Living In Valencia As An Expat

The pros and cons of living in Valencia, its best areas, cost of living, property matters and other important insights for expats.

Valencia, the third-largest city in Spain, surprisingly offers a small-town feel for its residents. This is part of the reason why it’s so appealing to expats retiring to Spain.

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If you’re thinking of living in Valencia as an expat, there are plenty of important things to consider first. It’s only by fully appreciating an area that you can make an informed decision about its appeal.

In this guide we’ll cover all the important points about life in Valencia. We’ll go over its lifestyle and culture, cost of living, and availability of property, among others.

Is Valencia a good place to live?

Valencia is a good place to live because it has great weather, an interesting local culture, and is well situated for travel both in Spain and wider Europe. It’s a port city bordering the Gulf of Valencia in the Mediterranean Sea. Importantly, this means you have all the benefits of Mediterranean life and the travel connections this offers.

Living in Valencia
The Bridge of Flowers (Puente de Las Flores) in Valencia. Even in autumn it is, no doubt, one of the prettiest bridges over the Turia River. The flowers are re-planted several times a year so that you can always enjoy a beautiful walk.

First and foremost on its list of appeals is the weather. Its average summer temperature is anywhere between 22 and 30 degrees, meaning it doesn’t get too hot. The sea breeze helps keep things cool and fresh, even in peak summer.

In the winter, you can expect lows of 6 degrees. However, this is no big concern, particularly as it remains fairly dry throughout the colder seasons. On its shortest day of the year, 21st December, you’ll still get nearly 9 and a half hours of sunlight. On the longest day, this jumps up to nearly 15 hours!

As you’d expect from somewhere with this weather, there are plenty of popular beaches and outdoor spaces in Valencia. Everything remains fairly green too, particularly in the hilly areas that surround the city.

When it comes to culture, Valencia has plenty to offer. For those who like dining out, there are plenty of interesting bars, cafes, and restaurants to enjoy. Seafood is popular here, and there’s plenty of good beer and wine to go with it.

Valencia’s nightlife is renowned throughout Spain. But if you’re not that into clubbing, there are concert halls, theatres, and outdoor cinemas for a more “cultured” experience.

The city itself is built around a medieval centre, but it also boasts a range of modern buildings. You can go from the Cathedral of Valencia to the Museu de les Ciencies Pricipe Felipe in no time at all, and it’ll feel like you’re in a different city entirely.

In short, Valencia is a city that offers a rare combination of buzz, culture, and laid-back lifestyle. This makes it appealing for all kinds of people and partly explains its popularity as an expat destination.

Is Valencia a safe place to live?

Valencia is a very safe place to live, compared both nationally and internationally. It has low rates of crime in all areas and is rated as very safe for walking alone – both day and night. Considering it’s the third-largest city in Spain with over 800,000 inhabitants, this is an impressive rating.

According to Numbeo, Valencia has a safety index of 74.5, which is nearly 30 points higher than London. While London is known to not be the safest place in the UK, it at least gives you a point of comparison.

All of Valencia’s types of crime are rated low or very low, including assault, robbery, drug-related crime, and harassment based on race or gender. Its only moderate crime rate is corruption, which can often be the case in Spanish cities due to relaxed regulation.

On a similar point, Valencia has a very friendly community of both natives and immigrants. Much of this is ingrained in its family-centred culture, but this helps feed into the overall safety of its residents. Importantly, this means a lot of people feel safe letting their children play alone, even in the city’s central areas.

Is Valencia expensive to live in?

Valencia isn’t an expensive place to live; it’s actually got one of the lowest living costs in Europe. Much like other Spanish cities, things like public transport and food are cheap yet good quality, and rent and house prices remain comparatively low.

Living in Valencia
These futuristic-looking buildings are a part of the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia.

According to Numbeo, the cost of living in Valencia is on average 40% cheaper than in London. For a more accurate comparison, the cost of living in Valencia is nearly 17% cheaper than Madrid, Spain’s capital.

Importantly for most expats, eating out at a restaurant is over 50% cheaper in Valencia than in London, and beer and wine are around 65% cheaper there too.

Renting a central apartment will set you back around €737 (£634) a month in Valencia, or €515 (£443) outside the city centre. When compared to London’s prices (over £1,500), the difference is incredibly noticeable.

If you’re looking to purchase a property, Valencia is a good choice for that too. Property prices within the city centre are around €2,500 (£2,200) per square metre, although this will of course depend on location and amenities. In more suburban areas, expect to pay around €1,300 (£1,100) per square metre.

