A blog about Gran Canaria – as no-one knows about this blog, it is like a secret diary …
Unknown to most but, if you know where to go and what’s going on, Gran Canaria is actually a pretty good place to go out in the evening. Apart from the ton of bars, restaurants and clubs there’s world class opera, theatre, loads of cinemas, music concerts and, of course, ten pin bowling. Most of the cultural events take place in Las Palmas however you can often find things going on in Telde and in the South too.
Have a look at our guides below to discover what to do in the evening.
To find out what’s going on this month take a look at our regularly updated whatson guide.
Buying property in Gran Canaria is a relatively straightforward process if done correctly. The island property registry is excellent, property rights in Gran Canaria are clear, and all contracts must be signed in front of an independent notary.
However, there are pitfalls and we advise all buyers to use a quality estate agent and / or a local lawyer to check their chosen property and contracts.
Estate agents in Gran Canaria
Estate agents in Gran Canaria vary from the average to the excellent with a couple of outlying dodgy outfits (targeting non-resident buyers in the resorts).
Estate agency fees are 5% of the sale price of a property but are paid by the seller. This means that their services are free to buyers; All non-native Spanish speakers should use one when buying property in Gran Canaria.
The risks of going it alone are just too high to bother with as disputes takes a long time and oodles of cash to resolve.
To find a good estate agent in Gran Canaria, look for the following…
- An estate agency with an office you can visit and a good local reputation.
- An agency that is connected to the BOICAN shared property database and can, therefore, show you almost any for-sale property in your chosen area.
- An agent that speaks your language and good Spanish.
- Above all, choose an estate agent that cares about you, rather than about selling you a particular property.
The benefit using a good estate agency include their ability to value a property accurately (many sellers list their property at the price they’d like to get rather than what it is currently worth), the help they provide with paperwork, and good relationships with reliable local banks.
In Las Palmas and the north of Gran Canaria, we recommend Las Palmas Property.
In south Gran Canaria, just go to Cardenas Real Estate; One of Gran Canaria’s oldest and most trusted agencies.
NOTE: Do not buy a rental investment property in south Gran Canaria without getting expert advice:
The cost of buying property in Gran Canaria
The total cost of buying a property in Gran Canaria is roughly 10% on top of the price you pay.
This sum includes:
- Fixed property purchase tax (the exact percentage varies depending on property type and Municipality)
- Notary costs (a fixed percentage of the value of the property)roperty registry costs.
- Property registry costs.
NOTE: The 10% figure is approximate. It can be up to 12% if you buy a cheapie under €100,000 and lower if you buy something substantial.
NOTE: Seek expert advice if a seller wants you to pay a percentage of the purchase price in cash under the table. This is illegal and has tax implications as the government knows what property is worth and asks for extra taxes on properties that are bought too cheap.
Ongoing costs include:
- Monthly Communidad fees (if you buy in a building or complex)
- A small annual tax on the value of the land your property sits on (known as the IBI)
- Utility bills.
There are no council tax bills in Gran Canaria.
What you need to buy a property in Gran Canaria
All buyers must have:
A Spanish NIE number; This fiscal identification number, which you will soon learn by heart, is the same number that goes on your green Residencia paper. Getting a NIE is a faff unless you have a job contract or a pre-contract to buy a property (or are a non-EU citizen investing 500,000 euros in Spanish property; Hello Golden Visa).
A local bank account; Opening a non-resident bank account is straightforward. All you need is a passport. Change to a resident’s account once you get Residencia as the fees are lower.
Getting a mortgage in Gran Canaria
Spanish banks learned their lesson rather too well during the crisis and are now cautious about lending money to home buyers. You need a minimum deposit of 20% (unless you earn big money) and a work contract to even be considered (or a long track record of earnings as an Autonomo or self-employed person).
New arrivals often have to wait a year to get a mortgage, even with a permanent work contract. This might seem infuriating, but it’s no bad thing if you consider the number of people who go home after a year in Gran Canaria; not everyone can handle the sunshine and the rum.
Spanish banks currently won’t lend you more than you can pay back with a third of your total income.
Non-residents need a larger deposit (typically 40%) and proof of earnings in their home country going back six months. Spanish banks are unwilling to lend to older non-residents who are due to retire before their mortgage term is up.
Mortgage applications are long-winded (up to three months at some banks) and hampered by top-down management at Spanish banks. Your application is submitted in Gran Canaria but goes to Madrid (it’s always Madrid) by post for approval. Any missing documents cause delays that nobody is accountable for; Be vigilant and don’t be afraid to push as silence is often a bad sign.
The best advice we can give you is to apply to several different banks; They all require the same paperwork so all you have to do is spend a few hours at each one and feed them with photocopies.
