Valencia, the third-largest city in Spain, remains overlooked by many. For expats looking to take advantage of the splendid Spanish climate and immerse themselves in the country’s rich culture, Valencia may just be the perfect city.
Expat life in Valencia is laid back and fun, and the pros certainly outweigh the cons. Nevertheless, we list a few from both columns below.
Accommodation in Valencia
+ PRO: Both 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- or Valencian-speaking friend along when negotiating. Real-estate agents can also be helpful in navigating the language barrier.
- CON: Older areas have outdated apartments
Valencia's housing market largely consists of 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 preferred by many expats, as the cost of living is fairly low compared to many other Spanish cities. Eating out can be highly affordable if expats know where to go. Many cafes and restaurants offer a menú del día, which is usually a three-course meal with a drink at a decent set price.
- CON: Hard to find a job
Local career opportunities are limited and unemployment is an unfortunate reality, so securing a job can be a challenge.
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. Many people recommend private health insurance for specialist care.
- CON: Private clinics are expensive
There are lots of private clinics across the city, but they can be expensive without health insurance.
Getting around in Valencia
+ PRO: Getting around is easy
Valencia is a fairly small city, making it easily accessible. It has an underground metro and rail system that covers the whole city and beyond, while a tram covers the northern areas of the city. Valencia is also bicycle friendly and new cycle lanes are constantly popping up across the city. Public transport is also affordable.
- CON: Taxis tend to overcharge
Although usually quite reasonable, taxi drivers in Valencia sometimes do not switch on their meters at the start of trips and then overcharge passengers, so new arrivals need to watch out for this. They should also note that nighttime and weekend rates are higher.
Lifestyle in Valencia
+ PRO: Valencia is a green city
Valencia is far from a concrete jungle thanks to its many green spaces, leafy avenues and playgrounds. Interestingly, the Turia River once bisected the metropolis but was diverted after severe flooding in the 1960s; the remaining riverbed was transformed into an extensive park, with sports fields, cycle paths and playgrounds. The Turia Gardens connect with the Valencia Bioparc allowing residents to 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 can enjoy a slew of open-air concerts and events. Those who enjoy being active can save money by using one of the numerous outdoor gyms or going for a swim in the Mediterranean. 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 tend to settle in seamlessly thanks to the friendly local population and residents who are always willing to help or strike up a conversation.