The pro and cons of moving to the different Canary Islands include Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, and Lanzarote.
Are you thinking of moving to the Canary Islands? Are you wondering which would be the best island to move to? With so many great islands to choose from, it can be difficult to know which would be the right one for you and your family.
With this in mind, let us take a look at the pros and cons of each and see which would be the best choice for expats. You may well be familiar with the larger islands such as Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote but there are smaller ones to consider too.
There is no one, best Canary Island to move to. Each has something different to offer, so which is best for you will depend on your preferences and requirements. Each has advantages and disadvantages.
For example, are you a permanent migrant or are you looking for a holiday property? Are you looking for somewhere quiet to retire to or do you want to be closer to the nightlife? Do you want to mix with other UK expats or do you wish to connect with the local Spanish culture?
No matter what you are looking for, you are sure to find it in one of the beautiful Canary Islands.
- The Pros and Cons of moving to each of the Canary Islands:
- 1: Tenerife – Best for everyone including British Expats
- 2: Fuerteventura – Best for beaches and great value properties
- 3: Gran Canaria – Best for laid-back holiday homes
- 4: Lanzarote – Best for families and the young hip crowd
- 5: La Palma – Best for green spaces
- 6: La Gomera – Best for timeless beauty
- 7: El Hierro – Best for quiet and tranquillity
- 8: La Graciosa – Best for day trips or weekend breaks!
- Moving to the Canary Islands
What are the Canary Islands?
A popular destination with tourists from all over the world, but particularly with Brits, the Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago located on the north-west coast of Africa. The group of eight main islands are known for their black and white sand beaches – a result of its rugged volcanic terrain.
The Spanish Canary Islands benefit from a warmer climate; the summers are much warmer and drier, and the winter months are usually much milder, although they are more prone to rainfall. As the Islands are surrounded by water, the temperatures, even during the summer, do not become as unbearably warm as those that might be experienced in the African countries on the nearby northwest coast of Africa.
From largest to smallest, the main eight islands that form the Canary Islands are Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa.
Each of these islands has its own unique attractions, with different islands appealing to different groups of individuals. It is a good idea to remember that just because you have enjoyed visiting a particular island on holiday, it may not be the right place for you to consider moving to.
So which is the best place to live in the Canary Islands for you?
The Pros and Cons of moving to each of the Canary Islands:
1: Tenerife – Best for everyone including British Expats
A benefit of Tenerife is that it is the largest and most populous of the Canary Islands. It is a popular choice with visitors from all over the world, with the largest expat population being Brits. This makes it a great location for those who really want to be part of a large and well-established community.
The south of the island is where you will find the biggest concentration of tourist-heavy resorts, so you may want to avoid this if you are relocating with children.
The most popular destination in Tenerife is Santa Cruz. It has great amenities and shops, access to plenty of local beaches and is a short distance from the terrain for exploring. Here, you will find a little something for everyone.
For those who prefer to be in the heart of the action or who are relocating to set up a business in the south of the island, Los Cristianos, Arona and Adeje are also popular areas to live in. Like Santa Cruz, they have access to great shops and beaches.
Laura, who moved to Tenerife, comments on the beaches and villages:
“Tenerife for me has everything, it has nature, mountains, the volcano (Teide), nice beaches, villages, touristic places and guachinche, which are small family restaurants with local food and wine, mostly in the north of the island.”
Buying property in Tenerife
Many of the properties you will find for sale in Tenerife consist of apartments in serviced complexes. This means there is often access to a communal pool and also a communal parking area. A 2-bedroom apartment in one of the less touristy areas of the island could cost you as little as €90,000. However, for a similar-sized property in Callao Salvaje or Adeje you would be looking at a price tag of €280,000.
Villas and townhouses are also popular, with a 3-bedroom villa in Adeje likely to cost you in the region of €310,000. Depending on the area that you select in Tenerife, you could make your money work for you with properties generally being cheaper compared to the UK.
