David and Shalagh, after years of travelling settled in the Isle of ManAfter many years of travelling and living abroad, garment designers David, and Shelagh Commons, decided to lay roots in the Isle of Man.
David, a motorcycling enthusiast, finally made his TT dream a reality when they relocated to the Island in 2019.
Laying permanent roots in the Isle of Man
I have ridden motorcycles since my early teens, even walking across three miles of field to watch the racing at Donnington Park at just 10 years old. Even then the Isle of Man TT Races was a mystical mecca I would hopefully get to see one day. My wife Shelagh had enjoyed several holidays on the Island as a young girl having grown up in Skerries, Ireland, so it had always been on our radar.
In my early 20’s I started working overseas and ended up travelling across the world for over 30 years. When the time came to put down permanent roots again, the places we grew up weren’t the places we once knew. So, it was time to re-evaluate. When Shelagh suggested the Isle of Man, it was a no-brainer. It ticked many boxes for us – the community spirit, the local pride we had growing up in England and Ireland, and finally after so many years the Isle of Man TT Races could be a reality. Ultimately, all those years away were going to be worth every minute.
Taking a chance
When we decided to make the move, we did some initial research, and were put in touch with Locate Isle of Man via the estate agent we were using in the Isle of Man. The team at Locate were fantastic, and couldn’t have been more helpful, putting us in touch with the relevant Government departments, and signposting us to the appropriate online forms. Having moved to many countries, the process and logistics of moving to the Island, were by far the easiest.
Without having ever set foot in the Isle of Man, I sold our house in the UK and made the journey to the Island. It was a big risk, but it paid off! All those childhood dreams became a reality in an instant, and those fond memories Shelagh had of the Island as a young girl came flooding back.
An idyllic paradise
The Isle of Man is an idyllic paradise – and has something for everyone, regardless of age or interest. We both love history, and the Isle of Man has it all, not just in museums, but as the bedrock of how its community lives and functions to this day.
Of a weekend we love to take in the sights, whether that’s the great outdoors offering that is available, meeting friends for a coffee at one of the local independent cafes, or simply enjoying the Manx sunshine in the garden.
We both feel we have finally found a place that affords us the right pace of life and feel far more settled and healthier as a result.
Flexibility at our fingertips
Although I no longer work, Shelagh is a Head Garment Designer and works remotely for an overseas organisation. She has had the freedom to work both here and abroad, and is imminently looking to move here permanently, where she will perform her work independently. The Island really is a great location, with great connections to the UK, Europe and further afield, and has afforded Shelagh the mobility and flexibility to do this.
Having been here several years now it is evident that the Island is quite entrepreneurial – there are plenty of start-ups here, and a real network of like-minded, creative individuals looking to make their mark. This is fostered by a very open and supportive Government, who are keen to invest in entrepreneurial businesses and innovative industries – of which there are many! The fact the high streets are a strewn with independent retailers and food and drink venues goes to show this. There’s also virtually no unemployment by comparison to many of the other countries we’ve lived in, which is illustrative of the quality of life and job opportunities there are here.
True biking community
Active social community is a part of the everyday fabric of life here, no matter what your interests, there’s a vibrant community for it.
As a motorcyclist I’ve been welcomed into groups of friends with experience spanning decades. Many of my newfound friends have close personal links to the TT, MGP and Classic Races and include riders, marshals, and commentators, all with unique stories and experiences to tell – bringing both the past and present-day Races to life.
It was only a few weeks after our arrival that I was invited to attend a casual coffee morning held every Friday in Ramsey; you could not meet a friendlier or more experienced group (30+ most weeks) of motorcycle enthusiasts!
A TT Island
The weeks leading up to TT are truly something to behold - watching as the roads you drive and ride every day slowly transform. It’s so exciting to see the barriers go up, the marshal stations being fitted out, the kerbs painted and the letter from the ACU dropping on the doormat detailing road closures - each is like opening another door on a TT advent calendar.
Buying a house right on the TT course isn't for everyone and not always easy to find, but if like me it’s your dream, every day is a joy, imagining the decades of history made and the legends that have ridden right past your front door.
Becoming a local
One thing that has really stood out, is how friendly and hospitable the locals are – having lived in eight different countries, nowhere has been as welcoming in comparison. If someone were considering a move to the Island, my one piece of advice would be to smile and engage with the people. A simple question can open up whole new worlds you would never have expected. Manx people get great joy from showing newcomers the Island’s secrets, of which there are many - all you need to do is ask kindly.