➥ Loading Saint Helena Island Info



Could you live here?

What you need to consider

Sprinkled along the waste of years. Full many a soft green isle appears: Pause where we may upon the desert road, Some shelter is in sight, some sacred safe abode.{b}

Is living here just your dream, or could it become a reality?


There’s lots of information on this website about visiting St Helena, but what about moving here to live permanently? Is it what you want? Are you up to the challenge? Think so? Read on…

It has been remarked (jokingly, we hope!) that St Helena’s first resident was dumped here in disgrace, his best friend was a chicken, and it has all been downhill from there.

In other words, you really can’t expect normality from life on the island…

Lopez humour

This page describes the practicalities of life here. You should also read our page Saints for more about the people you would be living amongst.

Do you want…


A more relaxed lifestyle. One where you can leave your car unlocked and come back and find not just the car but all the contents too? Where people smile at you when you pass them in the street, and are always happy to stop for a chat? Where kids can play outside, unattended, and you won’t worry if they don’t come home until they’re hungry? Where you won’t get mugged or robbed in the street and there are no ‘no-go’ areas{1}. Where great scenery is just a few minutes’ drive away, or even on your doorstep. Where you can drive the entire island and not see a single traffic light, and you can park all day in Jamestown without paying a penny{2}? Where work stops at going home time and the rest of the day is yours to do with as you please? Where the weather is warm, the air is fresh{3} and the night-time skies dark? If these things appeal to you, then St Helena may be a good place for you to live.

Yes, we hear you say, of course everybody smiles at tourists, with pockets full of spending money, but not everywhere is quite as welcoming when you try to move in and live there permanently. It’s a fair point, and it’s true that a very small number of Saints are suspicious of incomers - but it is a very small group. Wherever you go in the world you can expect to find a few people like this. Most Saints remain as open and welcoming to incoming residents as they are to passing tourists. The others don’t matter. Be open and friendly with the locals and they will be open and friendly back. People-people get on well here.

So can any place be so perfect? Are there catches? Well, yes, there are some issues about living here. Some are just matters of acclimatisation and others can remain a problem, possibly forever.

St Helena is good if you like an outdoor life. It’s good if you have small children, where the safety and security mean you can give them far more freedom to roam than most anywhere else and the schools follow the UK curriculum so they won’t miss out on their education. And it’s great if you like being with people.

And the sunsets are spectacular…!

In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the air is pure, the pace slow, and the ocean looms as big as the sky.{d}


Can you cope with…

Below: Laid-back attitudeShortagesPaperworkBeing disconnectedTeenager issuesHealthThings that don’t workOn the outside, looking inAnd finally…feeling abandoned

The laid-back attitude

St Helena is relaxed, but is it too relaxed? Some find the lack of pace disturbing. If you’re used to a world where everyone rushes to meet your needs then you may find the laid-back attitude of Saints hard to adjust to. If someone says they’ll meet you at 10am, they will probably turn up somewhere between 10 and half-past; or maybe the next day; or not at all. This goes for tradespersons too (plumbers; carpenters; etc.). Think mañana, then add a bit. If that is going to stress you, this is not a good place to live. The flip-side is, of course, that nobody will mind if you’re a little bit late yourself. Learn more about timekeeping on our page Time.

By way of an example, a chap wrote to us about progress on his application for a job with the Government of St Helena. Ten days after he was supposed to have heard the results of his application he wrote that It’s all taken a little longer than expected…, to which we replied:

This is all part of the selection process, to make sure you are suited to life here. EVERYTHING on St Helena takes a little longer than expected. If you get frustrated and give up you wouldn’t have lasted five minutes on St Helena. Think ‘mañana’ but with rather less urgency.


Sorry, no potatoes

Shortages, especially of food, can be an issue. You go into a shop and they say they don’t have any potatoes. Neither do any of the other shops. There may be a few in tins, if you can ferret them out. And if you get agitated about it the shop assistants look puzzled, or even pitying.

Running out of things is part of life here. Much of what is needed for everyday life is imported and, with limited cash flow, keeping enough stock to meet an unexpected jump in demand is just not possible. This is especially the case in February and early March; the retailers spend all their money in September/October buying Christmas stock, but until this is sold (in December) they have no funds for ordering food until January, so once the Christmas food runs out there is a shortage of just-about everything.

