7 Reasons Not to Retire in Gran Canaria

Although retiring to Gran Canaria might sound like a good plan, don’t start packing your bags just yet. When you choose where to retire, you are making a decision for life. You are going to buy a home and spend the rest of your days in the location of your choice, which means it is crucial to choose the right location for you.

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If you have visited Gran Canaria many times on holiday and fallen in love with it, you should bear in mind that retiring and living somewhere is very different from visiting there as a tourist. Here are 7 cons to weigh in with your pros:

1) YOU’LL BE FAR FROM HOME

Retire to the coast and you can get home (if there is an emergency or if your friends or family need you) in an hour. Retire to mainland Spain and you can be home in 2 hours. Retire to the Canaries, which are located just off the north coast of Africa, and the flight alone is 4 hours.

When my Dad had an accident I discovered there was just one flight a week from Gran Canaria to Exeter. If your children visit you often (or vice versa) that won’t be happening after you retire to Gran Canaria. Can you really bear to swap your weekly visits for a one-week holiday in the summer and a few phone calls? You will be far from home and you will feel like you are.

2) SUMMER CAN BE UNBEARABLY HOT

Visit Gran Canaria in different seasons to make sure you can cope with the sometimes extreme weather. If you usually spend the winter in Gran Canaria and the summer in the UK (I know a few couples who do this) the summer might come as a shock. 40 C is not unheard of during August. 50 C can happen during a sirocco. I even suffered 60 C during one sirocco (calima).

If you can afford air conditioning (a fan is useless during sirocco) at least you can stay indoors. If not, your usually cool swimming pool will be hot, the “cold” water coming out of your shower will be hot and popping to the shop to pick up more ice and bottled water will be an ordeal. Likewise, when it’s 13 C in the winter and you don’t have central heating or double glazing you might dream of being next to an open fire back in the UK. You will miss the seasons, you’ll miss the “fresh” weather, you will miss the rain, you will miss the Autumn colours. You will miss the summer nights being light until 10pm. This far south it’s dark by 8pm even in the summer. Maybe you don’t believe such things are miss-able but just wait and see.

3) THE CULTURE IS VERY DIFFERENT

Canarians are nothing like the Brits or Irish (or any other nationality I know) and I’m saying that after 12 years of living here. Some things that seem normal to you seem strange to them, and vice versa. The Canarians like different food and different entertainment. They hold different values and have different hobbies. They even speak a different language! Canarians don’t understand sarcasm. They don’t get British humour. They don’t identify with British customs or etiquette.

They don’t know what’s going on in EastEnders or Coronation Street, they don’t know anything about the UK (apart from the absolute basics) and they don’t want to know either. You will find the odd exception but prepare for the worst. I’ve been here for 12 years and, although I have plenty of friends, I don’t have one Canarian friend. We’re just too different, I guess. I’m not anti-Canarian but I have 50 non-Canarian friends and no Canarian ones. Fact.

Photo by Hector Garcia

4) WHAT WILL YOU MISS?

Think about this one. What will you really miss? What do you like to do at the moment? What makes up the larger part of your day? Do you have a local pub where everyone knows you? Do you like to visit your children or grandchildren? Do you like High Street shopping? Do you enjoy eating out at good restaurants? Do you like British food and drinks at reasonable prices? You can forget most of that when you retire to Gran Canaria.

You can find a new local pub but that will take time. You won’t find as many shops as in the typical UK shopping centre or High Street. You can get imported British food and drink at super-inflated prices or learn to like Canarian food. You will miss your children and grandchildren. Spending an hour on Skype or MSN Messenger is not the same as living a 10 minute drive away. Your grandchildren will visit you in the summer and you will be shocked to see they’re a foot taller.

Photo by Mr Bill

5) INTEGRATION CAN BE HARD

Living in a place where they speak a different language, have different beliefs, customs and more can be difficult. Moving from the North of England to the South can be hard enough but moving from the UK or Ireland to the Canaries can present even more problems.

Not only do you have to deal with all the day-to-day things but you will also need to open a bank account, buy a house, work out how to get your UK pension, buy a car and more. You will need to learn the language or afford an English-speaking lawyer. There will be misunderstandings, delays (what is important to you will be “yeah, manana, whatever” in Gran Canaria). Half my mail doesn’t arrive. Half of what I send doesn’t arrive either. The shops close for “siesta” from 1pm until 4pm or 5pm. The locals like to stay up until 2am (with their kids) and make as much noise as they can (or at least our neighbours do and so did the last ones and the ones before them).

