Some of us have the dream of living on an island with endless sunshine and pristine waters. I had that dream and finally made it come true last year by moving to Tenerife. It’s been one year and a half since I moved to the largest island in the Canary Islands. Moving from a big city like London to an island brought many changes in my life, some good, some bad. Discover in this article the pros and cons of living in Tenerife.
The first time I came on holidays to Tenerife in August of 2020, I fell in love! I didn’t know there was a place like this in Europe. I always thought Europe was a continent of different countries, all of them with something in common, all of them with 4 seasons, some countries colder than others, obviously. However it slipped off my mind that there are islands part of the European Union that summer never goes away.
When I found out Tenerife is sunny all year and considering I had been living 10 years in London, I just knew I wanted to move to Tenerife.
My husband made my dream come true, I have to admit when he bought a flat and agreed with me that the supposedly just bought flat for holidays, could be our permanent home. I didn’t think twice. In July of 2021 I packed my stuff and came for good to beautiful Tenerife.
LIVING IN BIG CITIES
I always lived in big cities. I was raised in between Lisbon and Porto, the two main cities in Portugal and when I was 29 years old, I moved to London. I was so used to live a busy lifestyle, that I never questioned myself if living in a quieter place would do me better. It was the typical case of a monkey that lives in a cage, never thinks about getting out of it!
In 2019, right before the pandemic, something in me started to change and I started to wonder about living somewhere else that wouldn’t be so stressful.
As much as I felt connected to London to the point of identifying myself more with London than Lisbon or Porto, I knew that something was missing in my life. Something that a big city couldn’t offer me, peace of mind.
Big cities have the advantage to make oneself strong, tough and ready to fight any adversity. Despite that, big cities forget to teach you about solitude, self love and silence. How can you grow internally, if you don’t know how to live with yourself? Well big cities, have so many distractions that you forget to take a good look on yourself and understand that sometimes you need a break from everything.
LIVING IN TENERIFE
Tenerife was the change I needed to recenter myself. Living in Tenerife gave me the opportunity to slow down and enjoying nature as I never did before. Being surrounded by beautiful beaches and dazzling sunsets, it sure put all my beliefs in perspective.
Before coming to live in Tenerife, I spent at least 3 holidays until I was certain, this was the right step. But we all know, when you’re on holidays everything looks better, brighter, beautiful!
It took me 6 months to move most of my things to Tenerife. The last boxes, my husband brought them this year. From July until December 2021, I had time to unpack, organize all the clothes in the wardrobe, stop my Amazon business in UK, which I could not continue on another country, because of Brexit, and look for a job in Tenerife. Once I started to have a routine of work, I could feel myself integrating in the island.
As stunning as Tenerife is and everything seemed to be part of a dream, I soon discovered there were disadvantages that I didn’t take into consideration.
Here goes the pros and cons of living in Tenerife.
THE PROS OF LIVING IN TENERIFE
Settling in Tenerife brought me, besides peace, joy in the little things that life offer us that we normally disregard when living in cosmopolitan cities. These are the pros about living in the largest island of the Canary Islands:
- The sunsets in Tenerife are the best! It’s impossible to be sad when you’re watching them. On days that I felt down the sunsets have been the best therapy to put me back up.
- I learned to get out of home with just a pair of slippers, some shorts, a t-shirt and no makeup at all. No need to take 1 hour or more to get ready. Here everyone is relaxed and no one cares if you’re dressed up or not. Now I only get myself dressed up when I have to create content for Instagram and I love it! When I was working as makeup artist in the high end department stores in central London, it took me always so long to get ready, that putting that pressure out of my shoulders was a relief! This has made me to slow down and change my mindset to: it’s ok if I don’t look perfect.
