Introduction to the Channel Islands

Guernsey? Jersey? Like the cow? Or the sports shirt? Yeah that’s right, the Channel Islands has the bragging rights to both! You may not have heard of these islands before, but as British Crown dependencies their close ties to the UK mean that moving to live and work in this sunny little archipelago is super easy.

When picking your next work destination, whether for a short-term locum position or a long-term move what factors do you consider? Climate? Lifestyle? Salary?

For my locum stint in the Channel Islands, the island of Guernsey ticked all these boxes. It turned out to be my favourite position over the many years I was away!

But moving “offshore” from the UK can be a little unnerving for some, and for others being confined to live in such a small space (i.e. an island) can feel a little claustrophobic after a while.

So if you’ve ever been offered a position in the Bailiwick of Jersey or the Bailiwick of Guernsey (so named because they are each governed by a Bailif – fun fact for you) but weren’t sure whether it was the right fit for you, here’s what I would consider some of the biggest perks and downsides to working in these unique locations. Maybe it’ll help sway your decision…


The Pro’s

  • Lifestyle: while island life is pretty laid back, you wouldn’t believe how much is jam packed into this little land mass. Surfing, sailing, mountain biking, climbing, pools, gyms, shopping, golf courses. Somehow it’s all here, within a stone’s throw no matter where you are.
  • Visa options: use your UK working rights, or apply for local immigration clearance (I tell you how here) – you get the best of both worlds!
  • Food: not only is the local cuisine unique and delicious (Guernsey gache, Guernsey dairy, any fresh seafood, and the famous bean jar are all must tries…) there are a ton of amazing cafes and restaurants to choose from, and heaps that feature in the Good Food Guide.
  • History/culture: a fascinating fusion exists thanks to a collision of English and French influence. The French place names, Napoleonic castles and Nazi German bunkers might seem confusing at first, but somehow work perfectly harmoniously among a dominantly English, but still very multi-cultural population.
  • People: Guerns are just the most lovely, welcoming, down to Earth bunch of people. And while those Jersey frogs might call them stubborn donkeys I guess they’re all not too too bad, eh?
  • Proximity to France: feel like a weekend getaway? Pop on a ferry and before you know it you’ll be nibbling on cheese and sipping on red wine by the French seaside… 


The Con’s

  • Offshore: while there are plenty of quick, convenient transport options by ferry or plane off the island, sometimes that one extra step to get to a destination can make travel planning ever so slightly more difficult. The upside is that you don’t pay VAT (tax) on your purchases – hello online shopping!
  • Reciprocal healthcare: Guernsey has a bilateral health agreement with Australia, Austria, Iceland, Jersey, New Zealand, Portugal and Sweden. If you’re not from any of these countries you’ll be liable to pay for any hospital and medical expenses you incur (take note, the UK is not on this list!). The local healthcare system is funded by income tax and social security payments. If you’re non-resident and don’t pay social security contributions you’d better get yourself some health/travel insurance while visiting.
  • Umbrella companies: your current umbrella company may not be willing to pay you if you don’t work in the UK (I know mine wasn’t). If you’re already signed up, flick them a quick email to check if they’re happy to pay you while you’re offshore.
  • Maternity leave: paid parental leave is not a standard legal requirement here, so if you’re at that stage of your life it may not be the best time to relocate to the Channel Islands – unless of course your employer is willing to go above and beyond and include it in your contract.
  • Cost of living: rent and bills are on par with London standards, so while wages are high and taxes are low, your outgoings can be a little exxy.
  • Google maps doesn’t work! Ok a minor detail, but still annoying when you rely on it as much as I do… If you want to get yourself to a particular destination navigating your way through those gorgeous narrow winding lanes don’t rely on finding the address on google: it’s either not there or wrong!


I do my best to keep a neutral, impartial, “Swiss-like” position when it comes to giving advice – not all places suit all people after all. However, if the Channel Islands is somewhere that honestly appeals to you, but you’re a bit on the fence about it, I would highly encourage you not to overthink things. Take the leap and give it a go. I loved it and will certainly be returning for another working holiday thanks to my new three year visa!


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