Hola y bienvenidos! This is likely to be the first thing you hear when you step off the plane (or boat!) and into the city of Las Palmas on the beautiful Canary Island of Gran Canaria. This friendly community is long-used to welcoming expatriates, thanks to its enviable climate (it is known as "The City with the Best Climate in the World"), European connections, and well-established tourism industry. In fact, many of the expats now living on Gran Canaria will have discovered the island while visiting on holiday or working at one of the numerous local resorts. Expats living in Las Palmas will be right at the center of the island’s action. On any given day, you can choose between exploring the four-kilometer-long Playa de Las Canteras, a symbol of the city and its citizens, or wandering through the centuries-old Catedral de Santa Ana, before enjoying a seafood meal and a sangria at a beachfront restaurant. Like mainland Spain, the Las Palmas lifestyle is dictated by the weather, with mid-afternoon siestas an essential part of life. Speak to veterans of the Spanish expat lifestyle on one of InterNations’ many forums, and get tips on how to assimilate as easily as possible.
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If you are planning on moving to Las Palmas, your first concern will probably be the language. As a part of Spain, Spanish is the first language of all the Canary Islands, including Gran Canaria. However, a well-established tourism and expat community means you are likely to hear conversations in English, German, French and Italian on a regular basis. The island’s proximity to Morocco means there is a steady influx of North African workers, adding the Arabic language and customs into the mix. European and North African expats should therefore feel at home quite quickly in Las Palmas, while expatriates from other parts of the world may need to make a few adjustments. The island is small, and public transport limited, so you will probably need to get a car. Don’t forget that cars drive on the right side of the road in Spain, and research local traffic signs and symbols before you hit the roads.
Las Palmas has one of the best work/life balances you can find. If you are working in Las Palmas, the chances are you will be doing something in the tourism industry, although there are obviously many other industries thriving in this city. European nationals will have no trouble getting a work visa for Gran Canaria, but residents of other countries may struggle. If you are planning on working in Las Palmas, make sure you have all your paperwork in order before you get started, as regular residency checks are carried out, particularly at the big resorts. You will find a number of accounts expatriate adventures in Expat Magazine, or on the InterNations’ discussion boards and forums. Also, don’t be afraid to ask fellow expat members if you have any questions or concerns about your situation or plans. Expatriates already living in Las Palmas or on Gran Canaria in general will be one of the best sources of information that you can get.