Guernsey housing – open versus local market

Jo Stoddart
If you are thinking of moving to Guernsey, one of your first questions is likely to be “where can I live?” Those who have been browsing the internet looking at estate agency websites might have noticed references to the “Open Market” or the “Local Market”. All well and good I hear you say, but what does that really mean for me?

By Jo Stoddart, Managing Director at Quintessential Relocations

In reality Guernsey has a two-tier housing market. The majority of homes on the island are “Local Market” with a restricted number (approximately 1600) being classed as “Open Market”. However you need to understand the basic rules about who is allowed to live where before you mentally start moving in to the home of your dreams!

Quintessential relocation islandmums

Photography by John O’Neill –

As the name suggests, the Open Market is just that – open to anyone provided that they have the necessary immigration permission to live in Guernsey. This means that any EU citizen or indeed anyone from another part of the world who would otherwise (through work /immigration /marriage etc.) have the right to live in the UK can live in an Open Market property in Guernsey. What’s even better is that if you live in an Open Market flat or house (whether you are renting or buying) you can work here too (although for non-EU citizens the same immigration rules apply as in the UK). It’s a great system, really easy and there are no other hoops to jump through. You don’t have to earn a certain amount of money or pay a minimum amount of tax to live in Guernsey – it really is a question of pitching up and moving in.

So what’s the catch? Well obviously there are a limited number of Open Market properties (approximately 7% of the overall housing stock) so Open Market properties are generally a bit more expensive than their Local Market equivalents. But when all is said and done not only are you buying (or renting) a home, living in this home gives you the right to live on a fabulous, safe and very beautiful island, AND you pay a lot less tax than in most other places in Europe! If you want to know more about our tax system, click here to read more about how the tax system works and see how beneficial our system is for residents. You don’t need to be a mathematical genius to work out that even if your house costs a bit more to buy or rent, the amount of money you will save in tax more than makes up for it and you get to live in one of the safest places in the world for as long as you like.

Quintessential Islandmums

Photo by John O’Neill

As you might expect, Local Market homes are primarily destined for local people who have been born here or spent the majority of their childhood in Guernsey. But, and it’s a big, beneficial BUT, some people who come to Guernsey to work are given special Employment Permits to allow them to live in a Local Market property. Because we are a relatively small community (approximately 63,000 people), we do experience skills shortages and businesses regularly need to bring people in from elsewhere who have certain skills and experience which might not be readily available here. For example, if one of the senior schools needs a history teacher qualified to teach to A level, or the hospital needs an orthopaedic surgeon, or a law firm needs a specialist funds lawyer, the chances of being able to find someone who is already on the island and is looking for that type of job is quite slim. And that’s where the Employment Permits come in. If businesses are looking for staff with specialist skills and can’t find anyone suitable locally, they can apply for an Employment Permit, which would allow them to hire someone from off island who can come and live in a Local Market property. For more information about Employment Permits – for  read here.

Local Market properties are generally cheaper than their Open Market equivalents either to rent or to buy, so if you are given a Housing Licence that is a definite benefit. However even if you have a Local Market Licence, if your dream home turns out to be an Open Market property, you can live on the Open Market without a problem if you prefer.

Quintessential Islandmums

Photo by John O’Neill

So, whether you are looking for a cosy cottage, a swish apartment in town or a characterful granite farmhouse, there is something for everyone in Guernsey – but the important thing to remember is whether you are entitled to live on the Local Market or restricted to the Open Market. At Quintessential Relocation we understand all the ins and outs of both markets and can provide help and advice about what you can expect and also explain all the rules to you, so please send us an email or pick up the phone +44 (0)1481 257200 if you have any queries. We’d be delighted to help!

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