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Retiring in Valencia, Spain – 4 Retirees Share Their Experiences & Tips

I have been living in Valencia for about 2 years now and absolutely love the quality of life in this city.

And although retirement is still quite a ways away for me, I can completely understand why more and more people decide to retire in Valencia.

So, after having posted an interview about what it’s like to move to and live in Valencia, I thought it might be interesting to also do an interview about what it’s like to move to Valencia to retire. 

If you are thinking about retiring in Spain in general or in Valencia specifically I hope these interviews will help you understand what it might be like and give you some useful tips.

4 Interviews About Retiring in Valencia, Spain

1. Moving to Valencia For Early Retirement

early retirement in Valencia Spain

Who doesn’t want to retire early? The lower cost of living in Spain, compared to many other western countries, might just make that possible.

Tip: if you are thinking about retiring abroad, read this book Retirement Without Borders: How to Retire AbroadRetiring in Valencia, Spain - 4 Retirees Share Their Experiences & Tips

This is an interview with David Beadling, who retired in Valencia with his wife 3 years ago, but has owned a home in Valencia for 4.5 years already.

David’s Story:

David about early retirement in Valencia, Spain

“I’m from Manchester in the UK and I worked for Barclays Bank in many roles for 37 years.

In 2016 I was made redundant and I took the opportunity to treat it as early retirement, below the state retirement age.

I have 2 daughters still living in the UK.”

Why Did You Decide to Retire in Valencia?

“For many years we intended to move to a city in the south of France. We found the cost of purchasing property there, and living costs in general, expensive though.

After 2 spells of property viewing in France, we came on holiday to Valencia (to get away from property searching). Within a week we had decided we wanted to live in Valencia and started looking at property here.

Valencia has everything we want. History, culture, restaurants, bars, shops, and general amenities (good healthcare, supermarkets, etc). And the weather helps as well.

There is a great transport infrastructure if required but the city is compact enough to walk to most places. And the cost of living here is much lower than both France and the UK.”

Were There Things You Found Difficult About Moving to or Retiring in Valencia?

The language – we knew no Spanish when we purchased our home. And although we attended classes in the UK before moving permanently it has been more difficult to pick up than we expected.

Spanish red tape – they are sticklers for it!

The health system – we are below state pension age which means we can’t get an S1 and therefore can’t get a SIP card (a card that allows you to access the Spanish Healthcare System). We thought as EU citizens (at the time) we would be able to transfer from our UK doctor to a doctor here with all our records – but it’s not that simple.

Leaving behind family – particularly when there is a problem. You feel guilty, you miss them and want to hug them at times but you can’t.”

Are There Things You Wish You Knew Before Moving to Valencia?

Valencia's historic center - moving to Valencia to retire
Valencia’s historic center – moving to Valencia to retire

“Yes, there are several things I wish I knew before moving to Valencia:

  • We purchased our home before moving out permanently which has worked out fine for us and we like our flat and the area we live in but it could have been different. I would recommend renting in Valencia first and getting to know an area well before you buy there.
  • That the UK would vote to leave the EU has caused us a lot of stress due to the uncertainty (although I now think we will be okay).
  • To get a Padron (proof of residence) as soon as you arrive. We hadn’t realized this and left it for 12 months.
  • It gets cold in winter and properties aren’t insulated like they are in the UK. For a few months you will need those thick jumpers and coats that you thought you would leave behind.”

What Would You Say Are the Pros and Cons of Retiring in Valencia?

“Pros of retiring in Valencia:

  • Valencia is a great city to live in and the Spanish are very welcoming – if you make the effort to integrate.
  • The immigrant community isn’t looking for a little Britain so generally life is authentically Spanish and you meet a lot of like-minded English speaking people.
  • Low cost of living. We have a much better standard of living here than we would have in the UK.

Cons of retiring in Valencia:

Pretty much as before:  language, red tape, and distance from loved ones.”

Any Tips for People Thinking About Retiring in Valencia?

“Valencia is a great city and I would recommend it. But don’t come here if you are looking for a British enclave – it is authentic Spain.

Research, research, and research! Consider everything and ask questions; I found out by accident that I could convert my pension to a QROPS and draw it at 55. That has made a big difference.

We have been lucky with our flat, but would recommend you to rent first and try different areas before you buy.

Also Read: Where to Live in Valencia – A Guide to the Most Popular Neighborhoods

Lastly, get yourself involved with the local community (we help out at an English class at a local college) and speak to your neighbors. It is so rewarding!”

2. Retiring in Valencia as a US Citizen

Retiring in Valencia Spain from USA
Valencia’s impressive City of Arts & Sciences buildings – retiring in Valencia Spain

Although retiring in Spain is popular among Europeans, it’s not as simple for non-Europeans.

