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Relocating to Tenerife: Finding a Job

You might have already read about why I decided to relocate to Tenerife and how I managed to find an apartment within four days, but none of this is much good without a job.

For many people the idea of moving somewhere like Tenerife is an attractive prospect.

Want to spend your afternoons here?

Our reason for coming to Tenerife was simply that we were not yet ready to return to Sweden after almost six months of travelling around South America, and finding a job mid-term is not easy for a high school English teacher like me.

Tenerife’s fantastic winter climate suits our needs perfectly while we stop and decide what we want for our future.

I contacted the International and language schools of the island on the off-chance that they had a vacancy. I knew that this was unlikely due to the time of year but it’s always worth a shot. I received plenty of positive feedback, including a potential teaching post for August 2012, but nothing immediate. Even private English lessons are hard to come by.

Life on a paradise island is an appealing thought but the reality can be very different.

The ‘Situations Vacant’ section doesn’t even make a full page of the fortnightly paper

The current economic climate has hit Spain hard, with high unemployment being a big issue.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the Jobs section of the Tenerife forum.

Recent comments on the forum include:

“We have over 30% unemployment in Spain at the moment… Things are really tough! You might want to re-think your plans as jobs are very scarce right now.”

“Jobs are hard to find… finding jobs is possible but you have to really put yourselves out there, and I mean really.”

“…been here just over a year, still scratching around for work…”

“I hate to sound negative here. But prepare yourself for a tough time. There is work as already said. But there isn’t much and it’s not well paid.”

Jobs are available on Tenerife but the selection is limited, particularly in the south where most vacancies are linked to the tourist industry: jobs in bars and restaurants being the most common.

Without a decent grasp of the Spanish language retail, bar, and restaurant work may be hard to come by.

There are plenty of PR jobs – these are the jobs where you stand outside a bar or a restaurant trying to get people inside. Pay is on a commission basis and the days are long, with some PRs standing outside in the hot sun from 9am until 8pm—sometimes 6 days a week. The low pay often leads to desperate and aggressive sales tactics out on the street, unpleasant for both seller and potential customer.

Are you pushy enough to drag people into the bar?

If selling is your thing then you might hit the jackpot as there are plenty of sales jobs available: from telemarketing to timeshare, lotions and jewelery to excursions, there is no shortage of companies requiring sales reps, and for the right person this could be a great opportunity. However if selling is not your thing then you might want to steer clear, as many of these operations work on a commission basis and there is nothing more disheartening than working a full day with nothing to show for it.

Click this link for an insightful post regarding the reality of the employment situation here.

Here is my best advice for job-hunting in Tenerife:

  • Don’t assume that experience or qualifications guarantee work. Many people are not working in their field of expertise—most are doing what they can just to get by
  • Be prepared to do any sort of work when you first arrive
  • Learn Spanish, this will greatly increase your employability on the island
  • Take a holiday on the island beforehand and make some contacts that can help you search for work
  • Ask locals and long-term residents for advice, or use the forum if you are not on the island
  • Have enough money saved to see you through the first few months, even when you are earning you are likely to rely on savings. £2000 per person is the absolute minimum you should have available
  • Don’t expect a high salary, you won’t find it on Tenerife

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  1. says:

    That sounds like an adventurous way of life. Good luck to anyone that wants to live and work in Tenerife.
    Sneakers recently posted..Where is Tenerife; I’m ready to travelMy Profile

    1. It is a fun way of life never knowing what’s around the next corner! You’re quite right to wish luck to anybody trying to find work in Tenerife: work is easy to find, but work that pays enough to live off is not!

    2. Alan bricklayer says:

      My partner and I are coming to live and work in tenerife in august I am a bricklayer she a teacher is it really so hard to find work how about working on maintaining the expats. Properties gardening building or window cleaning on a self employed basis any info would be gold dust thankyou

      1. Hi, work is not easy to find in Tenerife. Most people that I spoke to said that you should come with enough money to support yourself for 2 years. You may find work in the meantime, but most of the good jobs are gained through word of mouth, and recommendations so it takes time. We had to leave as we didn’t have enough to support ourselves for 2 years, and what we had ran out very quickly 🙁

        Go there and give it a go. Make yourselves known to the expat community and use the websites to find information. Good luck!

        We are hoping to go back again in a few years time. This time with more money.

  2. Bob says:

    Unemployment is really bad in Tenerife it is in fact the second worst place in Europe to find a job with unemployment in the south of the island approaching 40 %. I have lived here 12 years, made redundant 2 years ago and not found anything since…The jobs that are around , are mostly illegal with no contract or social security , or the typical , get a contracted for 2 hours but work 8 scenario. You have to be quite mad to re locate here now..I unfortunately will have to go back home if things do not improve simply because in the uk you have loads more benefits with which t support a family on. Here you are buggered as benefits such as housing benefit and child benefit do not exist

    1. I am sorry to hear that you have had such a bad time over the past few years. I saw a lot of unemployment in Tenerife, and can easily believe that it is as high as 40%. I managed to find a job, but all of my colleagues were working two or three other jobs and barely making ends meet. I saw plenty of jobs offered with no contract or social security. Thankfully we only planned to try it out for 3 months until the winter had passed so we could come back to Sweden, which is where we are now. I would have liked to stay, but I wasn’t prepared to work 3 jobs and still have no money to speak of. Tenerife is a beautiful island and would be a great place to live if you could support yourself financially.

      Unfortunately, the week I left I was offered a job in a good school on the north of the island, but had already taken a job back in Sweden.