6) THE LANGUAGE BARRIER

I’m not saying you can’t learn Spanish because of course you can if you want to. You cannot learn it overnight though. If you are determined to retire to Gran Canaria you will want to learn Spanish in the UK or wherever you are from before you come over. Some Canarians speak English but don’t expect it to be spoken outside the resorts. Don’t expect your doctor to speak English. Don’t expect your waiter to speak English (unless you’re in one of the resorts).

Photo by Claire Guzman

And don’t forget that Canarian Spanish bears very little resemblance to classic Spanish. They have different words and they pronounce things lazily, leaving off letters and sometimes omitting entire syllables. I have an A level in Spanish but it took me months to get used to the Canarian drawl. Sometimes I still can’t keep up.

7) GRAN CANARIA IS FOR TOURISTS

The island is full of tourists. If you’re on holiday you expect to hear drunk people singing outside your window at 3am. You expect the local shop to be packed with sweaty tourists in bikinis and Bermuda shorts. You might even expect to be hassled every single day by timeshare touts, reps from bars and restaurants trying to drag you in (because they’re on commission, not because the place is any good) and by other people trying to con you or sell you things you don’t want. Having to say “no thank you” every day becomes tedious.

Photo by Mr T Man

So now what are you thinking…?

If you live in one of the main resorts, it will be like being on holiday for a few weeks and that will be fun. After that it depends whether you can put up with the endless hordes of tourists and everything that goes with tourism. It is very expensive to find a house, villa or bungalow in the tourist area besides, and the shops in the tourist resorts are really expensive. Do you really want to pay one pound fifty for a half-litre of milk or eighty pence for a peach? If you plan to live outside the tourist resorts, your neighbours will only speak Spanish and you will be totally away from any other Brits or Irish.

So you have a choice to make. I strongly suggest you read the above advice and bear it in mind. There are enough articles on the internet about how great Gran Canaria is and how wonderful it is to retire somewhere sunny but you might end up thinking the sun is the only good thing about the island. And once you realise what you miss, it might be too late.

My objective with this post is to give you the flip-side. Every cloud might have a silver lining but that means every silver lining has a cloud.

Weigh up the pros and cons. Visit the island during different seasons. Spend 3 months there and see how you feel.

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Perhaps retiring to Gran Canaria would suit you perfectly. Or perhaps it would be the biggest mistake of your life.

48 Comments

  1. Thomas Mc Kenna

    Most of what you say is correct not to sure about mail i think if you go to the trouble of posting it in a main P.O i think you might get a higher rate of deliverly.

  2. Victoria

    Thanks for commenting 🙂

    Most of what I send arrives (not all) but about 1/3 of what my family/friends send doesn’t get to me.

  3. Happy In Gran Canaria

    I’m sorry, but what a horribly bigoted post!
    I see the need to advise people that living in Gran Canaria is not the same a being on holiday nor is it like living in the UK, surely that should be obvious…
    You say “the objective of this post is to give you the flip side”. This is not the flip-side, this is an ignorant and unbalanced account of life in Gran Canaria.
    Surely the joy of living in another country is embracing its culture, differences, the language and its idiosyncrasies?
    I think the fact that you don’t have any Canarian friends after living here so long is both very shocking and telling…
    You state, “Canarians don’t understand sarcasm. They don’t get British humour. They don’t identify with British customs or etiquette.” What a ridiculous, unbalanced generalisation, yes our customs/humour are different, but we are from the UK, not bloody Mars, and my friends are always really interested in UK customs, and likewise me theirs.
    Thank God for the passionate, warm, open, funny Canarians who I both work and socialise with. I adore their love of children, socialising as a family, having a siesta, enjoying the wonderful warm evenings, shopping in the cool evenings, embracing local produce and local wine… I really could go on, and on.
    I have lived here for 17 years, initially in a tourist area and now in a small fishing village, with my young family.
    Thank God for our differences, I say.

  4. Victoria

    Hello “Happy in Gran Canaria” and thank you for your response.

    I’m sorry you feel that one person’s opinion is “bigoted” simply because it does not match your own opinion but I know quite a few people who have moved to GC and moved back to the UK again after a few years because it wasn’t working out and they weren’t happy there. So it’s not for everyone.

    Before people rush into such a move, it pays to think about what could go wrong or what they might not like. I wrote the above article giving reasons not to move. I didn’t say that nobody should move over, just that it isn’t right for everyone.

