The Isle of Man: The Perfect Work Life BalanceHelen and her husband Mike moved to the Isle of Man five years ago from France. Having lived in France for 15 years, it was a big move, but one that’s paid off!
How long have you lived in the Isle of Man and what made you move here?
We moved to the Isle of Man 5 years ago after living in France for almost 15 years. My husband was offered a job opportunity here and we had been looking at moving closer to our family who are in the Northwest of England, so it was a perfect solution. I had actually visited the Isle of Man on a Biology field trip in my teens so could recall fond memories of the beaches, counting limpets and discovering luminescent plankton in Port Erin Bay.
How would you describe it to someone who has never been?
It is such a wonderful place to live and really has completely exceeded all my expectations. It reminds me of my childhood growing up in a beautiful village in the Ribble Valley where we were free to roam the fields. It’s a perfect mix of beaches, fishing villages and stunning open countryside.
Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey so far and how being on the Isle of Man has impacted it?
Soon after arriving on the Isle of Man we welcomed our son and whilst enjoying those first precious months with him and his big sister I soon started to research possible business ideas for me to develop once he started school too. Building on my hospitality background I was looking for a new challenge, but also one that offered a better work life balance for our family life. My love of cooking was naturally pulling me in a culinary direction and so came the idea for Isle of Man Salt Co.
Tell us about your love of Golf?
Before moving to Isle of Man we played golf only a handful of times at a lovely course called Le Fronde in Avigliana. It was 90 minutes drive, and quite a trek, but we had been bitten by the golf bug. Now the children are school age I’m playing as often as I can. The links courses here are fantastic and offer a different challenge in all seasons. I’ve always been pretty active and whilst in France I would ski regularly. Golf has filled the activity gap perfectly for me, and whilst I love keeping fit in other ways too, Golf is the only sport beside skiing where I feel like I can completely switch off and free my mind.
What are the Islands Golf courses like?
On the island there are several great courses within a 20 minute drive. My favourite is definitely the links at Castletown, where I am a member. The views are just incredible and whilst initially I thought it was quite a difficult course, I now really enjoy playing there. The golf pro at Castletown, Charlie Simpson, has been a fantastic support and also runs a junior golf academy so the children are now enjoying golf too.
Some people may think Golf is quite a solitary sport, is this the case?
It certainly hasn’t been the case for me and I’ve been very lucky to make some wonderful new friends through the golf club. The course is really sociable and there is always somebody to have a round with. I play both with my husband, friends and with the other lady members. It’s been a great way to meet people and get involved – the WhatsApp groups are always buzzing with golf chat, events and team competitions.
How was your experience moving to the Isle of Man?
It was pretty seamless, and we found the government responded rapidly to our enquiries. We were often surprised by how accessible the government is, even by telephone, which adds to the feeling of being instantly welcomed.
What difference has living in the Isle of Man made to your work-life balance?
I believe happiness is all about balance and managing time over the long term. Since moving to the Isle of Man we’ve finally found the work family life balance we had been dreaming of. With flexible working now part of normal life, we’re able to fit in some golf during the week and make the most of our weekends spending time with the children. We’re incredibly lucky to live just a few hundred metres from some of the island’s most beautiful beaches and only ever a 20 minute drive away from spectacular forest waterfall walks.
What’s the best-kept secret in the Isle of Man?
Now surely that would be telling?! You’ll just have to come and visit to find out!
What opportunities has living in the Isle of Man given you and your family?
It has given us the opportunity to become part of a community – not just the village where we live but the school, the golf club and the island as a whole. We’ve made some wonderful friends and knowing that our children are growing up in such a safe and positive environment has been the greatest opportunity of all.
Tell us about your new business venture?
I am the founder of Isle of Man Salt Co. I was fascinated with salt forming in rock pools on the beach opposite our house and soon started to make my own batches of salt at home. When lockdown hit in March 2020 I decided to go for it and make a business from my idea. The Isle of Man is fortunate to be surrounded by designated marine nature reserves and the pristine waters make the most wonderful salt flakes.
We’re currently renovating our house and also developing a bigger salt production process to significantly upscale what I make now. The business will soon need to take on some extra people so there’s some exciting times ahead.
Why would you recommend the Isle of Man to others looking to relocate and what would be your top tips?
After being a little worried about moving to the Isle of Man I can honestly say that I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world now. It was a pretty big move for us – we packed up all our belongings including the cat and drove across France and the UK until we reached the boat at Heysham. I still remember that first drive to our house in Port St Mary and just feeling completely at home here. For anybody thinking about the move I would just say go for it because you will not regret it.