Facilities in Tenerife
There are many larger shopping centres in Tenerife. The majority of these can be found on the southern tip of the island, centred around Costa Adeje and Arona. Here you will find all of the big-name shops that you might expect to find in any big European town. To the north of the island, near Santa Cruz de Tenerife, you will also find several larger shopping locations, again with plenty of the big name stores.
The island has a good number of schools with the British School of Tenerife in the north and Wingate school, which specializes in British education, located in the south. Both of these are understandably popular with English speakers.
Healthcare in Tenerife
For an island of its size, Tenerife has a surprisingly robust number of healthcare facilities. In addition to the 4 hospitals, there are a further 39 primary care and specialist clinics on the island. Healthcare is free, but some payment is usually required for prescriptions. Dental care is not free on the island.
Pros of Tenerife
Tenerife has great amenities, healthcare facilities and schools. There are plenty of properties on the market, and the prices compare very favourably to those in the UK. There is plenty to do on the island in your downtime.
Cons of Tenerife
The cons of Tenerife is that it is the most popular tourist destination so in the high season it will be busy and noisy. If you are looking for somewhere to relax, this may not be the island for you.
2: Fuerteventura – Best for beaches and great value properties
As the second largest of the Canary Islands, Fuerteventura is well known as a holiday destination. The island has plenty of white sandy beaches, and fantastic weather all year round, and is a regular destination for those who like water sports.
At the last count (2020), there were 36,371 foreigners living on the island. Around 3600 of these are Brits. Corralejo, El Cotillo and Lajares in the north are popular places to live and have more inhabitants overall, but the majority of expats live in the south near Costa Calma, Gran Taranjal and Morro Jable, which are a little quieter and more laid back.
“If you want total peace and quiet and away from it all, Fuerteventura, has very very little rain!” according to Ibizababy on a forum for English-speaking expats in the Canary Islands.
Buying Properties in Fuerteventura
The majority of properties you will find for sale in Fuerteventura are villas and apartments, often on complexes with similar properties and shared facilities like swimming pools. In Corralejo, a 3-bedroom apartment will set you back approximately €250,000 and a villa of the same size $360,000.
A 3-bedroom apartment in Gran Taranjal, one of the popular expat areas, will cost in the region of €150,000. A budget of €430,000 will buy a 4-bedroom villa in Morro Jable, which is very good value. The island has affordable smaller apartment properties in locations that would make great holiday homes as well.
Healthcare and education in Fuerteventura
Whilst Fuerteventura is the second largest of the Canary Islands, it is much less densely populated compared to Tenerife and, as such, there is only one hospital on the island. They can treat a range of illnesses and emergencies, however more serious issues need to be treated at a hospital on the nearby island of Gran Canaria. The first port of call in the case of a non-emergency medical issue should be the pharmacy (chemist), where the staff are very knowledgeable and able to help with a wide range of issues.
There are no British schools in Fuerteventura at the moment, so schooling would be in Spanish, something to consider if you have school-age children. Whilst youngsters can pick languages up very quickly, this may be an issue.
Shopping in Fuerteventura
In addition to all of the smaller shops like bakeries that you would expect to find on an island of this size, Fuerteventura has several malls and shopping centres dotted all over the island, offering many of the well-known brands you would expect to find. This is largely due to the number of tourists that visit the island each year, and so they are mostly found on the north and east of the island, with a high concentration on the southern tip.
Pros of Fuerteventura
The island has a great culture and nightlife with plenty to do whilst being slightly less touristy than Tenerife. It also has a great infrastructure, and the property prices are very reasonable.
Cons of Fuerteventura
The cons of relocating with children are the lack of British schools, which could be off-putting unless your children speak enough Spanish to get by. The island will also get busier and noisier in the peak holiday months.
3: Gran Canaria – Best for laid-back holiday homes
The second most populous of the Canary Islands and the third largest in Gran Canaria. This is a bustling island with plenty of black lava and white sandy beaches.
