the islands' defence and foreign affairs. However, in terms of culture, cuisine and history, the Channel Islands have also been influenced by nearby France.
The Channel Islands are well known for being a tax haven and, while the islands are not entirely tax-free, taxes are lower than in many other countries. Finance and banking services are the backbone of both Jersey and Guernsey's economies, with tourism being another major industry. Expats with experience and qualifications in these fields and who can prove that they can fill a skills gap are sure to find lucrative employment on the islands.
Accommodation isn't easy to come by in the Channel Islands, as housing permits are required to rent a property. These permits are usually only granted to expats who will fill skills gaps in the local markets, or bring important revenue to the islands. Added to that, space is obviously at a premium on the islands, which means demand for housing is incredibly high.
Cost of living in Channel Islands
Life in the Channel Islands is far from cheap, especially when it comes to accommodation, furniture and groceries. Both Jersey and Guernsey have a higher cost of living than the UK mainland, with Jersey being the more expensive of the two. Expats who manage to secure a job in the Channel Islands will find that salaries are fairly high in order to compensate for the steep cost of living.
Expat families and children in Channel Islands
The Channel Islands are a wonderful place to raise a family. Education is high quality and inexpensive, locals are friendly, and a beach is never more than a stone's throw away. There's also plenty of opportunity for family holidays exploring France or the UK, both of which are just a ferry's ride away.
Climate in Channel Islands
New arrivals can expect a pleasant climate thanks to the more southerly location of the islands in comparison to the UK. Jersey is one of the warmest locations in the British Isles. Even in the colder winter months, snow and ice are rare.
While there's no doubt that moving to Jersey or Guernsey can be challenging, particularly when it comes to red tape, expats who are able to secure employment and housing report an outstanding quality of life, and often stay far longer than intended.
Capital city: Saint Helier (Jersey) and Saint Peter Port (Guernsey)
Neighbouring countries: The English Channel completely surrounds the Channel Islands. The closest countries are England to the north and France to the south and east.
Geography: There are seven permanently inhabited islands, of which Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark are the most populous. There are also a number of uninhabited islets.
Political system: The islands are dependent territories of the British Crown, and defence and international affairs are handled by the UK. However, they have their own legal system, administrative bodies and fiscal policies.
Major religion: Christianity
Main languages: English
Money: The currency of the UK is the British Pound Sterling (GBP), which is subdivided into 100 pence. There are local versions of the British Pound in both Guernsey (GGP) and Jersey (JEP). Notes and coins from the UK can be used in the Channel Islands but currency from the Channel Islands can't be used elsewhere.
Tipping: 10 to 15 percent of the bill in restaurants, hotels and taxis is the norm if a service charge has not already been added.
Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. Plugs have either three flat blades or two round pins.
Internet domain: .uk; .je (Jersey); .gg (Guernsey)
International dialling code: +44
Emergency contacts: 999 or 112
Transport and driving: Driving is on the left-hand side. Jersey and Guernsey both have efficient bus systems. Some residents use private cars but on the smaller islands no motorised vehicles are allowed. In this case, travel is either by bicycle or on foot.
►Learn about the Pros and Cons of Moving to Channel Islands
"Jersey is safer, public transport is safe and easy to use, everything is walking distance from where you live, and the people are very friendly."
Read more of what South African expat Suzhanie has to say about life in the Channel Islands in our interview.
Are you an expat living in Channel Islands?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Channel Islands. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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