The Isle of Wight: make it your new home
PUBLISHED: 14:28 14 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:02 20 February 2013
Not just a place for a convenient weekend break, the Isle of Wight has become the place to put down roots for those in the know, says Jill Belcher
Once thought of as a retirement retreat, the Isle of Wight is now highly-favoured as the place to live by many professional people who work in Hampshire or commute to London.
While the Solent divides it from our county, that stretch of water has become easier and faster to cross in recent years. If you dont take your car, you can hop on to Hovertravels hovercraft in Ryde and be in Southsea in less than 10 minutes, while other services offer a good variety of options, both with and without vehicles.
The internet has enabled many of the Islands newest residents to work from home for at least part of the week and enjoy an environment which positively encourages health and well-being.
Living here, you are never far away from the opportunity to enjoy the many recreational opportunities the Island offers, including more than 1,000 local, national and international events every year.
For sailors, there couldnt be anywhere better, with 92 kilometres of coastline and plenty of sailing clubs and marinas. Thats not forgetting the yachting worlds premier event, Cowes Week (this year from July 31 to August 7), which annually attracts more than 8,000 competitors and 100,000 spectators.
Then theres the Isle of Wight Music Festival, the Islands cycling festival (September) and walking festival (next month), involving hundreds of thousands of visitors and local residents.
Each of the Islands major towns Ryde, East and West Cowes, Sandown, Shanklin, Ventnor, Bembridge and Newport has its own very distinctive character and community life. And there are the villages, many of them boasting chocolate-box views and thatched cottages.
The countryside is something else again, with more than 500 miles of footpaths and 30 miles of Heritage Coastline, so walkers will never be bored, however long they live here.
If you are looking for a home in a bustling town, with everything on your doorstep, then you have plenty of choice. Lovers of village life will find they will enjoy discovering the many small communities the Island boasts.
Queen Victorias love of the Isle of Wight brought many of her subjects here not just for holidays but also as new residents, and that legacy is evident today in the many Victorian villas. Development continued and continues today so you really do have the choice of properties of all sizes and ages as well as a huge variety of locations.
Add to that very reasonable property prices compared with many parts of Hampshire, and you could be looking at upsizing at no extra cost.
Ryde School with Upper Chine is an independent co-educational day and boarding school for students from three to 18 years, while Priory School in Shanklin is an independent mixed day school for five to 16-year-olds with a sixth form opening in September. There are good local state schools.
Foot passengers can get from Ryde to Southsea in under 10 minutes on the hovercraft. Red Funnels Red Jet high-speed passenger service between West Cowes and Southampton links with London Waterloo trains with an average journey time between the Isle of Wight and the capital of 125 minutes. The companys vehicle ferries go from East Cowes to Southampton. Wightlinks car ferries run from Lymington to Yarmouth (30 minutes) and Fishbourne to Portsmouth (40 minutes), while its FastCat passenger catamaran speeds you from Ryde to Portsmouth in 18 minutes.
You have everything you need on the Isle of Wight, but if you want to leave for a day, you can easily pop over to Portsmouth or Southampton to shop or up to London for a show.
Why we live on the Isle of Wight
Berni and Lynne Nigh can trace at least three generations of their families who have lived here and Bernis grandfather founded well-known IoW printers W. J. Nigh in 1903.
Neither of us has had any yearning to leave the Island to live elsewhere, says Berni. We do enjoy going on holidays in this country and abroad, but are always glad to see that ferry on our way home! The main advantages of living on this lovely island are definitely the pace of life, a very low crime rate and the fact that its a great place to bring up children.
With their 11-year-old daughter, Yasmin, they live in picture-perfect Godshill and enjoy country walks with their dog, Rolo, as well as mountain-biking.
The island is a great place to live because the climate is generally good and there is always something going on, Berni adds. And the best thing of all is us Islanders were truly unique!