    The fact that you’ve lived in GC for 17 years shows that you’ve truly found your home, somewhere you are happy, and good for you. Nothing wrong with that at all.

    But it’s not the same for everybody. Some people do rush into moving overseas without giving much thought to whether or not it’s the right step for them.

    I’m hardly “ignorant” about life in GC, after spending 11 years on the island. Nowhere is perfect, not the UK, not the Canaries, nowhere. But it’s different strokes for different folks.

    If someone is thinking about retiring to Gran Canaria and they’ve read all the reasons they should go, perhaps this article will give them some food for thought about why it might not be the right choice for them.

    People have the right to decide for themselves and what suits one doesn’t necessarily suit everyone.

    I’m glad you’re enjoying life in Gran Canaria but that doesn’t mean living there is everybody’s cup of tea.

    Retirement overseas is something that people need to think long and hard about, and think about the possible cons as well as the pros, which is what the original article is about.

    You’re entitled to your views, of course. Thanks for commenting.

    Victoria 🙂

  5. James

    Hmm , it sounds as you are the one with the problem – not GC. I have lived here for many years and find the Canarians delightful and welcoming. I have many Canarian friends but avoid most Brits like the plague!

    Maybe it is you who is in the wrong place!

  6. Victoria

    Hi James,

    Thanks for your response. I think you misunderstood the point of my article.

    First of all I am not saying anyone (either me or GC) has a “problem”.

    Secondly, the article lists 7 possible reasons not to retire to the island if somebody is considering it.

    Just because you like the locals doesn’t mean everyone is going to get on with them and the above article gives some examples of some things that might apply to some people, just to think about. Some people might feel out of their depth surrounded by “foreigners” (not how I think about them but how someone who’s lived in the UK for 65 years might).

    Also, you say you “avoid most Brits like the plague” which is strange since you ARE one of them (I’m assuming). I don’t “avoid” Canarians (I wouldn’t “avoid” any nationality) – I simply don’t find I have much in common with many of them, perhaps because I’ve travelled so much and have a lot of wordly experiences and find it hard to find others to share these with. Who knows? Yes they’re welcoming (in general) and friendly but I find it hard to progress beyond small talk with most.

    Just me? Possibly.

    Perhaps someone considering retirement to Gran Canaria will find my article useful, perhaps not. It’s just food for thought anyway, James.

    I’m sure there are 7 great reasons to retire in Gran Canaria as well (or more) but I wrote the above article to provide a contrast with all the “why GC is so great” posts on other travel websites, so people can weigh the potential cons as well as the pros.

    I’m well aware there are thousands of long-term residents in GC who wouldn’t change a thing about where they live or their lifestyles. It just wouldn’t suit everyone though.

  7. Jayne

    Hi

    I would just like to say that although many of the reasons given for not retiring to GC require careful consideration, I do have to disagree with the comments regarding the Canarians themselves. On the whole they are welcoming and friendly, they love an excuse for a party and anyone is welcome.
    You will find their love of music at these parties, the Canarians love to sing and play guitar.
    I find that despite the language barrier, as long as you are willing to embrace their customs you will be made more than welcome in their homes.
    As for the other points made I would just like to add another one…be prepared to have screens on all your windows and doors in the evenings especially, or risk being bitten frequently by mosquitos…and don’t be afraid of cockroaches, they are part of the scenery!

  8. Victoria

    Hi Jayne, thanks for your comments. I forgot about the screen doors! Roaches are part and parcel of living somewhere warm, of course. They still make my skin crawl but that’s what the screen doors (and spray) are for.

    I never said Canarians weren’t warm and friendly. Most of them are as you describe. They also like to party and enjoy themselves.

    I just find it hard to get beyond small talk with them or to discuss world affairs or travel (outside the Canaries) or anything like that. For potential retirees this might be something to bear in mind, that’s all – the difference between the cultures does exist. That is a general observation but not a racist ones. Different cultures are different.

  9. mary stonebridge

    Hi! Victoria arrived back form Gran Canaria last thursday ,after eighteen days couldn’t get the cycle hire for the price we could afford. Cheaper to hire a car. 185 euros for two cycles for a week is far to expensive. We will have to buy two cheap bikes to bring with us next time as were hoping to stay for a month, and leave them there or try and sell them on.
    Mary.

