Living in the Canaries: costs, how to move, pros and cons

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Joel Fulleda

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We hear more and more talk about Italians who migrate to the Canary Islands: what is the cause of this migratory flow? Why do the Canaries represent, for many people, an attractive place that allows a dignified life? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
What is perhaps most surprising is the fact that it is not only young people or workers who choose the Canary Islands as their favorite place to establish their residence: also many Italian retirees set up a new home in this archipelago, once known mostly as a tourist destination.


  1. Cost of living: how much does it cost to live in the Canary Islands?
  2. Moving to the Canary Islands: the necessary documents
  3. What work to do in the Canary Islands and how to find it
  4. Living in the Canary Islands as an Italian retiree: all tax aspects
  5. Pros and cons: 5 reasons to say yes
  6. Pros and cons: 5 reasons to say no
  7. Tenerife, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura: how to choose where to move
  8. User questions and comments

Cost of living: how much does it cost to live in the Canary Islands?

It depends on the island you choose, but in general it is cheaper than in Italy. Let's say that with € 1.000 a month you can lead a good life. The VAT ranges from 4 to 7% and does not apply to basic necessities. Furthermore, thanks to a mild climate all year round, no heating costs are required.
However, it is fair to point out that it is not easy to live in the Canary Islands with odd jobs: to lead a dignified life, a fixed salary is required.
Let's see some items in detail:

  • Rentals: 85sqm furnished apartment from € 550,00 per month (in the "normal" area) to € 800,00 per month (in an expensive area), but inclusive of expenses (electricity, gas, condominium);
  • House purchase: on average from € 100.000 for a two-room apartment up to about € 300.000 for a 5-bedroom house or house. To these must be added the "Gastos de la sportiva", accessory purchase and sale costs which affect for about 10% and the income taxes if you are not resident in the Canaries (about 24%);
  • Health: free for the first 3 months by presenting the European Health Card (EHIC - simply the back of the Italian health card). After 3 months, you need private health insurance (from about € 40,00 to € 70,00 per month) or, for workers, the "social security" (about € 300,00 per month for self-employed persons and directors, for employees it varies according to the paycheck);
  • Internet: optical fiber about € 40,00 per month;
  • Petrol: about € 1,00 per liter
  • Fish dinner for 2: on average € 35,00
  • cigarettes: 1 pack of Marlboros around € 2,40

Moving to the Canary Islands: the necessary documents

To enter the Canary Islands you only need the Identity document valid for expatriation. The archipelago belongs administratively to Spain and therefore is part of the European Community. In this way it is possible to stay up to 3 months. Beyond 3 months, it is mandatory to apply for the NIE. (Número de Identificación de Extranjeros), a kind of tax code. Apply to the General Dirección de Policía y de la Guardia Civil, the Oficina de Extranjería or the Comisaría de Policía. A provisional one is issued for a further 3 months, at the end of which it is necessary to request the Green NIE, which is issued only if:

  • you have a job in the Canaries;
  • you have an activity in the Canaries;
  • you have at least € 6.000 in your current account plus health insurance.

The documents needed to work

For live and work in the Canaries, it is necessary to have the following documents and follow this procedure:

  1. Go to an Oficinas de Extranjeria to report your presence in the Canary Islands;
  2. Go to the Padròn Municipal for the empadronamiento, or the registration in the equivalent of the Italian registry;
  3. Apply for the NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero) at the Dirección General de Policía y de la Guardia Civil, the Oficina de Extranjería or the Comisaría de Policía;
  4. Request the Tarjeta de Segurida Social, presenting the NIE and a valid identification document. This is used both to pay contributions and to obtain pension, health care and any unemployment compensation in the Canary Islands;
  5. Register with AIRE within 90 days of the transfer.

What work to do in the Canary Islands and how to find it

Tourism is the main weapon of the Canary archipelago. So, everything that revolves around it is the main subject of job application: restaurants, bars, accommodation facilities. It must be said, however, that opening a restaurant or a bar is not always a good choice, both for the already great proposal present, and because all inclusive tourism has penalized the sector somewhat.
To understand which jobs can be the most "profitable", it is necessary to analyze the catchment area: retirees, lovers of surfing, trekking and outdoor activities, the so-called "digital nomads". Furthermore, technological and IT development has opened the doors to workers in this sector. Let's see, in the list, the most prosperous sectors for job seekers in the Canary Islands:

  • Real estate market
  • Social Health and Welfare Operators (OSS - OSA)
  • Science and Astrophysics
  • Surf instructors and hiking guides
  • Web Marketing, digital communication and telecommunications
  • Renewable energies
  • Audio visual sector (films, commercials)

Those who want to open a company and invest in the Canary Islands, will find the doors wide open: By investing at least € 100.000 in the main islands (Gran Canaria and Tenerife) or at least € 50.000 in the others, and by employing at least 5 "locales" (3 in the smaller islands), accesses the ZEC, the "Zona Especial Canaria ", with a tax of 4%. Virtually tax free.

How to find work

It is clear that the job will not fall into your arms, but at least 2 essential requirements are necessary to be able to find work in the Canary Islands:

  1. A good CV written in Spanish;
  2. Good knowledge of at least Spanish and English, in addition to Italian.

There are basically two solutions: go in person, or search online.
In the first case, at least a month of patrol is required to knock door to door in the reference activities. If the preferred sector is tourism, it is better to prefer the major islands such as Tenerife and Gran Canaria.
In the second case, there are a number of job posting sites and facebook pages / groups to keep an eye on:

  • Milanuncios
  • Quick Job
  • En busca de
  • Option Empleo
  • Liv Canary

Living in the Canary Islands as an Italian retiree: all tax aspects

For a retiree, live in the Canaries brings many benefits in economic and tax terms: in order to take advantage of the tax exemption of your pension, however, you must transfer your residence there. Let's see the 5 steps, point by point.

