Can You Live Permanently in the Canary Islands

The answer to that question has to be yes. I have been living here for 10 years and I know people who have been living in Gran Canaria for way more than that. I’m not sure I am going to be here permanently, ie forever, but it is certainly possible to make a life in the sun and live well.


Possible Problems

Saying that, things aren’t always easy. You have to pay the rent or mortgage and the bills, just like anywhere else. Wages are much lower than you are probably used to and the language can be a barrier (even if you speak a bit of Spanish don’t assume you’ll understand “Canarian” which can be pretty different). Unless you have a contract, you don’t get sick pay, free medical care or unemployment benefits either.

Buying a House

If you don’t have savings or a much needed skill you are going to find it hard to buy a property because you need at least 10% of the property price as a deposit plus plenty more in various fees and most ex pat jobs (bar or restaurant work, selling tickets, teaching etc) do not pay enough to make saving a possibility. Else saving up takes years. A lot of people here rent and if you live outside the main resorts you can find something inexpensive.

Behind Europa Centre

Property Rental

In Puerto Rico or Playa del Ingles you should expect to pay an absolute minimum of 400 euros for a studio apartment or small 1 bedroom apartment. A reasonable sized 1 bedroom will be about 550 euros and a 2 bedroom place from 650 euros and up. Of course, this varies a lot but you can use those figures as a guideline.

With the average wage being 1000 euros a month, bills being about 80 euros a month and having to buy food, kids’ clothes and more too, you can see why saving money can take time, especially if one person is supporting a family.

However, if you are prepared to be realistic, there is no reaon why living in the Canaries permanently should be a problem. Like I said, I know many ex pats who have been here for years, are enjoying it and have no intention of ever leaving! 🙂


There are also people who retire to Gran Canaria and I can’t say I blame them! 😀



  1. Samantha


    I am 19 years old and I would love to move to Gran Canaria, me and my mum are thinking of learning Spanish in Las Palmas and after that I would want to get a job in a bar or so in the South. If I do move to Gran Canaria, what would I have to do once on the island? Do I need any special permits to live on the island and what do I need to open up a bankaccount?

    thanks x

  2. Victoria (Post author)

    You don’t say where you’re from Samantha but you don’t need to apply for residency if you’re from the UK or Ireland (or any other place in the EU). Opening a bank account is easy and you just need an address and a passport to do it. Most banks have someone English-speaking there. You wouldn’t be able to work in LP (it’s unlikely anyway) without speaking Spanish – what exactly do you plan to do there? You will need enough money to live on before you start looking for work. I would suggest the resorts in the south as being a better place to begin. Plus you might be able to find work while you are learning Spanish, rather than after.

  3. Samantha

    Hi Victoria,

    Thankyou for your reply. I was born in England but now I live in the Netherlands.
    By needing an address you mean a Gran Canarian address I suppose?
    I don’t intend to work in LP, I am planning to do a touristic degree if and when I get back to Holland, so any experience in that business area is fine for me. And therefore I want to do the Spanish course, because then I wouldnt have to do one over here. I found a Spanish learning centre in LP, and was planning on working part time for the duration of the course.

  4. Victoria

    I understand. In that case, it might be a good plan, if you can support yourself in LP without working. Living in the island’s capital would certainly immerse you in Canarian life more so than if you were based in one of the resorts down south. As I said, don’t expect to find work in LP unless you speak fluent Spanish though. You’d learn the language faster in GC than NL for sure anyway.

  5. Samantha

    Ok thankyou 🙂
    The course I will be doing will be a certain price and that is with accomodation included, so I wouldnt need much more, I guess I could save some money untill then.
    I came to Holland when I was 7, so my dutch is fluent aswell as my English.
    Thanks a lot for your help

  6. Reina

    Hi Victoria,

    I was happy to find your informative site as we’re (husband, toddler & me) considering a move to GC for 6 months. We’re residents of BCN, my husband being the EU citizen, me American & child born in Spain. I have many questions, I hope you don’t mind. : )

    I’m a little confused concerning medical coverage. I assumed GC had public health care (for residents) like the rest of Spain? Dental though, is not included, except in extreme cases it seems. Same over there?

    We can live wherever as long as there’s internet. You mentioned that can be problematic in one of your articles. 6 months to get a phoneline? In BCN many flats already have lines but you have to dar la alta (I’m losing my English!), which can take a month. — My H rents a desk in an open office with others where they provide internet. Does GC have something like that?

    Do you think it’s vital to have a car? Would it be easy enough for a family to go around via bus? How long does it take to traverse the island by car? I’m not even sure which city/town we want to live in. Suggestions?? We’re used to the city life but may be interested in some quiet, on the coast. My little one adores the beach, so more calm waters are important, as well as other kids! Would Lanzarote be too remote?