Basic utilities should only set you back around €122 (£105) a month for electricity, heating, and basic services. Internet is slightly more expensive at €37 (£31) a month, but the city benefits from high-speed internet that you won’t find in rural areas of Spain. This makes it a good choice for remote workers or for staying in contact with family and friends back home.

In terms of monthly finances, a couple would need around €1,000 a month to live comfortably, excluding rent. This is great for city living but would only cover your basic amenities. For a more comfortable lifestyle, aim for anywhere between €1,500 and €2,000 a month.

The pros and cons of living in Valencia, Spain

Valencia might seem like the perfect destination for expats, and it almost is. Of course, there are some downsides (albeit minor ones) to consider before settling on Valencia as your destination of choice.

Here’s a list of the pros and cons of living in Valencia, Spain.

The pros of living in Valencia

1. It’s got great weather

As mentioned above, Valencia benefits from good weather all year round without the extreme highs experienced by some other Spanish cities. However, it can get quite humid in the winter. While this can make it feel warmer than it is, not everyone enjoys a humid climate.

2. There’s a big food scene

Valencia does seafood really well, particularly paella. Its proximity to the Mediterranean means there’s always fresh fish available, both in restaurants and in markets. The produce available for purchase is local, fresh, of good quality, and costs very little too.

3. Vibrant culture

Along with its numerous museums and galleries, Valencia hosts the Fallas festival. This is a five-day music festival that features music, fireworks, and amazing street food. Also, Valencia’s nightlife scene is well known in the area if that sort of thing appeals to you.

Living in Valencia, Spain
The Albufera, a freshwater lagoon and estuary on the Gulf of Valencia coast.

4. Good public transport

Deciding to live in a city is often based on the quality of its public transport. Luckily, Valencia comes out top in this aspect. It has a metro line and efficient bus routes that also connect to Valencia Airport, which is roughly 9km from the city centre.

5. Low cost of living

A big appeal to those looking to relocate, particularly in retirement, is the cost of living. Valencia will help make your money go further, especially with everyday essentials. Even with fluctuating currency exchange rates, you’ll still notice an increase in how much money you have to hand.

The cons of living in Valencia

1. A very busy tourist season

Tourism can be a negative for some, particularly if it’s a big industry in an area. March is one of the busiest months for tourism in Valencia, but this can be overcome by simply going on a month-long holiday elsewhere.

2. The bureaucracy

Like many European destinations, Valencia’s relaxed pace of life permeates all areas, including bureaucracy. This can make applying for permits time-consuming and chasing repairs or contract work next to impossible. However, once you get used to it you’ll find it to be less of an issue.

3. Low wages

This probably won’t be an issue for many expats, but the average salary in Valencia is below the Spanish average, which is below the European average. But this is offset by the low cost of living, so even if you do need to find work the low wages shouldn’t be a massive issue.

Why is Valencia one of the best places to live in Spain?

Valencia is one of the best places to live in Spain because it offers the epitome of everything Spanish. It has great culture and food, is located in the Mediterranean, and enjoys a very low cost of living.

Importantly, too, it’s a large city but not so large that it can feel overwhelming. Whereas somewhere like Madrid or Barcelona can feel like a 24/7 buzz, Valencia offers a noticeably more relaxed lifestyle for its residents.

According to the 2020 Expat Insider survey by InterNations, Valencia ranks top for the quality of lifestyle and ease of settling in. It also ranked top in the local cost of living and urban lifestyle quality. Another key metric was healthcare quality, which 91% of participants ranked high and easily accessible.

As you can see, Valencia performs well in all key areas, which is perhaps why it’s one of the best places to live in Spain. When you combine this with more intangible metrics, such as friendliness and cultural appeal, Valencia will always come out on top.

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Living in Valencia or Barcelona?

Valencia ranks better than Barcelona in several key areas. Importantly, housing is much cheaper, services are more accessible, and it has a reliable public transport network.

On top of this, Valencia is further south, meaning it enjoys better weather. It’s also a smaller city, so you still get the benefits of urban living but without the overcrowded feel you’d find living in Barcelona.

Another important factor for expats is the language. In Barcelona, many people speak Catalan, which is a regional dialect of the area. While not vastly different from standard Spanish, it can really throw a spanner in the works if your base level of knowledge isn’t great.

In Valencia, however, everyone speaks Castilian (standard Spanish). It’s also got a fairly neutral accent, making residents easier to understand, and is home to numerous language academies. If your knowledge of Spanish isn’t great, Valencia is the obvious choice.

Valencia vs. Seville

Both Valencia and Seville are located in southern Spain but on different sides of the country. They have similar population sizes and cultural activities but differ in the lifestyle they offer.

