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Chris Walton & Dash Pather, South Africa

Chris & Dash relocated to the Isle of Man at the end of 2019. Both working in the legal sector, they enjoy the calibre of work conducted in the Island, and have been making the most of their new found work-life balance.

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Thanks for sitting down with us today, please could you introduce yourselves and tell us where you work?
Dash: Hi I’m Dash, I am an attorney from South Africa, and I work for DQ advocates here in the Isle of Man.

Chris: Hi I’m Chris, I am also an attorney and I also work for DQ advocates in the Isle of Man.

Why did you decide to relocate to the Isle of Man?
Dash: We are originally from Port Elizabeth in South Africa, and we moved to Cape Town and after about three years in Cape Town we just didn’t feel settled. So we started doing some research and came across the Isle of Man. After doing a couple of months of research the Isle of Man just started to tick all the right boxes for us, it had the booming economy we wanted, because we didn’t want our careers to suffer with the move here, and it was going to provide us with what we hoped would be a quieter life, safer, more secure. We moved to the Island at the end of 2019, so we’ve been here about a year so we have a pretty good idea of what the Island has to offer.

What advice would you give to someone looking to relocate to the Isle of Man?
Chris: Just do it!

Dash: I think that the best thing to do is to be prepared for the immigration process. You have no control over it, and it requires quite a lot of patience. But I think that if you’re prepared, if you just do what you’re supposed to do, it doesn’t have to be as stressful as I think some people find it. The process of finding the job and getting the visa is its own stage, but there is a lot of emotional attachment that you have to things at home, so going through that process just be prepared for what’s coming.

Chris: and also the Island has everything that you need so don’t think, you know if there is a particular couch that you really love then of course you can bring it but if you’re thinking ‘do they have TVs on the Island?’ well of course they do, they have everything that you need. We took the decision to sell everything and just start new on the Island. I think the other thing is have enough savings so that if you do decide to buy things here then you have that available.

Dash: Yes, a little nest egg to make sure that you’re comfortable.

How did you find settling into Island life?
Chris: Super easy!

Dash: Really easy – we did not expect that at all! We didn’t expect it to feel like home so quickly. In Cape Town it took us quite a while to start calling Cape Town home, but moving to the Isle of Man we quickly fell into the rhythm of calling the Isle of Man home, and that was quite surprising to us. What we’ve found is that we’re happy here, it’s a strange thing to answer when someone asks you ‘how are you doing here’ we say, we’re really happy! We’re safe and secure and we don’t feel like we’re missing out on anything, the Island has given us the social life, the career we want and we already feel ourselves starting to set down roots and potentially start a family here.

Chris: and I think the reason why we have settled so quickly is indicative of the people on the Island. It’s made up of not only Manx people but also a lot of expats. Everyone is extremely friendly, very happy and welcoming and supportive. Being here and meeting people we’ve felt really warm it’s been a really encouraging experience. We’ve never immigrated before so this is the first country that we’ve moved to from South Africa and to be honest I don’t see us going anywhere else.

Chris: In South Africa, most of your clients are from South Africa, whereas in the Isle of Man, a lot of our clients are from all over the world, which I was surprised at how many clients we have from different jurisdictions. You’ll get an email from Singapore, Ukraine or Switzerland and it’s incredible to work with different matters, different jurisdictions and different practitioners.

How have you found working in the Finance sector in the Isle of Man?
Dash: What we’ve come to realise is that a lot of business comes to the Island, a lot of business comes from the Island, and a lot of business comes through the Island, and that has really been something to be engaged with. We get involved in multi-jurisdiction transactions, and the Isle of Man will play either an integral part in that, or might be a little bit on the periphery, but our involvement is just as important and we get to provide quite a lot of input and that is amazing because you don’t feel as though you are missing out on those big transactions from a corporate or commercial perspective, you are just as engaged as some of the big boys in the UK or elsewhere. I would say that the calibre of work that we do here is brilliant, it’s on par with the kind of work we were doing in South Africa, if not better.

Chris: In South Africa, most of your clients are from South Africa, whereas in the Isle of Man, a lot of our clients are from all over the world, which I was surprised at how many clients we have from different jurisdictions. You’ll get an email from Singapore, Ukraine or Switzerland and it’s incredible to work with different matters, different jurisdictions and different practitioners.

How would you describe your work-life balance?
Dash: I’d say that for the first time since I started working at least, I feel like I have a work-life balance. I love the fact that I am working with multi-million pound transactions during the day, but I leave work at half past five, I get to drive through the countryside (we work in Douglas and live in Peel) and so we experience things like the lambing season and the tulips coming out in the spring and it is calm and quiet. And then on the weekends we have great nights out and we go for coffees and bagels on the prom, so we still have that active social life where it’s still trendy and it’s still hip which is great.

