"We quit the UK to retire early in Lanzarote - we're living the dream"

A couple who quit the UK to retire early in Lanzarote say they are now "living the dream" mortgage-free in the sun. Helen and Stephen Walker decided to take the plunge after a horrid year in which three people close to them died. They quit their property business, sold their three-bed semi in Cosby, Leics., and relocated to Yaiza, a town on the Canary island. Helen, 56, and Stephen, 55, are now financially free and spend their days exploring and relaxing. They say they'd never have been able to retire in the UK at their age - but life is much cheaper in Lanzarote. Helen said: “We’re living the dream. We never got a break at home. “We could never afford to take early retirement in the UK." Helen and Stephen rarely went on holiday as they were self-employed. And, even when they were away, they’d be answering phone calls and messages. But one year Helen convinced Stephen to come away on holiday to Lanzarote 0 and they fell in love with the place. She said: “We came to Lanzarote and loved it so much. “We were walking straight out to sea and he turned around and said 'I could live here'. “I said I could live here as well.” With Brexit in motion, Helen and Stephen then had to act fast if they wanted their dream to become a reality. They became more determined to go for it after losing three friends and family members in one year. Helen said: “We lost three people in that year. We thought 'We need to do it now. “We can’t think about the kids here – we’re going before grandchildren. Otherwise we’d never do it.” They found it hard to leave their children behind but their youngest daughter, Kate Walker, now 22, went to live with their son James Sorrell, 29. Helen said: “We put the house on the market. “In December 2019 we travelled all down the island looking at where we wanted to live. “We found a newbuild in Yaiza and thought ‘this is the place’.” The couple sold their UK home for £225k, and bought the three-bedroom Lanzarote property for £220k. They moved out in January 2020 and purchased the empty property in February – before lockdown hit in March. Helen said: “Luckily we had the kitchen done before lockdown.”. The pair have since spent around €40k renovating their home in Lanzarote – and have no mortgage and low bills. They were shedding out £650-a-month on a mortgage, and £230 for their gas, electric and water bills in the UK. Helen said: “There’s no mortgage and no finance. It’s a lot cheaper here to live. I could never retire in the UK.” The retired couple spend their days going on walks around the island, going for a coffee and lunch together and having chilled evenings in front of the TV. They go out for food or drinks when friends are visiting and around once a week together. Helen said: “Our fitness is fantastic. We do 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day. “We travel around the island. We can travel from one end of the island to the other in 45 minutes. “My view is the Timanfaya national park. The language barrier is a problem sometimes but we’re learning Spanish.” Helen has “no regrets” but does miss her kids. She said: “It’s just lovely but I miss my children. Taking my kids to the airport after a visit is the hardest thing. “I cry and cry. But we’re only a four hour flight away.” Helen said Lanzarote has now become a home for the couple. She said: “We’re never bored. There’s always something to do. This is my home.”