It’s not always the retailer’s fault - they may have ordered something but it was out of stock the day the order was made up so it was omitted, which is not so bad if your order gets delivered the next day but pretty disastrous if you don’t find out about it until the container arrives two or three months later.

So shortages will occur, and there is no point in getting excited about it because there is nothing you can do. Your request will be declined politely, maybe even with a fatalistic smile, but that’s it - it isn’t on the island so you can’t have it until the next ship arrives - or maybe the one after that. Here you don’t find a recipe then set out to buy the ingredients; you see what you can buy and then look up (or make up) a recipe to use them.

One thing is interesting in all this, however: there never seem to be shortages of beer or cigarettes. And on the plus side, once you get integrated into the local culture people will pass on tips about what’s available where.

Also, be aware that:

Incidentally, it’s probably far from a deal-breaker, but you will find Sparkling Water only intermittently available here. Still Water is almost always obtainable, in bottles up to 5l, but not Sparkling. But it’s better than it used to be; prior to the last few years Sparkling Water was never available…

Paperwork and administration


You’d think on a small island where everybody pretty-much knows everybody else paperwork would not be a problem but, sadly, St Helena was colonised by the British, and both paperwork and administration can be a nightmare.

Take a simple example{6}: a chap buys a drill in a shop, intending to do some DIY, and also buys some drill bits. When he gets home he finds that the bits are the wrong type for the drill and do not fit. So he goes back to the shop, and they agree with him that the bits do not fit the drill (maybe they could have pointed that out at the counter…). It then transpires that they do not have any bits to fit this drill. Neither do they have any drills that take the bits he has bought. (Not only is this is not unusual; nobody even considers it strange!) So he asks for a refund, expecting a simple hand-back-the-goods/collect-the-cash process. Ah, no. They write him out a slip of paper which he then has to take across the road to the corporate offices there. After a brief wait the person behind the desk examines the piece of paper, then stamps it and gives it back to him. He can then take it back across the road to collect his refund. Is this piece of administration necessary for the proper running of the business? Probably not, but that was their way.

So don’t imagine you will be leaving paperwork and administration behind you when you arrive. And with this comes an obsession with minutiae. One chief auditor resigned because he was told that when auditing the Post Office he would need to count and tally every single postage stamp. It is not uncommon to receive a (printed and delivered) bill for a debt of under 10 pence; and monthly reminders (also printed and delivered) until it is paid!

The connected world

Being disconnected

If you want to live in a connected world, currently this is perhaps not the place for you. Despite upgrades made in 2023 the Internet is still relatively slow and expensive. Compare the prices and options here with what’s available where you live. Mobile (cell) phones are available but with limited coverage. Some satellite phones work here but they can’t be bought locally and neither can operating contracts. (Please see our page Communications for more.) So if you live your life in the connected world, St Helena could be a disappointment. But then you might feel who needs the Internet anyway? After all, you can hear everything you need to know (and all the gossip too) just by chatting to people outside The Market

However, there is currently work in progress to hook St Helena up to a submarine fibre-optic cable and this should change things…dramatically!

Teenager issues

Small children do well here

If you have small children they will do well here, but you may encounter a few issues when they reach teenage. Basic education is not a problem but if your child is determined to do obscure ‘A’-levels that aren’t available through Distance Learning you will need to make other arrangements. There just isn’t quite as much for teenagers under 18 to do outside school as there might be elsewhere. What we have is:

The Internet is relatively costly and limited, so you can’t live online. Games consoles, iPods, laptops and all the other paraphernalia teenagers seem to need today are expensive to buy your own, and if they go wrong there is nobody who can fix them. And if your teenager develops a sexual identity that is not mainstream expect problems. St Helena is a better place to bring teenagers than it used to be, but it is still not ideal.

Medical care


If you are not relatively fit and healthy, and particular if you suffer from any significant chronic complaints, you might want to contact the Government of St Helena to check that your condition can be managed here. You should also ask about the cost - Non-Saints pay the full cost of medical treatment. The local medical services are excellent for most general complaints but anything more complex requires a trip to South Africa (at your expense). Diabetes is, however, well managed here because about 15% of the population are diabetic. High blood pressure is also common{8}.

