For many, the thought of relaxing and enjoying their retirement in another country, away from the hustle and bustle of their former working life, may feel like a distant dream. However, nowadays, with excellent flight and communication connections between most destinations, this can become a reality for many.
This is especially the case for those who choose to retire to the Canary Islands: an archipelago of sun-drenched Spanish islands, lying off the western coast of Africa. In order of size, the seven main islands comprise of Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. Traditionally a holiday destination amongst sun-seekers, the islands boast a number of qualities which make them the ideal setting for a happy and stress-free retirement.
Easy Transport Links
The first consideration to make when planning to spend your retirement overseas is to find a destination which is easy to reach—for yourselves, your possessions and your visitors. This is why good transport links is an essential requirement. Fortunately there are two international airports on Tenerife: Tenerife North and Tenerife South, as well as major international airports on Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura andLanzarote; all with numerous airlines operating regular flights. There are also airports serving each of the smaller islands. As well as good flight links, the islands’ major ports of Las Palmas, Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz, Tenerife provides great passenger and shipping connections to the outside world.
Perhaps one of the most important requirements for retirees is a pleasant climate. This is where the Canary Islands come up trumps, as all the islands enjoy a steadily warm climate, with temperatures rarely fluctuating from the mid- to-high twenties degrees Celsius. Rainfall on the Canary Islands is also relatively low, although the exception to this is the north-western coastline of Tenerife, which receives nearly three-quarters of the island’s average annual rainfall. Also worth considering is that the westerly islands of La Palma and La Gomera are greatly influenced by the Gulf Stream, which means that the climate is cooler and wetter than that of the larger and more developed islands to the east.
The Canary Islands are renowned for their long expanses of beaches. The sands are often distinctive dark grey or black, especially on Lanzarote and the northern coastline of Tenerife. This is due to ancient volcanic activity on many of the islands. The miles of sands to be found in Maspalomas, to the south of Gran Canaria are a protected National Park and have been used as the film location for many desert scenes over the years. The beaches are the perfect place to relax and top up the tan, as well as being popular amongst water sports enthusiasts. The windier climate of Fuerteventura in particular makes the island one of the world’s top windsurfing destinations.
It is inevitable that retirees must consider the standard of healthcare available in the Canary Islands. Fortunately, the Spanish system is relatively good. The largest cities on each of the main islands have good hospitals, as well as a good choice of general practitioners and qualified pharmacists. Along with the aforementioned great transport links with the outside world, retirees need not feel vulnerable in the unfortunate consequences of ill health.
Cost of Living
Although the Spanish cost of living is not as cheap as it once was, retirees looking to escape to the Canary Islands may nevertheless find that they can live more frugally here and good, healthy meals can be prepared very cheaply. For instance, due to the islands’ wealth of home-grown produce, fresh fruits and vegetables are much cheaper. This is also the case with freshly-caught fish and seafood and a good quality locally produced bottle of wine can also be very reasonable. Due to the islands’ climate, the worry of keeping warm in the winter months is not so much of a problem for people who originate from cooler parts of the world. If the individual is prepared to settle just a few miles inland from the main resorts, they will also find property prices for rental and for purchase are very competitive.
Plenty to See and Do
When first arriving on the Canary Island of your choice, you will inevitably be keen to explore your surroundings. None of the islands will disappoint, as each has its own history and heritage, which is reflected in its many sites and landmarks. For instance, on Tenerife the biggest attractions are the cities of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and San Cristobel de La Laguna, which has been awarded World Heritage status. Also unmissable is the island’s iconic landmark, Mount Teide. Gran Canaria is renowned for its shopping and lively nightlife, whilst Lanzarote is famous for its unusual indigenous plant life.
Most people looking to retire in another country will be looking to make firm friends and enjoy an active social life. The Canary Islands boast a large ex-pat community, especially in the larger resorts and towns, allowing an easy integration and the opportunity to enjoy social pursuits with similar people. Retirees will also find that locals are generally very friendly and have an excellent grasp of most major languages.