  10. Victoria

    Hi Mary! Sorry you couldn’t get a discount on the bikes. Seems silly to me that during the quiet periods shops would rather have bikes sitting around than give a discount. Not good business sense. You’re right – that is too expensive. Your idea of bringing your own next time might work. You have to pay a bit to get them on the plane I suppose but you can sell them at the end. I’m not sure where but there are some local newspapers etc you can look at. I hope you had a lovely holiday anyway! Victoria

  11. Victoria

    The newspapers to advertise them in, I mean. Oh, and there are quite a few Gran Canaria groups on Facebook. If you don’t use Facebook I can always put an ad on for saying how much the bikes are etc

  12. Aidan Maher

    Hi Victoria – I commend you for pointing out the down side to living in GC. As you observed the Internet is full of glowing reports. My wife and I are considering moving from Seattle, USA to GC for about 4 months from Jan. to Apr. every year. We are originally from Ireland. An extended vacation or a truncated residency? We shall see. We hope to enjoy the best of both worlds.
    Aidan

  13. Victoria (Post author)

    Hi Aidan, well there are upsides and downsides to everything I guess, and living in GC is not going to suit everyone. I wish you luck in your extended winter-breaks. It is certainly lovely to feel the warm sun on your face during the winter 8) And who knows, maybe one day you might wish to retire out there for good. I know people who love life in GC.

  14. Nicolas

    Hi there. Thank you for reminding us about the reasons why ‘NOT to retire abroad’. We have already retired 3 times – Florence, Strasbourg, and the horrible terrorist Cancun. All the points that you make apply in each, with some variation. One is a stranger across cultures, now more than ever before. There is also theft and no way to resolve situations that develop against you.
    After stopping on a cruise in Gran Canaria last year, we were going to retire there, in Spring 2013! Aye! I found even Malaga and Granada – my once beloved towns, to be unfriendly (no doubt due to the ravages of the tourist industry).
    Whereas in Barcelona we suffered from theft, inflated prices and all the things you mention. Still, the Spanish are ‘it’. We found Ronda and even more so Buenos Aires to be ‘good’ places. Good even to foreigners. Buenos Aires is the best place we have lived in as adults – in the past 40 years.
    Even if ‘home’ is objectionable, you have reminded us that there may no longer be a satisfactory solution.

  15. Peter

    Hi Victoria .As someone who has visited Gran Canaria on many occasions [including one three month stay ]and have both Canary Island and UK friends there I feel your article is very balanced and clearly designed to enlighten . As one ‘Canario’ explained to me , the Canaries are simply “Different ” not always better or always worse . I love visiting myself and would love to winter there every year [finances permitting ] . Even though i speak Spanish and have many connections I remain unsure whether I could live there permanently – It is a big step and not one for the fainthearted .

  16. cinderfella

    Brilliant article. Having lived in inland Soain for a few years I found the Spanish to be ignorant & hostile (behind their openly friendly smiles).
    I thought the Canaries might be different but it seems not to be so. Will give the place a miss.

  17. Dara Beggan

    Interesting article, well written, which exposes a real problem, ie people who expect to retire to another country and have their “home country in the sun”. I certainly hope this article puts as many as possible of those people off!! The very idea of moving voluntarily to another country without learning their language and culture and wanting to have the food and shops (and soap operas!!!) from home is appalling. The British (of whom I am not one) are never done complaining about people going to the UK and not integrating or learning the language. The arrogance of not seeing the same thing in reverse is outstanding! It is devastating to local culture. So yes, if you want to live in Britain, do please stay there, and don’t try to recreate it in someone else’s country because you prefer their weather!! At least at home when you call everyone else a foreigner you’ll be correct.

  18. sylvie Dupin

    Arrived in Arguineguin in 1976 and i tell you its one of he best place , first, for its great weather, there are many foreigners and I noticed everybody’s happy to live together, its not a dodgy dangerous place, its a good place to retire, when you get older you need this lovely sun, you have got many British pubs, German tavern, Scandinavian culture around too, I mean is so various its fantastic!!the difference well manage and taken with good heart is a very interesting life. what is the problem?, none! you know the real name of he canaries island is the fortunated islands, well that says everything, now thanks God, its not for everybody because they are not so big and I think if you all come to retire here, then it will be a problem…I just love to be here, the canarios are very funny and try them as friends and go for a fiesta with them and find out how free they are, open minds and hearts….Am french and am glad am no eating a “coq au vin” “foie gras” and so on, canarian food is enough and good believe it, and some morning i go for an English break fast for a 3 euros, another morning I might have a German fruchtuck, plenty of Indian food places, Chinese, Thai, Indonesian, or buy a french baguette with butter and marmalade, even croissant? if you want to watch football, British series, as a tourist, the pub, as living here TV are giving you all kind of languages series and movies and news, come on!!!!!!