Has the Isle of Man met your expectations?
Chris: To be honest, we didn’t know where the Isle of Man was to start with, so we had to look on a map. But once we started investigating what the Island could offer and the type of culture and heritage that it had, arriving on the Island it’s met all of our expectations.

Dash: I think it’s been better. We expected to find a quieter life, we didn’t expect for our working lives to be so interesting and quite so engaging. I hate to admit it, but because it’s a smaller Island, I expected it to not have the kind of transactions, or the kind of matters that we’ve had, and it’s been really encouraging that these matters are engaging, interesting, they’re pushing us out of our comfort zone which is really good. And again, we haven’t missed our social lives, people think the Isle of Man is all about countryside living, with a good industry, but we also have fun nights out and we still get to have our signature coffees on the weekends or our poached eggs with avocado on toast and that is really nice for a young couple to have and experience, so that’s been great, that’s been better than what we originally thought it would be.

Chris: and I think for me, being able to leave the front door and go for a run, and come back to the front door – I don’t have to drive anywhere it’s completely safe. I’m running through farmland which is amazing, and the views you have on the Island are incredible. You can travel 10 minutes anywhere and you have either the sea or hills with sheep and cows and so it’s an incredible place to be I think we’re very fortunate to be here. Our quality of life is really good.

Outside of work how do you spend your free time?
Chris: So for me, I am a massive sportsperson, so my weekends (I have joined a hockey club) are usually hockey on Saturday, maybe a run on Sunday and then squeezing Dash in-between (just kidding). On a weekend we definitely try and see the different types of restaurants and the food scene on the Island. The food on the Island is amazing, I suppose that’s maybe taken us by surprise. We didn’t think the food would be that good and I don’t know why. But it is an incredible industry in the sense that a lot of the food is fresh, we’ve had scallops which were caught the morning before and we’ve had amazing seafood, so I suppose the weekends are filled with eating at restaurants, seeing friends…

Dash: going to restaurants with friends, drinking the odd glass of wine or beer at the pub, country walks… culture, socialising, nights out… a little bit of everything.

Is there anything that has surprised you about living in the Isle of Man?
Chris: We were very surprised that there is a massive South African contingency on the Island. You’ll be at the shops buying some food and you’ll hear a South African accent in the background, or Afrikaans and we’ve met a lot of South Africans. Our aim was to not meet South Africans in a way because we wanted to meet people from the Island and people from other countries, but it just happens that everyone is so intermingled and it’s a cosmopolitan of a country so it doesn’t matter where you go you are going to meet all sorts of people.

From your South African perspective, what are your top tips for relocating to the Isle of Man?

Chris: Do it! Immigrating is a stressful time, it is something that, unless you’ve done it before, it’s very different. It is going to take some time to acclimatise and get to know your surroundings but don’t panic, have patience and I think have confidence in your move. You are making the right choice. If anyone says to me ‘I’m thinking of moving to the Isle of Man I don’t know what I should do’, I’d say just do it! I mean we’ve been here for a year and couldn’t be happier. We know how it is in South Africa, we know what lifestyle you have there, and comparing it to what we have now, it’s equally if not better, and it’s a move which we haven’t had one second of regret, we’re very happy here.

Dash: I think some practical advice that I would give would be: prepare as quickly as you can, if you are thinking about immigrating, start getting your personal documentation together as quickly as possible, that means unabridged birth certificates, police clearance certificates, marriage certificates, get that all together because documentation forms a big part of the immigration process and you want to be prepared before getting the job offer, so there are no delays occurring because of something that you are waiting for. So the moment you are thinking about moving, start getting that together.

Did you find the Locate website useful?
Chris: Extremely useful. In fact, when we were looking at different countries to immigrate to once we got to the Locate website we didn’t leave, that was it. We started reading and we looked at testimonials and case studies, and we were sold. We thought to ourselves, if this website is accurate – which it was – then this is an incredible place to be.

Dash: It’s a true reflection of what the Island is like. It does seem too good to be true, but it actually is a good depiction of what life would be like here. So I would encourage people who are considering coming to the Isle of Man to look at the Locate website, the information is up to date, we know it’s up to date because we’ve had to use it to get certain things in order once arriving here, and we’ve found it to still be a useful tool for getting our tax numbers, or our NHS numbers. Use the website and what is said on the website is accurate.


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