1 - Transfer of residence

To be able to establish your residence in the Canary Islands you must:

  1. register with the registry the foreign municipality in which you intend to go to live;
  2. register with AIRE (Italian Registry of Residents Abroad) within 90 days (this registration involves cancellation from the registry lists of the previous municipality of residence);
  3. apply for the NIE. (Número de Identificación de Extranjeros), a sort of tax code, at the Dirección General de Policía y de la Guardia Civil, the Oficina de Extranjería or the Comisaría de Policía.

2 - Difference between public and private pensions

It is good to have clear, in terms of tax exemption, the difference in treatment between those who receive a "public" pension (EX INPDAP pensions) and those who receive a "private" pension, from institutions such as INPS:

  • Former INPDAP public pensioners: even after a transfer of residence to the Canary Islands, taxes continue to be paid in Italy, as these pensions have a taxable amount that must be paid only to the State from which they come;
  • INPS pensioners: you can take advantage of the tax exemption, but you lose the right to family allowances, social allowances, civil invalidity;
  • In both cases: You can continue to take advantage of insurance for accidents at work, unemployment, sickness assistance and maternity assistance.

3 - Request the transfer of the pension

To know exactly how to request the transfer of your pension it is advisable to contact the institution that provides it directly. In principle, once the ok for the transfer of residence by the new municipality has been obtained, it is necessary to wait for 183 days by (Italian) law. After this period of time, the citizen must submit (the INPS allows you to do this electronically) the application for exemption from Italian tax.

4 - How tax exemption works

Once the specific application for exemption from the Italian tax has been submitted, the pension institution (for example INPS) sends the gross pension on which local taxes are calculated to the new country of origin, in this case the Canary Islands, lower than the Italian ones: the net pension that is received in the Canaries is on average about 15% higher than that received in Italy, due to the fact that in Italy the withholdings are around 27% while in the Canary Islands they amount to 13,5%. In short, if in Italy a net pension of € 1.500 per month was received, in the Canary Islands the amount rises to over € 1.700.

5 - Times to take advantage of the tax exemption

Tax exemption is not immediate, on the contrary, everything is regularized over a period of about 24 months, depending on the bureaucratic times. In the meantime, the pension undergoes double taxation, Italian and Spanish, with the Italian part recoverable by showing all the relevant documentation.

Pros and cons: 5 reasons to say yes

  1. Revenue authorities: the percentage of tax incidence on the activities is much lower than in Italy: we reason on estimates of about 70% for Italy and 35% for Tenerife. Those who pay taxes in the Canaries have the perception that they are making an honest payment, in exchange for a decent lifestyle;
  2. Weather: in the Canary Islands it is spring all year round! The average temperature is about 25 ° and the humidity is very low;
  3. Health: healthcare times are decidedly much more streamlined than in Italy, and moreover, with a few tens of euros it is possible to take out private policies;
  4. Cost of living: rents, food, gasoline, consumer goods have a much lower cost, estimated at around 40% compared to Italy. The 7% VAT certainly reduces the costs of consumer goods, gasoline costs only € 1,00 per liter. In addition, there is no need for heating, and roads, highways and parking are always free.
  5. Safety: present and efficient law enforcement agencies. Crime is reduced to a minimum, and there are very few irregular immigrants who, however, once discovered, are turned away.

Pros and cons: 5 reasons to say no

  1. Language: linguistic change cannot always be easy;
  2. Green: in terms of greenery, Italy is still a very coveted and envied area;
  3. Drinking water: it is highly not recommended to drink tap water, especially that of Tenerife;
  4. Salaries: irrelevant for a retiree, but wages on average are around € 800-1000 per month. You live in dignity but you don't become a millionaire.
  5. Unemployment: not all that glitters is gold. The impressive increase in tourism has favored all-inclusive tourism, so restaurants, pizzerias, clubs in general, do not do great deals. The unemployment rate is not low, on the contrary ...

Tenerife, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura: how to choose where to move

The Canaries are an archipelago made up of 7 islands: how do you decide where to move? The most popular are the 4 main ones of the archipelago: here are some features to help you decide where to move!

  • Tenerife: the largest and most cosmopolitan of the Canary Islands, at the same time characterized by a fascinating natural landscape, embellished by the Teide National Park - more info on Tenerife
  • Gran Canaria: perfect mix between village life and the beach, with the possibility of relaxation and long walks. Compared to Tenerife, there is more security here from the point of view of public order - more info on Gran Canaria
  • Fuerteventura: Volcanic island, the largest of the archipelago after Tenerife. Summer all year round, it is a true surfer's paradise. Several English, German and Italians live here - more on Fuerteventura
  • Lanzarote: smaller place but that conceals incredible landscapes (the nature reserve is a UNESCO heritage site). It is a very beautiful and purely touristic place, so if you want to take advantage of more services it is recommended to refer to larger islands - more info on Lanzarote
  • La Palma: even smaller than Lanzarote, La Palma is a quiet place inhabited by friendly people. Characterized by beautiful scenery, reasonable services, little crime, few tourists and low taxes. It offers few opportunities when it comes to work. Finding a job without knowing Spanish is impossible.
  • La Gomera and El Hierro: they are the two smaller islands in size, both little visited by tourism and rather poor in services for citizens.

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