For members


Europeans are moving to Spain’s Canary Islands to avoid winter heating bills

Italians, Germans, Brits and other Europeans are looking to spend as much of autumn and winter in the Canaries as a means of not having to pay the sky-high gas and electricity prices most of the continent will face as the mercury drops.

Europeans are moving to Spain's Canary Islands to cancel out heating bills
Tenerife, the largest of Spain's Canary Islands, has coastal temperatures that don't drop below 16C in winter. Photo: Bastian Pudill/Unsplash

The Canary Islands, an archipelago made up of eight islands off the coast of Western Sahara, are often referred to as the Fortunate Islands (Las Islas Afortunadas) or the Islands of Eternal Spring (Las Islas de La Eterna Primavera).

And it’s with good reason, as their mild climate ensures that coastal temperatures remain between 16 and 32 C all year round, with the trade winds (los alisios) always providing a pleasant breeze.

Such favourable weather has meant that millions of tourists visit Canarias every year, and until Brexit, the islands were one of the favourite destinations of British ‘swallows’, generally pensioners who migrated south for four to five months in autumn and winter and back north in spring and summer.

But the profile of these warm weather seekers is changing.

It now includes younger ‘swallows’ who are working remotely from the islands as digital nomads, they come from other European countries with bitter cold winters, and their primary reason for choosing the Canary Islands is to avoid paying the spiralling gas and electricity bills of their home countries, as well sidestepping any potential shortages that may arise as a result of the ongoing war in Ukraine and dependence on Russian gas.

“Paying for heating in Italy now costs more than paying for rent here in the Canaries,” one Italian pensioner told Spanish TV channel Antena 3.

With winter temperatures hovering around 20C in the ‘fortunate islands’, the vast majority of Canary homes do not have central heating or radiators, as they simply don’t need it.

Other coastal locations in Spain with milder winters (not quite as warm as the Canaries’, however) are also seeing an increase in the number of foreign visitors who are temporarily moving over with the aim of cutting costs.

These include the Costa Blanca, the Costa del Sol, the Costa Cálida and the Balearics.

Germans are among those flocking to the Canary Islands for the winter – and some hope it becomes government policy as the German energy market has been left in a particularly fragile state as a result of the war in Ukraine and dependence on Russian gas.

Marija Linnhof, president of the Association of Independent Travel Agencies (VUSR) in Germany, has suggested that German retirees should be encouraged to spend the winter months in warmer places such as the Canaries with the help of a €500 voucher.

“The idea of spending the winter in warmer climates should be taken seriously, mainly because it is a way of saving energy that can be used in industry,” she said in the German press.

The German government is considering the proposal, but chairwoman of the Bundestag’s tourism committee Jana Schimke has suggested the scheme could be too expensive and cost as much as €10 billion.

READ ALSO: The pros and cons of moving to Spain’s Canary Islands

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Spain and the US to exchange more language assistants in bilingualism push    

The governments of Spain and the United States have agreed to recruit more English and Spanish-language assistants from each other’s countries as a means of bolstering bilingual education in the two nations.

Spain and the US to exchange more language assistants in bilingualism push    

Spain’s Education Minister Pilar Alegría and US ambassador to Spain Julissa Reynoso met on Wednesday to sign a memorandum of understanding which will reinforce educational cooperation between the two countries. 

The agreement had been previously signed by Miguel Cardona, the United States Secretary of Education, who tweeted: “This week, alongside [Spanish] Ambassador [Santiago] Cabañas, I signed a memorandum supporting the study of Spanish language & culture in the US, and the study of English in Spain”.

It is in fact a renewal of a memorandum between the United States and Spain which has facilitated mobility of both conversation assistants and students between the two countries in recent years.

The aim of this newest memorandum of understanding is to further strengthen student and teacher exchange programmes and promote bilingual and multicultural teaching in both educational systems.

No exact details have yet been given about how many extra language assistants will be given grants to join the programme. 

Several teacher recruitment sources suggest the current number of North American language assistants (including Canadians) heading to Spain every year is between 2,000 and 2,500. 

The Spanish government has stated that in 2023, this figure will be around 4,500, which represents a considerable increase in the number of US and Canadian citizens who can apply through the NALCAP programme, which stands for North American Language and Culture Assistants in Spain. 

According to Spain’s Foreign Ministry, the following requirements must be met by US candidates in order to participate in the programme:

  • Be a U.S. citizen and have a valid passport
  • Have earned a bachelor’s degree or be currently enrolled as a sophomore, junior or a senior in a bachelor’s programme. Applicants may also have an associate degree or be a community college student in their last semester.
  • Have a native-like level of English
  • Be in good physical and mental health
  • Have a clean background check
  • Be aged 18 – 60.
  • Have at least basic knowledge of Spanish (recommended)

NALCAP recipients receive a monthly stipend of €700 to €1,000 as well as Spanish medical insurance.

Application dates for 2023 are usually announced in late November. See more information on the NALPAC programme for US nationals here

According to The Fulbright Program, one of several US cultural exchange programmes that organises the recruitment of US nationals for Spain: “English Teaching Assistants assist teaching staff at the early childhood, elementary, middle school, high school, vocational and/or university level for up to 16 hours per week, with an additional two hours for planning & coordination meetings. Responsibilities include assistant-teaching, in English, subjects such as social studies, science and technology, art, physical education, and English language.”

READ MORE: The pros and cons of being an English language assistant in Spain

There are also currently more than 1,000 Spanish teachers working as visiting teachers in the United States, Spain’s Moncloa government has said, without adding yet how many more will be recruited in 2023.

Additionally, more than 1,000 North American students now take part in the Spanish Language and Culture Groups managed by the Spanish Education Ministry’s Overseas Education Action (or Acción Educativa Exterior, AEE).  

Canadian applicants can find out more about working as language assistants in Spain by visiting the NALCAP Canada website.