Similarly if you are disabled you need to be aware that there are no laws requiring businesses to provide disabled access and no protection against discrimination on the grounds of a disability. Some buildings in Jamestown have limited wheelchair access but most are reached by steps from the street. Even the General Hospital has only limited wheelchair access! People will be delighted to help you overcome any obstacles but you cannot expect to be truly independent unless you are fully able-bodied{9}. Around 18% of Saints have some form of disability{e}.

The good news is that dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free and vegetarian foods are now much more widely available on St Helena and also in many restaurants. We even have vegans surviving here!

A tip about the sun: St Helena is much closer to the Equator than Britain and the rest of Northern Europe, which means the sun here has much more Ultraviolet light, which in turn means you sun tan/burn much faster. If you are fair-skinned you will need strong sunblock or should limit your exposure to the sun (not just direct sunlight, but also reflected light off, for example, light-coloured buildings).

More about health in St Helena on our page Health Issues.

Scrapped Asphalt Plant
Scrapped Asphalt Plant
Scrapped Bailey Bridge
Scrapped Bailey Bridge

Things that don’t work

…often for no obvious reason. We’re not sure what the problem is, but it happens a lot. In recent years we’ve had the ‘Bailey Bridge’: supposed to be a pontoon to help with offloading cruise ships, which didn’t work because the sea doesn’t just go up and down, it also goes from left to right{10}; The Asphalt Plant: purchased at great expense to improve the island’s roads, but supplied with parts missing and never made to work{11}; even the Airport: built at a cost of £285million and only when it was built was it discovered that the wind would make it difficult for planes to land{12}. Some say Napoleon cursed St Helena for all time, but there is no record of this{13} and anyway it goes back much further than Napoleon. This from ‘St Helena, The Historic Island, From Its Discovery To The Present Date’, by E. L. Jackson, published in 1905 for 1706, 63 years before Napoleon was born and 109 years before he arrived here:

Two of the Company’s ships lying at anchor were cut off in the roadstead by French boats, which came in under Dutch colours in broad daylight. When their nationality was discovered, orders were issued by the Governor that they should be fired upon, but the powder was not at hand, and the sponges did not fit the guns, so the French ships were soon out of sight.

If you can’t laugh, you probably shouldn’t try to live here.

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.{f}

Location map

On the outside, looking in

To some Saints you will always be an outsider. You were not born here and your parents weren’t Saints so to these people - not by any means a majority but more than a few - you will never truly belong. On the other hand, in the 2021 General Election the candidate who got the second-most votes and two of the others elected had immigrated to the island, so clearly for these people acceptance was not a problem. If you intend to stay here for the long-term and want to have a say in the future of the island you should consider what you will do to make yourself welcomed here. More on our page Saints.

And finally…feeling abandoned

Flying away

In the days when everybody came by the RMS St Helena (1990-2018) people sometimes described a near-panic that descended upon them the day the ship that brought them sailed away, leaving them stranded on 122Km² of island 1,900Km from anywhere{14} with around 4,600 people and no way off the island until the ship returned, maybe three weeks later. Now we have the scheduled commercial air service you only have to wait a week for the next flight, but even this can feel a little strange. Be patient - it soon passes!

How to live here

Below: MoneyJob on St HelenaHome on the islandMedical FeesKeeping informedOther issues

Coming here as a visitor is quite simple. Coming here to live is a bit more complicated. You will need to sort out somewhere to live and you will need a job (unless you have a personal fortune to rely on).

Please note: the following is our understanding of the applicable laws, but we are not legal advisors and in any case the regulations change periodically. Please check your facts with the Government of St Helena before making any decisions. Here are some useful links.

See also our visitors’ Tips and tricks when here.


Local money - the St Helena Pound

The local currency in St Helena is the Saint Helena Pound (SHP) which is linked at parity to the British Pound (Sterling; GBP). The £ symbol is used. Notes and coins are similar in denomination and appearance to their UK counterparts, though St Helena is not yet using plastic banknotes. Learn more about the money we use on St Helena. A currency converter is available from XE.com.

Banking services on St Helena{15} are provided by the Bank of St Helena from whom further information may be obtained.

The financial year for the Government of St Helena and all businesses/organisations runs from 1st April until 31st March. We are currently in financial year .

A job on St Helena

If you need to work to support yourself please see our page Jobs on St Helena for more on finding work here.

Can you earn enough to live here, or afford to live here without working? At the time of writing you need to be able to spend a minimum of £15,000 per person per annum to survive here; more if you want to live in style, and that doesn’t include any trips overseas.

