The thought of living in Fuerteventura can be very appealing. The thought of days and days of sunshine; a more relaxed way of living; sitting out in the evening; not having to wear a coat, etc. However, in reality things can be more difficult, and living in Fuerteventura may not suit everyone. It is not easy to live here, as evidenced by the large turnover of people who have tried to live here but have moved back again. People return to their country of origin for various reasons, with the most common being not able to survive financially and missing family and friends. Running a business on Fuerteventura is difficult because of the high cost of being self-employed and high rents charged by premises owners. Managing to get a job with a contract is difficult for people who are not fluent Spanish speakers, as the unemployment rate is about 35%.
Make sure that you research everything thoroughly before moving here or buying a property here – think about renting/buying a property, living on a pension/working for a living, etc
You need to embrace the culture – get involved in what is going on and integrate with the local population. This will involve trying not to speak English all the time. Try and learn as much of the Spanish language as possible. It will help you communicate with people in public offices, read information in newspapers and on the internet, and be able to speak to people in your community.
3. Dealing with Bureaucracy
Fuerteventura bureaucracy will mean that you will need all your paperwork, and photocopies of it, in all dealings with public offices despite the existence of computers. It is almost a definite bet, that you will be one piece of paper short, or you’ll need to get a photocopy. Nearly all public offices will require you to make an appointment in advance – this can be done online or by phone. It is always best to take someone with you who can speak Spanish – you will get on better, and they’ll be able to help you with the minor details and more complicated language.
Punctuality is not something that is considered important, but when you are used to being on time or expect people to be on time, then it can be frustrating or annoying. Everything seems to take time to do, so you have to be prepared for things to be done at some time in the future, rather than today!
Be prepared for concerts, Carnival events and local Fiestas to start at a time when you would normally be thinking of going to bed. They won’t start until between 10pm and midnight, and might not finish until 5am.
Try to avoid going to banks, post offices and other offices (where you don’t need an appointment) at busy times – usually when they’ve just opened. There’s usually only one cashier on duty and they’ll be dealing with a long queue of people who will all need to be at the desk for at least 10 minutes. It’s very frustrating!
Try not to schedule too many visits to public offices in one morning – and remember they’ll all be closed by 2pm. Time soon goes while you are queuing or waiting for your appointment.
Children are welcomed everywhere, so you will find young people in bars and restaurants with their parents or with friends. Children don’t go to bed until much later than children in the UK. Schools close for about 12 weeks in the Summer.
Remember the driving laws – keep to the speed limits and don’t drink and drive. There are lots of police about on the island (more than you’ll ever see in the UK) and they set up check points to check documents, seat belts, tyres, etc. Unmarked cars are also used to stop speeding. No-one wants a large fine, even if you get a reduction if you pay promptly.
7. Not a Lot Happens
Unless you go looking for things to do, then not a lot happens on the island. Many events are not advertised until very late, so you need to keep your eyes open on the internet etc. Some people can’t get used to the fact that entertainment and cultural events are limited, and that they are in Spanish.
8. Get Registered
If you own a property, register with the local Ayuntamiento so that you go on the padron (s that the council gets money from central government to help pay for services) and on the electoral register. You have to pay an annual house tax (IBI) and a bin tax. If you own a car then you also pay them an annual car tax. If you stay here for longer than 6 months then apply for Residencia at the police station in Puerto del Rosario. The main advantage will be that you qualify for Residents discount at some tourist attractions and you will get a 50% discount on all trips to Spain and the other Canary Islands. Make sure that you register with a doctor just in case you need treatment.
9. It’s Different
Remember that this is Spain, this is Fuerteventura, and, therefore you cannot apply British values and procedures here. It is very easy to say, ‘yes, but in England they do this or that’, but things are different despite being part of the EEC. Some people say that living in Fuerteventura is like living in Britain as it used to be, with less rules and regulations.
10. Try To Remember Why You Came Here
It is quite easy to forget, after living here for some time, what made you move to Fuerteventura in the first place. It is important, therefore, to remember the reasons why you initially made the big move.