At the moment, the best banks are the international ones such as Deutsche Bank and ING Direct, rather than the local banks like Bankia, Santander and BBVA.
International banks are faster, often offer better rates, and are more flexible with foreigners than hidebound Spanish banks.
Renting Your Gran Canaria Property
See this article for details on how to rent your property in Gran Canaria.
Use a good estate agent
Factor in costs
Apply to several banks if you need a mortgage
Be determined and patient
Finding an Apartment
So you’ve decided to stay and now you need an apartment. Hopefully this small practical guide should help you find what you are looking for.
Type of accomodation available
Most people live in the ‘Puerto’ zone of Las Palmas, this is basically the area that runs along Las Canteras beach from the Auditorium to La Isleta. The most popular flats are in the first two parallel streets to the beach. This area is very centrally located with easy access to the beach, the popular bars and the shops on Mesa y Lopez. The second most popular area is Triana / Vegueta where you can get apartments for cheaper in the older part of the city. English speaking people do live in other areas than Las Canteras and Vegueta but it’s not common.
What can you get for your money?
Most people want a flat with a seaview on Las Canteras. There are plenty available but they are mostly studios which are also quite expensive, however they have great balconies and there are few better locations on the island.
There are plenty of one or two bedroom flats available away from the beach and for the same price as a studio on the beach you could probably get a spacey 1 bed or even a 2 bed flat. In Vegueta and Triana prices are even lower.
Telde / La Garita
Most people go to Telde because it is out of Las Palmas but still near the beach. It is a lot quiter in Telde and La Garita and flat prices tend to be 10-20% cheaper. There are plenty of 2 or 3 bedroom apartments near the beach.
Santa Brigida and Monte Lentiscal are popular because they’re in the mountains but only 10 minutes from Las Palmas. You can get nice, big apartments here and some with spectacular views. You will pay the same for a two bedroom place here as you would a one bedroom flat in Las Palmas. You will need a car though, you can travel around by bus but it is a real pain.
You will basically find holiday apartments. They are not massive and will tend to have a tiny kitchen however they’ll have a shared pool and you’ll feel like you’re on holiday everyday! If you want a separate bungalow try the Campo de Golf and Sonnenland.
Where to go to find a flat / house
If you rent a flat privately you will have to pay one months’ deposit, if you rent it through an agency you will have to pay an aditional one months’ fee to the agency. Bear this in mind when looking for a flat.
Word of mouth is the best way to get a flat. If you know anyone get them to ring around their friends to see if anyone is moving. If you are coming out as a teacher speak to staff already at the school and they can tell you people who are leaving. This is the easiest, least hassle way of finding a flat.
Canary Property or call 928 67 17 31 and ask for Sheena Gallagher – she’s been in the business for years and should be able to help you out.
Segunda Mano will show you flats to rent in Las Palmas – this is where the locals look but you’ll need to speak Spanish or help from someone who does. Make sure you get a flat in the right area of town, some flats may be nice but they’ll be miles away from everyone else.
Try La Provincia or Canarias7 on Fridays and Sundays and El Baul has rental properties. Again you will need to speak Spanish or know someone that does as the person renting the flat is unlikely to speak English.
A very underused but useful way of finding flats in Las Palmas is to find where you want to live and look out for SE ALQUILA signs in the windows.
If you want to rent a whole flat / bungalow
Canary Property or call 928 67 17 31 and ask for Sheena Gallagher – she’s been in the business for years and should be able to help you out.
Segunda Mano will show you flats to rent outside Las Palmas – this is where the locals look but you’ll need to speak Spanish or help from someone who does.
Google Just put “real estate gran canaria” into Google and you’ll find a ton of websites – I don’t want to list them as we don’t have any experience with them and we don’t really want to recommend people we’ve never met before.
La Provinca or Canarias 7 if you speak Spanish – most property is on Friday and Sunday
RTN – the English speaking newspaper from the south available in most shops as a freebie.
We think this is all the information you need to know about getting a flat but if you can think of any secret tricks or you know of anyone who is in the know please let us know and we’ll add it onto the site.
With one of Spain’s top outdoor shopping areas and several well-stocked malls, Gran Canaria (and especially Las Palmas), has become a great place to shop.
Not bad for a place that only got its first shopping centre in the early 1990s; Gran Canaria now has a good selection of international and Spanish franchise stores, as well as some funky local boutiques and local fashion names.
Here’s our local expert’s guide on shopping in Gran Canaria…
For hassle-free ‘everything you need under one roof shopping’, Las Arenas shopping centre is the best shopping centre on the island. It has lots of fashion stores, a big MediaMarkt, toy shops, plenty of cafes, and a huge Carrefour.