The capital city, Las Palmas is a hub for duty-free shopping and is a major cruise ship docking point. Although the coastal areas of the island can be busy, the interior offers a much more tranquil outlook with its rural and mountainous landscape.
The island is particularly popular with tourists from the UK, and it is therefore little surprise that there is a large migrant community on the island. With English being widely spoken in Gran Canaria, the island is a popular draw for those who speak little Spanish.
“Very pleasant. Nice atmosphere, clean and decent, not too crowded.” A user from Tripadvisor.
Buying Property in Gran Canaria
The most popular areas of Gran Canaria with British property buyers are Puerto Rico and Playa del Ingles, both of which are found on the southern coast of the island. Properties on the island are very similar to those found on the other Canary Islands. A 3-bedroom apartment in Puerto Rico will cost €250,000 with the same type of property in Playa del Ingles coming in at around €40,000 more. A 3 bedroom villa in Las Palmas will cost a very reasonable €310,000 and will offer a little more space for your money.
Overall, property prices in Gran Canaria are comparable to those in the UK, and shopping around may just find you something a little special at a great price.
Facilities in Gran Canaria
The advantage of living in Gran Canaria for anyone relocating with children is that the island has a very good number of British and international schools for children of all ages, so for those with limited Spanish, schooling is not an issue on the island.
Healthcare in Gran Canaria
The island is well equipped to deal with medical emergencies, as you will notice two large medical centres that form part of the main University hospital group. Both of these are located in the more touristy area of the island and there is a further hospital on the southern end.
There are plenty of doctors on the island but, as with mainland Spain, the local pharmacy is usually the best port of call for non-emergency medical issues.
Pros of Gran Canaria
Property prices are good, and the island has all of the amenities and facilities you would need to settle into your new life. English is widely spoken as well, and the expat community is well-established. Great for families and those who are looking to retire abroad.
Cons of Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria is more heavily populated than some of the other Canary Islands, so if you are looking for peace and tranquillity, this may pose a problem. It can also get busy with cruise ship travellers and holidaymakers during the busy season.
4: Lanzarote – Best for families and the young hip crowd
The island of Lanzarote is an enchanting one, with black pebble beaches, volcanic cones, and plenty of surf to entice those who love water sports. The fourth largest of the Canary Islands, there are approximately 150,000 living here, and around 5% of those are British expats.
The island is a very popular choice with expats from all over the world, and they make up around 20% of the population of Lanzarote, giving it a very multicultural feel.
Popular Lanzarote areas include Arrecife, Costa Teguise and San Bartolome. The island is known for its clear water and golden sands. The people are incredibly friendly and full of humour. They also love a good party, and the overall sense of “life is to be enjoyed” is evident everywhere you go.
“If they are retiring, I think Lanzarote would be perfect. They have everything they need there and a near-perfect climate. Tenerife and Gran Canaria are lovely, but I adore the peace and tranquillity of Lanzarote.” recommends Llama
Buying Properties in Lanzarote
The three most popular areas of Lanzarote for holiday homes are Playa Blanca, Puerto del Carmen, and Puerto Calero. A 3-bedroom villa in Playa Blanca will set you back about €390,000, whilst in Puerto Del Carmen; you will need to budget around €490,000 for a villa with three bedrooms.
Puerto Calero is the most expensive area of the three. Property prices in Lanzarote are on the expensive side when compared to some of the other Canary Islands.
Facilities of Lanzarote
This island is great for those who are interested in art and architecture and has been an important location for artists over the years. You will find many famous museums such as Museo Cesar Manrique and Casa Jose Saramago.
Pros of Lanzarote
For those looking to relax and enjoy a slower pace of life, then Lanzarote is a great choice of location with plenty of things going on all year round. The weather is good, and there are plenty of beaches to enjoy.
Cons of Lanzarote
Property prices in the more popular areas of the island are on the high side compared to the other Canary Islands, so may not be suited to those retiring on a limited budget.
