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Moving to Valencia

Expats moving to Valencia will find themselves in a multicultural and welcoming city, which offers a great alternative to other Spanish cities such as Madrid and Barcelona. Valencia is Spain’s third-largest city with a population of around 790,000; it’s big enough to be considered a metropolis, yet small enough not to overwhelm new arrivals. 

Expats living in Valencia enjoy the crowded terraces in the Canovas and Ruzafa neighbourhoods, as well as the old city centre. Many expats also choose to live outside the city in villages such as L’Eliana, Puçol or Betera, which are very well connected with Valencia by public transport. These areas offer spacious villas, international schools, shopping centres and, above all, much cheaper rentals than the city.

The cost of living in Valencia is lower than Madrid and Barcelona. Property prices have dropped significantly in recent crisis years but expat-friendly neighbourhoods such as Canovas and Avenida de Francia remain expensive. Rental prices are not as high as in Madrid or Barcelona, but there are expensive pockets of the city, generally overlooking the central park (Riu Turia). The port is also a nice place to live, but rentals are not abundant because of the high demand due to the proximity of the universities. 

Valencia has a large expat community, and continues to attract foreigners. The city is also a popular tourist destination and offers several interesting sites to explore, particularly in the city centre. The Ciudad de Artes y Ciencias is a futuristic multi-use building complex that attracts thousands of visitors to the Riu Turia. The Malvarrosa beach offers sea and sun for young and old. The Torres de Serrano, Plaza de la Virgin, Plaza Ayuntamiento, Mercado Central, and many other sites offer a unique mix of traditional and modern.

Gastronomically, the region is home to Paella Valenciana, Spain’s most famous dish. Rice dishes are an important part of the Spanish culture. “Come to Valencia for the paella and stay for many other reasons” is a well-known slogan. Those other reasons are not hard to find, one in particular being the attractive climate.

Valencia offers expats a relaxed lifestyle and many opportunities to keep fit in the natural beauty that surrounds the city. All three provinces in the Comunidad Valenciana offer many hiking, biking and climbing options. The nearest ski station is only 62 miles (100km) away from the city. 

Expats will find that Valencia offers a high standard of healthcare with many top-class hospitals. The city is also home to numerous universities that offer quality education and create an interesting and open-minded atmosphere.

Getting Around in Valencia

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

Additionally, thanks to its optimal size, sunny and warm weather, the flat landscape and its infrastructure, riding a bike or walking is one of the best choices for getting around Valencia


Public transport in Valencia

Underground

The Metro (underground) connects the city pretty well except in the south of the city. Valencia’s underground network is nowhere near as large as most metropolitan underground schemes, but it's still one of the fastest, handiest and most reliable ways to get around.

The underground is integrated with the tram system in Valencia. Fares depend on the distance travelled – Zone A is within the city centre whereas Zones B, C, D are for longer distances, some up to 18 miles (30km) from the city centre. For regular use, the best deal is to get a ten-journey bono (travel card). Also, the underground is the fastest, cheapest and easiest way to the airport (it takes approximately 30 minutes from the city centre).

The downside of the underground is the somewhat limited timetable – it runs until around 11pm (with some exceptions for festivities).

Buses

The bus is another way of moving around the city, but it's a bit of a challenge to understand the route maps as they are not very user-friendly. Buses are less reliable than the underground – don´t be surprised if a bus route is diverted due to a demonstration, a race or a procession, without realising where the everyday bus stop has moved. 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.

Buses are slightly more expensive than the underground Zone A. If planning on using both the bus and the underground, there is also a convenient option for a combined card.

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 comparatively cheap.


Taxis in Valencia

Taxis are very affordable and useful, especially after 11pm when public transport options are limited. The night fares are applicable from 9pm to 7am. Some ride-hailing apps are available in Valencia, but these have been subject to restrictions in the city in recent years.


Driving in Valencia

One can easily live in Valencia without a car, but if deciding to buy or rent one, there are some things to be prepared for.

It's usually possible to find free parking in the streets of Valencia. In the centre and other busy areas, the paid parking is marked with blue and orange lines. However, one cannot pay for more than two hours in advance, so this is better for short periods. There are also public carparks throughout Valencia.

It's not unusual to bump into other cars when parking and to leave almost no distance between cars. Another thing to keep in mind is that ‘double parking’ is very common. One will see cars parked in two rows along the side of the road and the cars from the outer lane are supposed to be pushed if one needs them to move. In this case it's not advised to follow the example of locals – 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 – even if there is only one spot left among a bunch of cars, it still doesn't mean it's legal to park there.

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


Cycling and walking 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.

The city also has a public bike scheme known as ValenBisi. The only disadvantage is the public bikes are heavy and sometimes it's difficult to park them – parking spots at the bike stations are limited and the availability can vary.