- I can drive and I’m not afraid. In London I never drove. The traffic, the fact the wheel is on the right and the direction is opposite from Portugal, always put me off to drive. Plus, to drive in London you need to have a good income, since it’s very easy to be fined and the expensive bill at the end of the month might not come from the petrol, but actually from the fines. Even if in Portugal I drove, either in Lisbon or Porto, the traffic after 5pm it was so big that I used to arrive home ready to sleep. In Tenerife south, where I live, driving is easy and if you think you’re a bad driver, wait until you drive in Tenerife. Sometimes I wonder if some people over here have driving license or not. At least they make me feel like a pro at driving, lol!
- The petrol is so cheap in comparison with the rest of Europe. The gasoline in Tenerife costs around €1.34/litre, whilst in London £1.91/litre.
- The rent of 1 bedroom flat is much cheaper. One spacious bedroom flat with a pool and parking included, will start from €650/month, but you can always exclude parking and pool and the rent can go down to €500/month. The agencies only ask for 1 month deposit, 1 month in advance and another month of fees that unfortunately it won’t be given back. The agency fees sometimes can be more expensive here.
- Buying a flat is cheaper as well. From €120.000 you can buy one bedroom flat close to the beach.
- The sunlight lasts until 9pm during summer months and 6pm in the months considered winter, but in Tenerife south there isn’t winter. There can be some days that seem like autumn, but only last for 1 or 2 days.
- You can go to the beach everyday, all year! So after work, there is always time to go for a dive in the sea.
- If you get tired of the good weather, you can go to the north or the mountains. North of Tenerife has 4 seasons and winter can go bellow 10oC, especially on Teide, the biggest volcano in Spain.
- Food is delicious and the typical Canarian restaurants are so affordable, that you don’t have to worry about cooking. A meal in a typical restaurant will cost you around €15 with a drink included.
- Every petrol station has a restaurant and in all of them the food is cheap and delicious.
- Children can play outside all year in the south and you will spend less money in babysitters, when in a day off, you can just go to the beach which is free and enjoyable for all the family.
- There are water parks and boat excursions that are perfect if you’re coming with a group of friends or family.
- There are plenty of outdoor sports that can be done all year: surfing, karting, paragliding, golf, tennis, jet ski, windsurfing.
- Due to the good weather, a lot of people come for holidays and on holidays, everyone is friendly, meaning is easy to get to know new people.
- In Tenerife south, you will only need summer clothes, so the wardrobe won’t be stuffed with heavy coats or jumpers. Though, at night you might need a jacket.
- To become a Spanish resident in the Canary Islands, you will need to find a permanent job or have in your bank account €5.500, whilst in UK, especially after Brexit, becoming a resident became more complicated.
- Once you become a resident in the Canary Islands, you will have 70% discount on any trip to other locations in Spain.
THE CONS OF LIVING IN TENERIFE.
With good, comes bad too and Tenerife isn’t an exception. The island can look like a paradise when you spend holidays here, although once you live here, you understand that not everything is perfect. These are the cons about living in Tenerife:
- The health service is pretty bad in the south of Tenerife. Not even with the mandatory health insurance, you feel protected if you have to go to the emergency. My husband and I already had to go to the hospital a few times and it was as if we hadn’t been seen by a doctor. Unfortunately, only at the north of Tenerife, you can find a good health system. When I had my second miscarriage, the doctor I saw on the private hospital was so bad, that I had to go to the public hospital in the north where I received a much better assistance.
- The bank service is so basic, that you will end up only using the bank app’s. The banks close early and they are always full, which make it really hard to have an appointment with an assistant. At least they compensate with the easy and quick service of Bizum (instant transfer by having only the mobile number) and the 24/7 cash points that have instant cash deposit. As I said, you will do everything to avoid going to the bank in person.
- The bureaucracy of this island will drive you crazy. Things here are slow, very slow. If you miss an appointment, don’t be surprised it will take you another month to have it rescheduled.
- The public transport is awful. There aren’t enough buses, if everyone needed to take a bus to work. So, it’s essential to own a car, if you want to have freedom to go anywhere you want and discovered the island as you wish.
