The small island of Jersey is not only one of the first, and one of the most famous, low-tax jurisdictions in the world, it is also a very pleasant and beautiful place to live. Within sight of France's Cherbourg peninsula, it is a self-governing part of Great Britain and is intensely proud to be British. British characteristics, combined with a French flavour, plus the recent influence of Portuguese and Polish immigrants give the island a flair all of its own.
Traditionally Jersey was a small agricultural and seafaring community. It became a tourist resort for the British in the 20th-century and in the last three decades it has been transformed into a major international offshore finance centre, with all the ancillary legal, banking, accounting, administration and insurance services.
Jersey is divided into 12 parishes, which are the political, administrative and social units on which life in the island is based. Almost all the parishes have a mix of housing, from low-cost apartments (often government subsidised) to luxury villas. The island has its own parliament (the States), 13 police forces (voluntary, or honorary, ones in each of the 12 parishes and one paid force in St Helier), its own coins, bank notes and postage stamps.
Life in Jersey has many advantages: generally nothing is further than 30-minutes drive (even in rush-hour); the educational and sports facilities are good; there is relatively little violent crime (although like in most affluent communities drugs are a problem); and there is a huge range of leisure and cultural activities and places to eat. Last but not least is the very favourable tax regime.
The disadvantages are: a higher cost of living than in the British Isles (although this is off-set by lower taxes) and a very restrictive housing policy for those not Jersey born and bred (www.gov.je) Travel to the British Isles and to France is expensive (unless you book well in advance), and several times a year it is difficult, occasionally impossible, to get to and from the island because of fog or high winds.