For those of you who prefer outdoor shopping, Mesa y Lopez prides itself on being the main shopping street in Las Palmas, mainly because it boasts the largest El Corte Inglés department store in Spain. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, try El Corte Inglés; It’s expensive but residents can get a credit card.
For enjoyable, alfresco shopping, Triana is the place to go. Voted ‘best outdoor shopping area’ in Spain a few years back, it is still an excellent place to go. The big shops are on the main street, the smaller boutiques up the cobbled lanes.
The Atlantico shopping centre in Vecindario is more convenient than Las Palmas for resort and south-Gran Canaria residents and a has a decent selection of shops.
Almost all these areas and centres have Zara and/or Mango for the ladies and Springfield and/or Jack Jones for the gentlemen, along with a variety of other Spanish/Canarian favourites like Natura for ethnic clothes and jewellery, Pull and Bear, Stradivarius and Promod for urban chic, Bijou Brigitte for accessories and Carolina Boix for cheap shoes.
The latest addition to the Las Palmas shopping scene is Los Alisios; a vast, outdoor shopping mall in Tamaraceite just a few minutes drive from Las Palmas. It has over 100 stores and is all outdoors. It only opened in November 2017, but is impressive and will do well.
Local swimwear brand Lenita & XTG is great for skimpy beach wear for anyone who wants to go local on the beaches.
It is true. The Spanish love their shoes. It will come as no surprise then that there are zillions of shoe shops selling fashionable shoes at bargain prices. It is not worth listing the possible shoe shops you could browse as you can’t turn a corner without finding yourself in one. But be warned. Most of the shoes are made of synthetic fabrics which is why they are cheap.
Leather shoes at affordable prices are harder to come by. Yes, there are plenty of shops that sell leather shoes but the prices rocket skywards. Corte Inglés stock quality leather shoes, as do Lopez (Mesa y Lopez and Calle Triana). The sales are your friend.
Christmas sales normally start around 7th January and summer sales around 8th July. Reductions are between 20% and 70% so you can grab some real bargains. The first day of the sales is normally hellish, but by day three you can browse what’s left on the rails at your own pace.
For year-round bargains try the outlet stores: Benetton in Alcampo, and Springfield in La Ballena in Escaleritas. El Corte Inglés has an outlet shop on the top floor of Las Arenas.
Or head to Las Terrazas shopping centre in Jinamar: It has some decent outlet stores and is particularly good for discount shoes. It’s also outdoors and offers free parking. The Mirador shopping centre just over the road has a wider selection of shops but fewer bargains.
You ma also pick up bargains at the Fisaldo shopping fair which takes place in Infecar in Escaleritas every May/June. Local shops empty the previous season’s clothes, furniture and nicknacks into this four-day bonanza. Please bear in mind that generally there is an awful lot of rubbish to trawl through, but for the very shrewd and very patient you can find some real treats. It’s a bit like TK Maxx on steroids.
In Las Palmas, you can’t go very far without passing a Spar but for your bigger weekly shop head to one of the big supermarkets.
Carrefour, with a good choice of European wine and cheese, is in Las Arenas, Tres Palmas and the Atlantico shopping centre in Vecindario.
HiperCor in the Corte Inglés is great for treats but isn’t as cheap as other supermarkets. It does have a great wine selection.
HiperDino (a local brand) and Mercadona (Spanish) compete to be the cheapest place for your weekly shop and there isn’t much between them. Alcampo, at the La Estrella shopping park just off the GC1 in Telde, probably is the cheapest supermarket in Gran Canaria and has a huge selection of fresh meat.
You must have photo ID to pay with a card in Alcampo; It’s the only one that hasn’t accepted that chip and pin cards are perfectly secure.
The Mirador shopping centre in Jinamar has an Eroski supermarket but the rumour is that Carrefour will soon buy it out.
Within Las Palmas, most large supermarkets will deliver your shopping for free. In other areas, you need to ask and cross your fingers.
Local markets are the best places to buy quality fruit and veg in Gran Canaria. In Las Palmas, the main markets open every morning but in smaller towns they pop up at the weekends. The best weekend markets ones close to the capital are San Lorenzo (a genuine farmer’s market), Santa Brigida (a big gentrified these days) and San Mateo (huge but not the prettiest).
You will see a variety of shops selling furniture (muebles) throughout Gran Canaria though in truth most of them are full of shiny yellow-wooded chairs, tables and sideboards, and glass nd metal cabinets, loved by Spaniards the world over. They aren’t as cheap as you’d think either.
Have no fear, Ikea is here. We all know what we’re getting with Ikea furniture (apart from an apartment filled with the same furniture as every other apartment rented by someone British). It’s cheap, cheerful and doesn’t cost that much to have delivered and made while you go to the beach.
