Alan G, Lanzarote

I moved to Lanzarote in the Canary Islands in 2006 with my partner, Elle. We were looking for a different quality of life, and for a real change in lifestyle. We only had 2 criteria… there must be an established expat community that we could sell our services too, and it must be warm (Elle doesn’t like the cold). This obviously gave us lots of options, but we decided upon Lanzarote and are happy that we did.

To be honest, we didn’t face many challenges at all. Both Elle and I are very self motivated – and once we put our minds to something… nothing stands in our way. To be honest, there wasn’t a lot of information available at the time… and we really had to hunt to find answers. With this in mind, Elle set up a blog to help anyone else thinking of making the move. It is the only unbiased and non-commercial Relocation blog on the Island and is considered a first port of call for anyone looking for Lanzarote relocation information and advice – www.lanzaroterelocation.co.ukHow did you find somewhere to live?

We approached a number of Estate Agents based on the island, via the Internet initially. However, only one bothered to reply, and they didn’t have what we were looking for. Odd really – you’d think they would always be looking for new customers! Elle posted a message on one of the island fora, and within minutes had a reply from a lady called Angela who runs a busy holiday rental company in Playa Blanca, in the south of the island. One of her villa owners had a villa available for long term rent. We went and looked at it once we arrived in Lanzarote, and although we looked at others afterwards – that was the one we decided upon. We lived there for 2 years and were very happy. We have since moved, but have always found the process fairly straightforward.

Are there many other expats in your area?

Yes, lots all over the Island! We live on the outskirts of our town… and are one of only 2 Brit families in the complex – everyone else is Spanish, Italian or Argentinean. That suits us. We might go more rural at some point… but are happy for now.

What is your relationship like with the locals?

Fine – no problems at all. We’ve been here long enough that we know a few people now and have found everyone to be extremely helpful.

What do you like about life where you are?

The weather of course, as it is spring like for twelve months of the year. The pace of life is much less hectic than where we came from too. We have different pressures now, but we wouldn’t change it.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

Other expats! There seems to be a real negative vibe when too many expats congregate in one place – sniping, backbiting, and lack of respect. England is not an empire any longer, and some would do well to remember that. We tend to steer clear. The only other downside for me is that the island is so small. I miss being able to jump in the car and drive for miles and miles. You can reach the other end of the Island in just an hour.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

Research absolutely everything, and trust your gut instinct when being given advice. There are plenty of people trying to sell you something and will come across as being helpful. If there’s money involved, then don’t be swayed – we see it time and time again as people are sold a duff business, or persuaded into renting or buying a house over the Internet without even visiting it first because the person they are emailing “is so lovely and helpful!”

What are your plans for the future?

We tend to play our cards close to our chest, as there are plagiarists about – but our web design and marketing business continues to grow and strengthen daily – and that remains our focus for the foreseeable future!

Whilst we have your attention, I wonder if I could tell you about my upcoming charity walk – February 2011.

Not long after I moved to Lanzarote with Elle, I got it into my head that it would be a great idea to walk from one end of the island to the other. It’s a beautiful Island, and you miss so much if you only drive through it. Naturally as is often the case with Elle and me, there were a couple of glasses of wine involved in coming up with the idea! I’ve always enjoyed walking (though not so much in recent years) having spent my formative years in ‘day trip’ distance of the Lake District in England.

The idea had lain dormant since, until a couple of months back, over a couple of glasses of wine (spotting a pattern?), we got talking about it once again and I decided that if I was ever going to do it I’d have to exert some real pressure on myself. The obvious thing to do, was to do it for charity in order to force myself to set a date and make a solid commitment to it that couldn’t be excused by pressures of work, or any of those other excuses we use to procrastinate from time to time.

The date is now set for the 4th February 2011, the distance has been measured – approximately 73km, and plans are all in place. Residents and business owners in Lanzarote have rallied round with offers of help, support, and to hold sponsorship forms in their bars and offices.

The added benefit is that in setting a date, I have also put pressure on myself to pull my finger out exercise-wise and do some proper training. So, for the last couple of months I’ve been spending a fair amount of time in the gym at the Princess Yaiza Hotel in Playa Blanca, and of course a hell of a lot of time more than I usually would just walking – a new motivation very much appreciated by our two energetic Labradors! Oh, and it’s got Elle off my back too!

Through this walk, I’m raising money for two charities, firstly NiƱos Tercer del Mundo – a Lanzarote based charity that funds projects to benefit children in the third world, and The Rose Road CentreThe Rose Road Centre who provide a range of services for severely disabled children and their families. The latter was at the suggestion of our good friend Geoff Holt who, in 2009, became the first quadriplegic sailor to cross the Atlantic Ocean unassisted.

I know I’m going to be facing sore feet, sore legs, and blisters – but given the causes, failure just isn’t an option! In truth I’m looking forward to it…

If you’d like to make a donation (before or after the walk) you can do so through my JustGiving page or you can follow my progress on my blog.