5: La Palma – Best for green spaces
Known as La Isla Bonita (the beautiful island), La Palma is an island with real character. The capital city of the island has cobbled streets and quaint houses with wooden balconies.
The island also has a substantial national park with volcanic craters, pine forests and waterfalls. Whilst it is certainly the greenest of the Canary Islands, visitors will still find plenty of white sandy beaches to enjoy as well.
The expat community in La Palma is thriving and close-knit. For those who do not speak Spanish, this is a vital connection as the islanders speak little English. Those who do not speak Spanish will struggle to get a job, even within the tourist industry.
Tripadviser user Brian comments:
“La Palma is a wonderful place to live, peaceful, with good scenery, good weather (on most parts of the island), friendly people, reasonable services, little criminality, few tourists, low taxes and is part of the EU.
But as with many islands … you need to have income.”
Buying Property in La Palma
The island has a number of rather enchanting places to live in and, due to its size, the expat population are more widespread than you would perhaps find on the other islands. The price of a 3-bedroom villa will vary widely from one place to another and even within the same location depending on your priorities.
In El Paso, for example, you could spend anywhere between €275,000 to €672,000 on a property with similar specs. Investment opportunities are certainly available on the island, with 10 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms and plenty of character available in El Paso for €695,000.
Facilities in La Palma
There are a good number of schools on the island; however, with no British or International schools, the teaching is all done in Spanish which may pose a problem to those people relocating with children, if they do not speak at least some Spanish.
There are plenty of medical facilities on the island and a couple of larger shopping areas. Larger shopping trips are possible with a regular ferry service.
Pros of La Palma
The pros of La Palma are that it is a great island for people looking for a tranquil life, and it offers great investment opportunities when it comes to properties.
Cons of La Palma
The cons of La Palma are that there are better islands for those with school-age families or those who like their surroundings to be a little busier.
6: La Gomera – Best for timeless beauty
The second smallest of the original seven islands that made up the Canary Islands, La Gomera, has a prehistoric forest with a UNESCO World Heritage Destination. The island is small, almost circular in shape, and just 25km across. It has an altogether different feel to the larger islands and is not for everyone.
The migrant community on the island is on the small side, and adapting to life on La Gomera is not for the faint-hearted. However, it has its charms.
Blogger Alison Chino explains, “Valle Gran Rey, where amazing hillsides of palm trees and man-made terraces guard the way down to the ocean, where there is a small, neat resort, the word old-fashioned comes to mind. The swimming is safe and great there, unlike some of the other rocky places with strong currents around the island. The island really is a series of what must once have been hidden valleys.”
Buying Property in La Gomera
Houses, villas, apartments and even land are amongst the gems for sale in La Gomera – although it should be noted that properties do not come up that often.
Very good-sized plots of land do come up for sale and could offer an investment opportunity to the right person. However, at €750,000 for 6243m2, even in a prime location, it certainly doesn’t come cheap.
A 4-bedroom villa in San Sebastien, however, will set you back a very reasonable €330,000. Or you could purchase a 5-bedroom villa in Villahermosa in need of a fair bit of updating for just €110,00.
Healthcare in La Gomera
The island has a medical centre and a small hospital which can deal with some, but not all, medical emergencies. Patients requiring more complex treatment need to be airlifted to Tenerife, and this involves waiting for the helicopter to come out to La Gomera first, as it is stationed in Tenerife.
Pros of La Gomera
The island offers a complete escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. This is a dream location for those who love nature and are not afraid of working hard to become part of a small community. Property bargains are available.
Cons of La Gomera
The lack of medical facilities for people with complex conditions makes the island a less-than-ideal location for most people.
7: El Hierro – Best for quiet and tranquillity
Nicknamed Isla del Meridiano, El Hierro is the farthest of the Canary Islands to the South and West. It is also the second smallest, with a population of just under 11,000. The island is known for its diving and its tranquil surroundings. It isn’t for everyone, and there are very few Brits living here, but for those who seek peace and solitude, this is the location.
