As an expat, I am often asked, “Do you like living in Tenerife?” and “What do you like about it?”
Having been here for 9 years as of 1st September last, I guess the answer to the first question is Yup we love it and have never for one minute regretted our decision to move here.
To answer the second question, is a little more difficult because there are just so many things to like about Tenerife it is hard to know where to start. In no particular order, I have listed some of the reasons why we like it here but I am sure there are loads I have missed.
High on the list has to be the climate. Tenerife is on the same latitude as Florida, which means almost year round sunshine without the humidity. The sun shines most days however, the past couple of years I have noticed the winter months haven´t been as hot as when we first moved here. Perhaps weather is changing everywhere or maybe we have acclimatised. I used to think it strange seeing locals wearing knee-high boots and jeans but come December I now find I am doing the same. I like the fact that you can spend so much time outside, plan ahead for a barbeque and not fear it will be spoilt by inclement weather. I also like knowing that within a couple of hours my washing will be dry. For me there is absolutely nothing better than the sweet smell of sun dried cloths fresh off the line. But weather around the island does vary – I didn´t realise just how much until I started adding the daily webcam images to Queenie’s blog. I received a complaint about the number of cloudy days in Puerto during the summer as if I was in charge of weather!
And at certain times of the year, the north is cooler and damper, but having specific seasons of the years reminds many of the UK so for some, the north is an ideal home from home.
As a pensioner cost of living is important. I mostly buy local produce, picking over fruit and vegetables and choosing just the amount I need rather than having to have a large bag, which could go to waste. I also shop in Spanish/Canarian supermarkets in local towns. I am frequently amazed at how much I get for so little and equally amazed at how much I have to pay for far less when I return to the UK on holiday. Neither of us drink, I occasionally have a cigarette but a pack of 200 lasts me several months however we both like eating out, and again this is not expensive. Add to this no heating bills, low petrol costs plus our favourite perk resident’s allowances, which we frequently use for cheap travel and we feel we have died and gone to heaven!
Healthcare here is amazing, I have never in my life experienced such good health care. Being a pensioners we have access to free medical treatment exactly as we would in the UK. Fortunately, to date we have had no need to try this out. We also for a very small fee use a private doctor for annual routine check-ups, blood tests etc. before I moved here, “cholesterol” was a word that had no meaning. Now, I know exactly what levels of each cholesterol I have, what they should be and if I need to take any dietary steps to counteract.
On the topic of food, many seem to think the south of the island is nothing but full English breakfasts and anything with chips. Of course, these are easy to find for those who want them but just as easy for the more adventurous are restaurants serving not only Canarian and Spanish food but also Thai, Indian, French, Moroccan, Lebanese, Chinese, German, Italian, Mexican and Japanese. Add to these the numerous restaurants in the fishing villages of the south that serve the freshest seafood at incredible prices and you have a mouth-watering feast to suit anyone’s taste and pocket. And for those who like a tipple with their meal, there is a wide choice of local wines.
I’m not sure whether my next point is a good or a bad thing. With so many Brits living on the island one of the good things for me is that I can always find English newspapers and books and of course TV. Also on the odd occasion when I fancy something typically British I can easily lay my hands on a bar of Cadbury fruit and nut chocolate.
The bad side of this is it is all too easy, which makes us lazy at learning the language and we forget that sticking to our ‘own’ we miss so much of the real Tenerife that is all around us. When we take the time to utter even the odd word we find people in general seem so much more open, or helpful, or just more willing to talk. I have read numerous times, of how serious and officious public service workers are but we have never ever experienced this. I will concede that paperwork here is daunting at times, but the more you do it, the less unusual it seems. I am convinced it is how you approach the situation that is secret. If you think you are going to have a hard time you probably give off an air of aggression and if you appear more relaxed the typical Tinerfeños reciprocates as they are used to this slower laid back pace of life.
I like the fact that Sunday is still a ‘Family Day’, and reminds me of the UK in the 50s and 60s. Every village regularly has a fiesta where you can experience the true culture of the island surrounded by folks in traditional dress who are happy to hand out food and drink to all – yet even at Carnival where thousands gather, you rarely see anyone the worse for wear or causing trouble. Staying with culture we want for nothing – we have our fair share of opera, jazz, ballet and concerts from the latest pop icon of the day. Sometimes we have to visit Santa Cruz to see these but it is only 40 minutes and the parking is easy and free. Other times they are on our doorstep in the southern resorts where the venues are second to none.
The scenery is diverse, I find the contrasts here amazing. You want sun, you can have it, you want cloud, you can have it, you want green, you want grey, you want forest, you want lunar landscapes or tropical beaches you can have it – they are all here and should we tire of all this and feel like a break – the UK is a short flight away.
I really can´t think of a more perfect place to live. To me home really is where the heart is not the place we come from and Tenerife is where we call home and our hearts are definitely here. Even after all the years of living here the island still holds as much charm as it did in the beginning and I never want to live anywhere else.