Our retiring to Fuerteventura story

My wife, Sue, and I sold up in the UK before retiring to Fuerteventura in 2013. We chose to live in the north of Fuerteventura as that was the area we knew best and, obviously like.

This is the full story of why, where, when and how we retired here.

Retiring in the Canary Islands to Fuerteventura

Why Fuerteventura?

We started coming for holidays in Fuerteventura in the mid-1990s. This was largely because I had been once some years before and knew the winter weather was lovely. We used to come most years for a week to escape the awful UK winter weather, apart from taking the occasional cruise.

Retiring in the Canary Islands to Fuerteventura
Sue and I in Corralejo, Fuerteventura in 2004

The next year we would look at holiday brochures to choose somewhere different to go but usually ended up agreeing to come back here as we knew we would enjoy it.

For a number of years we stayed in various places in Corralejo and usually had the odd day trip over to El Cotillo.

In 2007 we had our first holiday actually staying in El Cotillo – in a one-bedroom apartment right on the beach. We really enjoyed the chilled atmosphere of El Cotillo.

Our honeymoon in El Cotillo

After living together for 17 years, we finally got married in 2008. We came to Fuerteventura, of course, and stayed in El Cotillo for three weeks on honeymoon, never dreaming that one day we would be retiring to Fuerteventura.

We stayed in a lovely apartment in El Cotillo, overlooking the lagoons and the beaches. During that stay, we fell in love with El Cotillo, making many friends that are still friends today.

Two days from the end of our honeymoon we went for a walk and happened to look in an estate agent’s window. That was it, the idea came into our heads that we wanted an apartment there ourselves. By the following day we had chosen one and made all the arrangements to buy it. Well we like to take our time and think things through thoroughly before we commit ourselves!

Deciding to retire in Fuerteventura

We began spending more and more time here. We both ran our own businesses. Sue was able to not take any training bookings for a couple of months over winter and, as I had staff in my office, and I worked from home most of the time anyway, I was able to work anywhere provided I had my laptop and an internet connection.

We therefore started spending from just before Christmas to the end of February in the sun, and even longer some times. Plus we got away to our apartment whenever we could at other times of the year.

I think at that point we both knew that retiring to Fuerteventura was what we wanted to do eventually. Sue was actually ready to do it a year or so before me.

What finally did it for me was returning to the UK at the end of February 2012. The weather was amazing for February and I actually spent 3 or 4 days in the garden sorting it out. It then rained for over two months and that was it. I said “Let’s sell up and go!” – decision made, the countdown to retiring in the Canary Islands had started.

That was in May 2012 so by the time we got the house ready to sell, accepted an offer and then completed the sale it was the beginning of February 2013.

Achieving our goal of retiring to Fuerteventura

After getting some quotes, we decided to take much of our furniture with us, as well as personal items.  The cost was less than expected and certainly cheaper than buying new once here. This ended up being 133 separate boxes and items. We used a company based in Fuerteventura, run by an English couple, to organise all of the transport. Annette at Woodside Cargo SL couldn’t have been more helpful.

We had lived in that house in Northamptonshire for 11 years, so we spent weeks clearing out all the rubbish we had accumulated over the years. Where does it all come from?

I made 23 full car load trips to the local recycling centre. We also sold things we didn’t need on Ebay and gave some things to charity shops.

Fortunately, when we moved in, I made the decision to only put suitcases and Christmas decorations in the loft. That was because when we moved out of our previous house everything that came out of the loft, apart from those two items, went straight to the tip.

Packing up our life

It all took much longer than expected, even though we started weeks before we were due to leave. Every box and item of furniture had to be numbered. Then it had to be entered on a manifest, together with a description of the contents and the dimensions.

Expats in Spain - Retirement in the sun
Sue on our last full day in the UK, staying in a hotel near Bristol Airport

We began to run out of time.  By midnight, the day before everything was being collected, we had hardly started packing up the garage contents. Sue helped until 1am then went to bed and I ended up in there all night to get everything done. It was pretty chilly in there I must admit.

A large removal lorry arrived at 7am, with two strong guys, who started loading up just as it started snowing. The UK weather was having its last laugh! Eventually everything was loaded and off it went to to be packed into a shipping container. We cleaned through the house and dropped the keys off at the estate agents. Then we were off to a hotel near Bristol airport for two nights before our flight. As we had sold our cars I had hired one locally but with a drop-off at Bristol airport.

We become expats in Fuerteventura finally

Expats in Spain - Retirement in the sun
Oscar on his “Gotcha” day

So we arrived in Fuerteventura late afternoon and went straight to our apartment. We immediately felt like we were at home. Admittedly, having the apartment already made retiring to Fuerteventura easier. We settled into life here quite easily over the next few weeks. Having said that, it did feel for a while like we were on holiday rather than living here permanently.

Sue started volunteering at the dog pound in La Oliva once a week to help make the life of the poor dogs there a bit more enjoyable. On the third week she told me that a lovely little black and we dog had been found as a stray so was in the shelter. The next week he was still there and again the following week. That meant his 3 weeks were coming to an end so he would be put down. So, on his last day, ironically April 1st, we went and adopted him. Sue called him Oscar.

We always knew that we would adopt a dog once we were settled but the plan was to wait until we had bought a house. Having a dog in an apartment is not ideal. Every time he needed to go for a pee it meant I had to take him for a walk. That was 6 or 7 times a day. He also woke up and wanted to go out when it started to get light. I am definitely NOT a morning person but I saw more sunrises during that period than I have ever seen, or wanted to see, in my life.