Piccolo Hill

A home on the island

To find out more about housing go to our page Houses and Housing. Properties are for sale here, and are also available to rent.

Even if you don’t have Saint Status you can buy a property with up to 2 acres of land without impediment; larger than that and you need an Immigrant Landholding Licence. This Licence is specific to an individual property, so if you want to sell your acres and buy something else you will need a new Licence.

Similarly, as a non-Saint you can rent a property for up to 1 year before needing a Licence{16}. There are no rental agencies actually on St Helena so there is no central place on the island to contact to arrange a rental. We have provided lots of useful general renting advice on our page Where To Stay.

For more advice see our page Houses and Housing.

Medical Fees

Medical Fees

You need to be aware that the health system on St Helena is not free-to-use for non-Saints. That means that until you acquire Saint Status you will be liable to pay for any medical needs on a ‘full-cost-recovery’ basis. See the 2018 fees schedule or www.sainthelena.gov.sh/‌directorates/‌health. If you are employed by the Government of St Helena you will be allowed to pay local rate, but your time as an employee of the Government of St Helena does not count towards your qualifying years for Saint Status.

Radio 90.5 FM

Keeping informed

There are no daily newspapers. The ones we have are published weekly; The Sentinel on a Thursday and The Independent on a Friday. Initially, buy both until you decide which suits you best. In between newspapers, listen to radio news broadcasts - times vary but both SAMS Radio 1 and SaintFM Community Radio have a 7pm bulletin. Again, listen to both stations until you decide which you prefer.

But you absolutely must get into the habit of listening to the ‘Announcements’, broadcast after the 7pm news. If Connect Saint Helena Ltd. is going to cut off your power or water the following day, or your street is going to be closed for a week for roadworks, or the planet is going to be demolished to make way for an inter-stellar highway, the only way you are going to find out about it in advance is by listening to the ‘Announcements’. If you fail to do this and you phone the Power Station ((+290) 22602) at 11pm to ask why your lights have gone out you will be told It’s a planned outage. We put it on the radio… and they will not understand why you didn’t know{17}.

Other issues

If you are a litigious person you need to know there are no private legal practices on St Helena. If you are prosecuted by the state you can call on the Public Solicitor, who is funded by the Government of St Helena but independent of it. If action is taken between two parties you have to instruct a ‘Lay advocate’ - an individual with no formal legal qualifications but some degree of training and your case will be heard under a Magistrate who also has no formal legal qualifications. It is generally better to resolve disputes in a non-legal way!

Want a spare key? The chap that cuts keys does not sell blanks, and the shop that sells blanks does not cut keys. They are two miles apart…

What to bring (and what to leave behind)

When you announce you are coming to St Helena to live (even if only for a year or two) you will be flooded with advice about what to bring and what not to. Much of this is well meaning but wildly inaccurate, even when issued by official sources! Look at what was being sent to TC Post holders in November 2023 (especially under ‘Arrival at St Helena’). In an attempt to provide some useful information we present (below) our list of things to bring and things not to bring. Please Note This is our ‘best effort’ and we’d appreciate suggestions.

Symbol, Cross BRING


Computers; phones; tablets; Kindles; games machines if you’re into such things; TVs are OK but bear in mind that St Helena’s digital TV system may not be compatible with that in your home country{18}; DVD players are useful - there are DVD rental shops and most have BluRay discs - bring all your favourite films/TV series and when you get bored with them you can swap with other people. The same applies for hard-drives loaded with .mp4/.mkv/.avi movies/series (though since October 2023 you can get an Internet package that will support Streaming Services or, if you don’t mind doing something technically illegal{19}, you can download movies, TV series and other stuff using a Torrent client). As far as is practicable, bring spare parts for any equipment you bring, but you do not need to bring computer consumables (ink cartridges, etc.) as these can be bought locally or ordered in via (e.g.) www.amazon.co.uk. CDs are not sold locally; most people download their music from services such as iTunes. See also Mobile Phones.


If you take any medicines, bring six months’ supply and also pre-contact the pharmacy (pharmacist@publichealth.gov.sh) to make sure they have or can get stocks.


For some reason books are always in short supply. Like DVDs, bring your favourites and then swap with others.

