The REAL Mallorca #
Forget about everything you’ve heard. We will show what it’s like to live, work, and play on the most diverse and eclectic island in the Mediterranean.
“I would sooner be a foreigner in Spain than most countries. How easy it is to make friends in Spain!” – George Orwell
When my husband and I decided to move for the second time in eleven months, we had a short list of places that would work for us both and for us as a family. So, we hopped a plane from Barbados, where we were wrapping up our year-long adventure and came back to Europe to explore a few places we thought we’d all like.
We had a short list of absolute requirements… things like mild climate, good schools, a decent sized international community, and a bit of artistic flair. We made the rounds to our short list destinations and came away feeling somewhat let down.
A friend, who had recently moved from India, asked why we didn’t consider Mallorca. My husband, who hadn’t been here since the 1980’s, instantly turned his nose up. “Magaluf,” was all he said. I, on the other hand, had only had good experiences on the island, and had been sheltered enough by friends living here, that I had never even heard of Magaluf and what it at one time represented. So after a bit of badgering, and a bit of desperation, he made another transatlantic trip to visit. Within a day, he was enchanted.
Such is the diversity and appeal of Mallorca, that even the staunchest presuppositions give way to utter bliss exploring for a few days on this magic isle.
More Than a Party? It Always Has Been #
Apparently, Mallorca was once known as a place for outrageous stag dos and hen nights. That part of the culture went right over my head. I had only been here for glorious weddings and amazing, sun-filled long weekends with friends. But it wasn’t until we landed here full-stop that I got to see what makes this island so incredibly different and special from other places.
It's one thing to dip in and out of a place, and another to live in it every day. Some people like to say they get “island fever” and go mad unless they can escape to the mainland for “civilization”. I must admit to being slightly mystified by this, as Mallorca doesn’t FEEL like an isolated place that needs to be escaped from. When thinking about why this is, I came up with a few things.
There is the diversity of the land, for one. It still seems inconceivable that so many landscapes can occur in 3,640.11 km². It is possible to visit majestic mountains, sweeping plains, and spectacular coastlines all in the same day.
Then there are the towns and villages, themselves. Charm oozes from every stone, and whilst rather thematic in their similarities, each one manages to have its own flavour and allure. For example, charming, rustic Valldemossa is no more the same as the striking coastal village of Deia than England is to Spain. Add in the vibrant expat communities, which bring their own character and customs to the mix and you have a place that is nearly impossible to get bored with.
On a more practical note, there is a vast network of excellent schools. Local state schools are in most every village and are free to residents. If total immersion is your goal, this is a good choice, as the kids are taught in Catalan and Castellano only. If being thrown into the deep end isn’t your style, there are also several international and private schools which give students the chance to learn in several languages and make friends with other kids from all over the world.
The island also has many conveniences. There are major supermarket chains where you can find most anything you’d need or want, even things from “back home”, international brands, such as Ikea, H&M and Starbucks, a well-working public transport system, and a major airport.
Finally, crime is very low here. Sure, there is the odd break-in or crime of opportunity, but by and large, its safe here. Moreover, if a scammer does try to infiltrate, they are soon unmasked. It is a small place, and word gets around quickly, so the baddies don’t tend to last long here.
Not getting bored is great and all, but how to fund all this? There are three main industries on the island. Tourism, agriculture and traditional industries such as shoe, jewellery - furniture making, textiles, and handicrafts are the big three. The yachting industry is a major player, too, spawning hundreds of businesses that cater to this sector. Many people here also choose to work remotely, allowing a flexibility in schedule not possible in a regular office setting.
When the workday is done, you can turn your thoughts to what to do this weekend!
The breadth of things to do in one’s free time is astounding. You can easily fill your day with outdoor activities you never even thought about before. If you’ve ever dreamed of scaling a mountain, or horseback riding at sunset or giving paddleboard yoga a go, it’s all possible to do here. With roughly 300 days of sun, you can pack a lot of fun into every day.
But if your idea of play doesn’t include working up a sweat, there are loads of other things available to do on the island. The shopping is world class. Palma is packed with chic boutiques and major label stores, not to mention two El Corte Ingles Department Stores. Museums and art galleries big and small are dotted around the island and cater to many different interests. There is live music for every taste. And if you fancy sampling the local grog, there are wine tasting tours that provide you with not only a few bottles to take home, but also teach how wine is produced and what makes each vineyard unique.
And if all this activity works up an appetite, you’ll be spoilt for choice as there are so many fabulous restaurants to choose from.
So, that’s it. That’s my spiel. If you’re looking for a new home, or a place to visit again and again, take another look at Mallorca. There are more reasons than ever to make it your home!
Affordable Mallorca Tip: If you want more specific info, check out the Passion for Palma app. Available on iTunes, Google Play and Windows Phone.
By Stephanie Horsman
12 March, 2019