Ask an Expat: Living in Valencia, Spain

What is it like to live in Valencia?

Valencia has a growing number of expats and digital nomads, and for good reason!

I am currently living in Valencia myself and I think the quality of life here, especially for expats and digital nomads, is great.

I have been really looking forward to doing this interview with my friend and fellow expat Sarah, who I have known for several years.  Sarah and I first met in the Maldives, when we were both living there. Like myself, Sarah is a digital nomad who can do her work from anywhere in the world. But for the past year she has been calling Valencia home.

Also Read: Why Spain is a Great Destination for Digital Nomads

This interview is part of the Ask an Expat series. In this series, I interview people living all over the world but outside of their home country. I try to help paint an honest picture of the ups and downs of life abroad, share tips for anyone thinking about moving abroad and information about what to see and do in the city, town or country the expat lives in.

Expat Life in Valencia, Spain

living in Valencia
living in Valencia, Spain

Name: Sarah Harvey
Home town: London, England

Her story:

“I’ve been living overseas for the last 7 years while working as a travel journalist, starting with exploring tropical island life in the Maldives and Sri Lanka for a few years before moving to Nice in southern France in 2015.

The French Riviera was incredibly beautiful but Nice was a very small town with a large percentage of pensioners, and not many younger people on the same wavelength as me so after a year I decided it was time to find the next challenge.

I wanted to find another European town with plenty of sunshine, good people and a low cost of living, but one which was slightly offbeat and not over-saturated by too many foreigners.”

Why Did You Move to Valencia?

“I visited Valencia for a long weekend during summer in 2016 and instantly loved the energy, the architecture, and the overall vibrancy of the city.

It seemed like a fun place full of lots of creative types, digital nomads, start-ups, alternative culture, and funky independent shops. Valencia reminds me of Shoreditch in London or Brooklyn in New York 10 years ago.

I also wanted to move to a place where I already knew someone this time (after starting out on my own in new places so many times before, which was actually pretty tough). I already had two friends in Valencia, so that sealed the deal, and I finally made the move to Valencia at the end of 2016.”

What Do You Like About Living in Valencia?

“The Valencians and expats are extremely friendly and welcoming.

Life just seems easier here and less stressful than anywhere else I’ve lived so far. I love the outdoor lifestyle, and also the fact that everyone of all ages seems to enjoy socializing every night of the week here. It never gets boring. After living on a tiny island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, that’s a very good thing!

And then there’s so much to do within 1-2 hours of the city itself. Valencia is close to some beautiful mountains where you can go hiking in summer and snowboarding in winter.

There are also some good scuba diving spots just a short distance away and some vineyards where you can go wine-tasting. And of course, Valencia is famous for being the birthplace of paella. The rice is grown in the fields surrounding El Palmar, where you can get an authentic canal-side paella for 9 euros after stopping off at Albufera for a boat ride on the lake.”

Also Read: Where to Eat the Best Paella in Valencia and The Best Day Trips From Valencia

Living in Valencia, Spain
Valencia living – One of many local food markets

What Do You Dislike About Living in Valencia?

“The only thing I feel Valencia is missing is a surf beach. The biggest waves I’ve ever seen are about 1-2ft at the most.

There is a surf school for beginners but I think a (cheap) excursion to somewhere else is necessary to find any surf. Not that I am by any means an expert, but it would be nice to have somewhere close-by to practice.”

What Is Your Favorite Thing to Do in Valencia?

“Going to the Turia. It’s a 5 mile-long riverbed which was transformed into an amazing park in the 1960s filled with exotic species of plants and trees, and intersected by beautiful medieval and gothic bridges.

I like walking through it and pondering life, but it also has great jogging and cycling tracks. You can meditate there, or try the yoga and fitness classes.

It’s also a nice spot to go to with friends for a picnic or to check out the regular events such as the wine festival and the flamenco festival. There is an open-air cinema in the summer, too.

It may sound silly but this park really enhances the quality of life in Valencia”

Also Read: Top Things to Do in Valencia

What Is Your Favorite Place to Hang out in Valencia?

“It’s so hard as there are hundreds of bars, cafes, and restaurants and I think that even if you stayed 10 years you wouldn’t be able to try all of them.