A good Camera

You can buy cameras here but they are only relatively-simple point-and-shoot types. If you have any capabilities as a photographer it’s worth bringing a good-quality camera and all the associated kit. Digital, of course - you can’t get chemical film processed on the island.

Gear for your Leisure Pursuits

If you like to do something unusual, bring any necessary equipment with you.

Educational Toys

If you have small children and you prefer them to play with educational toys, you had better bring plenty with you. Toys available on St Helena are mostly of the ‘shoot-‘em-all’ or ‘pretty-fairy’ variety.

Internet Banking passwords, etc.

You should make sure you can access your home bank account by Internet Banking, and don’t forget your passwords and any ‘gizmos’ you need to sign on.

Glasses, not Contact Lenses

If you normally wear contact lenses you would be wise to make sure you also bring a good pair of glasses. The optician only visits annually and contact lens wearing is not advised (though many have done so without incident).

Kitchen Equipment

You can buy kitchen equipment here but it tends to be cheaply made and not durable. If you’re into cooking you should bring everything you might need (but see White Goods).

Mobile (‘Cell’) Phones

Local phones are expensive! But do ensure that your phone is compatible with the local network phone system (see our page Communications).


This is a big-ish subject so has a section of its own (below).


This may sound stupid, and maybe it is, but you can buy ‘cool boxes’ here, but not the freezer-blocks to go in them! Why is not clear.

Symbol, Cross DON’T BRING


Unless you have a special dietary requirement that cannot be supplied here{20} it’s not worth bringing food.

The good news is that dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free and vegetarian foods are now much more widely available on St Helena and also in many restaurants. We even have vegans surviving here!

See also Medicines.

‘Dress Clothing’

Apart from if you get invited to a funeral or a ‘do’ at Plantation House, you will almost certainly not need to dress up. And nobody will care, or even notice if you wear the same thing twice. Bring ‘smart casuals’ instead, with perhaps one or two ‘Dress’ outfits.

A Digital Radio

We have no Digital Radio stations. All you need for the St Helena stations is a good quality FM radio. You don’t even need AM{21}!

‘White Goods’

An official document sent to us{22} advised bringing White Goods. This is totally unnecessary. The island has reasonable supplies of Fridges, Freezers, Cookers, Microwaves, etc. Prices are probably higher than in your home country but not excessively so{23}. However, see Kitchen Equipment.


Particularly those made of wood. The White Ants problem may be under better control than it was in the late 19th Century, but it has not been eradicated. Most local woodworking is in termite-resistant species but your ancient oak sideboard may not be so lucky. Similarly the saltiness in the air can corrode metals.

‘Gifts and greetings cards’

Another peculiarity of the official instructions issued to us, and completely unnecessary. Local shops can supply all your needs.

Planning on bringing a Drone with you? Please make sure you understand the rules about where you can and cannot fly it.

Bringing or buying a vehicle

Cars are expensive on St Helena (which is why we have so many Classic Cars in daily use). If you can’t bring one you will need to buy one locally.

Bringing a vehicle

Be very selective. Forget the Lamborghini - the roads aren’t up to it and in any case the speed limit is only 30mph, so it would be a waste. Bring something immensely reliable with a long service interval and a good turning circle (the corners can be tight), and preferably not something too dependent on modern technology, which almost certainly cannot be maintained here. Indeed, why not bring a Classic Car? Bring as many spare parts as you can.

A reader kindly sent us the following comment about bringing a vehicle…


The reality of it is that either a 200TDI or a 300TDI Land Rover in either the 90 or 110 variant is perhaps the better vehicle to bring to the island for visitors who intend stay for a bit or those that intend coming to live here for a while. Government staff being sent here have often commented that FCO has advised them to bring their car and when it comes here it can’t be fixed when there’s a fault. The FCO obviously has little to no idea what is and what isn’t needed here. The few that have brought Land Rovers have expressed delight in having brought along a suitable vehicle that enables them to see much further ahead on roads such as Ladder Hill Road & Side Path and are more than capable in handling the atrocious road surfaces that ruin the suspension on ordinary cars.

TD5 and the Ford Puma Land Rovers are slowing becoming popular but be aware - these two vehicles are computer-controlled and so aren’t always easy to fix when a fault develops.

