Ever wondered what it’s like to live in the Canary Islands? It might be a holidaymaker’s dream but living in the Canaries means a bit more to think about.
In this article, we’re covering buying property, the cost of living and weighing up some of the pros and cons of calling the Canary Islands home.
Situated in the Atlantic Ocean, just off the northwest coast of Africa lie the Canary Islands. Made up of seven main islands, the Canaries are an autonomous region under Spanish rule. This means they can make up their own laws while following many of the same as mainland Spain.
Sun-seeking tourists love a trip to las Islas Canarias. But in this guide, we’re looking past their holiday lure to find out what the Canaries can offer expats.
Buying property in the Canary Islands
Buying property in the Canary Islands as a foreigner requires a few steps. The buying process follows the same rules as buying property in Spain. Firstly, you should seek the help of an estate agent. They can help you through all stages of the buying process like finding a property, opening a bank account, hiring a surveyor and a notary, and securing your NIE.
An NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero) is your tax identification number used to follow all financial and legal activities in the Canary Islands. You’ll need one of these if you want to buy property as a non-citizen. With an NIE in your hand, you can make a reservation on a property. This is followed by a deposit contract, committing you to a property, then a contract to finalise the sale.
The Canary Islands are all different and the properties they offer differ too. On the whole, house prices are more affordable in the Canaries than you might think. As of September 2021, the average price per square meter in the Canary Islands is €1,921 (£1,628). In the UK, this is around £3,000 per square meter.
House prices fluctuate depending on which island you buy property on and the area of the island you choose. Your estate agent can help you find your perfect match for location and property.
Cost of living in the Canary Islands
Living in the Canary Islands is affordable. It’s cheaper than the UK in a heap of aspects. For example, data from Numbeo suggests rental prices in the Canary Islands are 73.28% lower than in London, on average.
Groceries are kinder to the bank balance too. Overall, you can expect to pay 31.95% less for your groceries in the Canaries than in the UK’s capital. The food is, generally, of high quality as well. Supermarkets are easily accessible and great for your everyday items, but most islands are also jam-packed with food markets selling meat, fruit and vegetables.
Your utility bill will also be cheaper than in the UK. Savings on heating is likely to be a large contributor to this, but you’ll pay around 51% less for utilities in the Canary Islands than in London. However, the internet isn’t great.
Internet speeds and connectivity differ depending on the island; larger, more densely populated islands will have more efficient internet than the smaller, more remote islands. Additionally, it might be the most expensive aspect of Canaries life when compared to the UK. Be prepared to pay roughly 58% more for internet in the Canary Islands than in London (a monthly bill of around €60 (£50.50)).
Living in Tenerife pros and cons
The Canary Islands are similar and different in many ways. And there are plenty of advantages and disadvantages to each one.
Tenerife is the largest of the seven islands and the most populated. Here are a few pros and cons to life in Tenerife.
Known as ‘the Island of the Eternal Spring’ Tenerife has a wonderful climate with consistent, pleasurable temperatures all year round. Summer lows start around 24ºC, cranking up to roughly 33ºC, and winter temperatures range between 18ºC and 21ºC.
The Canary Islands are conveniently close to one another, and there’s no better base for travelling than Tenerife. It has two airlines flying between the islands and two boat services shifting passengers from coast to coast. It’s affordable too so you won’t have to break the bank whenever you feel like seeing what your neighbours have to offer.
Life can be slow
If you’re a fan of an action-packed busy lifestyle, Tenerife probably isn’t for you. Locals are no stranger to queuing for just about anything and deliveries to your home take time.
An estimated five million people visit Tenerife every year, making it the Canary Islands’ tourist hot spot. This means you’ll be scrapping for a space on the beach, paying through the nose in certain areas and waiting even longer for a table during high season.
Living in Lanzarote pros and cons
Lanzarote is the fourth largest of the Canaries and is home to around 150,000 people. It’s furthest north of the seven main islands and comes with a bunch of pros and cons to consider.
Out of its 150,000-person population, around 5% are British expats. This can help take the sting out of any potential culture shock if you’re moving to Lanzarote from the UK. Get involved with fellow Brits’ community groups and maintain a taste of home.
The Canary Islands are jam-packed with beautiful beaches and Lanzarote is no different. Despite its volcanic origins, many of its impressive bays and lined with incredibly soft golden sand which is a rarity for the Canaries.
Learning a new language is always a tricky aspect of moving to a new place. And, while some English is spoken on the Canary Islands, due to their tourist-targeting nature, not learning any Spanish may earn you the cold shoulder from some natives.
It ain’t easy being breezy
Because of its lack of protection from the vast Atlantic Ocean, Lanzarote experiences almost constant wind. The blustery weather can make a trip to the beach both stressful and dangerous – whipping up huge waves. However, if you’re a fan of water sports like surfing, Lanzarote’s windy weather might be exactly what you’re looking for.
Living in Gran Canaria pros and cons
Gran Canaria is the third-largest island in terms of area with the second-largest population. It has a much more varied terrain than the other islands, featuring tropical forests and large green hills as well as the Canaries’ signature sandy beaches. Here are a few positives and negatives to living in Gran Canaria.
Cheap to eat out
Despite its big tourist population, grabbing a meal out in Gran Canaria is very affordable. Alcohol is much cheaper than in the UK’s major cities and dinner at a restaurant is around 50% less expensive than in London.
Gran Canaria has a pumping nightlife scene with bars and clubs open late across the island. It’s also famous for the Yumbo Centre which stays open all night and is home to the island’s popular gay scene.
Living on an island with a land area of only 1,560 km² (London is 1,572 km²) can be a bit of a shock to the system. The inability to travel to mainland Spain and other islands by car can be frustrating for some. You may also find it difficult to get hold of certain items, particularly if they need to be imported.
Difficult to integrate
Although Gran Canaria is home to many expats from around the world, integrating with the locals can be difficult. It’s a popular tourist island and many natives see all foreigners that way. This means even if you’ve been living there for a while, you may still be treated as a tourist.
Send money to the Canary Islands
Regardless of which of the seven you decide to call home, living in the Canary Islands will involve moving your money.
Our services can help you with buying property, sending money to family, moving pensions and much more. We offer market-leading exchange rates and absolutely no hidden fees.
Our Currency Specialists are committed to learning about you and your business, offering guidance on how you can effectively manage your international payments.
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