Living in Mallorca - Pros & cons

Majorca, or Mallorca (same place, different spelling of the name) manages to be both a party/holiday island and a beautiful and tranquil place to live. It is one of Spain’s Balearic Islands lying in the Mediterranean, and it is second (in terms of Spanish island population) only to Tenerife. It has a fabulous climate, the way of life on the island is good, and as a result it is a very popular place to live for expats. But, most people know all this! 

Especially anyone thinking about going to live in Majorca . . .

However, what’s not such common knowledge among would be expats is what it is really like to live on the island. Are there any jobs? Is there a reciprocal healthcare agreement in place between Majorca and the UK? Can you take up temporary residence on the island as a retiree? And what about the weather in the winter? If you’ve holidayed in Majorca I am 99% sure you will have at least had a fleeting thought along the lines of ‘I could live here’ – and if you’re now back home and that thought’s still eating away at you, read on to discover both the pros and the cons about living life on this undoubtedly idyllic Spanish island. After all, if you’re contemplating relocation you need to know the good, the bad and the ugly in order to make up your own mind.

3 main pros of living in Majorca
1) The weather in the long spring and summer season – there’s no denying the fact that the Mediterranean climate is an irresistible draw, particularly for us Britons! The weather on the island of Majorca in the spring and summer goes from being embracing warm to overwhelmingly hot in a matter of weeks. It promotes a sense of wellbeing, and perhaps even a feeling of good health as well! It’s no real surprise that the island is such a popular summer holiday idyll because it is blessed with such sumptuous weather. The climate also means that the vegetation and the natural landscape on Majorca is lush and beautiful during the spring and early summer, and so living on the island positively assaults your senses purely thanks to the summer sun.

2) The lifestyle and the diversity of life available – Majorca to some people is a sleepy, tranquil backwater. To others it’s a vibrant and affluent destination where there is tonnes of life. Both opinions are valid and correct – in other words, you can have the lifestyle you desire on the island whether you’re after sleepy calm and relaxation in a lesser explored village, or you want city living with an active social life. You can choose to live in the relative peace and quiet of west coast resorts such as Soller, Port de Soller or Deia for example and enjoy a blend of local life and a little expatriate integration or you can move to the capital of Palma where half the island’s population are at home, and have a much more lively experience of life on the island. In other words, you can find a home and a lifestyle to suit your dreams on this one relatively small island!

3) Relative ease of relocation – those who have made the move and settled in to life on the island of Majorca will tell you that everything from the healthcare to the standards of education are high. What’s more, as a Briton moving in you have the added advantage of being able to take up residence and integrate without the need for complex visas. There is a reciprocal healthcare agreement in place between the UK and Spain that can benefit qualifying retiring Brits, but for others there is often a need to buy at least supplementary medical insurance if you want to be assured of the highest standards of care. During these challenging economic times the rules are constantly changing, so please check the lastest guidance from the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. There are international schools dotted across the island, although for permanent expatriates the local schools offer an excellent viable alternative

3 main cons of living in Majorca
1) The weather in the winter – anywhere in the Med suffers significant rainfall in the winter, however Majorca seems to suffer more than some other locations, perhaps because of its mountains! Rain doesn’t just fall in the winter, it swirls around, whipped up by strong winds, and it is often accompanied by thunder and lightening. It can come at you from all directions and it invariably penetrates even the most modern and seemingly water tight houses. You would be very, very ill advised to ignore the fact that in the winter the weather in Majorca can be nothing but horrible for days on end. However, it doesn’t get as cold as the UK, the rain does eventually stop and you can enjoy sunny days and some real respite from the grim weather, and if you’re well prepared and can accept that you will need buckets and candles in a storm, it’s not such a huge obstacle.

2) The lack of jobs for non-Spanish speaking individuals – jobs in Majorca are few and far between for those who cannot speak Spanish. What’s more local jobs go to local people before they go to a) those from the mainland and then b) those from further afield like the UK. As an expatriate you can bitch and moan about this fact, but you will not change it!. Local people naturally trust and consider local people first. If you also have the added disadvantage that you can’t speak Spanish, don’t think you will land the job of your dreams in a hurry. Yes, there are plenty of expatriates who make a living off fellow Brits and other Europeans who holiday on the island, but their living is hard won and only seasonally earned. You have to have a very firm and very flexible financial plan if you want to live and work in Majorca because traditionally jobs are very hard to come by for Britons. Furthermore, unemployment is riding high across the whole of Spain at the moment; so do not underestimate this salient point when planning your relocation.

3) The low wages versus high cost of living conundrum – wages in Spain are lower than wages in the UK on average, and on an island like Majorca where the main industry is tourism, wages are even lower and seasonal. You can then balance this against the fact that the island is such a desirable place to live, but it is a tourism paradise so the cost of living is high and the wages payable locally are low. This makes life tough for some expats and many locals and it is a factor you need to examine more closely before you commit to moving to live in Majorca.

3 ways you can improve your chances of a successful relocation to live in Majorca

1) Learn Spanish – you may think that because Majorca is a heavily touristic island that everyone locally speaks English - but you would be wrong. Those who work in the service industry directly facing foreign residents or visitors will speak English of course, but despite the fact that English is taught at school, those who are not required to speak English every day in the course of their work for example, will not even admit to having any English when pushed! Think about it, in the UK we typically learn French or perhaps German at school, and yet how many of us would be happy to be surrounded by French and German citizens living in the UK demanding that we speak their language to communicate with them! Therefore, you not only need to learn to speak Spanish to get the most out of living in Majorca, you have to learn it if you want to get by!

2) Be very adaptable in terms of how you will earn an income – as mentioned above, the cost of living on the island is high and jobs for English-only speaking Britons are very hard to come by. Many Brits therefore decide to buy or start a business on the island – which is fine – but look at the viability of your idea, the competition and the realistic wages and costs you can expect to earn and pay out. You may find you have to have a business and another job as well, that your spouse will need to work too, and that you will not have the disposable income you currently enjoy. However, you can still enjoy a far better quality of life and standard of living – you just have to work out how you will earn your money and if the compromises you will have to make are worth it for you and your family.

3) Try before you buy in – a holiday on a tourist island is no basis upon which you can or even should begin basing your future choices about where you would be happiest living. Therefore I would strongly urge you to spend an extended period of time living in Majorca before you sell up back home and make the move a permanent one. It’s far easier to rent a place long-term out of season – and it’s out of season when you really get to see the island, warts and all. You will see what boarded up resorts look like, you will learn how hard it is to make a living, you will experience the worst of the weather, and at the end of it all, if you still feel you’re in love with the island - and the dream - you’re probably as ready as you ever will be to expatriate and start a new life living on the Spanish island of Majorca. Many others have done it, and the vast majority are exceptionally happy they have made the move.




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