- Now that the pandemic is over, an influx of tourists has turned the island’s highway in a chaos. From 1pm until 6pm, the traffic has become crazy, even at the weekends. Thankfully, the traffic is only an extension of 3km.
- The taxis are so expensive! Unfortunately there aren’t Uber, Bolt or FreeNow. The government in Tenerife doesn’t allow it, so in the south the taxi service takes advantage of the tourists and a trip can easily cost €20. If you’re coming on holidays, make sure to rent a car in advance.
- Don’t even try to order online, or if you do, expect always delays on the delivery. The post office service in Tenerife is horrendous! You could expect the orders to arrive quicker from Europe in comparison with Asia, but no. It takes the same time! When I was in London I was an online shopaholic, but here I had to give up on my addiction. I cannot be hassled by tracking all the time the parcels. Hence, now I only buy online once in a while. I have to admit my bank account has seen the benefits of less shopping. Also for the environment is very beneficial. In this way, I got used to only shop when I really need it.
- There are a lack of clothes stores in the south of the island. Basically, the only thing you find are the stores from Inditex, Zara, Bershka, Stradivarius, etc, H&M, small stores or the luxury stores where you will spend minimum €500 in one dress. If I want an affordable formal quality dress for a special occasion, I have to go to the north, which is one hour away from where I live.
- As a touristic island, most of work available is in hospitality. Jobs that are more qualified are difficult to find and when are available the salary isn’t more than €1200/month.
- Hospitality jobs explore employees and only give them 1 day off, even if it’s against the work legislation. Unfortunately, employees accept these low work conditions, because the salary is bad and an extra day of work is an extra income. My friends that work in hospitality are always busy ant tired and don’t even have the chance to enjoy the beauty of the island.
- Foreign movies in Spain are all dubbed in Spanish and I hate that. In Portugal, we watch movies in the original language. I really don’t like watching movies dubbed in Spanish and for that reason, I never go cinema in Tenerife.
- If you are used to order food online as I was in London, well in Tenerife, at least in the south, forget it. There is only one online food service: Glovo and you’re limited to 5 restaurants depending of the area you live in.
- There could be more indoor activities such as bowling, arcade/fairground games or ice skating. There are, but are very limited, meaning they aren’t open all year or if they are, is mainly in the north.
- The temperatures at daytime are so different from the night. Sometimes you won’t believe, from the temperatures at night-time that it was 30oC in the afternoon. So always have a jacket with you, since the night is always chilly.
- Rarely there are storms, but if there are, it will be the ones from the Sahara Desert which are called Calima storms. Everything gets dirty with sand, the cars, the balcony, the streets. It gets very windy and the sky gets yellow and cloudy.
- The nightlife in Tenerife south is unsatisfying. I cannot name a club that has nice people, nice music, nice environment, nice decoration. There isn’t! The best clubs Magic and Papagayo are far from what I’m used to in big cities. The government in Tenerife doesn’t help as well, since they limit the investment in nightclubs, because they want to keep the island as a family island, which is sad when Tenerife has the potential to be better than Ibiza. The fact that the young English people that come to the island are the ones that get drunk and get into fights doesn’t help too. I guess you cannot have paradise with all benefits included…
The best for me in Tenerife is finishing work and going to the beach, sunbathing whilst drinking a piña colada. It makes me forget any problems or worries I have in my mind. The calm lifestyle of Tenerife has made me slow down my work rhythm so much, that slowly I’m getting rid off the habit of being a workaholic and accept that there is nothing wrong about having 2 days of laziness. I am learning finally the importance of having balance between rest and work.
Nonetheless the cons I mentioned, I’m happier in Tenerife, because I learned to be in contact with nature in solitude and that helped me to gain more self-love. With the hectic pace of big cities you get so distracted with all the tasks you’re obliged to do, that you forget that there is a soul within you that needs peace to be happy.
If you would like to find out more about Tenerife, read the articles bellow.
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