But, if I try to narrow it down: Dulce de Leche in Ruzafa for the incredible towering cakes slathered in fruit and frosting, La Girafe at Patacona beach to enjoy some mojitos whilst sitting on hammocks in the tropical back garden, and the tongue-twister of a club named Barberbirborbur in Ruzafa, for old school tunes and good vibes.”

Also Read: Where to Find the Best Rooftop Bars in Valencia

What Is the Expat / International Community like in Valencia?

“I love the international community in Valencia! This is the first city in the world I’ve lived in where I’ve really felt like these are my kind of people.

The expats in Valencia are really friendly, fun, open-minded and curious. There’s a great sense of entrepreneurship, exploration, and creativity; a feeling that all things are possible here.”

Any Tips for Moving to / Living in Valencia?

“You can walk almost everywhere but having a bicycle is handy too. Or, if you don’t want to buy a bicycle, there is Valenbici, which is the city’s bike-sharing system.

Even though Valencia is on the coast, the beach is a 45-minute walk from the town center or around 30 minutes by bus or metro. So you need to decide where you want to live in Valencia: right next to the sea, or in the city center for easy access to all the shops, bars and cultural things the center offers.

Although rent has been going up recently, the cost of living in Valencia is still low. Check out to get an idea of property prices – both to rent and buy.

Properties for rent on Idealista are generally rented out for a minimum of 12 months. If you want to start with something for less than a year then Uniplaces is a good option, especially for renting rooms instead of apartments.

And lastly, although the climate is very good for a temperate location, you will need a coat in the winter and houses can get really cold because they are often poorly insulated and rarely have central heating.

In the summer it can be 40°C (104 °F) by day and 30°C (86 °F) at night. So if you don’t like the heat, you won’t enjoy the summers, which last for a long time.”

Tip: If you are from the USA and thinking about moving to Spain, also read What I Wish I Knew About Moving to Spain From the US

Any Resources You Found Useful During the Process of Moving to And/Or Building a New Life in Valencia?

“I started a Facebook group for remote workers and digital nomads in Valencia, called Valencia Coffees & Co-working. We meet once a week to work on our laptops from a cafe, then at 6pm we usually stop and have some wine and often end up having dinner and going to some more bars. I’ve made some brilliant friends from the group. We also organize wine tastings, hiking trips, trips to cultural festivals and things like that via the group.

And there are several other Facebook groups for expats in Valencia that are a great place to ask questions and get information about life in Valencia. Simply search for “expats in Valencia” on Facebook and all the groups will come up. The Facebook group Valencia Information Exchange is useful too. 

CouchSurfing and Tinder are also used a lot here for socializing, along with, although I prefer CouchSurfing of the three.

For rental accommodation, try Spotahome or Idealista. For more technical advice, Citizens Advice Bureau Spain is very handy.”

Also Read: Where to Live in Valencia? A List of the Most Popular Neighborhoods

Is There Something You Just Have to See or Do When You Are in Valencia?

“If you want to sample one of the craziest firework festivals in the world, visit during Fallas (February/March). But if you don’t like loud noises, non-stop, day and night, I wouldn’t recommend it!

Other than that, I’d say that Valencia is a collection of sights and feelings rather than just one highlight or activity; the people, the energy, the diverse architecture, the street art, the parks, the long beach, the lively nightlife and the random, spontaneous experiences you can get caught up in without even planning for them.”

About Sarah – Digital Nomad and Expat in Valencia
interview with an expat and digital nomad about life in Valencia
Sarah enjoying Valencia life

Sarah Harvey is a British travel journalist who has written for publications including CNN International, the LA Times and Fodor’s. She also blogs, contributes to guide books, and writes website content for travel and tourism organizations.

So far, Sarah has lived in London, Cairns, Male’, Colombo, Nice, and Valencia, with plans to continue to explore the nomadic life in many more destinations to come. 

About Valencia

Why you should visit or move to Valencia, Spain

Valencia is a charming city and one of the oldest in Spain. It is the third Spanish city in terms of importance and population, and the 15th in the European Union.