To quote Bob, a Brit living there:
“We like the island very much for its splendid isolation and tranquillity, the smiling local people, and our South American neighbours.”
Healthcare and shops in El Hierro
There is a small hospital in El Hierro that offers a range of more basic services and more specialised treatment. There are several doctors in El Hierro for day-to-day medical requirements and the majority of the shops, which are mostly small supermarkets and food shops, are located in Valverde, as are the schools, of which there are just a few.
Buying property in Tenerife
Villa de Valverde, Las Puntas and Frontera are the most popular parts of the island to live in. Properties here are predominantly townhouses, and they vary quite significantly in price, with the more traditional style of older houses in Frontera with 3 bedrooms costing around €159,000. Three-bedroomed apartments in a complex in Valverde come in at closer to the €184,000 mark. There are some very cheap properties to be had here that need renovation, as well as some with much higher price tags.
Pros of living in El Hierro
The island is small and easy to get around, peaceful and perfect for those who love the quiet outdoor life and speak Spanish well. It has the basic amenities needed for those in good health to enjoy life.
Cons of living in El Hierro
The expat community is almost non-existent so, if you want that support, you will not necessarily find it here. For larger schools and more complex healthcare, you will need to consider travelling to other islands and possibly residential schools.
8: La Graciosa – Best for day trips or weekend breaks!
A volcanic island, La Graciosa is around 29 square kilometres. There are only two villages on this, the smallest of the Canary Islands. The island’s population is approximately 700 people, and its economy is predominately based on tourism and fishing.
There are no paved roads, but there are plenty of bike paths, isolated mountains and secluded beaches. For some people, this might be the dream location however, as a relocation destination, it certainly won’t be for everyone.
Buying property in La Graciosa
Caleta del Sebo is the island’s port where the ferries from Lanzarote dock. It is also the most populated of the two villages. Pedro Barba, the original settlement on the island, is the other one.
Those who live on the island can be found in one of these two villages. The rest of the island is predominantly rough terrain. Understandably there are not many houses for sale in La Graciosa; however, a finca (traditional cottage) with 4 bedrooms is likely to set you back around €300,000.
Shops, facilities and healthcare in La Graciosa
As you might expect with an island the size of La Graciosa, there are few shops, just 2 small supermarkets, a bakery and a DIY shop. There are also a couple of bars, restaurants and a small church.
Many of the local children attend school on Lanzarote as boarders and return home at the weekend. The island has an arrangement with Lanzarote with regard to healthcare. Doctors from the nearby island take it in turns to stay on La Graciosa for a month at a time to give basic medical care. More urgent medical cases are either airlifted to Lanzarote or met from the ferry with an ambulance.
Pros of La Graciosa
The advantage of living in La Graciosa Islands is that it is peaceful, and there is very little pollution.
Cons of La Graciosa
Purchasing property could be difficult. There is limited schooling, healthcare, shopping and other facilities. Employment on the island is very limited. This is, therefore, not a location that will suit many of those looking to relocate.
Moving to the Canary Islands
Each Canary Island will have its advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to do your research, however, you will be sure to find an island to suit you whether you have a young family, are retiring or want to be close to the nightlife. We hope this has helped you find the best place to buy property in the Canary Islands. But to find the best place to live in the Canary Islands is to jump on an aeroplane and experience the islands for yourself.
One good thing about moving to the Canary Islands is that they are so popular with British migrants, expats and property buyers that you are not short of relocation and removal services. In fact, container shipping and removal services to the major islands such as Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote are very frequent and quite cost effective.
If you would like to receive information about moving to the Canary Islands, visit our removals page to start the process of moving your personal belongings. As experts in the international removals industry, we provide support throughout the process including assistance with documentation and customs clearance.
If you need help with your property search, A Place in the Sun has properties for sale whether you are on a budget or looking for a luxury home. Their exhibition will also help with your search for a property.