So many people seem to think that the life of an expat here in Fuerteventura is just one big holiday. If only that were the case.
What most people overlook is that once you live somewhere, as opposed to coming on holiday, life takes over. We have to do the shopping, do housework, do the washing, walk the dogs, and, in our case, turnaround our rental apartment.
When we came here on holiday for a week or two we ate out most nights. We spent most days on the beach. But of course, the life of an expat can’t be like that.
The “dream” sequence: By the way, Jenny Agutter has always been a favourite of mine. In 1973, when I was 18, I was just coming out of a station in London. As I exited I, literally, bumped into the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. We smiled at each other, said “Sorry” and immediately fell in love. I didn’t know who she was but as she walked away I heard someone next to me say “That was Jenny Agutter”. She was about 19 at the time. Unfortunately, it was only one-way unrequited love it seems as she hasn’t tried to find me as far as I know – but I still live in hope!
If you are an ex-pat, let me know if your life is one long holiday in the comments below.
I have been having learning Spanish in one-to-one lessons for a couple of years now. The biggest problem I have is that I don’t get much chance to actually practice speaking Spanish. This is rather sad when you consider that I live in a Spanish speaking place.
Although I don’t live in a predominately expat area I still don’t have any Spanish friends that I can practice speaking with. And speaking it is the key really. You can learn as much of the theory as you like but unless you can practice it doesn’t really help.
I can understand quite a bit of Spanish. If I listen to someone’s conversation, or the radio, then I can usually get the gist of it as you don’t need to know every word. But speaking Spanish is a different matter. You can’t just say a few words to be understood but need all the words to make sense.
My Spanish teacher is Sally who is based in Corralejo – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1425068397797916/
Another in the series of “JP drones on about something” videos. Watch in Youtube.
Where to live in Fuerteventura – La Oliva Fuerteventura
The most often question I get asked when people contact me is “Where do you live in Fuerteventura?” As most people never visit La Oliva when they come to Fuerteventura I thought I would do a video on what there is here to see and what facilities there are.
Frankly, it is not the most exciting place in the world to live. There are few places to eat or drink, and what bars there are really have little to recommend them. Having said that, the centre is ok and it is quite nice having a coffee at the kiosk in the church square (plaza del Iglesia).
Where to live in Fuerteventura was an easy one for us. We would have preferred to live in El Cotillo but there are only apartments there and we wanted a house (as we have dogs). Our second choice was Lajares, which I still like, but the houses are more expensive there. So we ended up in La Oliva.
Over the past few months various online expat magazines have featured expat interviews with me. These have mainly been about what moving and living abroad has been like for us. I thought I would give a few links to them here should anyone be interested in looking at them.
Absolutely not! When we decided to retire to Fuerteventura, as far as I am concerned, luck had nothing whatsoever to do with it. Sue and I decided that we wanted to retire in Fuerteventura, so we worked towards that.
I always say that if it was down to luck, with my luck, I would be living somewhere awful and would certainly not be living in the Canary Islands.
Almost anyone can retire to Fuerteventura, or anywhere else, if they really want to. Whether you want to retire in Fuerteventura, elsewhere in the Canary Islands or in mainland Spain then go for it. Don’t put obstacles in the way that don’t really exist.
That is the cry we hear most often as a reason people say they can’t retire here. “I couldn’t be away from the grandchildren for long periods” or “What if my daughter was ill? Who would look after the grandchildren then?” Well you make your choice and live with it. If you choose to stay in the UK to be closer to family then that is your choice – luck has nothing to do with that either.
The couple we bought our house from loved their life here. They had children and grandchildren in the UK. One of their daughters then decided she wanted to go back to work rather than stay at home to look after the kids. She rang her parents who quickly agreed to sell up and move back to be unpaid child-minders so she could go back to work. To use the vernacular, WTF is that about? Stupid them in my opinion but perhaps they deserved it for raising such a selfish daughter in the first place!
What about Brexit?
This is obviously a new excuse people are using. No-one wants to commit to moving to Spain because they are afraid of what may happen. So they will wait yet another 2 years or more to make a decision, which means they are two years older so even less likely to make the move. Life is too short to sit around waiting for “what ifs“, in my opinion anyway. That way you never do anything. When the UK comes out of the EU then you may lose your right to live anywhere else in the EU. However, if you are already there, and legally residents, it is highly unlikely that you will be sent packing. So perhaps now is definitely the time to move to Spain, or wherever, before it is too late!
Here I give my top 5 reasons for choosing to live in Fuerteventura which I thought might be useful for anyone considering doing the same.
It would be hard for this to not be my number one on my list of top 5 reasons to live here, particularly having lived in the UK for the first 58 years of my life. It is an ideal climate in my opinion. The are very few extremes in temperature – generally never ridiculously hot in the summer, as it often is in southern Spain, and never colder than 15-16C during the day in the winter, and more often in the low 20s.
We get perhaps 9-10 days of rain a year, mainly in the winter. In fact, it rains so infrequently that I actually enjoy seeing the rain here – a stark contrast to living in the UK.
Having such a wonderful climate means that I can live a much more outdoor lifestyle all year around than I would be able to had I retired in the UK. Even in the depths of winter it doesn’t get dark until around 6pm. Having a phobia about early mornings I couldn’t tell you what time is sunrise – whatever they are.
We have been here for 3 years now and I have only worn shorts. Although some of my friends that have been here many years now dress like the locals in winter with jeans, jumpers and coats I think that is something I will never do. Sue thinks my thermostat has broken!