  19. Antoinette Simpson

    Hi as the subject seams to be about retireing in gran canaria .i would love any positive thoughts on the need for a english care home . My sister is the the founder of jasmin care in mainland spain and as the service given is of a extreme love care and understanding of someones well being we wish to expand to the canaries .if any one has any input sincerly aesimpson

  20. Paula Newman

    Hi Antoinette
    I would be really interested to know if you have got any further with your care home in Gran Canaria. My partner and I are exhausted from caring for my folks and I have been trying to find a holistic home in the sun for the winter at least where the pressure is taken off with others to help wash dad and some night help. And entertainment in days. Have tried hard to avoid traditional uk care home. Want to find a more family meditarranean feel. I am a herbalist and avoid the pharmaceuticals. Just want a place that treats elderly as normal which helps keep them young in mind. Saw your post and know for sure these places are necessary. Manager in Age UK said she knows quite a few who would like to escape the winter here in UK. Do let me know as I am desperate to find a lovely home looking at the sea with friendly village/port in Canaries or some safe warm place.

  21. Corvi

    First of all, congratulations for the blog.
    I’m from the Canary Islands, and I almost agree with everything you wrote, but there are some points which, in my opinion, are a bit exagerated or I don’t agree with.

    The summer is hotter than in the UK, of course, but is colder than in other parts of Spain as Madrid, Seville, Valencia, etc. I had never experienced 50C in Tenerife. 40C can happen but is not very common.

    I’ve never had problems with mails. 50% of mail losts???

    “Canarians are nothing like the Brits or Irish (or any other nationality I know) ”
    Ok with Brits&Irish, we’re differents. But what about the rest of Spain, Italy or Greece. In Italy I feel like home.

    “I don’t have one Canarian friend”
    I think this is not a specific problem of the Canary Islands. I studied in Valencia years ago, and I had friends from other parts of Spain (Aragon, Albacete, Mallorca, etc.), but only 2 or 3 Valencianos. A friend of mine went one year to Germany, and he met people from Bulgaria, UK, Czeck Republic… not even one German.
    I think the reason is that local people don’t have the necesity of meeting new people, they already have their families, old friends, etc. But the people of other places tend to look for new friends, and they end up with people like them.

  22. lingo south

    Who ever wrote this is not sensible…nor is he a world traveler…every place is different
    He does not like Canary Islands, so he tried to tear it
    apart…the culture is different everywhere…
    We are not going to the island to live like we are England…actually, that is why we are going…to get away from all the normal hustle and bustle…this writer is off base for sure…

  23. Lina

    After reading so many reasons of why one should move to the Canaries, it’s refreshing to hear the inevitable downsides. After living in Spain for a year, I’ve met other expats who feel the Spanish tend to be rather insular (friendly, but not beyond small talk) and so end up befriending other expats as a result. If I move to the Canaries, I want to be fully aware of what I can expect. I know people always get defensive (watch out for that Spanish pride) but hey, no culture is perfect!

  24. mdp

    Some of this is good advice and people should know that life here isn’t perfect, but some of it is simply not true and even outrageously bigoted. I don’t say this because my opinion is different to Vicky’s. Imagine if an immigrant to the UK posted what you said and maybe you’ll understand.

    Having lived here for five and half years there hasn’t been 6o degree weather once, and 50 degrees only once. When there is calima (hot wind from Africa) three or four times a year it lasts two or three days and is usually in the forties. Of course you should probably get air conditioning if you’re going to live off the coast of Africa and heat bothers you.

    Of the postal system, I have not had one single item go missing in my 66 months here and absolutely do not believe what you said to be true.

    The Canarians in my experience are very friendly, but it helps to have a friend to introduce you to a social circle. This is absolutely the same everywhere I’ve ever been in my entire life. To make more than small talk you need to have a decent level of Spanish. They are more interested in you than your country, the same as people are in the UK.

    I don’t mix with the expat community around my own age. They make zero effort to learn Spanish, complain about everything, including the people whose island they’re living on, the food, the culture, the weather… If you’re still living in a resort after 12 years then of course you’re not going to have a good time. Did I really read criticism of the way the natives speak Spanish??

    People who complain about not being able to buy British food, or that it’s expensive, are looking for processed food. Most things are here if you cook rather than perforate. Vicky, tell us what food you’re talking about. Fray Bentos pies? Alcoholic drinks here are far far cheaper than back home unless you want imported beer or go to tourist bars.

