I soon will leave Las Palmas after five years living here. It is a good time to look back at the city and share my likes and dislikes of living here.
The experience has mostly been a positive one, but Las Palmas is a real city with real potential and some challenges.
Good reasons for living in Las Palmas
Las Palmas weather gets a bad rap from some people. Usually, they are expats living in the south. They may have visited Las Palmas one day, and it was cloudy. They then become experts on the weather in Las Palmas.
Here is my take from living in Las Palmas for five years. Yes, Las Palmas gets more cloud then the south. From my experience, Las Palmas has cloudy days about 20% of the time. The other 80% of days are blue skies. Four out of five ain’t bad. On the 20% cloudy days, it is still mostly over 20c.
I could never live in a place where I did not feel welcome. Thankfully the people in Las Palmas are friendly and polite. It is a city where you will be offered a seat on a bus. A place where staff in bars and restaurants are respectful. Young and older seem to mix without problems.
Living in Las Palmas feels safe. I know crime exists here, but I have never experienced it. The only time I have seen violence is when I saw a Swedish woman knock out a Swedish man in an Irish bar.
Ok, I suppose it depends on where you are coming from. In terms of Northern Europe, Las Palmas is good value. Food and drink in bars and restaurants will cost you substantially less than most of Europe. Las Palmas is also cheaper than the south of Gran Canaria.
Two cities in one
Las Palmas has two main areas where people live and socialise.
Triana and Vegueta are where the city started and could be called the historic area. The feel here is very Spanish. There are numerous restaurants located down narrow streets to wine and dine.
Las Canteras is the beach area. Playa las Canteras 3km long and one of the best city beaches in the world. A few streets away are some of the busiest shopping areas in the city.
Good bus service
Las Palmas has an efficient and cheap city bus service. In the five years, I lived in Las Palmas the bus price did not change.
The city also has an excellent bus service to most other towns in Gran Canaria. In the south bus services to many places in Gran Canaria are limited.
There is always something on in Las Palmas
From free concerts in Parque Santa Catalina. Canarian folk music and dance in Parque Doramas. Street theatre in Plaza Santa Ana there is always something happening every week in Las Palmas.
The city tries to be better
Las Palmas is continually trying to make itself a better place to live. New pedestrian areas are being built. A new bus metro line is in progress. Compared to the south which looks like it is in a timewarp Las Palmas is on the move in many ways.
Not so good reasons to live in Las Palmas
Those fecking ambulances
Ok, this might sound like a strange thing to complain about, but it is top of my don’t like things. I have never seen so many ambulances in a city in my life. Now that should be a good thing but.
These yellow ambulances can be seen all over the city every day. The sirens are blaring all the time. The rule seems to be if an ambulance is in motion they have a siren on. Emergency or no emergency. I have not seen this in any other place before. Not even in other parts of Gran Canaria.
I do believe that 90% of the time there is no emergency. The reason I believe this is because if they were all emergency situations there would be no one left alive in the city by now.
Ok in five years I have to say I still do not understand it. Walking on Las Palmas footpaths can be stressful. You are walking in a direct line, and suddenly a local person changes direction, and a collision now is imminent.
At first, I used to change direction as I noticed none of the locals would. I was baffled as I know it is not an aggressive thing. After a while, I grew tired of this and adopted a strategy. When I see someone walking towards me after they have changed direction, I just put my head down to the street. 100% of the time now the local seems to see me and changes direction.
When I am faced with a large family coming at me, and I am expected to walk out onto the traffic I use my nuclear option. I target the youngest child and put my head down. Then a miracle happens as the parents begin to panic, and a gap suddenly appears.
Las Palmas customs
I only buy online if I cannot find an item in a shop. I am amazed at how you can track the package progress.
My most recent Amazon purchase took just six days to go from Kentucky, Indiana, Cologne and Madrid. UPS should be proud of themselves. As good as UPS is they are no match for Las Palmas customs.
It has now been over two weeks since my package arrived in Las Palmas, and it has not been able to do the final 2km to my apartment. My experience is it will take over a month or not come at all. Five emails remain unanswered.
Lack of opportunity
When I say lack of opportunity, I am speaking about the local people. Unemployment is over 20% despite the record tourist numbers over the past few years.
Many young people are forced to go to work in mainland Spain or further. Tourism, Government and the service industry are really the only jobs available. The city needs something else to fill the gap.
I always think Las Palmas would be perfect for the I.T sector. The government talks big about creating new jobs, but nothing changes. Talk is cheap.
My overall impression of Las Palmas after five years is very positive. It is a great city to live in. I will miss it.
For more things to do in Las Palmas click here.
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