2. Cost of living
Not everything is cheap here as pretty much everything needs to be imported but having said that there is little that is much more expensive.
A few examples.
Local council tax – I pay a little more per year here than I used to pay per month in the UK. The streets are lit at night, the rubbish/garbage is collected, the roads are repaired and every year I can go to the local council nursery and pick up 20 free plants for the garden!
Petrol /gas – this is 40-45% cheaper here than in the UK (although a bit more than in the US).
I don’t smoke or drink but cigarettes are about 75% cheaper and alcohol is 50% cheaper than in the UK. The cost of a drink in a bar here is much cheaper than in a UK pub and the measures for spirits are at least twice as large.
It is certainly possible to live in Fuerteventura cheaply that is for sure.
Fuerteventura’s landscape is a bit like Marmite – you either love it or you hate it. When I first brought Sue here for a holiday, about 20 years ago, she thought I had brought her to the Moon as it seemed very barren. But the more we came the more she started to love it.
So much of it is unspoilt and it includes plains, mountains, volcanoes, secluded valleys, sand dunes and lots more. There are many beautiful unspoilt beaches. They have miles of lovely golden sand and clear water. Along with the climate, the beaches was one of the main things which drew us here for holidays initially.
The island is a Mecca for surfers, wind-surfers and kite boarders. They hold some rounds of various World Championships for these here too.
Although I spent many years wearing a suit and tie for work I have never really liked dressing up. Well living here means I never have to as I can wear shorts and a t-shirt all year rond. Even if we go out to eat, or whatever, then shorts are an acceptable form of dress in all but a few places. And I wouldn’t eat in those anyway!
The Canarians are generally a very polite, friendly people. If you walk down the road almost everyone you meet will say hello, good morning, good evening etc. Ex-pats have actually chosen to live here so I think that makes them happier than they would be in their native countries. Holiday-makers are the other main group here and they are on holiday so naturally they are happy.
Also, coming back to the climate, I think it is noticeable in the UK, for example, that when the sun shines people are noticeably more cheerful. As it shines most of the time here that has a more permanent effect.
The island also has a very low crime rate. It is rare to hear about any serious crime here I am pleased to say.
If you have a different list of reasons why you like to live in Fuerteventura then please let me know in the comments.
Shattered Dreams – Villa Charlotte, Aguas Verdes, Fuerteventura
This villa is a very sad sight and represents a family’s shattered dreams. It is in a wonderful position with amazing coastal views but that may have been its downfall. It was lived in, and probably built by, an English family, possibly from the Liverpool area. It may be that, although they had planning permission to build the villa initially, the planning permission was subsequently taken away. Unfortunately this happens here when different mayors or other politicians are elected and they change decisions that their predecessors have made.
When it was first abandoned it was virtually complete but over the past few years it has been looted, the windows have been stolen and it has fallen further into disrepair. There are still signs of the family that lived there, particularly some of the children’s books and toys, which makes it all the more sad to see.
There are two more villas next door. One was almost completed (Villa Sean) but the other one only reached the shell stage.
If anyone knows any of the history of Villa Charlotte please either leave a comment or send me a message.
It isn’t that often I find something negative to say about living here but the internet access in Fuerteventura is an exception.
I needed to upload my next video to Youtube last night. After compressing the file to be as small as possible it ended up as a 400Mb file. I started the upload to Youtube and it said it would take 6 hours. I left it to run and then, 4 hours later, I checked it. It had uploaded only 12% and it said it would take another 20 hours to finish uploading! I have had to stop it and need to think again. There must be a way to get a faster service.
In the UK I would be getting around 200mbs download and at least 20mbs upload speeds. Here, for much more than I would be paying in the UK, I get around 4.5 to 5.5mbs download and 0.15mbs upload speeds. It is positively stone age. In fact, I think Fred Flintstone got better speeds than that in Bedrock.
Oh for fast internet access again. Is that too much to ask for in this day and age? Wake up Fuerteventura – this is the 21st century.
Update on internet access in Fuerteventura
May 2018: Miracles may, just possibly, happen. We are on a waiting list to have fibre optic internet installed. We will have 50mbps initially at a cost of 39.95€ per month and can increase that to 300mbps afterwards for an additional 5€ per month.
I have heard there is a delay (so no surprise there then) and I will believe it when I see it quite frankly. If it is then I will have to eat my words that we will get fibre optic internet access in Fuerteventura when Hell freezes over!
Many people I know, who are still in the UK, think that I have an easy life here in Fuerteventura. Well I thought a video was well overdue to dispel that myth and show how tough life here really is. Honestly, it is really tough! Why won’t anyone believe me?
Retirement in the sun is hard work!!!!!
The hot tub was on the top sun terrace of our apartment when we bought it on our honeymoon 7 years ago. When we moved here full time we lived in the apartment for the first 7 months until we bought this house. As we decided to keep the apartment, and rent it out, it didn’t make sense to leave it to have it moved here.
What a difference between the UK and here
Just a little aside, which sums up one of the differences between living in the UK and living here in Fuerteventura. We had a hot tub at our house in the UK but decided to sell it prior to putting the house on the market. I thought that, rather than getting some friends around to man-handle it back around the side of the house, I would get a quote from a crane company. The cheapest quote I had was £500 (700€/$750) just to lift it over the house and leave it in the drive, and that was before they did a site survey which might have resulted in the price going up. The crane guy here (Miguel) lifted it from 3 floors up, off of our sun terrace, put it on the back of his truck, drove it 8 miles to our house and then lifted it over the house into the rear garden. The cost – 70€ (£50/$75)!!! Some difference.