    My advice to potential immigrants. Don’t come here unless you plan to learn Spanish. It’s actually not that difficult but takes time and effort. You don’t have to speak perfectly. The locals will love you for trying. I’d say if you learn even basic Spanish you’ll be among a small minority of Brits most of whom have zero intention of doing so.

    Don’t live in a resort, live in nice normal local town where the majority of people are Spanish. If you like to occasionally have inclement weather don’t live in the south of the island. Of course rent before you buy.

    This is Spain. It is Spanish. And stick Eastenders up your culo. Jesus, sometimes I hate us fricking Brits.

  25. Thom

    I think it is apparent that this person doesnt actually hate living in the Canaries. He/She cited the fact that they have been there for 11 – 12 years.
    The comments regarding the negatives would apply to most destinations that have a disimilar culture and are many hours by air away.

  26. Joss Gilmour

    Hi I’m looking for some help as my husband,son and I are thinking of leaving Scotland and living in Gran Canaira. My husband is a Joiner do you think he could make a living there?

  27. Silvia

    I loved the comment from mdp mr.24.. If you look for British life, stay in Great Britain, please. If you look for good quality life, follow MDP advice. Life is so simple if you forget to be a snob, people please, learning a new language could be fun at any age 🙂

  28. Cameron

    As much as we moan about the weather back in the UK I’m sure I’d miss the dump.

  29. chris

    9 years here has taught me that people are the same the whole world over .the island is different from the UK only for the weather,it is not our home country and if our home country was that good ,what are we doing here ?? you will always be an unwanted foreigner here, the canarian population will try and avoid you if posible .so, behave here as you would at home ,if that is respectful,freindly,and considérate,then you will be fine ,if it is the British attitude of “we are the greatest” ,,stay at home and live under that sad illusion .

  30. Jeff

    Blimey! I have been going to GC for over 25 years and love the south – maspalomas. I love the sun [need it and moreso as you get older] and the beach life you can have. Tourist areas do not worry me – here you can engage with different people froma all over the world. I have always found the people to be friendly – moreso than Londoners where I have lived the City Life and all that goes with it. You don’t have a Marks and Spencers but so what – you can get fresh food any day of the week and if you are retired you have the time to cook it! Retiring over here is only good for 3 months of the year [summer] the rest of the seasons leave you sitting indoors watching the grey clouds hover in the sky with those long dark nights. And don’t even get me on crime – no comparison to City Life and the awful things we hear every day on the news. Being 4 hours away is no hardship – you can get flights almost every day of the week to London airports..it’s not the other side of the world. Oh and the Euro rate is very attractive at the moment thank you and a good time to both buy and live abroad in the EU.

  31. Edward

    I’ve never read a more “hooray Henry” (in this case, Henrietta), bigoted, “Rule Britannia” opinion in my life. As the son of a grancanario of long, long ago English descent (the English and other Brits have a long presence in the Canaries) and a Scottish Mum, who moved to Gran Canaria from Scotland when I was ten, I would advise people reading this opinion piece to take it with a huge pinch of salt. Victoria reminds me of one of the old fuddy-duddies I used to see at the British Club of Gran Canaria in Ciudad Jardín in Las Palmas back in the early 80s. Very sad indeed.

    The biggest misconcept is that GC is merely a “holiday island” for foreigners’ pleasure. The sheer ignorance of its history, geography and demographics by most people, including “peninsulares”, is staggering. I strongly suggest people leave their hideout in “el Sur” and visit the rest of the island, or actually live somewhere else rather than a ghastly, 60s-70s-built resort.

    To Jeff: gracias por tu amable comentario, se agradece. By the way, there are 2 Marks & Spencers up in Las Palmas, grab la guagua or drive up there and have a look.

  32. Christopher

    Only 13C in winter?? Quite cold if you don’t have a central heating. BTW are flats with a central heating available in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria?

  33. mike nutland

    What an extremely unhelpful article. The main criticisms seem to be associated with the fact that it is not like the UK. Isn’t that the reason that most sane people want to retire there? “you will need to learn the language”, well points there for a statement of the obvious. No wonder integration is “difficult” if you do not make the up most effort to integrate. I’m not sure what people expect, moving from their native country to a foreign one. ” The Canarians like different food and different entertainment. They hold different values and have different hobbies. They even speak a different language! Canarians don’t understand sarcasm” please are you serious or is this a wind up. Having lived and worked in the middle east for the last 4 years (1 in Dubai and 3 in Doha), you have no idea of “cultural differences”. I am totally astounded at the level of ignorance that this article portrays and am looking forward to my retirement to the Canary islands irrespective of which of the islands I finally chose.

