Chloe and Nick Moakes were familiar with Guernsey so when they began to explore the possibility of leaving London, the island was high on their list of considerations. As Nick says: ‘If you compare Guernsey with anywhere in the UK you might choose to move to, there’s nowhere that can compare to here that has the history, the culture, the things to see, the beautiful countryside. They all have some of this but Guernsey has got it all in spades and I think that’s what makes it so attractive.’ However, feeling that the island was ‘just a bit out of our reach financially’, the couple looked into Cornwall, Spain and France, weighing up their options regarding jobs, education, housing and lifestyle.
Then some property details caught the couple’s attention. ‘A house came up in Guernsey that seemed perfect for us and it was within budget, whereas previously many similar houses hadn’t been, and that’s what really sowed the seed,’ explains Chloe. Although they didn’t proceed with that particular property, Chloe and Nick found a great choice of houses on the Open Market priced at under a million pounds ‘We came and looked at quite a few houses, then we walked into this place and said, “Wow, this is the one.” It’s perfectly located, five minutes’ walk to the kids’ schools. It’s got plenty of space, a garden and off-street parking – and lo and behold we’re here.’
Chloe and Nick have two young children, nine-year-old George and Beatrice, 8. ‘It was all centred around the children,’ says Chloe. ‘Guernsey really ticked the boxes because there’s a great finance sector and lots of opportunities for school and university leavers.’ Nick adds: ‘As well as financial services you’ve got lots of companies starting up in technology and all kinds of things, so for our kids and the kids who live on the island generally it’s got a huge amount to offer.’
Career-wise, the move has been smooth for Nick, who holds a senior client relationship role within financial services. ‘It’s working fine – I go back to London for meetings and the technology is so good here, I plug my computer in and it’s like being in the office.’ Chloe has a background in office management, latterly working in the education sector. Having spent years juggling work and childcare, she is keeping an eye out for a suitable term-time position.
The work/life balance that is possible in Guernsey has been a major change, as Nick explains: ‘It’s a different lifestyle here because you can work as hard as you would have done in London but everything is so close, you can go out and meet your family on the beach after work, have a meal somewhere and go and chat to friends. If you’re working in a major city, when it’s time to leave people want to get on a train and go home, but here you don’t have that pressure because nobody’s got a long commute.’ This contrast hasn’t come at a price, as the island has first-rate restaurants, bars and amenities. ‘Guernsey offers everything we want for our children and for ourselves and it’s got all the infrastructure that we need. It’s got fabulous schooling, the big supermarkets and all the things that you wouldn’t necessarily think are here but are here, and that’s awesome.’
Even though Nick has to travel regularly, he has found the island surprisingly accessible. ‘It takes me two hours to get from the airport here to my office in central London, which is amazing. It may be an island but it’s easy to get to pretty much wherever you need to get to. If people like me are wondering where to move to, Guernsey is an option because there’s lots here with the ability to travel.’
Having been on the island for a month, the Moakes are already appreciating the sense of community. ‘I’ve noticed that companies sponsor things and get involved – you see a lot of amazing things that are so switched on, that I didn’t see in the UK. And it’s so easy, if you want to get involved at whatever level, you can make a difference over here if you want to,’ says Chloe. ‘I think there’s something for everybody here, whether it’s the Arts, history or nature, there’s a whole host of things happening throughout the year, like the Town Carnival which is just great. Wherever you look there’s activity,’ adds Nick.
The children are settling well into their new schools and Nick says, ‘I’ve noticed a whole new energy in them.’ Chloe and Nick are also finding their feet, a process which began before they made the move.
‘You read about the Open Market and it can sound a bit scary, but actually it doesn’t need to be.
There are two markets but it’s very easy to navigate if you’ve got the support of someone like the estate agent who’s helping you,’ says Nick. ‘Swoffers have been brilliant, they really helped us. There was great information sharing – because we were buying remotely, we didn’t understand the laws but Craig became our representative if you like. It was far more than just buying a house, he really helped us to realise the dream,’ Chloe concurs. One potential measure proved to be unnecessary: ‘One of the things I found quite amusing was when we first came over I said we must get an alarm system put in, and everybody laughed and said, “You’re from London, aren’t you?”’ says Nick.
Chloe admits that there can be a perception that the island is out of reach for ‘normal’ families. ‘When we said we were moving to Guernsey, so many people said, “Oh, are you millionaires?” There is this belief that it’s really difficult to move but it isn’t, and at the end of it what you get is so much. I don’t understand why more people don’t do it!’
Got a question? We’re here to help.
Our Open Market team have a wealth of experience in helping individuals and families relocate to Guernsey. To find out more about living in Guernsey, email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone +44 (0) 1481 711766.