This Moving to Gran Canaria introduction is brought to us by Matthew Hirtes.
Go expat in… Gran Canaria
If the surf doesn’t impress you, the turf surely will
Enjoy a year-long holiday by living in or around the popular resorts located in the south of the island. More metropolitan types will prefer residing in the capital Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain’s eighth-largest city. For those who truly want to go local, the stunning interior’s your best bet for a slice of rural paradise. Where you’ll get some land with your property.
Although more and more parents are putting their children into English-language academies, away from the tourist areas you’ll struggle to make yourself understood in your native tongue. Like the rest of Spain, there’s a distinct lack of vegetarian options when eating out. If you live in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, prepare to share summer with a big black cloud as the panza del burro (donkey’s belly) descends over the city.
In and out
Gran Canaria airport (LPA) lies roughly equidistant from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Playa del Inglés, the island’s main tourist resort. So whilst it’s 24-odd km from airport to capital, it’s just over 30km between LPA and PDI. There’s a two-day ferry service to Cádiz on the Spanish mainland, although you might want to check out some of the other Canary Islands which are considerably easier to get to by air or boat.
You’ll find the best state schools, both primaries and secondaries, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. If you want a British-style education, dig deep for one of the private schools. The most hightly-rated are the American School, British School, and Oakley College. All of these are based in the north of the island, apart from the British School which also has a primary close to Meloneras in the south.
Shop until you drop…
Beware the shops and supermarkets in the resorts whose prices are inflated to take advantage of tourists who are too relaxed to travel for more reasonable prices. The not-too-far-away Vecindario, off the main GC-1, has a couple of shopping centres which offer more bargains. The best shopping centre, though, is closer to Las Palmas. Las Terrazas offers open-air shopping with Atlantic views and discounted prices at the many outlets.
Architecture is not a Canarian strongpoint. Buildings, especially the newer ones, are more functional than attractive. Most people in both the capital and the major resorts tend to live in apartments/flats. You’ll find larger properties in Las Palmas’ stockbroker belt, Tafira Alta, as well above Maspalomas in Montaña la Data, favourite of the jet set. For something completely different, the cave houses in the island’s highest village of Artenara and Gáldar’s Juncalillo offer Stone-Age design with 21st-century mod cons.
One-three bedroom apartments, €75,000-€250,000.
Detached Villas, €300,000-€1,000,000.
Country fincas/cave houses €100,000-€300,000.
In Praise Of
“Being able to drive with your car window down is great. Before, that treat was reserved for summer holidays in the south of France.” Lex Thoonen
“Gran Canaria has a much more relaxed vibe than the Spanish mainland. Slow living is where it’s at.” Pam Gardiner
Are you an expat in Gran Canaria? What do you like/dislike about it? Let us know below.
Matthew Hirtes, our resident broadsheet journalist, moved to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria back in 2004. He’s travelled extensively through Spain, covering it for such publications as Telegraph Travel, Metro, and The Independent. The author of Going Local in Gran Canaria: How To Turn a Holiday Destination into a Home, Matthew truly is a resident expert.