Living in Valencia
Carmen`s Square and the entire quarter around it is the most popular place in the city to hang around both among locals and the tourists.

Seville is a better choice if you want somewhere inland and has more of an “authentic” Spanish feel to it. It’s also slightly cheaper than Valencia, but not by a noticeable amount.

Valencia, however, has a more consistent year-round temperature and is right on the coast. This makes it a better choice if you want the beach on your doorstep and don’t want to deal with summer temperatures in excess of 40 degrees.

Both have a good nightlife and restaurant scene. Also, both are only 9-10km from their respective airports. Valencia is more walkable and has a more reliable public transport system.

In short, the city you choose will mainly depend on whether you want a coastal or inland destination. Every other variable is comparable, which perhaps makes the decision even harder to nail down.

Moving to Valencia from the UK

Moving to Valencia from the UK is a slightly different process in the post-Brexit world. Considering freedom of movement no longer exists, you’ll need to apply for a visa if you want to move to Valencia permanently. However, this process is relatively straightforward.

You can stay in the country for 90 days without a visa, but for stays longer than this you’ll need a visa. After living in the country for five years, you can apply for permanent residency providing you have suitable proof of income (£2,000) a month and no criminal record.

You can still buy property before becoming a Spanish resident, as this could be used as a holiday home providing you follow the updated travel rules.

Of course, the process of applying for residency and arranging relevant permits and documents can seem confusing. If you’d like help, there are plenty of relocation services that specialise in this type of service. For a fee, they’ll be able to process the paperwork and advise you on the next steps.

Where do expats live in Valencia?

According to the Valencia Statistics Office, there are over 100,000 non-Spanish residents in the city that make up around 13% of its population. So where do most expats live in Valencia?

Ruzafa

Ruzafa is a trendy district that has undergone massive change in the last decade. It went from being a rough area to one of the hottest neighbourhoods to live in. Its expat community was drawn in by the accessible amenities and lost cost of commercial rent. As a result, it’s home to a number of expat-run businesses, making it easy to find connections.

El-Cabanyal

Also known as Canyamelar, this neighbourhood is situated right on the beach. It’s undergone a major urban revival in the last 6 years and is now very popular with expats. This is mainly thanks to its prime location, but also because the cost of housing is still very low. It offers a good opportunity to snatch up a bargain before the market really takes off.

El Carmen

El Carmen is arguably one of the most attractive districts in Valencia. It’s situated in the older, medieval centre of the city and benefits from everything a central location provides. Of course, this means it’s also one of the more expensive destinations and that it stays fairly busy throughout the year.

Canovas

Canovas is located just east of the city centre and is another prime location in terms of services. The flats are more upmarket than somewhere like Ruzafa, and are both larger and more expensive. However, the prices are still comparatively quite affordable, and many will be willing to pay extra to live in such a beautiful neighbourhood.

Is Valencia a good place to buy property?

Valencia is a good choice for buying property, whether as your home or as an investment. Prices are fairly low for a city, and you’re never too far from important facilities. Also, as mentioned, the public transport network is great.

Living in Valencia, Spain
The Promenade is ideal for a long walk, a relaxing stroll or as a place to meet with friends. It’s full of restaurants and bars with terraces, and if you love cycling there’s a cycle lane going all the way along the promenade.

The benefit of looking at a city over a whole region is that it’s easier to narrow down your search. This means that you don’t necessarily need to bother renting several places to get a feel for each. You could realistically visit the important areas in Valencia in a day or two.

However, do be wary of the property market in Spain because there’s little industry regulation. Estate agents are prone to subjectivity to get faster sales and may skirt over significant issues that could impact your decision.

The easiest way to overcome these issues is to speak Spanish, or bring your own translator, and to always see the property in full. Also, hire your own solicitor and notary for the sales process.

You can deal privately with sellers, but it helps to involve an estate agent just to ensure everything is as legitimate as possible.

Final thoughts on living in Valencia

Much of Valencia’s appeal is due to its location and culture. It makes a great choice for those wanting nightlife, but also for those who want museums, galleries, and historic sites. Also, there’s plenty of countryside around for outdoor activities.

Its expat community can make it easy to integrate into the local scene, and its international connections mean it’s easy to visit friends and family back home. In short, Valencia offers the best of both worlds.

Of course, it’s worth getting a feel for the city before deciding to settle down there. This shouldn’t be too difficult, as you can take in the main highlights in just a few days.

However you approach it, living in Valencia offers plenty of benefits for expats.

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