Valencia, the third largest city in Spain, is as yet undiscovered by so many. For expats looking to immerse themselves in both the Spanish language and culture, Valencia may just be the perfect Spanish city. Expat life in Valencia can certainly be easy going, offering a great quality of life with a lot more advantages than disadvantages.
Here is a list of pros and cons of moving to Valencia.
Accommodation in Valencia
+ PRO: Furnished and unfurnished accommodation is affordable
Accommodation is affordable in Valencia. Most areas are safe and well equipped with amenities. There is a wide variety of both furnished and unfurnished housing, with numerous ways of finding a place to stay, including online private advertising, agency windows and street advertisements.
- CON: Not many landlords speak English
Few private landlords speak English, so it's best to either learn enough Spanish to get by or take a Spanish-speaking or Valencian-speaking friend along when negotiating. Real-estate agents can also be helpful to navigate the language barrier.
- CON: Older areas have outdated apartments
Valencia's housing market is limited to apartment blocks, and while modern housing is available, many apartments in older areas have not been renovated in a long time. It’s best for house hunters to look for a reformado place.
Cost of living in Valencia
+ PRO: The cost of living is fairly low
Valencia is a good place to settle as the cost of living is fairly low compared to many other Spanish cities. Of course, it is relative to the majority of salaries here, but to eat or drink out can be very cheap if expats know the right places to go. Many cafes and restaurants offer a menú del día, which is usually a three-course meal with a drink for a decent set price.
- CON: Hard to find a job
Local career opportunities are limited and unemployment is an unfortunate issue, so securing a job can be a challenge. Despite the relatively low cost of living, expats who struggle to find employment may not see life here as so affordable.
Healthcare in Valencia
+ PRO: EU citizens can get free healthcare
EU citizens can obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before arrival in Valencia and this will allow them access to free national health services. However, many people recommend private health insurance for specialists.
- CON: Private clinics are expensive
There are lots of private clinics across the city, but the downside to using these is that a patient can end up paying a high price if they don't have health insurance.
Getting around in Valencia
+ PRO: Getting around is easy
Valencia is a fairly small city, making it very accessible. It has an underground metro and rail system that covers all of the city and beyond, and a tram that covers the northern areas of the city. Valencia is also bicycle friendly and new cycle lanes are constantly popping up all around the city. Public transport is also very reasonably priced.
- CON: Taxis tend to overcharge
Although usually quite reasonable, taxi drivers have been known not to put their meters on and overcharge for a trip, so expats need to watch out for this. If getting around in Valencia by taxi, note that there is a higher rate for nighttime and weekend trips.
Lifestyle in Valencia
+ PRO: Valencia is a green city
Valencia is far from a concrete jungle thanks to its many green spaces, trees and playgrounds. Interestingly, the Turia River once bisected the metropolis but was diverted after severe flooding in the 1960s; the remaining riverbed transformed into an extensive park, with sports fields, cycle paths, play and sports facilities. The Turia Gardens connect with the Valencia Bioparc and residents can also enjoy the city's lush botanical gardens.
+ PRO: Lots to see and do for the whole family
Valencia is a family-friendly city blessed with sunshine for almost nine months of the year. Families with kids can visit the uniquely-designed City of Arts and Sciences, among many other interactive museums. Young expats and music fans will frequently find open-air concerts and events. Active expats can save money by using one of the numerous outdoor gyms or go swimming in the Mediterranean for exercise. Foodies and shopaholics shouldn't miss the Mercat de Colón and the Central Market of Valencia.
+ PRO: Easy to make friends
Valencia consistently proves to be a favoured expat destination, and one reason is that it's so easy to make friends here. Despite the language barrier, expats find getting settled to be smooth sailing thanks to the friendly local population and residents who are always willing to help or have a conversation.
►See Culture Shock in Spain for what to prepare for when moving to Valencia
"At first, we had to get used to the fact that dinner is very late in Valencia. The locals will not enter a restaurant for dinner before 10pm, and that was something we really had to get used to. Another thing we had to get used to was the fact that it does not seem to be part of the Valencian culture to just start a conversation with people you don't know." Expats Dany and Thijs talk about the ups and downs of life in Valencia in this interview.
"Valencia is also a very nice size city, large enough to have plenty of culture and nightlife, but not so large and touristy as Madrid and Barcelona. This combination makes for a wonderful quality of life at a much more affordable price. I should add that another incredible and often overlooked feature of Valencia is its parks. The Turia Riverbed Park, which runs through the centre of town, is beautiful, and connects Calatrava’s iconic City of Arts and Sciences to the BioParc zoo with miles of public gardens... The truth is I’ve found few negatives in Valencia that aren’t also true of my hometown Austin." Get more insights by reading our interview with Zach Frohlich.
Are you an expat living in Valencia?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Valencia. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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