Buying a house in Fuerteventura

We started house hunting, fuelled by the need to get a garden for Oscar. We would have liked to live in El Cotillo but there are no houses with gardens, only apartments and village street houses.

With hindsight, we could have made quite a lot of money out of buying bank repossessed property. There was a new development of 3-bed semi-detached town houses in Corralejo which were selling for just 75,000€ by the bank. We could have bought three – living in one and renting the other two out. They are now selling for 225,000€ each!

Buyer Beware

Our preferred location was Lajares and eventually we found a new detached villa we liked in a small development. We agreed a price and started the process of buying. The owners then informed us that they had decided to keep the one we wanted but we could have another one right by the road for the same price. This wasn’t worth as much as the one we wanted as it was overlooked, which the other wasn’t. Then, when we were trying to decide what to do, I found out from another source that the sellers were trying to sell that villa to someone else for more. I told the sellers that they were crooks, and where to stick their villa, and we started looking again.

We couldn’t find anything else that we liked, or could afford, in Lajares so we looked elsewhere. We found our current house in La Oliva, put in an offer and moved in in September 2013. It needed plenty of upgrading as it hadn’t been particularly well looked after but it had a good swimming pool and a large garden with trees.

retiring in the canary islands
Our swimming pool

We have done quite a bit of house remodelling since. This has included knocking down a wall to make the kitchen bigger, a new kitchen, both bathrooms remodelled, built a garage and lots more. You can see some of what we have done in this post – our house remodel.

Some buying advice with the benefit of hindsight

Unlike in the UK, the housing market in Fuerteventura, and Spain in general, is not very buoyant. The main reason for that I think is that to move from one house to another is very expensive. For example if we wanted to sell our house in La Oliva and buy one in Lajares for exactly the same price. If the house was worth 300,000€, then it would cost around 60,000€ in taxes, estate agents fees, stamp duty etc. That is roughly 8% in selling costs and 11% in buying costs.

So my advice would be, if possible, to rent first, preferably in the area you want to buy. Don’t just buy a property without really considering it carefully first. We actually looked for a villa to rent for a year in Lajares after our purchase fell through but there were none available so we bought this one.

Just to show how “lucky” I am when it comes to finances, if we had rented for a year first, and then bought, we would have had an extra 50,000€ to spend because the exchange rate changed substantially in that year. That is, unfortunately, the story of my life though.

Retiring to Fuerteventura Youtube video

You can now watch our retiring to Fuerteventura story on Youtube:

You may find this book useful if you are considering retiring in the Canary Islands:

Moving Abroad Quote

“I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike
wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost
everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read
anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.”
– Bill Bryson

If you are thinking of retiring to Fuerteventura as we have done feel free to ask any questions. I will try to help if I can.

Other articles you may find useful:

Read the articles on the cost of living in Fuerteventura

Hiring a car in Fuerteventura

Driving in Fuerteventura

8 thoughts on “Our retiring to Fuerteventura story”

  1. sorry not very computer savvy but we spend a lot of time in Fuerturventura and love this place. we also at home in the uk have adopted podencos and have an interest in how there plight is dealt with on the island. additionally one of our main reasons for visiting is my husband loves fishing so we are always looking for more experiences from other people thank you

    • Hi Liz, A friend of ours in the UK has recently adopted a Podenco and is doing well in agility with her. I bought fishing gear here three years ago but so far have never used it. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Hello, we are fairly certain we will be retiring early (mid 50s) to Furtaventura in 2018. We have spent a month at a time there for several years and will be coming for 3 months before we sell up and move. Currently looking at costs. For example purchasing costs involved, tax as residents and selling costs and capital gains cost should we decide to return at some point in our later years. I would be grateful if you could offer any advice on any of the above. Really enjoying your youtube channel. We only found it last week and subscribed (mdad hdad), and look forward to future videos in 2017. Happy New Year to you both.

    Mark and Mary

    • Hi Mark and Mary. Happy new year to you too. Sorry for the delay in responding but I have only just noticed your comment. I have had 215 comments so far – 211 have been spam and only 4 real ones. I will try and point you in the right direction regarding property costs in an email if that is ok. John

  3. Hi JP we are planning to retire in summer 2019 to fuerteventura having looked at your vlogs. We are following you and your videos have helped make up our minds. We are planning a week visit in may this year 2017. We have so many questions and wondered if we could meet up over a coffee somewhere? I know it’s a bit of a bold proposition but we are pretty similar in age and lifestyle terms. Karen has a Facebook page Karen Purnell which you can check out as she is following you. If you could take the time to email us we would really appreciate it or pm her on Facebook. Many thanks and hope we can arrange a get together in May. John Purnell

  4. Truly inspiring.
    Came to your youtube channel as i travel jan19 first time to Canares.
    And yep i also think of – why not live on an island where its warmer and less rain and grey skies.
    But lets stay realistic – depends on money, continuous cash flow as there will be no work for me.
    Sure with laptop i can also work “anywhere”, depends on business you run, if its sustainable plan or not.
    At the moment, my “realistic” way to go is – working in germany, and one month go on trips to places i have never been, as that makes me happy, i live all the time in “here and now”, walk on streets i have never walked before. Exciting, and some kind of “change to the normal allday busy life”.

    And later – lets see, if i find realistic ways, to stay there, buy a house, for me even a tiny house would be OK, i dont like big houses and dont need them.

    Thanks for sharing your expirence, i enjoy the read. 🙂

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