There are a good many 300TDI Land Rovers here and parts are readily available from a few vendors. These vehicles have the refinement of cars and best of all can be fixed by almost anyone with a little mechanical know-how.{g}

If you do bring a Land Rover you perhaps could take part in Land Rover Day

Buying a vehicle locally

Ford Escort

Forget car showrooms; forget AutoTrader (magazine or online). If you want to buy a car here you have to do it the hard way!

If you ‘put the word around’ that you are looking for a vehicle you may be surprised at how many people will contact you offering a great little runner at a bargain price. As the Latin phrase goes Caveat Emptor (let the buyer beware). Unless you know a lot about cars your best bet is to get someone you trust to filter the offers down to those that are genuinely roadworthy, and also to advise you on the price.

It’s also probably worth checking Our Newspapers, but be aware that anyone who pays to advertise their car for sale has probably failed to sell it for a while beforehand.

Whatever you buy, do not expect it to be in perfect, or even necessarily good condition. It will have dents and scratches; it will have things that don’t work; it will probably have bits missing; and it will certainly not have been maintained with manufacturer-specified parts. The only question to ask is: is it big enough for my needs, does it go, and is it likely to continue to do so for as long as I need it to.

Can I become a Saint?

We discuss this on our page Saints.

Read More

Below: SourcesArticle: Shopping a daily puzzle on remote St HelenaArticle: Moving from the UK to live on St Helena


Official Sources

The following links on the Government of St Helena website will be a starting point for your researches:

Other Sources

Curious Little World - A Self-Imposed Exile on St Helena Island

Before you make a decision we recommend you read the book Curious Little World - A Self-Imposed Exile on St Helena Island, by Rex Bartlett{25} (right). It tells how Rex and his partner Cynthia bought a property here (with no electricity, water or sewage system) and set about doing it up. As Rex writes, You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll be glad it’s not you. And you’ll wish it was.

You could also read the blog Notes From St Helena{26}, a personal view of life here written by John Turner (the editor of this website) during his first nine months on St Helena in 2005.

Many other blogs{26} are also available, mostly written by ex-pats. They are useful for reading about how St Helena differs from the UK and what seems strange to a new arrival, but the authors are never intending to stay long-term so they lack detail in this respect. See our page Blogs or search for them on Google™ - ‘saint helena blog’ would be good keywords.

You should also download each week’s newspaper to find out what goes on here.

Article: Shopping a daily puzzle on remote St Helena

Bangkok Post, 16th April 2015{27}

JAMESTOWN - If you think grocery shopping is a chore, spare a moment for those on the tiny island of Saint Helena who never know what will be on the shelves from one day to the next.

This is like living under Soviet rule, jokes Francois Haffner, a French tourist determined to eat well on the remote South Atlantic island, famous as the place the French military leader Napoleon was exiled until his death in 1821. In the first store there is butter, in another there are lemons, and in the third you can find some cream. There are no greens, and eggs aren’t there every day, said an exasperated Haffner. The fish comes at 1:00pm, the bread after 11:00am -- but no later than 12 noon -- and all the shops close at 5:00pm. The shopping schedule requires that hungry tourists and residents dedicate a good chunk of time to planning how to fill their stomachs. There are no stores where you can find everything, and shopping takes some time, said Haffner. Still, he is determined never to visit the frozen food section, which was stocked with last year’s Christmas pudding in March.

- Choice is a luxury -

Groceries at Thorpe’s
The 4,200 inhabitants of Saint Helena have resigned themselves to the reality that choice is a luxury in a place where supplies come only every three weeks on a ship from Cape Town

In contrast with Haffner, the 4,200 inhabitants of the British island are more relaxed about the grocery situation, having resigned themselves to the reality that choice is a luxury in a place where supplies come only every three weeks on a ship from Cape Town. As a result, shopping in the island’s capital, Jamestown, requires some flexibility and a close knowledge of the ship’s schedule.

Of course, you do not want to starve, but it is better not to look for something specific, says David Pryce, a native of England who studies insects on the island. A successful islander has to balance patience with spontaneity, he says. You have to make the rounds of stores every day. And if you see something, you have to buy it.

However, sometimes excitement over new items causes problems, says Tara Thomas, whose family owns four convenience stores. When bottled water hits the shop, people bulk buy. They panic buy, and they create another shortage, she says. If people had a normal consumer behaviour, we wouldn’t have so many problems.

