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It is said that hindsight is a wonderful thing – and how true! Second best is advice from someone who´s been there – here are the next in my tips for relocating to Lanzarote.
Obviously this only applies to people who need to work, and if you don´t have transferable skills (hairdressing, nursing, teaching etc.) be prepared to do ANYTHING. I left behind a good management position when we moved and there is no call here for the work I did in the UK. I´ve already written about the importance of learning the language and this will help your prospects no end. However, if you can´t or don´t want to speak the language then you will probably find work in bars, shops or restaurants or cleaning holiday villas (there´s a lot of call for that out here!) I taught English to Spanish speakers when I first moved here and I enjoyed that, but the work is spasmodic unless you live near the main schools in Arrecife or Puerto del Carmen. The work factor was a critical one for me in settling here; I´m not content staying at home. I like the stimulation of work, being with people and taking on new challenges. I´m one of the lucky ones – I´ve found a job I love and it has been one of the biggest factors in adjusting to life here.
If there´s one single thing that got me to where I am now, it´s this rather back to front saying that we adopted soon after we got here. Lanzarote has a lot to offer, therefore take it and “aproveche” – enjoy it! We had great fun finding favourite places to eat out, finding excuses to celebrate (sometimes just because it´s Thursday!) – who needs an excuse when you live in such a beautiful place. As the saying goes, take time to smell the roses. Here, I´d say take time to look at the views, the sunsets, the blue sea and the palm trees.
This leads quite nicely on to my next tip - Be a tourist once in a while. How many of us truly appreciate the place where we live? Not many - we become so used to living somewhere and taking all the great opportunities for granted that we miss out big time. One of the great things about living here is having friends and family over for holidays (inevitable but lovely!) and seeing the sights through their eyes. Lanzarote has so much to offer by way of beautiful beaches and countryside, but also has a fantastic cultural scene too.
The artist Cesar Manrique has given this island an amazing legacy, not least the ruling that outlaws very tall structures, so the island is quite different from the other Canaries, with its clusters of low rise, white buildings with either blue or green window frames and shutters. Manrique´s work can be seen throughout the island, particularly in the north and I think to appreciate Lanzarote fully one must take in at least a couple of trips to his inspired attractions (my particular favourites are Jameos del Agua and The Cesar Manrique Foundation). Not only that, but as a resident here you can get in for very little cost! Last time we took friends to the aforementioned Jameos del Agua they shelled out 8 euros each to get in while it cost us the princely sum of 1 euro each!
Being a tourist includes visiting the other islands too. I´m determined to visit all seven (eight if you count La Graciosa as well), but have only managed Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria so far. Again, the advantage of being a resident is the cheap travel to the other islands and mainland Spain – about half price normally. More than once my husband and I have flown to Madrid for a long weekend for 25 euros per person each way – more than the train fare was in the UK if we fancied a trip to the capital.
Get to know the different areas, especially if you have kids of school age. Decide just what you want your home for – is it just for you, in which case a smaller, low maintenance apartment might be just the job – or are you hoping to have an endless stream of family and friends from “home” come to visit? If the latter is true, then you will want somewhere bigger, probably with a garden and maybe a pool. Do your research – learn about the different plants that thrive here and remember that a swimming pool doesn´t look after itself – a weekly clean and top-up with chemicals is an absolute must. Any good estate agent will help you think through the process and advise on this and much more besides.
For us, the garden was a must and the pool a bonus. The garden has (mostly!) been a source of delight, once we´d learned which plants cope with the conditions peculiar to Lanzarote and how to best get rid of the dreaded geranium moth. The novelty of eating fresh figs and bananas from our own trees, or tomatoes that actually ripen in the strong Lanzarote sun (no more green tomato chutney!) hasn´t worn off yet. We´re still trying to master growing our own oranges, but I´m sure that will come in time, together with the avocados. Any advice gratefully received!