What is living in Tenerife and working in digital really like
Digital nomad in Tenerife, Canary Islands – my experience
Nowadays we hear more and more the term ‘digital nomads’, tech-savvy who work and live in different parts of the world as freelancers or working short term for various companies. I find this lifestyle fascinating and I reckon I am also part of this trend, having lived and worked in five different countries and not planning to stop. As I always look for information and tips for my potential next destination I would like to share with you my experience as digital producer in Tenerife. London and Milan coming soon as well.
Italy – UK – Spain – my background
I started my career in digital in Milan, Italy. I then moved to London where I worked most of my 5 years for Ogilvy,a digital company based in London, I was super happy with my situation at work but I was really frustrated for other personal reasons.
The city is huge and I was getting very frustrated with travelling and general commuting time
I was really struggling to cope with the weather. I love winters in London but I can’t stand the weather in summer. For most European this is probably not a big issue but I have grown up in the south of Italy, getting used to spending three months at the beach every year.
I never managed to build a group of friends that would make London feel like home.
Digital Project Manager in Tenerife – Why I moved here
I then started looking for jobs all around the globe, focusing on places that would allow me to have a lifestyle as different as possible from London and I just bumped into a job role of digital project manager in Tenerife. Sunshine all year round, surfing, hiking, that was enough for me to accept the job and experience a new way of living for a while.
How is working in Tenerife in digital
The following information are mainly aimed to people that are looking for full time jobs / employment. If you are a freelance and can rely on jobs with companies based in other cities/countries, that’s a completely different story, it will be so much easier. If you are coming from the UK, you will find Tenerife’s work scenario being a completely different world. The easiest way to describe it would be like a jump back in time to the eighties. There are no many digital companies on the island. You can probably count them all on two hands. There is no competition nor much demand for digital roles. So, think twice before moving as if you end up not liking your job, you might struggle to find another option here in Tenerife. It will probably be easier trying to work for companies in other cities/countries as freelance or temporarily work in a different area of expertise. In Canary Islands, expertise and talents are lacking compared to the UK and you might feel like you are not learning as much as you could have learned in a big city like London. On the other hand, the “human factor” in Tenerife plays an important part in the daily life. In London my biggest stress was coming from deadlines and managing the financial aspect of projects. In Tenerife, my main stress was human-related. In one year here, I collected the most out of the-ordinary stories of my life. Just not used to this amount of emotional impact on the workplace. Working hours are better in Tenerife than in the UK - where working late is quite standard - but sometimes you will also have to work extra-hard / extra-long to fix issues due to lack of organisation.
Is Tenerife expensive?
South versus North
There is a big difference in Tenerife between the south and the north and it’s hard to talk about the cost of living without taking this into account.
The south is more sunny and dry (the island has many micro-climates) while the north tends to be more cloudy and rainy.
The south has the biggest concentration of hotels and tourist destinations, with Los Cristianos being the main centre. Here you will find more resorts than homes and more British people than Spanish.
The north is where the capital is set, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, this is also the only place that could really be defined a city and has more of a continent-like taste. The north is also surrounded by amazing forests, traditional canarian villages and more secluded beaches.
My preference goes for the north of the island but for some reasons the tourism is mainly located in the south. This is also where my company is located.
What kind of house can you afford?
Prices are very different based on location:
In the north you could pay a nice one-bedroom flat between 300 and 800 euros.
In the south it is getting more and more difficult to find a flat in the largest centres and prices are also on the rise, so you will hardly find a one bedroom flat for less than 500 euros, but for a decent one you will have to pay approx. 800 / 1000 euros.
Housing space here is on average larger than London, but on the other hand most of them have an old-style and basic or old furniture. Finding a flat located in a nice area or with sea-view is harder that you can imagine but it’s also doable (just be patient as it might take months to find the right place). My first flat was located in La Caleta de Adeje, approx. 10 meters from the sea with an amazing terrace. The problem I had was that the house was so old, that every single month something was falling apart. When the roof started crumbling on me I then realised I had to move away and I found a house on the hills, further away from the sea but much more modern and cosy.
How necessary is having a car?
Having a car is a must-have for me. With no car you will struggle to appreciate the true beauty of the island. Public transports are slow and won’t take you in most of the best locations. You might end-up not be exploring much and get bored very easily. You can rent a car for a month for 300 euros approximately.
Eating out: coffee shops and restaurants
I am going to compile soon a list of the best coffee shops and places to eat in Tenerife. Overall, most of the places are not very comfy, especially in the south. Coffee shops and restaurants’ main clients are tourists so their focus is not on developing an environment that feels like extension of a warm home. There are very few places that feel comfortable enough for me to spend few hours with my laptop writing or relaxing – especially when you are surrounded by loud tourists trying to get drunk at every hour of the day. Eating out is definitely less expensive than in London – the concept of tapas is not spread as much as in continental Spain but restaurants seem more affordable overall. Also coffees cost on average 1 euros – going back to Starbucks after a while might be a huge shock.
Beaches and Mountains
Beaches and mountains are the main reasons I moved to Tenerife. I was missing the contact with nature and I am finally enjoying this again. Most of the beaches in the south, like the ones in Los Cristianos and Las Americas, tend to be super crowded, especially in summer. If you have a car and know your way around, this won’t be a problem tough – many hidden places are scattered outside of the tourist zone. I will share my favourite spots soon but overall, I can tell you that:
If you like surfing, you will be able to do it here in Tenerife. I don’t think the beaches are as nice as the ones in Lanzarote or Fuerteventura. Most of the surfing spots are rocky so forget dreamy gold never-ending beaches.
Sandy beaches in Tenerife are always black as the sand is volcanic. There are few gold-sand beaches across the island that are man-made, but for me these are less appealing as you can see too much of the human touch.
- It’s not always sunny and it’s not always hot enough to enjoy a beach day. I keep reading online that Tenerife is home of never-ending summer but really is not (at least for an Italian grown . From May until September/October it’s hot, but from October/November until May it’s more like spring time. With cloudy days and 20 degrees I don’t always feel like hitting the beach. This is probably due to my Italian blood and I do know that for most British people this would be the ideal temperature. Also, the ocean water always tends to be quite cold, especially if you are used to the Mediterranean.
Overall score and comparison with London
Overall Tenerife is a great place if you need to run away from the city life and need more time for yourself as you will benefit of an improved word-life balance situation. Try to build your expertise in a medium-large organisation that could teach you a good method and organisation before moving. Tenerife is a place where you can share your expertise more than acquiring one. Beach-life is fun but mixing this with a full-time job in digital also mean that you will have mainly two days a week to enjoy ocean-life. Tenerife doesn’t have the best flight connections, so if you are travel-addicted like myself, you will easily start finding annoying the limited opportunities you have. Even my flight for Morocco was more expensive than a flight London-Marrakech. I think Tenerife could be considered for few years gap but I don’t see this as a long-term stop for myself, and I personally start missing cosy coffees, the opportunity to travel in a completely new city for a short week-end and also being surrounded by the people that set the trends and are at the forefront of digital innovation. If there is anything you would like me to talk in more details please let me know and I will add in this blog post or create a new one. Deneb