- Little local produce -

Most produce on the island comes from Britain or South Africa. Little is made domestically. There are cows, for example, but no fresh milk. We have farmers, but they do not produce enough, moans Thomas. What little local produce exists is often bartered between islanders or snapped up by hotels and restaurants before reaching the shelves.

Still, some are hoping to capitalise on the scarcity. Mirroring the fashion overseas for self-sufficiency, entrepreneurs have started small-scale farming. Joshua Martin{28}, 39, has set up a business delivering tomatoes and cucumbers that he produces in polytunnels. While his venture is a success, Martin complains there is little coordination between the producers. Everyone produces the same, he says.

Then there is the issue of reliability. The problem is that we are not regular, says Aaron Legg, a 30-year-old guide who grows bananas. Retailers cannot rely on us and they have to import. It’s not for lack of want, says Legg, who plans to start growing onions. The island imports 70 tonnes of onions a year from South Africa, he says incredulously. If there were onions every day on the shelves people would buy more. There is a huge market.

Shop owners worry that with such short supply they will not be able to accommodate an influx of tourists when weekly flights start between the island and Johannesburg in February next year. With the monthly ship service set to end after the introduction of the flights, retailers worry their produce options will decrease. Now they’re in a quandary. It is not profitable for a ship to come more often, says Nick Thorpe, one of the leading importers on the island. I have the feeling that if they want the ship to come more often, they will have to subsidise it, he says.

Whether or not that will happen is another story.

Article: Moving from the UK to live on St Helena

By Paul Tyson, published on Wirebird Blog{26}{30} 30th October 2014.

Nine months ago my wife saw a job advert; an amazing, if unlikely opportunity, that would change our lives. Without any real regard for the consequences I encouraged my wife to apply, not believing said life-changing adventure could ever become a reality.

At yet, now I sit here with my wife, Bev, and two young boys, Oliver (6) and Charlie (3), in the tropical sunshine of St Helena; a small British overseas territory that is one of the most remote places in the world.

Without a doubt, our adventure started with our journey here, and it is no ordinary journey. St Helena is remote, very remote, 1200km from the West coast of Africa without an airport. After an 11-hour flight to Cape Town and a night spent enjoying the sights and sounds of South Africa’s capital, we boarded the RMS St Helena (1990-2018); one of the last remaining Royal Mail ships that would take us to St Helena, a 5 day journey.

The RMS St Helena (1990-2018) has a reputation for leaving a lasting impression on people, and it is easy to see why. It is a throwback to a bygone era with games of dominoes and shove half penny, cricket, and tug o war on deck. The passengers and crew make this journey truly special and interesting. The ship contains an endless list of nationalities, personalities and stories each with their own tail to tell. We met many people from the UK in the same situation as ourselves, off to St Helena for new work and a new way of life.

We also had our first experience of the local Saints, warm, friendly and fascinating people. Always with time to say hello and spin a tale. Life on board is one of routine, based around meal times, but in between, regular entertainment is provided.

Our final night aboard was spent enjoying a fabulous feast on the deck, with barbecued meats, fresh fruit a plenty, and significant portions of cake before we headed off to bed. We had mixed emotions; excited to arrive at the island but sad to be leaving our extended family on board the RMS St Helena (1990-2018).

The next morning, crawling out of bed at 7:30am we made our way to the deck and there she was, the island, the focus of our attention for the last 5 months, the vision in our heads for what feels like a lifetime. What a wonderful exciting moment, shared with others emerging on deck to see their new home for the first time, whispers and murmurings of emotions giving way to a tide of noise and chatter as eventually all 125 passengers appear on deck wide eyed.

I peered at the rock emerging from the sea, imagining myself in the opening scenes of King Kong. As we approached the barren rocky cliffs the island’s secret lush interior is revealed only by the sight of a loan tree, sat on the Island’s highest point, Diana’s Peak (823m). Two things struck me; this is a small island, a spec in an endless ocean.

My mind turned to the pioneering explorers, the Christopher Columbuses of this World, the excitement and sheer overwhelming joy that must have greeted those brave men who crossed Oceans with no maps, in the hope of forging brave new worlds. St Helena, although a British Territory for hundreds of years, was discovered in 1502 by Portuguese navigator João da Nova, on his voyage home from India and what must he of felt when, like me, he first saw the looming sea cliffs ahead of him?

