Gran Canaria – From Tourist to Resident

Gran Canaria holidays? Bliss. We all enjoy holidays to Gran Canaria but what’s it like actually living here?


Dunes and Boat 
Photo By Szeke

There are pros and cons to living anywhere and many people who come to Gran Canaria or any of the Canary Islands on holiday and fantasise about living here one day. You can break the group down into:

  1. Young people in their teens and early twenties who dream about working in a bar (with free alcohol thrown in, of course) at night and laying on the beach all day.
  2. Slightly older people who want to buy a bar or restaurant in the sun.
  3. Older people who want to retire in the sun.

Photo By Saimens

Unfortunately it’s not quite that easy. People say to me all the time, “oh you’re so lucky living here” but luck has nothing to do with it! I decided to move over, sold my possessions and moved over. It had nothing to do with luck.

Holidays in Gran Canaria vs. Actually Living Here

If you want beach holidays Gran Canaria is a great resort. Read around this site to find the best place to stay in Gran Canaria and come to visit. If you want to live here permanently, you won’t be laying on the beach all day. Well, maybe you will if you have enough money to buy a property and live without working. If not, you will have to work for up to nine hours a day for an average of thirty six euros. It’s like being back in Blighty but with nicer weather! I’m not being cynical – that’s just the way it is. You have to pay rent and bills and you have to work. The wages are lower than back home but rent is about the same. Expect to pay 450 euros upwards for a one bedroom apartment or 600 euros upwards for a two bedroom place.

This is a good job search website: 

Photo By Vlokkie

Life for an Ex-Pat

For some people, living here is a dream come true. You get the sun every day (almost) and a relaxed pace of life.

For others, they make the decision to go home after a few months or a few years. The pace of life being “relaxed” isn’t always a good thing. I had to wait six months for a phoneline to be installed. The post office doesn’t deliver half my mail. Smaller shops open when they feel like it rather than when it says in their window. The place comes to a complete halt between four and seven o’clock, when it is “siesta” time. If you live here, you can adjust to all that, but it does take time!

Photo By ShanePapaDiesel

How to Find Work

The first thing to do is to look for cheap holidays to Gran Canaria. When you come over, remember that you need at least enough money to pay several month’s rent. Don’t assume you will find work immediately. If you can get a cheap package holiday or a last minute deal to Gran Canaria, you won’t have to get an apartment right away and you have your return ticket in case you decide not to stay after all.

If you have a trade (mechanic, builder etc) it will be very difficult to find work without speaking Spanish. The staff speak English in most of the restaurants, bars and shops in the resort areas but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least try to learn a few phrases.


If you have any questions about living in Gran Canaria, just reply to this post and I’ll get back to you!



  1. Paul

    I totaly agree with the above.
    But if you are seriously thinking of coming to live here permanently. It really is a lovely life , as you settle in with the canarian community here.

    You will not get much of a life living in a tourist apartment, (if purchasing) with tourists coming and going all the time. Noise all night long, worry about your belongings (with so many strangers about) No permanent friendships made daily. You really need to think about living like you do in the country you are leaving. A NORMAL EVERYDAY LIFE. You can do that here if you purchase within a canarian village,/urbanisation.Many english irish, german scandinavian people do this and have lovely lives/permanent friendships made here.

    There are NEW properties being built, away from the tourist complexes. In Playa Mogan but easily accesible to go out and have some fun also.
    You do not also have to be stuck up in the hills either.
    For instance Playa Mogan, has a valley further on which is very flat and only two minutes from the Playa and port by car. (You can even walk it.) There are a few new build affordable from 205.000 euros 3 bed duplexes for sale there at the moment complete with fitted kitchens, all electrical appliances, dishwashers, even washing machine included. Nestling amongst the fruit fincas and local canarian houses, and just past the local garden centre.