  3. i lived in tenerife for 4 years and after the 1st year my disability money stopped housing benefit stopped theres no NHS there my epilepsy tablets were £80 a month so i had to fly back home to get 3 months tablets free and that was a flight costing between £100-£200 or sometimes if a mate is coming over id get them to bring it over for me if u cant speak fully spanish you can only do bar work,cleaning or construction there is very little work out there 2 of my mates over there want to come back to the UK but cant because one of them has a baby to somebody and the other is running a bar

    1. Yes, it really is difficult to get work out there. Annoyingly, I have just been offered work there in a good school – it’s a shame I left 6 months ago 🙁

  4. ALEX says:

    Hey there,

    Funny you all say that Tenerife is at a very bad condition on employment… I went there on vacations in the beggining of the this month and as soon as I asked about a job at 3 or 4 places, they all had vacancies and wanted me to leave the CV… and they all had job offers at several levels… can’t understand why you say it’s so bad…
    Maybe there’s something that I’m not catching up…

    1. I say it’s so bad because unemployment is currently at 35% in the Canaries. If you found work there, good on you, but that is certainly not the norm. When I was there I spoke with many, many people about employment on the island. It is very common for people to work two or even three jobs just to make ends meet. Of those people, most of them lived off their savings for a long time before a reasonable job came up.

      As I said in the article, you can easily get PR work in the bars, and sales jobs are everywhere – but many of them only pay commission. If you don’t sell, you don’t earn. I took one of these jobs for 8 weeks. The most I earned in a day was €48 and that was only once. Most days I made less than €5, and on many nothing at all. I was offered other, similar jobs, but to be honest, I would rather work elsewhere than work for free. I am a teacher, and there were no teaching vacancies on the island for me to apply to.

      Out of interest, which jobs were you offered and what is the pay?

    2. lezel ellos says:

      Hello did you find a job in tenerife?

  5. says:

    Very good article! Were have you been before!? ))) ..before I came HERE, and spent 5 months on Tenerife almost without being employed.
    Have +/- EXACT scenario and observations..

  6. Steven Etchells says:

    I got there last year for a fortnights holiday and I got.ask too stay AMD thay would put me up in the hotel and a decent salary.gym instructing.look in hotels.there is loads of work,don’t believe the year of my life.

    1. Thank you for your comment, it sounds like you had a good deal there.

      However, it is difficult to find work in Tenerife. I presume that you have some kind of qualification, or at least experience, in gym instruction? It is not so easy for people who can’t offer skilled work in that way, yet many people go there looking for easy work. It is also difficult depending on the type of work you are skilled in. I am a teacher, but there were no teaching jobs available while I was there, and the schools said that they did not foresee vacancies in the near future (despite really wanting to hire me). I could perhaps have found a few students for individual tuition, but that would not have made ends meet so I left for a teaching job elsewhere in Europe.

      Of course some people will get lucky, but this is not the norm. Many people leave after a few months.

    2. lezel ellos says:

      Hello did you find a job in tenerife?

  7. Don’t expect a high salary in Tenerife? That somewhat surprises me.
    How about the rest of the Canary Islands? Like Gran Canaria, for example…

  8. […] Relocating to Tenerife: Finding a Job – … – Our reason for coming to Tenerife was simply that we were not yet ready to return to Sweden after almost six months of travelling around South America, and … […]

  9. says:

    Committed, hard-working individuals required to work as field associates all areas of Tenerife and Barcelona. A great opportunity to earn some extra money outside of working hours and develop your skills. Assosia is a UK company, with a client base made up of many blue-chip companies. We have projects ranging from one-off ad-hoc product pickups, to regular purchasing. Fees will vary according to the size and complexity of the job. If you are interested in becoming part of a growing worldwide network of top class shoppers, please send me an email (jasmine[at] or a private message for an application form and further details.

  10. Michele Merino says:

    Try learning to speak decent SPANISH!!! How can you expect to get work without it???? How presumptuous can you get???? And I don’t mean a “dos cervezas, por favor” Spanish….but FLUENT Spanish. Otherwise don’t bother…just go for a holiday. ENTENDIERON, MIS AMORES?????

    1. I presume you didn’t read the part where I advised “Learn Spanish, this will greatly increase your employability on the island” before you posted? Also, I don’t drink beer. Have a good day x


    I have the honor to greet you . My name is Dragan Costy and engineer professor and specialist in electromechanical power plants but also project manager and human resources and trainer and I would like to work in Tenerife . I would be grateful if you help me to work there . I am 52 years old and wish I had the chance to can practice there. Awaiting your answer thank you . My email address and we phone is 0040760168303 .

  12. robin currell says:

    i want to arrive as your worker in 6weeks what works do you have i do hundreds of all types of work with all your tourist arrivals .. if you need my info ie exactly what i do …….. i am a uk man .. am based in alfaz del pi … i want to return to your areas as i have been in canaries previous … i believe tenerife is the great touristic place ….. my email is…. i will do everything ok…. i look forward to your work and jobs info as soon as posssssible ok gracias .

  13. waqas says:

    hi, i am from Norway. i was in tenerife south for a week and really love this place. is there any work for me? pls email me
    i want to relocate to tenerife.

  14. John Electrician says:

    We have visited Tenerife several times and on returning home we have decided to search for jobs(we are both retired, 68 & 67. I am an installation electrician & my wife a teacher in Latvian, English and some Russian. We both speak some Spanish, but nowhere near fluent. Finding jobs is difficult, but it has been suggested that to start your own property maintenance business would be a good way to be employed. So is there another person out there that would be interested in starting a ‘property maintenance’ business on the island. If so, please email me at:

  15. Tenerife sounds like a perfect destination!

  16. says:

    People who expect to find jobs on Tenerife will have a difficult time finding a way to make money on the island. The best way to find employment on Tenerife is to arrive on the island and ensure that you have enough money to survive on before you find work, as well as to actively seek work and hand out your CVs to potential employers.

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