John left his native England three years ago to set his luggages in Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, with his wife. In this testimony, he tells us what is like being an expat in Canary Islands.
My wife and I moved to Fuerteventura after she retired in 2013. We have two dogs we have rescued since we have been here.
Hi John, can you introduce yourself briefly and tell us about your projects in Canary?
My wife, Sue, and I moved here to Fuerteventura in the Canary islands in February 2013 from Northamptonshire in the UK. I started a Youtube channel about living in Fuerteventura a year ago (JP in Fuerteventura) and a blog as something to do. To my surprise it is doing quite well and takes up a fair amount of my time now.
Why did you choose to live in Canary and particularly in Fuerteventura?
We had been coming to Fuerteventura on holiday for many years and, after living together for 17 years, we got married and came here on honeymoon in 2008. During that honeymoon we bought an apartment in El Cotillo. We then spent 2-3 months each winter staying in the apartment, as well as the odd few weeks during the year.
How were your first steps in the country ? Was it easy to find accomodations and to integrate spanish society?
Because we already had the apartment it did make the move here easier than it may have otherwise been. We just got off the aeroplane and we were home! All of the stuff we were bringing with us followed on in a container and then went into storage until we found a house to buy.
How can you describe canarian culture?
I like some of the more traditional culture such as the Canarian clothes and, although not my taste, some of the traditional music and parades etc you get at the fiestas. However, modern "culture", as seen at most of the fiesta events, just seems to involve awful music played ridiculously loud util 5-6am night after night and frequented by teenagers. One thing of note is that Spanish people are pretty noisy. When two or more Spanish people get together they do not talk to each other - they shout at each other. They are not annoyed, it is just how they hold conversations.
What does your everyday life look like in Fuerteventura? The rhythm must be different than in England right?
It is certainly relaxed. Some might say even horizontal. Pretty much we do as much or as little as we feel like each day. There is little pressure on us to get things done by a particular date.
Do you have a good knowledge about the local job market? What are the most dynamic economic sectors?
As we are both retired this doesn't really apply. Although, strictly speaking, I am forced unemployed and not retired. Well paid jobs are hard to come by here though as most are in the tourism sector.
Did you visit other places? What's possible to do in Canary Islands? Is it easy to travel around?
We didn't consider living in any other islands. We knew Lanzarote fairly well but don't like it as much as Fuerteventura. Fuerteventura is a mecca for watersports enthusiasts. Surfing, Kite boarding and wind surfing are very big here. Because of the warm, clear waters diving is also popular. I don't do any of these as, apart from sailing, water has never really been my thing. I prefered flying, gliding and sky-diving in the past. It is easy to travel inter-island as there are good ferry services and flights too. Residents of the Canary Islands also get discounted travel within the islands and to the mainland.
Any advices for a soon-to-be expatriate in Canary Islands?
Start learning Spanish as soon as possible. Even if you plan to live somewhere with mostly expats then Spanish will still be very useful when doing things like getting your car through its ITV (MOT), dealing with the local town hall etc. There will be people who can help with all of this but that will cost you, of course. If you are planing to buy a property then consider renting in the area for 6 months to make sure you like it. Buying costs are high here (and elsewhere in Spain) so making a mistake and then moving is expensive.