Valencia is on the Mediterranean Sea, approximately four hours to the south of Barcelona and three hours to the east of Madrid. The city is famous for its Fallas Festival in March, for being the birthplace of paella, for hosting the “2007 & 2010 America’s Cup”, and for the massive architectural project by Santiago Calatrava called The City of Arts and Sciences.

Although Valencia is an increasingly popular tourist destination, it is not nearly as touristy as Barcelona or Madrid. With its beautiful historic center, countless museums, long beaches, great climate, and good food, it is well worth a visit.

Or, do as many others and move to Valencia (temporarily). Learn SpanishAsk an Expat: Living in Valencia, Spain at one of its many language schools, study at Valencia University, look into local jobs or if you have reached that age, enjoy retirement on the Mediterranean coast. There definitely aren’t many places in the world with a better quality of life than this part of Spain!

More Articles About Valencia:

Are You Interested in Moving to Spain?

Then also check out some of these expat interviews:

Are you a digital nomad looking for your next destination?

Then check out these articles about popular digital nomad destinations:

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What is it like to move to Valencia, Spain? Interview with an expat in Valencia about moving to and living in this Mediterranean city. #Valencia #expat #expatlife #movetoSpain #liveinSpain

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Sanne Wesselman

Author: Sanne Wesselman
A traveler, wanderer, digital nomad, and entrepreneur. Owner of marketing company A to Z Marketing.
I spend most of my time living and working abroad and use this website to share "the good, the bad and the ugly" of traveling and living abroad. Visit the About Me page for more info.

48 thoughts on “Ask an Expat: Living in Valencia, Spain”

  1. Hi friends, I am Adrian. Not so long ago, just like you, I sat and dreamed of moving to Spain, and now I moved to Spain. A very beautiful country and culture, kind and charming people.

    Most of all I like the good weather. Plus clean and well-kept beaches where you can walk with children, Jennifer and I have two children and they are very happy to be here.

    Our story began with the search for housing and as it turned out this is not an easy process. We searched for a very long time but now everything is fine. I wish you all to do this, because this is the best place on earth.

  2. Sanne, you have a great blog! My wife and I are scouting for a fun, early retirement destination, and you have convinced us to look at Valencia.

    We will be visiting the city from 2/10 to 8/10. We have options to visit the tourist sites, but I would love to get your recommendations for meetups or experiences that we shouldn’t miss (comedy clubs, storytellers, tours, cool meet-up groups, etc.). I would love to buy some expats a few beers, or sangria :-), to discuss relocating, living in the city and expat life in general. Any ideas beyond the Facebook groups? Could my wife and I buy you a drink in early October?

  3. Hi Claudia,

    I haven’t heard about renting furniture in Valencia. But I’d recommend joining one of the Facebook groups for expats in Valencia. If there is an option I am sure someone there will know about it.

  4. Hi Veronique,

    Thanks! I know a few good private teachers in Valencia but I don’t know much about group classes. I would recommend joining one of the expats in Valencia Facebook groups and asking this question there. I am sure you will get some useful answers! 🙂

  5. Hi Sanne! Thank you for all of the group information. I’m thinking about visiting Valencia and taking Spanish classes. Could you recommend any good language schools please? I will check into Valencia University. Thank you!:)

  6. I am partly retired here in Valencia here and not so mobile so I find the city is great for me. It is very flat and easy to get around. It is a very easy city to walk around slowly with lots of places to sit down. I found that in Hong Kong there was nowhere to sit and watch the world go by. You always had to be paying for a seat by buying a drink, and then move on. Valencia has no end of park benches in the sun and in the shade where you can relax. Of course you can also go into bars and cafes to get a drink and very affordable.

  7. Hi Rutger,

    The towns around Valencia tend to be typical Spanish, small towns, so you have to be sure you’d enjoy that, and speaking Spanish well will definitely help.
    I hear a lot of expats speaking positively about Alboraya, so I would check that out. Meliana is another option a bit further out. Burjassot, Godella and Rocafort are cheaper options to live, if you don’t mind being further away from the coast.

    In the end it really depends what you are looking for…

  8. Hi Sarah, thanks for all info. I will also register for the facebook group. I had also 1 question: lf you look to the larger Valencia area, what are the nicest villages to live in? ( say 10-20 minutes / kilometers) from Valencia. Thanks in advance!