But, it’s by no means impossible for non-Europeans to retire in Spain and it’s actually easier to retire here than in many other EU countries.

This is an interview with Patricia and Gary Bryan, who have been living in Valencia for just over 2 years now.

Patricia and Gary’s Story:

Retiring in Valencia Spain as a US Citizen

“I, Patricia, am from London and Gary is from the USA. We met in London and since then have lived in Bahrain, Germany, the Netherlands, and New York, with stays in London in between.

Gary was an IT consultant and I was a secretary and then a health care assistant in a pharmacy for ten years before I retired.

We have two children, both living in the U.K.”

Why Did You Decide to Retire in Valencia?

“We saw Valencia on a TV program and thought it looked nice, and then found out that a friend of ours had an apartment that she wanted to sell.

We persuaded her to rent it to us, loved Valencia, and eventually decided to retire here.”

Were There Things You Found Difficult About Moving to or Retiring in Valencia?

“Not really.

We did need help with our residencia because of Gary being a US citizen. For us the process was quite easy as I’m an EU citizen and Gary was able to get his residency through me. It’s more difficult for solely US citizens but there are several companies in Valencia who can help you with this.”

Tip: if you are thinking about retiring in Spain as an American, you will most likely want to apply for a non-lucrative Visa. My friend Duane who moved to Valencia on this visa created this practical eBook describing exactly how to obtain it.

Are There Things You Wish You Knew Before Moving to Valencia?

things to know before moving to Valencia to retire
Las Fallas festival in Valencia, Spain

“Nothing that would change our minds.

It is noisy in the city and there are fireworks on a regular basis. But overall we love living in Valencia.

Also Read: Everything You Need to Know About Valencia’s Noisy Fallas Festival

We have lived in Germany before and learned the language without too much difficulty. But that was probably because we were 30 years younger and we put our children into the German school system, so I had to speak German on a regular basis. I, therefore, thought that learning Spanish would be a lot easier than it is. I get by quite well, but am nowhere near to what I had, naively, thought I would be.”

What Would You Say Are the Pros and Cons of Retiring in Valencia?

“The pros are the cost of living, the friendliness of the local people, the ease of traveling to other parts of the country and to the rest of the continent.

The trains are cheap and easily accessible. We have our senior bus passes and railcards which are great.

Cons of retiring in Valencia, let me think 🤔…………”

Any Tips for People Thinking About Retiring in Valencia?

“Just do it and relax. Don’t let differences get to you.

Accept the mañana mentality and go with the flow. We’re retired, there’s no hurry!”

3. Moving to Valencia From the UK to Retire

Moving to Valencia from the UK to retire
Valencia’s Jardin del Turia is a large, beautiful park – Retire in Valencia

Retiring in Spain has been popular among British people for decades. And now that Valencia is becoming more and more popular as a tourist destination it makes sense that it’s also becoming more popular as a city to retire in.

This is an interview with Erika Sager, who has been living in Valencia with her husband for nearly 3 years now.

Erika’s Story:

Moving to Valencia Spain from the UK to retire

“My husband worked in the city of London as a director of IT for a large bank. I was an Interior designer, for over 25 years. Before that, I was a teacher for special needs adults.

I’ve also been doing screen printing, jewelry making, silversmithing, and ceramics.

I converted an oiler (small oil tanker) into a houseboat which we lived on in the Thames in central London for around 10 years.”

Why Did You Decide to Retire in Valencia?

“We, well I, wanted to live in Tuscany in Italy. But my husband talked me into Spain as he had grown up in Madrid.

I didn’t want to live in Madrid and I really don’t like Barcelona. So, I followed my finger down the coast and found valencia. The more I saw of it the more I started to think that it was a good place to live…

It’s a city close to national parks and mountains. It has beaches, museums, and galleries plus good hospitals and public transport.

Also Read: How to Use the Metro in Valencia the Cheapest and Easiest Way

So we came over for a week, had a look around, found a relocation person to help us, and went home. My husband handed in his notice (3 months) and we moved out here within a week of him retiring…

We booked an Airbnb for the first six weeks that we were living in Valencia. We then found a really good apartment for rent in the center of Valencia and decided to take that until the boat sold.

I loved living right in the city center to get to know Valencia but I’m pleased we live out in Alboraya now, in a house we have completely renovated. It’s home now.”

Also Read: Where to Live in Valencia? 6 Popular Neighborhoods

Are There Things You Wish You Knew Before Moving to Valencia?

“But not knowing everything is half the fun of it!

I don’t speak Spanish yet. I get by ok in bars, restaurants, and shops but the process of moving to Valencia is definitely easier when you speak the language. Thankfully my husband does speak Spanish though.”

What Would You Say Are the Pros and Cons of Retiring in Valencia?