The second thing that struck both Bev and I was its apparent lack of any recognisable inhabitants. Approaching the South side of the island, a huge wall of rock and sheers cliffs is all that can be seen, this imposing structure changes and becomes more welcoming as we move East round the island, the barren rock face gives way to welcoming peaks and troughs with lush green valleys and dry peaks. Eventually the ship approaches the North of the island, the capital Jamestown and the first clues of the Islands inhabitants and long history comes into view as we weigh anchor to disembark.

From our steady anchor point, Jamestown is clearly visible, a narrow town of colourful houses rising up following the line of a steep sided valley. We get our first glimpse of Half Tree Hollow, a residential suburb of Jamestown perched high on a plateau and our soon to be new hometown. We can even see our new house from here and thoughts of evenings spent looking out across the setting sun over the Atlantic Ocean fill my head.

Before we know it, our time aboard the RMS St Helena (1990-2018) is through and we disembark onto a small shuttle boat that takes us to the Wharf. Waiting for a favourable wave to lift our boat high enough to step onto the dry land we have a nervous excitement and butterflies in our stomachs. A short shuttle bus journey to the customs post is filled with the chattering of expectant and nervous new Islanders.

Can this be true, that we are here; that this surreal dream is a reality; that I and my family now live, on an Island, six miles wide and ten miles long. 1,200 miles from Africa, 1,800 miles from South America in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean; that we live, on the Island of Saint Helena.

To learn more and see photos of our adventures on St Helena take a look at my blog, Two Years in the Atlantic.


{a} Matt Joshua{b} John Keble{c} Robyn Sim{d} Attitude Magazine, December 2021{e} 2021 Census, taken 7th February 2021.{f} Thomas Edison{g} Bruce Salt, ZD7ZD, 13th August 2016{27}


{1} At least, not in the usual sense. However, some women do choose to avoid certain areas, particularly after dark. These tend to be areas where drunks gather.{2} Currently, but see the Jamestown Parking Proposals.{3} Our air-quality is unimaginably high, even in the City of Jamestown.{4} Local bananas are delicious! Smaller than the standard world banana, they seem to have a concentrated flavour.{5} Thorpes does not currently import fresh fruit.{6} A true story, from the editor of this website’s personal experience.{7} At the time of writing In+ventive is suspended due to funding cuts, but it is hoped it will resume.{8} A relaxed lifestyle and cases of high blood pressure? The explanation is genetic. Most Saints are descended from Africans, whose biology makes them susceptible to high blood pressure. That and a taste for salted food and sugar explain both the high blood pressure and also the diabetes.{9} The editor of this website suffered a stroke and walks with some difficulty. There are plenty of parts of Jamestown that he simply cannot access.{10} Saints told the designer that, but he didn’t listen.{11} A replacement machine, using a different technique (Slurry), arrived at the end of 2023, which initial trials showed to be successful.{12} It later emerged that the wind problem had been predicted by Saints but the prediction was ignored…{13} See other debunked myths.{14} Strictly, Ascension Island is closer, but that’s even smaller…{15} And also on Ascension Island.{16} This rule is easily side-stepped - rent for a year then renew the contract for another year, etc. However there is no rent legislation, so your landlord can freely increase your rent at each renewal.{17} The rather quaint island tradition of the family gathering round the radio to listen to the ‘Announcements’ dates back to the early days of Radio St Helena, before Television and the Internet came to the island, when the radio was the only way to pass on information. Despite both of these technical innovations now having arrived the tradition seems to continue and government, quasi-government and private sector entities still rely on it to communicate with their customer base. Someone has cheap logs for sale? Or a nearly-new pushchair? Or a not remotely new Ford Escort Mark II? You’ll find about it just after 7pm one evening…{18} As long as your TV can accept SCART or Composite video or HDMI you should be OK.{19} As far as we know it doesn’t contravene any St Helena laws but it may contravene laws elsewhere.{20} Please note that Kosher and Halãl foods are not widely available on St Helena.{21} Our only AM station, Radio St Helena closed in 2012.{22} We, the Turner Family, moved here in 2005.{23} Perhaps the authors of the document thought we still cooked over an open fire and hung meat in trees?{24} Current at the time of writing.{25} Toppermost Books, ISBN 978-0-9783927-0-3 2007.{26} See more blogs.{27} @@RepDis@@{28} Actually he’s Martin Joshua.{29} The four ‘Wirebird’ publications should not be confused.{30} Published by the Tourist Information Office{29}.