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Interview with Suzhanie – a South African expat living in the Channel Islands

Updated 15 Sep 2022

Suzhanie is a young South African auditor who loves to travel and recently moved to Jersey in Channel Islands. She enjoys immersing herself in the islands' history and visiting their fantastic beaches.

For more on expat life, see our Expat Arrivals essential guide, Moving to Channel Islands.

About Suzhanie

Q: Where are you originally from?
A: South Africa

Q: Where are you currently living?
A: St Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands

Q: When did you move here?
A: Jan 2021

Q: Is this your first expat experience?
A: Yes

Q: Did you move here alone or with a spouse/family?
A: Initially I moved over alone, and eight months after I arrived, my partner joined me on the island.

Q: Reason for moving?
A: To have a better future for myself and to travel more.

Living in Jersey

Q: What do you enjoy most about Jersey and the Channel Islands in general?
A: It is safer, public transport is safe and easy to use, everything is within walking distance from where you live, and the people are very friendly.

Q: Have you had any low points? What do you miss most about home?
A: I missed my friends and family. It was difficult to miss some of my best friends’ weddings and important birthdays. The island is also more expensive than initially expected.

Q: What are the biggest adjustments you had to make when settling into expat life in Jersey? Did you experience culture shock at all?
A: Not having a car and relying on public transport. It was a change not to worry if you forgot to lock your front door, as there are hardly any break-ins on the island. People in the UK only BBQ on gas and not wood. Their idea of a BBQ is cooking sausages and patties on a gas braai.

Q: What are your favourite things to do on the weekend? Any particular places or experiences you’d recommend to fellow expats?
A: As I moved to an island, it is nice to experience all the different beaches on the island. My current favourite beach is Plémont Bay. The island has a lot of history from World War II, and it is exciting to visit Elizabeth Castle and the war tunnels and to see the real effect World War II had on the island.

Q: What’s the cost of living compared to home? Is there anything especially expensive or cheap on Jersey?
A: The living cost on the island is very high, as this is one of the most expensive places to live. Average monthly rent is £1,200 for a one-bedroom apartment. The rent and dining are the highest expenses you would face on the island. As most of the products are imported, the cost of clothing is also an expense (that is why I usually go to London, do any shopping at Primark and fly it back to the island).

Q: What’s public transport like in Jersey and across the islands?
A: It is always on time and very frequent.

Q: What do you think about the healthcare available in Jersey? What should expats expect of local doctors and hospitals?
A: Medical aid cover includes all medication and hospital fees. You need to register at a private doctor or else you would be forced to go to a state doctor where the care and due diligence is not as expected.

Q: What’s the standard of housing like in Jersey? What different options are available?
A: You would need a housing licence to be able to move into an affordable apartment. If you do not have a housing licence, you could end up paying double the rental expenses. Most single people on the island would need to house-share to be able to afford living here, or end up paying 1,200 GBP for a one-bed apartment.

Q: Any areas or suburbs you’d recommend for expats to live in?
A: St Helier, as this is in town and close to the finance industry (offices and clients).

Meeting people and making friends in Jersey

Q: Was meeting people and making friends easy? How did you go about meeting new people?
A: In the beginning, it was difficult to put myself out there, but you end up making a lot of friends at work and joining Facebook pages to meet up with other South Africans on the island.

Q: Have you made friends with locals, or do you mix mainly with other expats? What advice would you give to new expats looking to make friends with the locals?
A: I try to make friends with locals, as you end up learning more about the island and the dos and don’ts.

Working in Jersey

Q: Was getting a work permit or visa a relatively easy process? Did you tackle the visa process yourself, or did you enlist the services of an immigration consultant?
A: Yes. Being an auditor, it was very easy to get a visa and work permit. My new job sent me emails with the step-by-step process to apply for a visa.

Q: What is the economic climate in Jersey like?
A: The island is currently stable, however the retail price index has increased in the last couple of months, which will have a knock-on effect on living expenses.

Q: How does the work culture differ from home?
A: People are more focused on work-life balance.

Final thoughts

Q: Is there any advice you would like to offer new expat arrivals to the Channel Islands?
A: Do as much research as you can before moving abroad, from bank accounts, average rent expense per month and nearby public transport availability to mobile networks and water, electricity and WiFi providers. When in doubt, take a leap of faith and experience a different world. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you have just moved to a new place – that is the only way you will learn.

►Interviewed September 2022

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