Family life enjoys many benefits in the Isle of Man, from the availability of good housing, education and health services, to accessible activities, room to move and relative safety.
Almost everyone buys their house through an estate agent and the Isle of Man estate agents are among the most experienced in the British Isles, with a wide range of expertise in residential and commercial property sales, letting and management.
Most people prefer to buy their homes if they can, especially as rents are generally high. Potential buyers will need the services of a Manx advocate (lawyer) to carry out 'searches', liaise with the vendor's lawyer and draw up contracts, and a surveyor to check for damp, rot etc., plus the services of Isle of Man estate agents. The average time for exchange of contracts can be less than six weeks. Isle of Man Estate Agents are skilled in the valuation, sales and letting of properties beginning at the starter home level to properties over £5,000,000. First-time buyers should note that properties needing extensive renovation may be considered unsuitable for a mortgage and houses in Conservation Areas are subject to strict planning regulations. Low income households may, however, qualify for financial assistance towards exterior work. All Isle of Man estate agents will advise you on individual projects. Purchase grants are also available to first-time buyers who satisfy certain residential and income criteria, yet again the many Isle of Man estate agents can guide you. See our Property section for a list of properties for sale and rent.
Where to live
So, where to live? The South of the island is popular for its scenery, good schools and proximity to the airport though attractive areas such Derbyhaven, Castletown, Port St Mary and Colby can command high prices. Other sought-after areas further north include Union Mills, Glen Vine and Greeba on the main Douglas to Peel road, the seaside village of Laxey and the spacious, temperate plains north of Ramsey. Cheaper properties are more likely to be found in the new estates and older terraces of suburban Douglas, Foxdale, inner Ramsey and Peel. Apartments are plentiful in Douglas and provide a convenient option for young, single workers who want to be close to offices and nightlife.
Families with young children will find plenty of good pre-school facilities here. For a list of Nurseries see our Directory.
There are currently thirty-three primary schools and five secondary schools organised around a three-term year from September to July. Full details of holiday dates, which differ slightly from those in the UK, are available from the Department of Education and Children. Manx schoolchildren are also entitled to the May Day holiday, Spring Bank holiday, a TT week holiday and Tynwald Day holiday and some schools close on TT practice days.
The Isle of Man currently has almost relatively low unemployment, which means there is a wide choice of work available for those wishing to come and live on the island. Employment on the Isle of Man is regulated by the Control of Employment Acts. Under the provisions of these Acts, any person who is not an Isle of Man Worker requires a work permit, which is issued by the Work Permits Committee of the Department of Economic Development before taking up employment in the island.
The decision to the move and work on the Isle of Man has to be made by the whole family, especially if you have older children. A holiday on the island, preferably not in the summer, so you can experience the inclement weather, is a good idea to give you and your family a taste of living on the Isle of Man.
During July and August many families head for the island's safe, uncrowded beaches although the quality of Manx inshore waters is not always what it should be. The only notable wildlife hazard is the odd shoal of stinging jellyfish.
Financial benefits for Manx families include Child Benefit - a tax-free, non-income related, cash payment available for every child under 16, or up to A level if they stay on at school. Children of low-income or unemployed parents may also be entitled to free school meals.
Tax for a resident married couple is charged at 10 per cent on the first £21,000 of joint taxable income and 20 per cent on the balance. Married couples are entitled to a combined personal tax-free allowance of £18,600.
Help for families in need is readily on hand at the Department of Social Care which offers a range of services, benefits and income supplements to single parents or families on low incomes. Free advice and leaflets is available from Markwell House in Douglas. Families on low wages, with or without children, may be entitled to a Family Income supplement (though note this differs slightly from the UK system).
The age of consent for heterosexual relationships is 16. It is the same for gay couples, although an exception is made if one party is 16 or 17 and the other is 18 or over and in a position of trust.
If you want to get married on the Isle of Man, a first marriage can only take place in a church or one of the Island's four district register offices. Couples wishing to marry in the Church of England simply need to notify their local vicar but all other marriages must be referred to the Civil Registrar first. Divorcees are not permitted to re-marry in church. Same-sex marriages are not, as yet, recognised but civil unions or other such partnerships formalised in other countries are acknowledged.
Birth procedures can be advised by your local health visitor but most women give birth at the 'Jane Crookall' maternity unit at Noble's hospital (fondly known as 'the Jane'). Pregnant women are entitled to free health care including pre-natal scans and 'Parentcraft' classes and maternity benefit is payable up to 18 weeks if you've paid sufficient contributions. New babies must be registered within 42 days.
Traditional Manx names still popular today include Fenella, Margaid, Freya, Voirrey, Breesha and Kirree for girls and Juan (pronounced Jew-an), Jole, Eoin, Illiam, Niall, Kieran and Fiac for boys.
Adoption and child fostering is co-ordinated by the Isle of Man Adoption Agency which works with the Manx Government and UK agencies to place children with families and provide advice on a range of adoption issues, including searching for birth parents. Very few Manx babies, but a large number of children, are placed for adoption and prospective adoptive or foster parents can be married or single, employed or unemployed, high or low income.
A death, in normal circumstances, must be certified by a doctor and registered at the Registrar's Office within five days by a relative or person present at the death or illness. Funeral directors can advise on funeral notices and burial and cremation procedures and the DHSS have a payment available towards funeral costs. New residents whose Will has been drawn up outside the IOM should have it checked by a local advocate as some provisions may be affected by differences in Manx law.
Acknowledgement: Manx Heritage Foundation