    It is best to sell everything up and not bring anything with you, and buy new here. (furniture ,electricals etc)
    Many people are now renting and buying in the countryside here. To experience the true Canarian way of life.
    There is even RENT TO BUY scheme where as the rent you have already paid, is then used as the deposit to purchase your property.(basicaly you get all the rent you have paid back, on purchasing the property.) after the 6 months rental agreement expires. It is a less stressfree way of buying and settling in and finding your bearings.And gives you time to settle things up properly, from the country you are leaving.

  2. Victoria (Post author)

    Thanks Paul, there’s some good advice in there.

  3. Paul

    If you are a true country loving person and wish to mix and live amongst the locals completely,thier way of life.
    You could really do that in Aldea San nicolas, it really is remote for now until they build the motorway from there to Agaete, many germans and norweigens have settled there over the years. Its a lovely town with everything you could want in it. with the beach 2 mins away by car. The beach is still original, with only 3 restraunts there. the town has many restraunts and bars all with very cheap, but fresh good food. (the spanish are very funny where they eat, they will only eat good anywhere).
    Mainly the work there is picking tomatoes and fruit.
    many of the men are construction workers and travel out for work. But it is a thriving town, with lots going for it and a true spanish way of life.Thier own medical centre 24/7 and everything you need there
    There is a bed and breakfast place just off the town square. And a new hotel just outside of the town.

  4. julia whatley

    I think I know mosdt of what paul has said but I hate the English tourist’s in canaries I am looking for a finca for a month after the w.o.m.a.d. festival has finished, or work!

  5. Victoria

    Well some of them are fine, Julia, but the loud, tattooed drunk variety of Brit you find staggering along the seafront clutching a tin of lager in the summer months isn’t my idea of relaxation either 🙂 Do you know how to find a finca for rent, do you already have one or do you want me to see if I can find out where you can find one?

  6. kevin

    great site….

  7. Victoria

    Thanks Kevin!

  8. Tricia

    What is the cost of living like there? I have just applied for a teaching post in La Higuierita and would like to know about the area, biils electricity water council tax tax system, do you get family allowance? My hubby and I both have excellent spanish. What is the construction industry like? could my hubby trade independently as a tiler??? please respond asap much appreciated quick decisions to make?

  9. Victoria

    Hi Tricia, the cost of living depends on the area. If you are renting you will probably pay at least 600 euros a month for a 3 bedrooms place (I’m assuming you have 1 or 2 kids), you don’t pay council tax. Electric is cheaper than the UK because you won’t be using heating. Water for me (there are 2 of us living here) is about 30 euros a month and electricity is about 50 euros a month. It depends how much you use, of course. I’m pretty sure there is no such thing as family allowance.

    Knowing Spanish helps (of course). The construction industry seems to be doing pretty well. There are more hotels than tourists to fill them at the moment! Your husband could apply for “autonomo” which means self-employed but it’s quite expensive – 1000 euros a month regardless of how much he earns. At least that’s how much it was when my ex did it for a few months.

    The credit crisis is as evident in the Canaries as it is in the UK. Your knowledge of Spanish does help of course but there is unemployment throughout Spain just as there is elsewhere.

    A friend of mine has a refurbishment business and they do tiling, decorating, building etc and they are pretty busy. I think he has 2 or 3 people working with him. There are a lot of older Scandinavians and Germans living in the south, who have money to spend doing up their retirement homes in the sun, which is where my friend does well because he and his partners speak those languages. They get most of their work via word of mouth – obviously starting up is the hardest part.

    I’ve never heard of La Higuierita and I’ve been living here 10 years. Is it in the north? My modem is rather temperamental tonight and Google doesn’t want to cooperate! I’ll have another look in a bit.

    Good luck with your plans!


  10. michael

    hello guys. im 42 yrs old and am a massage practitioner. have been to gran canaria 5 times in last 3 yrs and wood love to move out permanantly. i want to be legal in my massage work, in a clinic or on the coastal areas. how difficult is it to become a resident and work legally in gran canaria,. any help on these matters would be really great thanks. respect michael

  11. Victoria (Post author)

    Hi Michael, becoming a resident is not difficult but you will either need to speak Spanish or have the money to set up your own massage business. If you are a British or European resident setting in GC is fairly straightforward but there are limited places recruiting massage practitioners, especially with the credit crunch and recent hard times everywhere. The best bet might be to learn Spanish and find some other kind of work to keep you going until you find a massage job to make use of your skills. Working legally in GC is easy since when you find a job the company will sort out most of your paperwork, like they do at home. If you want to be self-employed this can be costly and time consuming to set up (and again Spanish will help!)

