Editor's Note: This article was first published in August 2019. The basic spirit remains but we have updated parts because of a new reality on the island due to COVID-19. Life is a slower pace and may remain that way, with fewer job opportunities, for quite a while.
When did you first dream of your life on Mallorca? Was it that summer holiday in Pollensa where the sand scalded your toes, or the first glimpse of Palma's Cathedral that took your breath away? Mine was the minute my transfer bus pulled up at my new place of work, and the row of palm trees swayed and greeted me as if I was an old friend- amazing how one feeling can capture your thoughts and take you on a completely new direction. As idyllic as it all sounds (and 99% of the time it is!), pretty soon I found out I had also to be realistic about my new life here on Mallorca. So, here's my insider's view of life on the island…
The Lingo and The Locals #
One of the first things I realized? You must be prepared to learn one of the three local languages: Castellano (which is what we call "Spanish"), Catalan or the local Mallorquin dialect. It is not enough to simply up sticks and continue to communicate in your mother tongue, despite how large your expat community may be. A key part of integration into society involves conversing with the locals.
Having lived here for the last few years, I have found the locals to be incredibly patient and encouraging of those trying to grasp the lingo- in fact my best teacher is my local bar man. It is understandable that you will feel nervous and embarrassed (I’m British, it's in my DNA to feel this way!) but the minute you start talking, the minute you begin to feel that little bit more at home. It’s also amazing how once you start, your brain begins to think in Spanish- for example, when I return to the UK, I forever have to stop myself from saying ‘la cuenta por favor’ in a restaurant! The sooner you start chatting, the sooner you’ll feel part of Mallorca!
Preparing for the Weather #
Mallorca is completely surrounded by water. Sure enough, summers are hot and dry as the sun is high and from July till the end of August hardly a drop of water hits the island, but we get the dampest of winters. Growing up in the UK, I thought I was ready for this, but during the cold season the dampness hits you right to your bones- so it is vital you have some radiators (and warm clothing) in place- as Mallorcan properties aren’t overly well designed to cope with the temperatures drop. True, this is a downside of the Mediterranean Climate, but still we are blessed with an average of 300 days of sunshine. To draw your curtains on a January morning and see the blazing sun really does put a smile on your face!
The Expat Community #
Each section of the island has different expat communities varying in size, age and country of origin. Mallorca is incredibly popular with British and German citizens who choose to adopt the Spanish lifestyle, but that’s not to say that there aren’t other pockets of expat life here on the island. The beauty of expat communities is that you feel in touch with your roots, the knowledge that there are other people who have been through this journey before and are able to help you on your quest to settle into a new life on Mallorca. With the wonder tool that is Facebook, it’s easy to communicate with people in advance- but remember all of these communities are small (we are a tiny island after all!) so be sure to make friends everywhere you go.
Affordable Mallorca Tip: We recommend you join the Mallorca Expats Facebook group. Everybody in that group was new on the island at some point, so they understand that starting a new life in a foreign country can feel overwhelming at times. If you need practical advice or recommendations, just ask. There will always be someone willing to help.
The Spirit of Mañana #
As someone who worked and lived in London, I have occasionally struggled to come to terms with the pace of Mallorcan life, and quite how ‘retro’ certain things can be. Cooking with an oven that’s connected to a gas canister, and losing electricity and water were all things I had to get used to. However, it’s actually rather refreshing that there is not such a sense of ‘urgency’ here. Sunday is a sacred day used purely for family time. Religious festivals and holidays see the entire town closed for a day, and everyone united- unlike the UK where we seem to work 365 days a year, even Christmas Day sees corner shops and express stores open! Although the ‘mañana, mañana’ attitude can be a little frustrating at times (especially when you have no running water for 48 hours because of a plumbing problem) Mallorca has taught me to relax, and live life to the fullest- is there a greater joy than that?
Make Loads of Money? Hm. #
When I first came to Mallorca it was because of a job I had landed on the island, so I was (temporarily) safe in this respect. But I have seen time and again that job hunting, or setting up a business, particularly when you first arrive and may not be a natural with the language can seem scary and offer limited options. The seasonal nature of the island means that many positions are only available for 6-8 months of the year, so it’s learning how to save money to get yourselves through the winter months. Nobody should ever move to Mallorca and expect to become rich, because quite honestly, that’s not how things work here; yet whilst your pockets may not be lined with much, your lives will certainly feel richer in many other ways. Searching for a job in your mother tongue almost indefinitely sends you into the realm of travel and tourism- which is a great starting block and guaranteed income, and over time (with a grasp of Spanish) the island becomes your oyster!
What If? #
Even if you have no intentions of using it, having a back-up plan is a wise move. Sometimes the quiet winter months, the distance from family members or even the relaxed way of life may not be for you- and that is fine! The good old saying ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ certainly rings true for this- so be prepared that your ideas may not become your reality, and if that means changing direction or moving on to pastures new, then that is absolutely fine- just make sure you’re ready if that change occurs.
Prepare to have your Heart Stolen #
One thing that Mallorca does so effortlessly is capture your heart, and trap a little piece of it on the island forever. Every single time I leave, I feel I’ve left a part of me behind, and every time I return, I feel complete. The mountains merging with the ocean, the smiles on the faces of the local people and the summer buzz created by the abundant tourism- Mallorca is exceedingly special.
#Newlife #Mallorca #Travel #Wanderlust #Freshstart #Locals #Languagelearning #Preparation #Adventure
By Zoé Holmes
25 January, 2021