  34. ALBAN

    The best places to retire are, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, And finally Nigeria,
    You will love these places and the nationals will make everything to keep you happy.

  35. antonio

    I find the article very realistic indeed, espsecially as far as how much the family affection and old social relationship are involved, although I can’t understand how you could remain so long a time in GC inspite all the things you clearly don’like.

  36. ALAN

    When you don’t like a country or the people, you should leave immediately, there are many flights to Europe every day from
    Gran Canaria Airport, the fact that you stayed more than 10 years in this place with such an opinion makes you ridiculous I
    would say even it’s pathetic.

  37. Andra Moraretu

    Not clear to me why the locals would hold the same values, have the same hobbies or be similar to Brits. They are not Brits. Nor do they want to be. There are OTHER cultures on this planet that are worthy of respect, in fact probably ALL of them are. England is not the centre of the Universe!! Your article is infuriaring.

  38. Claire

    Mike Nutland’s comment summed it up brilliantly.

    What a ridiculous article, ridiculous woman.

  39. Tobias

    Hi Victoria,

    A good angle, I get your point. I actually looked for negative posts about moving here so thanks for posting those 7 reasons not to retire. 🙂

    I would like to random reflect / add (some obvious) stuff to consider to it.

    I live in Pozo Izquierdo – I am Dutch, 46 years and decided to move here because of the climate, the beauty of the Island and especially because Pozo is ‘the windsurf capital of Europe’. It was my first time on the canarian islands, so before I went I did a lot of research about as much topics I could think of.

    ** Super obvious but oh oh so important before you move:
    I started learning Spanish right when I decided (7 months before the move) to move here – although probably you hear everybody recommend learning the language -before you go- – I too want to emphasize that I strongly recommend doing it as well!
    Do it! I would go as far calling it a sign of respect for the spanish people, their language and culture.
    Spanish really isn’t that hard and in my experience if they see you try, the canarios will patiently listen to you – and they will definitely give you a heads up for your effort.

    It will reeeaally make your life easier – with about … well everything.
    Apart from just plain socializing and other practical stuff – just after my arrival – with just a little help from google translate, I was able to read the renting-contract of my house and demand important adjustments to it before signing it – just to name something.

    ** So again – learn Spanish before you go!!!
    Don’t even think about not doing it – just do it! I used duolingo.com – it’s sufficient to start if you do it -every day- for 10 – 15 minutes for a half year.
    If you can afford it take classes. Or even better – do both!

    About the food and culture – I just love the food here. I admit that I was a little shocked the first time I ordered calamares.
    Instead of some deep fried rings in batter – they politely served me a plate with tentacles on it. I just dug in and after a few bites I didn’t even think about it anymore, lovely!

    I ordered the same dish a few days later in the same restaurant and lo and behold – I got the kiddyfood-deep-fried-battered rings hahaha 🙂

    I guess what I want to say is that if you open up for the local customs, it will grow on you. It is also more fun than holding on to the stuff you are used to ‘back home’ – you already know that stuff anyway.
    I’ve lived in Hungary as well, and even in that quite closed culture it grew on me.

    So far all the people I have met are very friendly, warm and welcoming and interested and curious, as a matter of fact – the only ones not greeting me back when I say ‘Hola!’ are mainly tourists.

    But – superficial contact is not enough, you have to invest somehow in deeper relations with people or you might end up feeling really lonely. Having skype (and whatsapp, facebook and facetime etc) in your pocket do help a lot in my opinion b.t.w..

    With that integrating part there are things to consider like your personality for instance. Are you an outgoing type who makes friends easily? Or are you a more introvert type of person?
    Because that will not change, you will remain that same person – because moving here will not somehow magically change you.

    The one type of person might just feel it to be easier to make friends than the other. Then on the other hand, some people don’t mind to take it slow and can entertain themselves very well.
    Another thing that might be important is: your age. When you are 50 you just simply have more time left to adapt, to try, to make mistakes than when you are 70.
    Further – when you are actively involved in the community somehow, perhaps doing business or work somewhere – you’ll probably integrate way faster.
    And of course – are you moving alone? Or with your partner or a friend?