  12. Neal

    Hi there, great site btw………… we got nothing planned just putting the feelers out at the moment but need some help……hopefully you can.

    Myself and my partner wish to move to GC one day, he works in a morgue (i know sounds morbib lol) what would the chances of him finding work in a hospital in GC, he does not speak spanish.

    Obviously we would not be able to move over until he found a job so he could leave his.

    Also would we be able to rent then apply for mortage?

    Any help would be appreciated.


  13. Victoria

    If he doesn’t speak Spanish, he would have NO chance of finding work in a hospital at all, I’m afraid. Basic Spanish is a requirement with most jobs in GC (unless it’s barwork or restaurant work somewhere in the middle of one of the resorts) but for healthcare, Spanish is essential.

    Also, you won’t find work unless you are over here enquiring. People don’t get recruited for work in the UK or Ireland unless they go for an interview or at least to meet their potential manager. Thousands of people apply for jobs online, some are serious and others are dreaming. Obviously you have a firm interest in moving over but you won’t find work without being there. There are people in GC applying for these jobs and they speak Spanish and are physically there, if you see what I mean.

    In order to get a mortgage, you would need a Spanish bank account (easy) plus 6 months (I think) payslips to prove that you are earning. You usually have to pay 10% or more deposit. 100% mortgages are almost unheard of for ex-pats in the Canaries. You’d want to rent first anyway until you get to know the various options and areas and decide where exactly you’d like to be based.

    I don’t want to dampen your hopes because where there’s a will there’s a way but expecting to find work without being in GC isn’t likely and finding hospital work (even in a morgue where conversation isn’t required!!) without speaking Spanish isn’t going to happen.

    If this is your dream, I suggest you take a Spanish course, save up some back-up money and move over here. It’s the best (and only) way.

    Let me know if I can help with anything else.


  14. Paulien


    I am a Dutch woman, currently working as an au pair in Marrakech. I am planning to take the boat from Maroc to Gran Canaria, to stay there for a couple of weeks. I would love to do some volunteer work in exchange for housing and food. I am planning to come halfway novembre. I am available for all different kinds of jobs. I am flexible and energetic. I speak english, dutch, and some french, german and spanish.
    Please inform me if you now something applicable. Thanks in advance!

    Best wishes,


  15. Victoria
  16. lorraine

    I am 51 yrs old and my boyfriend is 39. We have been thinking of coming over to GC for a long time and have some friends from the UK who have lived there 18yrs. I just hope i am not to old to be considered for any kind of employment what do you think ?

  17. Victoria

    It depends what you’re looking for, Lorraine. Some employers prefer slightly older staff (more reliable than the 18 year olds who just want to party, perhaps). I know people in GC working into their 50s.

    Even in their 60s and 70s. Well, because they have to (they haven’t made any provision for pensions etc. It depends on your situation. Of course I wouldn’t recommend you go over without a good idea of what you’re going to do, do some research about the place and have some savings with you.

    It might not be easy to find work immediately but there are jobs. Also it helps to learn Spanish before you go.

  18. Steve

    After doing a google search on moving to Gran Canaria, your details came up and I was wondering if you could give me some advice or point me to some useful and helpful websites/organisations.

    I am looking to move to Gran Canaria, but have struggled to find more helpful websites to get me started with things like, how to organise a mobile phone contract, equivalent NI card, getting a bank account and understanding how easy/quick these things are to organise.

    I’m planning on coming over at the end of November after having many holidayss there over the years. Initially, looking to rent somewhere, but also thinking how easy it is to rent somewhere with internet access or whether that is something I would need to organise separately after finding a property to rent. After getting settled, I will also be looking to buy an apartment in playa del ingles, but ideally away from the main tourist area, so wondering where is close that is for private residents.

