“It’s heaven here!” : Canary Islands attract European teleworkers en masse

General view of Las Palmas beach on the island of Gran Canaria. (JÉRÔME JADOT / RADIO FRANCE)

They fled France, its confinements and its health restrictions: in the Canary Islands, Spanish volcanic rocks posed on the Atlantic, European teleworkers have put down their suitcases, thanks to the various confinements imposed in Europe at the time of the Covid -19. With a great sun, 30 degrees permanently in spring, palm trees and beautiful beaches, Gran Canaria has everything to seduce, especially as the Covid-19 is not very present, with an incidence rate on the island of only 60 percent 000 inhabitants. Six times less than in France.

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Dining on the terrace and having a drink is also authorized and this wind of freedom attracts: according to tourism professionals, between 5,000 and 10,000 foreign teleworkers have temporarily taken up residence in the Canaries, including more and more French people. Among them, Jean *, in his thirties, IT project manager. Jean receives us in a shirt and leaves a Zoom meeting, in a swimsuit, all flip-flops outside.

At the end of the afternoon, I sit on the deckchair near the swimming pool, in front of the sea, to send my last emails.

Jean arrived here in January. He couldn’t stand the distancing 100% in his Parisian apartment and says he has rediscovered a taste for work and productivity. “A task in Paris could take me three hours, explains the thirty-something. Here, I do it in ten minutes because I have a lot of other cooler things to do! I don’t think we can do better in terms of working conditions: the gym is open, I have the restaurants just downstairs. Last Tuesday, I went to the opera: I had not been there for a year! It’s paradise here! “

Foreign employees teleworking on the terrace of their rental in Tenerife (Canary Islands) on March 30, 2021
Foreign employees teleworking on the terrace of their rental in Tenerife (Canary Islands) on March 30, 2021 (JEROME JADOT / FRANCEINFO / RADIO FRANCE)

Admittedly, paradise has been hardened a little because of high attendance during this Holy Week: the curfew has been set at 10 p.m. and the bars and restaurants are only open on the terrace. These are mainly European teleworkers and members of the same social network. They say they have also chosen the Canaries for the health system, the currency the euro, the time zone, a single hour difference with Paris and the cost of living there is reasonable in the eyes of Leila, who arrived in December.“I pay 400 euros, here, explains Leila. The rooms near the sea, normally, it’s more like 800 or even 1000 euros, but I negotiated. “

The restaurants are very good and not too expensive … Overall, it’s cheaper than in France.

And then there are all the activities: fitness or yoga in the morning on the beach, weekend hikes, or even surf lessons … In the Canary Islands, last year from 15 to 5 million tourists with the Covid, the arrival of these teleworkers keeps the boarding school run by Sergio Alvarez afloat. “Half of the clients are teleworkers, he indicates. They are good customers: they have time to surf … ” Suddenly the Canarian government is trying to develop this sector and has invested half a million euros in particular in an upcoming communication campaign targeting teleworkers in Europe and the United States.

Surf lessons at Oceanside School, in Tenerife (Canary Islands) on March 30, 2021. Half of the students are now foreign teleworkers.
Surf lessons at Oceanside School, in Tenerife (Canary Islands) on March 30, 2021. Half of the students are now foreign teleworkers. (JEROME JADOT / FRANCEINFO / RADIO FRANCE)

“Since last summer, we have seen growth of 10% every month, says Nacho Rodriguez, who manages workspaces and shared apartments for them. We have three roommates and they have been full since September. Most teleworkers are in the knowledge field, often well paid. They are obviously valuable visitors. “

Visitors that Nacho hopes will also last, beyond the health crisis. This would not displease Jean, whom we find at the edge of the swimming pool. But there is still a catch: “My company is not aware that I am here, he confides. Like many other companies, it does not allow teleworking abroad, for a lot of reasons, including tax or insurance. So I stay vague, I say I’m in the south. “ Under these conditions, tanning can sometimes become awkward in videoconferencing and some teleworkers use special lighting to hide their tanned complexion.

The Canaries are not the only ones to flirt with teleworkers. In a world where tourism is collapsing and remote working is exploding, these potentially nomadic workers are in high demand. Thus, the Portuguese island of Madeira has just launched a village for them with free workspaces. A little further away, Barbados, in the Caribbean, now offers them a one-year visa. Costa Rica offers them a two-year visa. Criteria of attractiveness among others, closely scrutinized by these workers: the Nomad List site ranks the best destinations in real time. In the Top 10, Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, is among those on the rise.

* The first name has been changed.

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