Country houses for sale

Living in Guernsey

People are fond of saying that life on Guernsey is reminiscent of the British mainland of 50 years ago. The resultant image is of a quaint backwater or retirement community where life moves slowly, but, in reality, this pretty, safe island has successfully repositioned itself as a very modern place indeed.

Developing its appeal to those fleeing large tax bills was just the start-Guernsey has also worked extremely hard to build flawless communications strategies and a fearsome reputation in international law. Part of its charm is now that elements of old and new coexist: City boys still have to adhere to the 35mph speed limit.

The island’s population may now be a mixture of longstanding local families and newer residents, but it still prides itself on its sense of community. ‘We do get some people who move here and just hide themselves away, but most new residents get very involved with the local community,’ says Jon Taylor, co-author of the book Guernsey Wow.

Unlike its Channel Island neighbour Jersey, where people can be almost obsessive over privacy, life on Guernsey feels more open and relaxed. There is a distinct Anglo-Norman feel to the island, which still has its own patois-Dguernésiais-which, although not widely used, is part of the national identity. Many road signs still belie Norman connections and most islanders take holidays in France.

The Bailiwick archipelago includes Alderney, Herm (sold privately in 2008), Jethou, Brecqhou (owned by the Barclay Brothers), Burhou, Lihou, Sark and other islets. It takes about 20 minutes to sail across to Herm and Sark; sailing is obviously one of the most popular pastimes. The advantageous climate means the majority of recreation time is spent outside, whether on water or land (golf and gardening are also hugely popular). For those with a boat, there is one private marina, but moorings are hard to come by, according to Ross Le Marquand at Guernsey estate agent Cooper Brouard (01481 236039).

The tourist trade ensures there is an excellent range of restaurants and cafes, and, according to Mr Le Marquand: ‘The seafood is as fresh as it can possi-bly be. A fleet of local fishermen still departs from St Peter Port every morning to bring fresh fish back to the harbour. We have quite a Continental style of living here.’

Guernsey is perfect for families. Crime is rare and schools are excellent-children all cycle to school, again conjuring up those images of half a century ago. But don’t be fooled. Quality of life is much higher than the crowded south coast, but state-of-the-art communications mean many large businesses can base themselves there and still be just 45 minutes from London by air.

In addition to its advantageous tax system, Guernsey has also been repositioning itself as a destination for some of the fiercest intellectual property lawyers in the world as well as offering some first-class brains working in international business.

If you want to move to Guernsey for the fantastic quality of life, wonderful sailing and beautiful scenery, you won’t be disappointed, particularly if you’re the owner of a valuable brand that needs rigorous protection under international law.

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