    I would appreciate any advice/guidance around how to get started and organise these things, based on your experience.

    With thanks in advance,


  19. Amy

    I would also love the answers to all of Steve’s questions!

    Added onto the bit about internet, how would it work with 3G? I have an ipad but that is it, i don’t own a laptop.


  20. Victoria

    This should answer those questions: I was using a 3G connection. It was pretty slow but workable until I got ADSL.

  21. milly

    Hi – thanks for a great site. Know what you mean about so called “luck” – I’ve had a similar reaction to things I’ve achieved in the past! 😉 I don’t know how well you know Puerto Rico but I’m trying to find out which bits are quiet – I’ve heard that even way up high you can hear nightclubs all night in some areas – ideally we’d rather be near the beach but not near noisy clubs/bars. Been to GC several times but not stayed in PR – want to be there for the beach as the sea seems warmer there than the so called “heated” pools in complexes! Looking for hol 1st then moving next year… Thanks!

  22. Victoria (Post author)

    If you want to be near the beach but away from the noise, then I’d recommend Rio Piedras or somewhere along the front. Avoid the central valley area because the noise from the discos echos all around until the early hours. The sea is the Atlantic and the water is about 19C in winter and 23C in summer (when I used to scuba-dive I had a dive-watch so I could see the temp exactly). The pools are slightly warmer usually. Also avoid anywhere on top of the hill. Even if you don’t get the noise from the Europa Centre, you’ll have to hike up and down the mountain to get to the beach.

  23. milly

    Thanks Victoria – I’ve heard that the PR public pool is heated to 28 degrees which is much warmer than the pools of the complexes – I went their just over a week ago (I’m home now) and it was closed – looked like it had been rebuilt but no notices with info anywhere – do you know when it’s reopening? Also i just read somewhere that there are 2 public pools in PR but I’ve only seen one – is ther another and is it heated if so? Thanks again.

  24. Victoria (Post author)

    Sorry Milly I have no idea, and I haven’t heard about a second public pool in PR.

  25. Peter Goodchild

    “laying on the beach”

    People don’t lay on the beach, they lie on the beach. Big difference.

  26. Victoria

    If you’re talking about the nudist beach near Maspalomas anything’s possible.

  27. Holly Soulter

    Hello, My name is Holly, I am eighteen years young, and I am Irish. I’ve recently decided to take a year off from my education and make the big move to gran canaria. The thing is, I have missed the big holiday season. I was just wondering how hard it is to find work for the winter months? I have years if retail experience and speak Spanish too, which I believe would be a great asset.

    Thanks you for you time,


  28. Berg

    I’m living now Arinaga.
    I’d like to find some english spoken activities for my 18 months old kid (music, painting, baby sports…)
    Any idea where to go?
    Thanks a lot.

  29. thomas hill

    dont bother buying any property here if it is in a tourist cay in complex the canarian goverment wants to reclaim every apartment/bungalow that was originally for tourists.They want you to move out if you are a resident or a worker.This means you will not be able to stay in your house not even for one day and if you dont rent your house out to tourists the want to forcebly take your property with no compensation,this already starting to happen in san bartolome ie playa del ingles,with mogan nxt

  30. Milly

    Paul above mentions a rent to buy scheme where rent you’ve paid counts as a deposit to buy the property! I’ve never heard of this and can’t find anything out about it online – sounds too good to be true! Can anyone give me more details, links etc? Thanks!

  31. ellie

    hi dear, im a Swedish massage therapist and i am British but i speak Spanish too..i am going to gran canaria tomorrow and wondering if there is a chance of working as a massage therapist either working with locals or tourists. thanx a lot

  32. Anissa

    Hi I’m thinking about moving over to Tenerife, is it easier to come over and look for jobs or stay at home find a job then move?
    I’m still young 22 years old I can do bar / waitress anything with customer experience I’ll be great at, I iist have
    So much question and nobody to answer them. My partner is 24 and a car machanic which he dose not speak Spanish yet,

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