Jewellery maker Susanne Ekdahl knows she has found a real gem by moving to the Isle of Man.
Originally from Stockholm, Sweden, Susanne and husband Fredrik are bringing up their children here and believe it is the perfect place.
Fredrik, who is currently enjoying a work sabbatical, was in the e-gaming industry and that first took them to live in Malta, before moving to the Isle of Man in 2008
Rock music fan Susanne talked to Destination Isle of Man the day after getting back from this year’s Reading Festival. She is not the first, and certainly not the last, to be thunderstruck by the beauty of the island.
‘We love it here so we are definitely staying,’ she said. ‘Our kids have been brought up here and they are really Manx.
‘Over here, your friends become your family. Everyone is friendly.’
But she admits that before they came, they knew little about the island.
‘We were like, “Isle of Man, what is that, where is it?” We had no idea.’
They arrived when daughter Sofia was three years old and son Noah was one.
‘My daughter went straight to nursery before moving on to Ashley Hill School in Onchan.’
Susanne likes the education system in the Isle of Man, which differs from her home country where normally children do not start school until seven.
While kindergarten fees compare favourably with nursery costs, the chances of finding a place for your child if you are not a working parent are slim. Susanne prefers the choices offered by the island’s education set-up.
The increasingly cosmopolitan nature of the island community is a real bonus.
‘There are so many people coming from different places,’ said Susanne. ‘My friends now are literally from all over the world.
‘Here you learn so much more about the different cultures. When you live in Sweden you think that is the way things are always done, but you start to realise there are other ways to do things.
‘You can always read about it, but it is not the same as when you meet people from different backgrounds. There is quite a big difference between Swedish and UK people, for instance.’
Susanne shares, with many others who move to the Isle of Man, an appreciation of certain things life in a smaller community can offer.
‘It is so safe and nice here,’ she said. ‘Much more relaxed; because everything is so close it is easy.’
The family still regularly return to Sweden. They have a summer house in one of the many islands that form part of the vast Swedish archipelago. Getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life is very much part of Swedish culture.
The Isle of Man, of course, offers a middle ground. It has all the global connections, but is peaceful, the beach is never far away, nor are the rugged hills.
It is also a place where you can develop your own business, as Susanne has discovered.
Before having their children, Susanne worked in the financial services industry. Now they are older (Sofia is 15 and Noah is 13), Susanne has more time to devote to her own interests.
‘When I had my second child in Malta, I started to do some beading and then I got obsessed and just loved it. When I moved here I started doing more and two or three years ago I started my business.’
She now makes jewellery from beads, silver, clay and leather, operating under the business name See Design, which she started with support from the Manx Government.
‘Networking has been really good because I am part of The Creative Network group over here and that is really good at giving those people in the creative arts a profile.
‘If you come to this island and are an artist, it is just a great place to be.’