Monday, February 26, 2024
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Moving to Canary Islands – When a Dream Comes True

It’s been a red letter week for me. After a six-week rigmarole pulling together all the necessary documentation for the Non-Lucrative Residency visa to live in Spain (the new reality for all us Brits), I finally mailed the application. What a process! So much conflicting info online, especially around translation and notarisation requirements. I wouldn’t dare make any statement about it in case I was wrong. I’m currently based in Australia, and it appears the Spanish consulate does things a little differently here, which might be a good thing, I’m not sure. And of course, now that travel restrictions have been lifted on Fortress Australia and cruising is back on, everyone is scrambling to get their passport renewed and buy luggage. This meant getting an Apostille (same department as passports) proved painfully slow, and you can’t buy low-cost luggage except on eBay. Small frustrations, but they can pile up.

Reducing my possessions to two suitcases has occupied much of my time as well. Shipping is prohibitively expensive. But to start a new life with just two suitcases! At my age! I had the sense to start early with massive clear outs, and the organising of who is getting what of my furniture and what I can sell. It’s quite a process and not something I would ever want to do again. Funny thing though, for a lot of items once you get rid of something, you can’t even remember what it was.

I’m trying not to be awash with anxiety. This is my fourth attempt at this move. The first time back in 2017, when I came very close to buying a farmhouse in Fuerteventura, resulted in me writing another novel based there. No move. The second time was a dizzying period of uncertainty and cold feet, resulting in an interstate move in Australia instead. The third time, just six months later, saw the borders close on me thanks to Covid. I really was going to take a leap of faith. Instead, I moved interstate again. And then Brexit happened and I thought I would never get another chance. The door on Spain had well and truly shut. I had to resign myself to spending the rest of my days down under.

But real estate in Australia has gone barmy lately and thanks to soaring house prices and an unexpected and keen-as-mustard buyer wanting my place – it wasn’t even on the market – and a ‘cute as’ little flat for sale in Fuerteventura… Well, I did the maths and went, ‘Hell, yes!’ And then I went through weeks of stress and turmoil dealing with the Non Lucrative Visa process.

It’ll be worth it in the end.

And this time, there’s no going back on my decision. There’ll be no cold feet. I have no idea what it will be like living there, no idea what the future holds, but I do know the island has stolen my heart and I can’t live the rest of my life filled with longing, especially when my special place is halfway round the world from where I currently am.

I can’t wait to get there. Meanwhile, I’m giving Duolingo a run for its money, completing about 200 questions a day, putting my faith in the brainwash approach which does seem to be working. Last time I lived there I only spoke Spanish and developed a decent vocabulary, but I reckon I can improve on whatever standard I had reached back then which was pretty much centred in the present tense. When you get to my age you definitely need the past tense as well.

And thanks to an exciting opportunity with a large UK publisher, to start with, I’ll be spending my time in Fuerteventura writing books set in Scotland! Who knows when or if I will expand on my Canary Islands output. Maybe six novels is enough. Maybe not. I do have a few ideas…

photo be JF Olivares

Isobel Blackthorn

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