Over 16,000 expats live successfully in Mallorca. | Mancomunitat Pla de Mallorca


As much as I adore living here in sun-kissed Mallorca, if I’m totally honest, the past twenty years haven’t always been one entirely, idyllic, bed of fragrant roses. However, the majority of our island experiences have been truly amazing, and life here continues to impress and inspire, with the wonderful climate, the fascinating culture, the relaxed lifestyle, and the unstoppable ‘joie de vivre’ which flourishes across the island.

Relocating anywhere abroad is naturally both exciting and daunting in equal measure. Yet the prospect of stepping outside your comfort zone, and leaving behind everything you are familiar with, can also be truly terrifying. Paddling in unexplored waters on holiday is a completely different adventure to jumping in at the deep end with a permanent move. And no matter how much research you do beforehand, or how well you might think you know the island, that final move will always flag up a few unexpected surprises.

Over 16,000 expats live successfully in Mallorca, giving testament to the fact that there is nothing you can’t overcome. Yet sadly, there will always be those who couldn’t quite cut the cultural mustard, or hack the complications of bureaucratic frustration, which sadly is one of the key factors which usually sends people heading for home.

Mallorca continues to rank super-highly as one of the most popular islands to visit in the entire world! And remains one of Europe’s top holiday destinations, despite recent protests sending confused signals for tourists to ‘stay away’. It’s also a brilliant place to live, so, with previous Island experience, settling into the way of foreign things here should be as simple as slipping on a perfectly fitting glove . . . shouldn’t it?

Without doubt, a truly successful lifestyle change is absolutely achievable, and quite evident by the number of expats happily enjoying life here to the full. You don’t necessarily ‘need’ to speak the lingo to survive, although it certainly helps; yet it’s an absolute ‘must’ if you want to get the most out of a new life here in the sun.

At the very least, you must learn a few words to help you fit in, and endear yourselves to your ‘jolly’ Mallorcan neighbours! And you definitely need to know the difference between an ‘albondiga’ and an ‘abogado’. We have an English friend who was always confusing the two when she first came out here. Mind you, she also thought ‘Puchini’ was a local mushroom, and arroz brut was an aftershave! For the record – an ‘albondiga’ is actually a meatball; the other one is a lawyer. And both are important institutions here on the Island.

Anything here in Mallorca which involves even the slightest whiff of legality usually involves a mountain of paperwork, and often turns a dream into a veritable nightmare, as you never seem to have the ‘right’ piece of paper or the appropriate documents to satisfy Spain’s exacting and changeable standards!

The pathway of bureaucracy here is astonishing, and you almost need a university degree to master any form filling. Luckily, Other Half is fluent in ‘Castellano’ yet still finds navigating online websites a nightmare, especially when they’re in Catalan!

Recently, we tried to apply online for the latest TIE cards, as the green paper ‘fiascos’ are no longer generally accepted abroad! I say recently, but that was over six months ago, and in the end, we sought help from our friendly ‘gestor’ who took over the dirty deed for us. Yet, even with professional help it still took months to secure two appointments. And ridiculously, even as a married couple, you are required to book two individual appointments, often on different days and definitely at different times.

45 days after our official appointments, the said TIE cards will be processed and ready to collect. Why so long? We are now waiting for yet another appointment to claim the official cards, but hey ho, I’m sure it will happen, eventually!

We also recently applied to renew our Spanish driving licenses, which was a much simpler affair. However, we have to wait up to 10 weeks for the definitive licenses to arrive by regular ‘post’. Now that bothers me! Last week I received a birthday card that was posted from the UK two months ago! Mind you, we have a provisional piece of paper to show the traffic police if we’re pulled over. And if they don’t arrive (the licenses that is, not the police) then we’re informed that we just have to re-apply! I told you that bureaucracy here was mind numbing!

Knowledge of how all things work here is totally empowering, and that’s why we have always opted for professional assistance, and are lucky enough to be supported by a brilliant legal firm in Palma who deal with every aspects of the Mallorcan law. No problem is too large or too small, offering that legalistic safety net which provides confidence, and makes a huge difference to your peace of mind when living here!

I often wonder if those poor, frustrated souls who gave up, would have felt differently if they were able to navigate the system with a little professional help. Yes! You can do everything yourself. And lots of people do, very successfully! But the moment things go wrong, then it becomes a nightmare! And that feeling of anxiety and despair could be the difference between staying and quitting!