    Thank you for your help! In this undertaking… ; P

  7. Victoria

    Hi Reina, Medical coverage is similar to the rest of Spain. If you live and work you can get a healthcare care, so you can use doctors’ surgeries, hospitals etc. Some people (myself included) opt for private care though. I have an English doctor (fewer communication problems) and you wait much shorter times for operations etc. You have to pay for dental care (or take out insurance) and that can be expensive. I don’t know if it’s free for kids like in the UK – I don’t have any.

    Many apartments come with internet but some do not. When I lived in Tauro I had to plug into the back of my neighbor’s internet box (with a cable out the window) because they simply weren’t giving any more internet out in Tauro. It had reached its quota. Sounds very dumb and backward but that’s how it was. Other places you wait between 1 day and 6 months for it to materialize. If it’s important to you find somewhere with DSL already.

    A car isn’t vital. The island is too big to walk around but the bus service is reasonable and cheap. It takes an hour to drive right across the island.

    If you want to combine city life with beach and you speak reasonable Spanish I would suggest Las Palmas in the north. The resorts in the south are full of tourists (and a lot more expensive to live in).

    Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Lanzarote are the 3 main, biggest islands. Fuerteventura is also nice but windy nearly all the time and very quiet in the winter. I have only lived on GC but I have visited Tenerife and Fuerteventura a few times (and El Hierro but there is nothing on that island at all!!)

  8. Victoria

    I never heard of the desk rental in open offices before (sounds like a good idea though). We have internet cafes (1 euro an hour in Las Palmas and the Canarian areas, up to 4 euros an hour in the tourist areas).

  9. Andy

    Hi myself and my wife have been considering moving to GC for many years now. We have savings of about £47k we just wondered if this is enough to ma e a life in GC.I am trying to learn Spanish at the moment.Any info will be gratefully received.
    Regards Andy

  10. Victoria

    That’s about 10 times what I went over with! Having savings and learning the language are obviously helpful but there are no guarantees as to whether you will settle in GC. Property is more affordable outside the resorts. What kind of work can you do or are you retired?

  11. Andy

    Hi I’ve done bar work, warehousing, driving,sales basically a bit of everything I am a welder by trade but haven’t done it for a few years. No I am not retired yet I am only 50

  12. Victoria

    I see. Well the bar work and sales should be good. I mean, it’s something you can use to start with. Then you can get a different job later. Bar work is pretty easy to find as long as you do a lot of legwork and get a Spanish phone etc. People come to GC with practically nothing sometimes, so you sound more prepared than them. Keep your options open, do a lot of research and the best of luck to you.

  13. Andy

    Thanks, sound like a bit more research and we could be on our way

  14. Craig

    I’m due to leave RAF in Aug and am looking to move GC/Ten. I will have approx 100k and would be looking to buying a property outright.

    Obviously I will be looking to work eventually but not immediately need a break!! How easy is it to purchase accom, is it a good time to buy, and also do you recommend any Property Cos?

    Are there also any good online guides to buying property there?

  15. mosi

    Is it possible for a non EU citizen to get a job (work permit)

  16. harvey

    i am a 54 yr old man who had a very serious accident when a car hit me on a motorbike,i had a serious head injury and my hip was badly smashed and i can only walk about 30 metres with a tri walker, if i buy somewhere in the canaries when i come back to the uk can i rent the place i buy in the canaries and with my dissability where is the best place to live regards harvey

  17. harvey

    the reason i want to live in the canaries is the heat on my hip will be better in the warmth in the canaries than in the uj from oct till march

  18. harvey

    UK sorry i hit the wrong key on the pad

  19. Michael


    I’m a 75 year old male going on 40, I have been to Puerto Rico many times on holiday and love the place, noise and all.
    I’m looking to move to there in September for at least 6 months, (had a belly full of English winters) to decide wether to make a pemanent move.
    What I’m confused about is long term rentals, 6 and 12 months, I have research the various websites and there are loads of apartments for long term lets in Puerto Rico.
    These are usually in apartment blocks like Puerto Azul or Tobago and various others.
    The question I am asking is it possible to stay in that type of apartment for a long time??

    Kind regards

  20. Joy

    Hi, I am retired & from California & thinking of going to the Canary Islands for six months–October, 2015-March 2016. Several questions, please. 1) all the blogs seem to be from Europeans relocating to the Islands…no Americans? 2) My Spanish is next to nonexistent & I am too old to improve it by much, so which Island would you recommend (also, I would prefer the South side of any of the Islands). 3) Do not need to work, just want to enjoy a new adventure cheaply! 4) Like to socialize, but the bar scene is really not of interest, so is this possible? if so, which Island would be best. 5) How difficult is it to take day trips to the other Islands, I love to hike & scuba, etc. & just see different scenery. 6) Lastly, any suggestions you have regarding preparing for my stay would be greatly appreciated! Thank you so much for your help!!

