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Moving to Valencia

Home to one of Spain’s most famous dishes, paella, expats moving to Valencia will get an authentic taste of life on the Iberian Peninsula’s eastern coast. Medieval landmarks meet futuristic architectural designs in Valencia, a city known for being a cultural hub of innovation, science and art.

Extensive green spaces, cobbled alleys and streets lined with orange trees characterise the environment of Spain’s third-largest city. The diverted riverbed of the Turia River transformed into an urban park is a predominant feature in the city, and Valencia’s residents enjoy its playgrounds, sports fields and cycle paths year round.

From lush gardens to golden beaches, Valencia’s high quality of life is very much apparent. Expats relocating to Valencia can rest assured that the cost of living is much lower than in Madrid and Barcelona. Affordable healthcare is accessible and, as a port city, Valencia boasts sound public transport infrastructure with various options for getting around. Families with children will also find a high standard of education at public and international schools.

In the same vein, Valencia is home to numerous universities and colleges which appeal to local and international students and contribute to the city’s open-minded atmosphere and flair for innovation, technology and creativity.

Its reputation as a cultural and creative hub is evidenced by its interesting street art and expats can also indulge in several art galleries and museums which host frequent exhibitions. Valencia’s unique futuristic architecture cannot be ignored either, such as the City of Arts and Sciences and the impressive L'Oceanogràfic aquarium.

On the one hand, these ultra-modern projects contrast the historical structures such as the Valencia Cathedral and the 14th-century Torres de Serranos. On the other hand, expats appreciate this mix and find themselves residing in accommodation which incorporates modern amenities with access to traditional comforts.

This is especially so for expats living in Ciutat Vella, the old town, while the crowded terraces in the Canovas and Ruzafa neighbourhoods are also constantly buzzing. Many expats also choose to live outside the city in towns and villages, such as L’Eliana, Puçol or Betera, which offer spacious villas and cheaper rentals than the city centre.

However, despite being an enchanting expat destination, Valencia's unfortunate reality for many expats is that job opportunities are limited. The economic climate has evolved from the once-thriving silk trade industry to its exports of wine, and oranges and other citrus fruits. However, securing employment in Valencia is not easy for everyone, and this means getting a Spanish work visa is an added hurdle.

Nevertheless, expats working in Valencia and those able to pursue their career find that the opportunities of things to see and do abound. New arrivals will soon settle in with the Valencian locals and learn to appreciate the small things in life, and, of course, the delicious Spanish cuisine.

Pros and cons of moving to Valencia

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.

 

Getting Around in Valencia

It is easy to get around Valencia – the traffic is busy but manageable, roads and bike paths are in good condition and there are reliable and affordable public transport options such as the bus and the rail system.

Additionally, thanks to sunny, warm weather, and the flat landscape and its infrastructure, cycling and walking are both viable options for getting around Valencia.


Public transport in Valencia

Public transport fares depend on the distance travelled: Zone A is within the city centre whereas Zones B, C and D are for longer distances. Passengers can buy a single ticket, though getting a ten-journey ticket is a better deal.

Light railway, metro and tram services are combined in the Metrovalencia transport network, and frequent users of this system can get the TuiN smart card.

Metro

The metro, or underground, connects the city pretty well, though routes are more limited in the south of the city. The metro is the fastest and easiest way to the airport (it takes approximately 30 minutes from the city centre). Valencia’s metro system is much smaller than Madrid and Barcelona's metropolitan underground schemes, but it's still one of the fastest and most reliable ways to get around.

Trams

Valencia's tram system is integrated with the metro and reaches areas in the north of the city, including the beach. However, expats should note that services are limited late at night, and buses and taxis are good alternatives.

Buses

The bus is another way of moving around the city. There are also some buses operating at night, but it´s better to check the timetable beforehand as they only run once every one or two hours. A great option for short trips out of the city is the Metrobus – these yellow buses connect the city with nearby villages and the fares are relatively cheap.

While understanding route maps may be a bit of a challenge for some new arrivals, it's easy to find a bus stop and follow the route using Google Maps.

Buses are known to be less reliable than the underground – don't be surprised if a bus route is diverted due to a demonstration, procession or race without realising where the everyday bus stop has moved.


Taxis in Valencia

Taxis are a useful way of getting around in Valencia, especially after 11pm when public transport options are limited. Note that night and weekend fees are applicable, and rides outside of peak weekday hours can cost significantly more.

Expats can hail a taxi from an app or phone for one. Expats hoping to travel outside of Valencia by car can find carpooling options using apps and websites such as BlaBlaCar.


Driving in Valencia

Expats can easily live in Valencia without a car, but if deciding to buy or rent one, there are some things to be prepared for, particularly in terms of parking. It is possible to find free parking, although in the city centre and other busy areas this may be less easy. There are also public car parks throughout and around the city, and expats can easily continue their commute using public transport.

Be aware that double parking is common in Valencia and many drivers leave almost no distance between parked cars. It's not advised to follow this example; the parking fine and the costs for a tow truck will be high. Also, always check the parking signs around and whether there is a yellow line.

Valencia is ideal for riding a scooter – they are fast, cheap and can be parked almost anywhere.


Walking and cycling in Valencia

The weather is sunny and warm for most of the year, so walking is a good option – and even at night time, it’s generally safe to walk in Valencia.

Another great option is to ride a bicycle – the city is well connected by bike paths. The weather, the size and the flat landscape makes Valencia a perfect city for riding a bike. It's a good idea to invest in a good bike lock, as bicycle theft is a problem.

The city also has a public bike scheme known as Valenbisi. Cycling is a great and healthy way to get around, but many Valenbisi users report that the bicycles are heavy and sometimes it's difficult to park them – parking spots at the bike stations are limited and the availability can vary. 


Boat travel in Valencia

Thanks to its coastal geography, Valencia has a status as a port city, and ferry travel is on the cards in Valencia. There are frequent ferry routes between Valencia and the Balearic Islands, including Menorca, Mallorca and Ibiza. While sea travel can be a viable alternative to flying, schedules are subject to change and ticket prices can be quite high.