Decided you want a slice of warmer shores? Moving countries and taking your home and family abroad can be a fantastic experience for everyone involved; it will widen your appreciation and knowledge of the world, bring you new skills and often help you to acquire another language fluently. It's easy, however, to get caught up in the excitement of your new life without thinking about the nitty gritty parts. So check out these points before you go to make sure your transition to Tenerife is as smooth as possible.
The rose-tinted shades you wear during summer holidays are no good when you're assessing a location in terms of 'real life'. Though Tenerife may seem a much smaller microcosm than what you're used to at home, different parts of the island are startling varied. Head to the north and you're going to be in Santa Cruz -- where the more 'serious' work may be found. The south, on the other hand, is better for resorts, beaches and work that revolves around the tourism industry.
Stay a few nights in each area, walk off the main streets and be sure to get a 'feel' for the different neighbourhoods. If you can, find an expat-centric bar and talk to the people inside, as they'll be the ones with the most up to date information on the best way to rent or buy. Some of them may even be selling themselves!
Prepare, prepare, prepare
If you're retiring to the island then life may be a little simpler; you may have a pension pot you can rely on to see you through. If you need to work and are planning on getting employment outside of the tourism industry, however, a level of Spanish will be necessary. Santa Cruz is the best destination for the serious jobs, as this is the administrative capital of the Canary Islands.
Even if the job area you are hoping to enter doesn't require Spanish on a daily basis, it will look better on a CV and show that you're pro-active about living and staying on the island more permanently. It will also help you integrate with the island's Spanish speaking residents -- they'll appreciate you giving it a go!
Generally, private schools on the island teaching the English curriculum can cost between 300-500 euros per month. If you decide to live in the south, 3-18 year olds could go to the highly regarded Wingate School in Cabo. Options in the north include The British School of Tenerife.
You might also want to consider whether your area of choice has enough to do to keep your young family entertained. Although the kids will love the beach, they're not going to love it every single weekend for the next 5 years. Playa de las Americas may be one of the better options for younger expats, with activities such as windsurfing and surfing available. (There's also a water park!) Santa Cruz may be a better location for older families, as the hotspots are generally museum, church and art-based.
Although we don't necessarily consider life on the Canary Islands as particularly 'foreign', it's important to accept that you may need to make adjustments to your daily routine. Our Spanish-speaking counterparts often like to stay up LATE, and the word 'lights out' doesn't seem to be part of the public consciousness. Restaurants aren't always open at times you may consider convenient, and the heat can make completing even simple everyday tasks quite a challenge (struggling uphill with shopping bags in the midday sun isn't fun for anyone). Even foodstuffs you consider essential can be difficult to get your hands on, meaning your diet may have to adapt slightly as well.
Another thing that might be difficult to adjust to is the concept of 'Spanish time'. Is this bus coming at 7:30? Maybe. Does this restaurant open at 6? More or less… There's a much more relaxed attitude towards punctuality in Spain -- so try not to get worked up about it!
Once you've given these issues a thorough think-through, then here are your next steps:
- 1. Book accommodation in different areas around Tenerife so you can get a feel for the whole island. Costa Adeje is a good place to start in the south if you are looking for jobs, whereas Santa Cruz will give you a feel for the 'bigger city' lifestyle. This will help you to choose a neighbourhood to settle down in more permanently
- 2. Ask around for a reputable estate agent
- 3. Before you've signed the contract on your new house or apartment, make sure that you check if schools in the area have any space
- 4. Open a local bank account. This will help with the next step
- 5. Set up a telephone contract/organise a pay as you go sim card
- 6. Organise an overseas removal company
- 7. Get excited!
Do you have any tips for moving to Tenerife? Is there anything specific about the island that people should know before they go? Tell us below!