    My neighbours are also noisy, I can hear them poop and fart and turn in their beds so imagine when they have a quarrel or yell at their kids. By now it already has become a blur of sound. Since I changed my sleeping schedule I can get my sleeping hours without any problem.

    The cockroaches had a very unexpected positive effect on me – I learned to clean like crazy – and it helps. A little poison on top of that and – whoosh – gone. I see them walking on the street every day so I am not worried they wan’t pay me a visit again – but the roach-situation is very acceptable.

    The main thing probably is that you have to feel you ‘have got something’ here that makes you feel you belong here. Whatever that may be. You just can’t be a tourist forever, it gets really boring – very fast.

    I think in the end loneliness, feeling lost or useless, missing your family and friends are the only real deal-breakers.

    Not some noisy neighbours nor missing your fav food, your rituals or the changing seasons.

    Be honest to yourself before you decide to go, but also – don’t hesitate too long, I’ve already met quite a few people who deeply regretted not taking the step way sooner ‘when my husband was still alive’. Don’t be one of them.

    Cheers,

    T

  40. Ian

    The last thing I would be worried about missing is Eastenders!

  41. Gary Plummer

    What a miserable woman. What do you expect… What a looser.
    Do GC a favour and stay in the UK.

  42. Dennis

    SO.. to sum up: don’t retire there, if you would rather be at home.

    DUH!

    Possibly the worst list of reasons not to retire some place I have ever read.

    Are you just trying to keep people away?

  43. AlAN

    If you don’t speak spanish fluently you should not consider Canaries Island or even Spain for retirement,
    for Brits in Europe the places to consider are Cyprus or Malta, they speak english everywhere in these two
    islands.
    In Spain, (canaries), they expect you to speak their language if you want to live on permanent basis, now
    if you want to spend holidays, stay in a resort but avoid Las Palmas.

  44. Doubting Thomas

    If the hottest temperature ever recorded on earth was 56.7C, how did you experience 60C? You lack credibility

  45. le flohic

    OMG ! what a sad post !!! Finally why do you still live in gran canaria ? Is there anything or anybody to keep you on this island ? I am very sorry that you have no local friend ..but did you ever tried hard enough to understand them and be understood ? Friendship is always difficult to create and nuture whatever the country but it is worth the hardship !!!

  46. chris

    i read the post and all the responses, and it seems to me that what couldve been a useful article turned into a rant against foriegners -people who live on their own island! and dumb complaints about it not being english enough, aswellas moaning about the locals being ‘different’, and it seems to me that it’s written by a closed-minded person….the extreme temps and mail problems apparently are fiction …its a shame, because people considering moving to any country need to be realistic and know what to expect-but from a reliable source!i speak as someone who’s lived in Spain and the usa for extensive periods , happy to be back in the uk,but thinking about spending @ least part of each year in warmer climes!

  47. John Glynn

    Unlike a few, I do appreciate the alternative points raised and am sure some people contemplating a move will find them useful. Change is not all sunshine and roses but that is why it is worthwhile: life is too short not to take on some challenges. A few points to make, though. There is more daylight in GC than you say (daylight is v important to me). Sunset at the summer solstice is after 9pm and is after 6pm at the December solstice. I will take the summer trade offs as the nightlife is so much better in GC with lots going on. Also average temps for GC are under 30 degrees all year round. It is a matter of fact that the highest temperature ever recorded on GC is 44 degrees, which was seen in July 1952. Highest in recent years was 39 degrees: that was im a calima and in August 2010. It is easily surviveable. On the subject of integrating with local people, that often happens over lunch. If it can’t be done in 11 years, then something is not right. I think Spanish people are hilarious and they totally get sarcasm. They are good friends for sure. Many thanks for your interesting posts.

  48. Bev

    Am looking to buy a property in the Canaries so that we can spend 3 months at a time there (anticipating the Brexit negotiations), so am TRYING to learn Spanish. We are looking for somewhere that has social clubs to join, be they walking, bowls, cards or just meeting up for a natter. I also would love to be able to volunteer to help with animals, walking, feeding, etc. My question is, where do we go to find these things? I found Caleta in Fueteventura rather too quiet, Costa Teguise (Lanzarote) very touristy, and Maspalomas very Scandinavian (should I be learning Swedish as well?). I know we need to just get our butts over there and check the places out (going to Porto Del Carmen next month), but as we are both still working there is only a certain amount of time that we can go per year so any advice/comments (both positive and negative) appreciated. By the way, we are not looking for ‘a little bit of England in the sun”

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