  9. Hi Sanne,
    Thank you for sharing all this info.
    My wife and 2 kids (son 7 & daughter 16) are thinking of moving to Spain.
    I have partly selected Valencia, as a good town for us fro several reason:
    – I need to think of a private school for my son
    – My daughter will look to start university next year.
    – Also I prefer not to be in a big big cities.
    – We are used to a very balanced climate, never freezing cold or rarely super hot.

    We all speak Spanish since we are coming from Costa Rica.
    My wife is from Argentina, the rest of the family are Danish EU.
    So I don’t think it will be a problem for us with immigration.

    For work I will continue with what I am doing, work from home, European time zone.

    I guess we would appreciate any advice you have, please.

    Links to forums to find apartments and other classified forums.

    Looks like La Palma could be an area of consideration.

  10. Hi Elkin, great to hear you want to live in Valencia!
    Unfortunately I don’t know much about the laws in Spain when it comes to selling food.
    I would recommend joining one of the ‘expats in Valencia’ groups on Facebook and posting your question there. There might be other expats there that know more about how this industry works in Spain or in Valencia specifically.

  11. Hi, I want to live in Valencia. I have two kids aged 9&13. I wonder what can I sell there. I am planning to rent a place and sell some fruity desserts which are made from apricot. But I am not sure. Can you offer anything for what can I sell there?

  12. Hi Alex,
    Thanks! Did you read my other article, about the most popular neighborhoods in Valencia:

    If you want space and (free) parking I would say El Carmen, Ruzafa and the Mercado Colon area are not the best options.
    I would look around the Mestalla area, down to Penya Roja. There you have more parking options and you are a bit closer to the beach.
    If your budget is more limited you could check areas north or west of the city center.

    Regarding air conditioning: it is definitely not a standard in Valencia yet, but more and more apartments do have it. And I definitely wouldn’t want to be in Valencia in summer without air conditioning so I would try to find an apartment that does have AC (and there are enough out there) or even discuss with the landlord to have him install it.
    I hope this helps!

  13. Hi Sanne, Thank you, all very interesting! I’m retired and thinking of moving to Valencia. I’ve lived in Madrid and Puerto Rico and my castellano is ok. I’d be interested in a largish apartment to accommodate my things, plus a car space. However, with good links to centre, such as by metro. Two specific questions please: (1) can you recommend any particular area for me and (2) how usual is it to have aircon in apartments? – I know it can be an oven in summer (!). Bedankt, Alex

  14. Hi Nataša,

    Have you tried It’s the most popular website to find accommodation in Valencia. It has the most listings as most agencies and private individuals post their houses there.
    If you find something you like and you see a phone number, do phone them. Often people don’t reply to emails or the apartment is gone by the time they do.

    If Idealista doesn’t have anything suitable I would recommend joining the ‘expats in Valencia’ groups on Facebook and post a message there with what you are looking for. Often people will reply with available apartments or useful contacts.

    I hope this helps and I hope you will find a good place to live in Valencia! 🙂

  15. Hi Jose,
    That’s great, I hope you will love Valencia! I don’t have any legal recommendations myself because I never had to use them but, more and more Americans are moving to Valencia (and other parts of Spain). I would, therefore, recommend joining 2 groups on Facebook: ‘Expats in Valencia’ and ‘American Expats in Spain’. The latter I am not a member of but the former I know is a very helpful community.
    Ask for a referral there and I am sure you will get a lot of useful advice.

  16. Sanne, my wife and I will be in Valencia May 2019. We will be researching for a possible retirement location. Would you have any legal referrals as we would like to ask about immigration to Spain. We are coming from Valencia, CA. We will only be there for a week so we want to maximize our time there and return in retirement as vacationers. Thank you for any help you may give

  17. Hi Irem,
    Yes, the cost of living in Valencia of course does depend on what quality of life you are looking for but these are some numbers I think you might find useful:

    – You can rent a 1 bedroom apartment for 500 Euros if you don’t mind being a bit further away from the center and the beach area of Cabanyal.
    – You will pay probably at least 600 or 650 for that same 1 bedroom in one of the more popular areas such as Ruzafa or El Carmen, and prices are only going up at the moment.
    – These rental prices are based on a 1 year contract. Short term rentals will be more expensive.
    – The average Spaniard doesn’t make much more than 1000 – 1400 Euros per month (and some significantly less). Because of that, the cost of eating out (if you stay away from the touristy places) isn’t all that high. Supermarkets are also affordable and they have daily markets throughout the city offering great locally grown fruit & vegetables plus meat and fish at good prices.