Corte Inglés is also worth a visit (especially during the sales) for classic modern pieces.
For imported rustic furniture and imported, Indonesian and Indian furniture try El Rincon (just up the road from old Ikea, Perez Ortega (junction 7b off the GC1 opposite Alcampo) and Perojo (Calle Perojo in Triana).
For all your DIY needs the easiest thing to do is to head to vast and cheap Leroy Merlin (La Estrella or Tamaraceite). It has some English speaking staff so if you’re stuck and monolingual you can get help.
However, for smaller items and local tips on why the toilet keeps making that noise, head to your local ferreteria. It will undoubtedly stock what you’re looking for but unless you know the word for ‘adjustable spanner’ in Spanish you’ll have trouble buying it.
Most shopping centres have at least one sporting goods shop, but for the best range of everything from kayaks to canyoning gear, head to Decathlon. It’s also a good place to buy hard-wearing trousers and gym kit.
Start any search for electronics at one of the big shops like MediaMarkt but do be aware that they aren’t always as cheap as they say they are. Check alternatives, like Carrefour and even specialist shops (Visanta and Duke Fotografía for cameras), as they are often better value.
Cars and driving in Gran Canaria
Here at GCGuru we’ve bought cars, sold cars, rented cars received parking,speeding and random unknown fines, we’ve contested them and got off them. Most impressively we’ve driven here for years and years and we are still sane. We think we know how to get the best deals and how to survive on the Spanish roads, before buying, renting or driving have a look at our comprehensive guides.
Driving in Gran Canaria – the rules you probably didn’t know about.
Car Paperwork – the labyrinth of buying and selling a car
The lowdown on schools in Gran Canaria
Lowdown on Schools – a comprehensive unbiased guide to all the English
speaking schools in Gran Canaria. Canterbury School, Oakley College, the
British School of Gran Canaria, Kent College, The American School of
Gran Canaria, Colegio Arenas, Colegio Hispano Ingles and many others.
If you are looking for a job in a school there are three types of school to apply to
Have a look at our guides to each school before yo udecide where to apply. If you have any personal experience please add a comment at the end of the page.
These schools teach using the UK national Curriculum and generally have mostly English staff. Most schools require a PGCE but it has been known for unqualified teachers to work there. To supply teach a PGCE is generally is not required as they are so desperate to get a teacher.
Canterbury is the biggest English school in Gran Canaria with an Infant department in Las Palmas, a primary and secondary in Tamaraceite and a school in the South in Maspalomas. It also has a good reputation as a school and employer. The director is Beryl Pritchard and the website is www.canterbury-school.com . telephone 928 43 98 10
The British School of Gran Canaria
Located in Tafira Baja the British School is the oldest British School in Gran Canaria. It’s staff are older than in Oakley and Canterbury and less jobs become available on a yearly basis. However it is a good employer and offers a good education. www.bs-gc.net. Telephone: 928351167
Located in the University, it is mainly a primary school with only KS3 in secondary. It is a small school which has a large primary department and a very small secondary.
Web http://kentcollege.net/ telephone 928350093
The American school, logically, follows the American education system. It mainly employees American teachers, but other nationalities have often worked there especially as supply and Saturday school teachers. Web www.aslp.org tel: 928430023
This is an Infant, Primary and Secondary
School in Tafira Alta. The director’s name is Donat Morgan and the
website is www.oakleycollege.com. They
recruit from January to March for jobs starting the following September.
There are a couple of these and none are particularly good. There have been various horror stories from Colegio Arenas and Hispano Ingles but some teachers stay there for many years so they can’t be that bad. They do however have quite a high staff turnover so jobs can be easy to find.
Colegio Arenas – Siete Palmas, Arucas, Playa de Inglés
In 2002, they went through 8 English teachers, in 2006 the English teacher left after 2 weeks and not many people have a good word to say about working there. Kids are OK but you’re pretty much left on your own once you arrive. Primary is better than secondary but Secondary is where the jobs tend to turn up. Before accepting a job here, speak to some of the current employees.
Hispano Inglés – Las Palmas, Tafira
Heidelberg – Bilingual German / Spanish School
Good reputation but not many job opportunities
Garoe / Guaydil (Tafira Alta)
Sagrado Corazón – Tafira Baja
Religious School with quite a good reputation
Salesianos (Las Palmas)
Claret (Las Palmas)
Good school but big classes
Juan Ramón Jiménez (Tafira Alta)
Primary school in Marzagan.
Telephone: 928 715 847
Jaime Balmes (Tafira Alta)
Tlf: 928 351 000
If you have any personal experience of any of these schools please leave comments below.