  21. Michael

    Hi Joy, I’ve been to 3 of the island and they are all pretty much the same temperature but the warmest town is Puerto Rice, located southernmost on Gran Canary. thats the place I intend to stay, I’m going to book a holiday in September for 1 month to make sure I am making the right choice, not location but can I live on my own for long periods i.e. 6 months/12months at a time. My Spanish is zero too but if you stick to tourist resorts most Spanish speak English so the language is not much of an issue. you can get a ferry to Tenerife bit its not cheap. There are plenty of cafes and bars in Puerto Rico but if your like me I’m happy to just sit in the sun and watch the world go by. Preparation, You can book a long term apartment on the internet ( the problem with that is your not always sure what your going to get. My plan of going for a month will give me the chance to sift out the good apartments from the not so desirable. If I get through the month holiday ok I will book and stay there for 6 months. hope this help you decide.
    Finally what makes you want to leave the states particularly Florida?



  22. Victoria George

    Hi Guys, I am looking to move to GC in June with my Hubby and 4 small dogs. I have been in touch with agents in Puerto Rico re long term lets. To be fair they are being very helpful as I am sure its no easy task placing 4 small dogs. I guess I am just looking for some helpful advice as the best place to live in GC without being totally isolated as newbies to the area. We run a successful marketing company in the UK which we plan to scale down to lead a more relaxed life style in a sunnier climate. We both speak a little Spanish and plan to improve on that. I was thinking of setting up a dog grooming business in GC but am not sure what the demand is? any suggestions or tips will be appreciated 🙂

  23. Brad Gee

    Hello, my wife and I plan on moving to GC in July. We will stay at least 6 months and have a budget of $1000/month. Any Realtor suggestions. Please advise – thanks!

  24. Deborah Harrison

    Hi I am looking for some advice I am wanting to move to gran canaria from the uk. I am a qualified nurse and I’m looking to move next September. What do I have to do what paperwork will I need and how do I contact letting agents in gran canaria

    Please help


  25. Kath Whittaker

    Hi Victoria, my Partner and I are considering the move to GC, starting with long term renting. We both work for a company that relies heavily on a decent internet connection. To give you some idea we ae connected via Skype video to head office 9-5, Mon – Fri and everything we do is googledrive based (shared online worksheets requiring good upload speed as well as download) We know that this will be our first hurdle but in theory we could do our job from anywhere in the world and must be able to, in order to finance our move and living.
    We have been in touch with a few estate agents but we are struggling on 2 key points. 1. How important Internet is to our business and 2. Area, through our own research and help from your site (Excellent advise, thank you) we have done a complete turn around in our ideas of where we want to be. I need the warmth of the South for health reasons (but not necessarily in a holiday resort) we tried to look north at Las Palmas but were driven back by the terrible windy weather which would not be a sensible move for me. So we are now looking for areas where Brits make home (Something we initially wanted to avoid but experience has shown us that this could actually be a better option) Is there any way of finding out where these areas are?
    Our initial search found that the areas we thought we wanted to be in were full of public places all geared up for Scandinavian people and although we have no prejudices we do not want to move to a Spanish Island to find we have to learn Scandinavian or anything other than Spanish (well, Canarian).
    We have also found that most estate agents want to rent you a place unseen apart from their supply of (out of proportion) photographs. We cannot afford to be months without the ability to work, so finding the right area is the most important thing at the moment.
    Any suggestions for where to consider on our next visit?

  26. Geoff Cornwell

    I want to move to the canaries (any island) I will be retired in November 2016 I will have an income of about £,000 a month. I have no idea how to do this, I have tried to find somewhere to live, but all i get is holiday accommodation. I could do some work if needed. Can you help me

  27. geoff cornwell

    income £1,000 a month

  28. alex

    Fuertaventura is perhaps the best option, however if you fall gravelly ill gran canaria is better.

  29. Stephanie Andrade

    hi I am Stephanie I live in the United States was wondering what I need to do to be legal residency in the Canary Islands.

  30. Tia

    hey guys!
    I was wondering how to get papers in GC for an american? I’ve heard of freelance visa and non-lucrative visa. Could someone please share their experience? What’s the best option to stay legally long-term? no need to work in GC. Thanks a lot!
    Also, which area in GC is warm enough all year round to walk around without jackets and maybe swim in january? 🙂 and budget-wise – long-term 2BR apt plus utilities plus food – how much, around $1000/month?
    tx a lot!!

  31. Kate

    hi! nice article! I have a question about moving to Canary Islands from USA. As far as i know – spanish non-lucrative visa is the only option? or is there anything else in order to move to CI. thanks!

  32. Debbie

    Hi, I’m 58,retired and from USA,engaged to a man from Tenerife (his Mom still lives there). He and I are thinking of moving back there, he has a home there. Concerned about my 2 dogs because I don’t want to part with them. Not sure of the process (quarantine?).And I would need medical insurance as I’m on Social Security disability here in US. How/Where could I get answers to these concerns???

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