    So if it’s just the 2 of you (no kids) and you are happy with a 1 bedroom apartment for 600 Euros, then you can live comfortably earning 1000 Euros each. This will allow you to eat out at local, cheaper places regularly, have your typical Spanish breakfast in a cafe on the weekends…

    But to be a bit more comfortable, maybe have a slightly nicer apartment, more money to travel around Spain and to eat out at some of the nicer restaurants (which still aren’t very expensive by the way), I would say 1500 Euros a month each.

    I hope this helps!

    • Hello

      Thank you for all the information, very useful😊
      We are in Valencia for two more days.
      In search of a nice modern apartment, nothing luxury, up to 800 euro. We couldn’t find any trough the agency.
      Can you help??

  18. Hi Sanne,

    I am moving to Valencia with my husband in some months and I would like to know what is the minimum income that we need to have in total in order to live fine over there? I mean I know the answer depends on a loooot of things, first the house we will rent I guess… but I mean the minimum income of 2 people to have a modest life at least?

  19. Hi Muhamad, Valencia is a very nice city to live with kids (beach, parks, many outdoor activities..) and there are several international schools that many expats use. I don’t know how cheap they are though… Some other expats I know have chosen to put their children in a Spanish school where they now also learn English from a young age.

    But, since I don’t have kids myself I can’t give you all the details. So I recommend joining the Facebook group ‘Expats in Valencia’. Ask your question there as there are many expats with children in that group.

    I hope this helps and I am sure you will love Valencia! 🙂

  20. Hi Sanne
    Thank you for this wonderful blog. I was recently offered an opportunity in Valencia to relocate and work there. Everything sounds great, except that I have little kids (5, and 4) and was wondering if there are public English schools, and if not, when do they exactly start studying English in Spanish schools. Can I find cheap international schools ?

    If you have any more information about.

  21. Hi Daragh, yeah although living in Valencia is great, finding work in Valencia isn’t easy… 🙁
    I would definitely focus on improving your Spanish. Would you be open to working in a bar or a shop, at least just for a while? I often see signs posted for staff wanted. Just walk into one of those places and give them your cv. Emailing definitely doesn’t work well in Spain so always try calling the company or speaking to someone in person.
    I would also recommend joining the Facebook group ‘expats in Valencia’ (if you haven’t already) to ask if anyone else has tips or happens to know about a current job opening…

    And have you looked into working online / remote jobs? The majority of my friends in Valencia work online…

  22. Hi Sanne and everyone! I’ve been in Valencia for almost 8 months now and it’s great. But, I still can’t find employment. My main area of expertise is Customer Services (10 years which I gained in Dublin) My Spainish level is low, although I am learning! Finding it so difficult to get into my area of work here with little Spanish. Have you any suggestions? At this point, I’m open to do any type of work that doesn’t require much Spanish… Many thanks!!

  23. Hi Miriam, great that you are moving to Valencia! I am sure you will love it 🙂

    Finding a room or appartment in Valencia can be a pain. If you are looking for something long term (1 year or more) then is the best option.
    But if you are looking for something for a few months I recommend checking and join the Facebook group “Girls in Valencia”. Many girls post messages there when they are looking for a room or appartment. So I would definitely just post a message there and see what replies you get.

  24. Hi Sanne,
    I am moving to Valencia very soon, and still haven’t found an apartment yet. I was wondering if you know of any websites or facebook groups where I could find a roommate? Also, when looking at aprtment prices online, is the price listed per bedroom or as a total (to be divided by the number of rooms)?
    Thanks so much!

  25. Hi Sanne, thank you for this clear article. We moved to Valencia some years ago, and it was the best decision of our life. We run a small Bed and Breakfast in the historical center of Valencia, and have noticed that lately many of our international guests are thinking about relocating to Valencia!

