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Island living – Which one suits you?

gernsey

The large island of Great Britain is itself surrounded by numerous smaller islands ranging from craggy outcrops to large communities.

Channel Islands

Jersey

A big thumbs up for Jersey came in a recent Trip Adviser survey in which it was voted as the “best island in the UK”.  The pluses include stunning scenery, white sandy beaches, a balmy climate, numerous restaurants, bars and shops, rock bottom crime rates and frequent transport links to the UK mainland.

However the strict housing rules mean that as much as you might want to live there Jersey may not want you.  Most sales are limited to those born on the island plus people classed as essential workers and high net-worth individuals.

Typical property prices range from c£165,000 for a 1 bed apartment to c£1.5million for a high spec sea view flat.

Guernsey

Similar to Jersey but more peaceful and calmer is a good way to describe Guernsey.  The same balmy climate, stunning beaches, arresting scenery and good transport links to the UK plus fantastic sailing, good quality schools and a hospital.

The island operates a two tier property system – the local market which is restricted to essential workers and long term residents and the open market which is available to all EU residents.

Prices range from £500,000 for a 2 bed to £5 million for large modern home with good size grounds and sea views.  Local agents report a more active market in the past 12 months but with stable prices.

Alderney

Measuring just 3 ½ square miles Alderney is smaller and certainly quieter than its near neighbours.    The only town is St Anne in and around which most island life is centred.  It’s a pretty town with cobbled streets, granite cottages and plenty of pubs and restaurants.  Surrounded by lovely coastline, populated by abundant wildlife and enjoying the same balmy climate and low tax regimes as its bigger neighbours Alderney offers a chance to really get away from it all.

Property prices slumped during the recession falling by as much as 20% but prices are now stable with a 2 bed likely to fetch around £250,000 and a 4 bed with sea views nearer to £450,000.

isle of man

Isle of Man

Like the Channel Islands the Isle of Man offers a low tax regime with off shore banking a mainstay of the island’s economy.  Many incomers move to the island to take advantage of the low tax rate and stay to enjoy the peace and quiet, breath-taking beauty of the hills and valleys and unspoilt beaches. Sadly the weather is not often on the balmy side but the unspoilt location more than makes amends.

There’s a good range of properties to choose from starting from around £180,000 for a cute ex-miners cottage, progressing through £350,000 for a 3 bed up to £30 million for one of the select number of “trophy” homes on the island.

Isle of Wight

With a population of around 70,000 the Isle of Wight is big by UK island standards but maintains a friendly community feel.  Lovely rolling countryside is surrounded by around 20 pristine beaches and the island’s thriving tourist industry ensures numerous eating, drinking and shopping choices.  Ferries run all day to and from Southampton, Portsmouth and Lymington allowing island residents to commute to the mainland for work (London is about 2 hours away by ferry and train).

A nice cosy 3 bed cottage might cost around £250,000, a 2 bed sea view flat in Cowes (home to the world famous yachting regatta) upwards of £500,000 and a farmhouse with a few acres nearer to £750,000.

Isles of scily

Isles of Scilly

Finding a home to buy on this idyllic island is far from easy as there is a very limited amount of property for sale. A short lease can be taken out on one of the 300 homes owned by Prince Charles UK Estate but buying options are very limited.

However for those lucky enough to get there the Isles, which lie just under 30 miles off the Cornish coast, offer beauty, safety, friendship and a near perfect climate.  Go anytime between December and March when the fields are filled with the scent and colour of thousands of blooms grown for export and the chances are you won’t want to leave.

Transport links are numerous with the Penzance ferry augmenting flight options to and from Newquay, Exeter, Bristol and Lands’ End.

Taking into account our earlier comments about the dearth of property for sale it is no surprise that those properties that do reach the market are not cheap but 2 bed flats with sea views are not unreasonably priced at £250,000 whilst a typical 4 bed stone house in the capital St Mary’s will be between £450,000 and £500,000.

holy island

Holy Island (Lindisfarne)

Measuring just 2 miles west to east and 1 ½ miles south to north Holy Island is tiny but for such a small space packs a disproportionate number of good restaurants and pubs and is also home to the famous Lindisfarne Castle, now run by the National Trust.

Although there are nearly ¾ million annual visitors the island is home to only around 200 permanent residents so as with the Scilly Isles buying options are limited.  There are only a small number of jobs available on the island so the majority of property owners are retired or second-home owners.

Access to and from the island (which is about 12 miles east of Berwick-upon-Tweed) is via a causeway which is cut off twice a day by the tide and school children are sometimes marooned on the mainland overnight (there is no school on the island).

Properties come up very rarely so there is a significant premium on house prices which average 15% more than along the nearby Northumberland coast.   Recent sales have included a 4 bed stone house for £500,000 and a 2 bed flat with sea views for £250,000.

Hayling Island

Just 10 miles from Portsmouth but once you are across the short bridge that connects to the mainland it is easy to feel that you are cut off from the rest of the world.

Five miles of beach (sadly now topped with shingle to combat erosion) in a family friendly environment make this island a real draw for holiday makers but its easy access also attracts commuters to Portsmouth, Southampton and even London.

Prices are rising (up around 10% in the last year) with three bed semis now going for about £250,000 whilst a 3 bed cottage in one of the pretty villages would cost £350,000.  Top of the pile are the £1.5 million detached seafront houses.

isle of skye

Isle of Skye

Selected as the 4th best island in the world by National Geographic magazine the Isle of Skye became transformed by the controversial opening of the infamous Skye Bridge in 1995 which enabled residents to enjoy all the mod cons of mainland living but in an island environment.

The huge variety of the landscape, including the stunning Black Cuillin Mountains, the moors, lochs, hamlets and villages makes Skye a wonderful rural retreat.

Average property prices are between £200,000 and £300,000 but with opportunities to buy renovation projects considerably cheaper and large farms for considerably more.  A number of sales are as second homes or as B&B investments.

Anglesey

The great attraction of this 276 square mile island is its coastline every yard of which is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  Access to the mainland is via two bridges and once back on the mainland its four hours to London by train and two to Liverpool by road.

The beautiful countryside and coast is sprinkled with lovely villages and the castle at Beaumaris on the south east of the island is a Unesco World Heritage site. Until recently Anglesey was home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who frequently dined in the in Bull’s Head near Beaumaris. A Georgian townhouse in Beaumaris would be about £250,000 whilst homes on the sea are around £275,000 for a 2 bed.  Inland a 4 bed farmhouse can be picked up for £300,000 to £400,000.

Appeal

Island life appeals to those who yearn for the wild, remote, mysterious or the warmth and old fashioned comfort of a close knit community. The reasons for living on an island are as diverse as the attractions of the islands themselves but it is definitely not everybody’s cup of tea.

Which is your favourite?

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