  26. Hi Devlin, it depends a bit on your budget and preferences.

    Ruzafa is one of the most popular areas amongst expats in Valencia and the area where both Sarah and I currently live. It has a lot of cute coffee shops, restaurants and a bit of an alternative vibe.

    El Carmen is the city center which has some beautiful streets and apartments, but it is packed with tourists most of the year so you have to be ok with that…

    Around Mercado Colon is one of the most upmarket areas. If you can afford it then that is a lovely location, close to everything.

    Another popular area is Cabanyal, which is an up & coming area by the beach. The only downside is that there you are quite far from the center.

    I hope this helps! But I do recommend visiting Valencia first and checking out the different areas to see how you feel about them.

  27. Hi Sarah, I currently live in Madrid and am considering making the move to Valencia to try it out. Which areas in Valencia would you recommend to look at accommodation?

  28. Hi Martin,
    That’s sad to hear since Malaga is such a great city!

    Valencia is bigger so I think it has more to offer when it comes to different types of jobs. I definitely feel the city is doing better and better but it is still far from perfect.

    If you are not too picky I am sure you will be able to find a job but salaries are still quite low and it’s definitely not the best place for a prosperous career. For that you are still better off in Barcelona or Madrid, but then in those cities prices are much higher…
    In Valencia prices are very similar to Malaga although rent is now going up because the city is becoming more popular.

    I hope this helps! But do come and visit to check out what you think of life in Valencia!

  29. I moved to Malaga area three months ago and still processing the city. Unemployment is very high and jobs are mainly restaurant, bar or real estate.
    I’m thinking Valencia may have more choices ? what do you think ?

  30. Hi David, IMED in Valencia has a good reputation for having a lot of English speaking doctors.
    I haven’t been to a doctor in Valencia myself yet though, so if you want more advice I recommend joing one of the Facebook groups for expats in Valencia (this one for example and ask people there about their recommendations.

  31. Hi, I am sure you will love living in Valencia!

    Especially in the summer there is a lot of temporary hospitality work available. Salaries in Valencia aren’t great though.
    I would recommend to join all the Facebook groups you can find about Valencia (expats in Valencia, Valencia Information Exchange) and post a question there once you are in Valencia and know where exactly you are living and would like to work.

  32. Hi dear
    Thx for your nice explanation and pictures, I m going to move to Valencia this summer to start my PhD in Valencia University. To be honest I m abit stresssed to live abroad and being able to afford life. Do u think I can find a job to support my expenses?

  33. If you need a bank account as a non resident in Valencia, I have had good experiences with banco sabadell.
    They speak English there (and french).

  34. Hi Craig,
    For a big city I think Valencia is very safe. Especially during the day I think your boys should be more than fine, public transport is safe (a bit slow to get to certain places though) and they will love all the outdoor activities. I do hear stories from my friends who have kids about kids in the smaller towns trying drugs and alcohol more than I experienced back home (The Netlerlands), mainly out of boredom. And although I don’t know much about life in Valencia for kids I do expect them to have easy access to that here as well…

    But yes, Valencia offers all sorts of (water) sports, frequent outdoor events and a large park (Turia), with a skatepark, right in the city center.

  35. Hello Jose :),

    I am planning to move to live in Valencia from Belgrade, Serbia with my wife and daughter.
    I wonder is there any group online I could join
    for advices on this subject?

  36. What a really positive and inviting picture you paint of life in Valencia. I’m currently contemplating a move there with my family of three boys aged 9, 15 & 16. Would you rate it as a family destination as in plenty for young adults to do in a safe environment, they curently love snorkeling, scuba diving, skate boarding and eating! Where we live now is incredibly safe, I.e with a phone and a few pounds in their pockets we are happy to let them roam the cit, which is huge, on the public transport and spend the day at the skatepark without worrying at all, I sound lineman, a bad parent I know but it really is that safe here and I don’t want to lose a certain amount of freedom for the boys.

  37. My partner and I are moving to Valencia this summer from the UK. Really looking forward to it. Cheers for the article.

  38. Hi 😀
    I am living in Nice for 4 years and I totally agree with you this zone is very beautiful but so small…I am moving to valencia as well 😀


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