A traditional paella - Learning about the Spanish language and culture before moving to Valencia
A traditional Valencian paella – Take a cooking class when living in Valencia

“Pros of retiring in Valencia: The weather, the beach, the social life. I host lots of dinner parties!

Cons of retiring in Valencia: No different from any other new place you would move to. It’s just a case of finding out how things work and accepting the differences.”

Any Tips for People Thinking About Retiring in Valencia?

“Never buy a place you haven’t seen! And be aware that living here is very different from being on vacation.”

4. Retiring in Valencia, Spain From Canada

retiring in Valencia Spain from Canada

Retiring in Spain from Canada and from the USA seems to quickly become more popular. So I was happy to be able to include an interview about what it’s like to move to Spain as a Canadian.

This is an interview with Elaine Weckwerth who moved to Valencia with her husband in 2015.

Elaine’s Story:
Elaine, who retired in Spain from Canada
Left: Elaine was proud to receive her driver’s license in Valencia. Right: An international meetup on the beach.

“My husband and I lived in Canada most of our lives, although we did move around. In Canada we have lived in Montreal, in several places in Ontario and in British Colombia.

But when retirement age hit we decided we wanted to move somewhere else.”

Why Did You Decide to Retire in Valencia?

“We had started our research on where we wanted to retire several years prior to moving. After reviewing and personal trips to U.S. cities, and Central and South America, our criteria became more defined. Europe became increasingly attractive.

We wanted a mid-size city with good cultural activities and easy access to other places. Our search started in France and took 2 years to not only narrow to Spain, but to Valencia specifically.

Cost of living, quality of food, the weather, Spanish friendliness, and the lifestyle all made this city attractive to us.”

Were There Things You Found Difficult About Moving to or Retiring in Valencia?

difficulties retiring in Valencia Spain
El Carmen, part of the city center of Valencia

“The one thing that I had not expected was my difficulty in mastering the Spanish language.

Yes, I can shop, do most of what I need to do and be polite, but I haven’t reached the point where I can have long conversations with Spanish friends.

I think several things contribute to that, which I hadn’t thought about. When you’re retired it takes more of an effort to interact with others than when you have a job. Plus it’s easy in Valencia to spend time with English speaking expats and not push yourself to constantly improve your language skills.

I think the biggest adjustment for us has been the noise level of the average day in Valencia! From people speaking loudly, to noise level in restaurants, to firecrackers at midnight…

Also Read: The Fallas Festival in Valencia – This is Everything You Need to Know

If you’re a person who expects everything to be organized, to run on time or government agencies to be efficient, you may want to rethink living in Spain! My two years living in the Caribbean were good preparation for me, but I still find myself frustrated at times.”

Are There Things You Wish You Knew Before Moving to Valencia?

“I think the only thing we weren’t quite aware of when we moved here, was the necessity of Spanish.

It sounds foolish, but as a tourist in Spain you are often spoken to in English. But when you move past that cursory level of living, into the necessity of health care for example, it becomes obvious that you need more Spanish lessons!”

Any Tips for People Thinking About Retiring in Valencia?

“I think the best method of choosing a retirement location is to live there for a 3-6 month trial.

Perhaps visas etc are inconvenient, but better to confirm you made the right choice than living years regretting it or having to return home.

If you are moving to Spain from Canada and don’t have a European passport you will need a visa. The criteria for different visas change. Not only over time, but it appears to also change depending on the embassy you go to to apply for it.

Be prepared to have the visa process take months and a considerable amount of documents and details. If possible, visit the embassy/consulate in person.

Once here on your visa, save yourself the frustration and for little money hire an immigration lawyer or agency to complete your documentation.”

Tip: if you are retiring in Spain from Canada, you will most likely want to apply for a non-lucrative Visa. My friend Duane who moved to Valencia from Canada created this practical eBook describing exactly how to obtain this visa.

“Ohh, one last thing. Wherever you decide to retire in Spain, do volunteer work in your new city. It’s a great way to meet people. And if you love animals, foster an animal. You can still travel because they’ll usually move the pet to another house while you’re away.”

Final Tips For Retiring in Valencia, Spain

Valencia's long sandy beach - Retiring in Valencia Spain
Valencia’s long sandy beach – Retiring in Valencia

I agree with David that, thankfully, Valencia has kept its authentic, Spanish character despite the increasing number of foreigners moving here.

But at the same time there is a great international community here made up of expats, digital nomads, and retirees.

Especially if you are new to living in Spain and don’t speak Spanish well yet, I highly recommend tapping into these networks. Join the different Facebook groups for expats in Valencia (just type in “expats in Valencia” on Facebook and you’ll find them) and check out Meetup.com for social events in and around the city.

The Facebook groups are very useful when you have questions about anything related to moving here, living here, dealing with the government, finding out where to buy certain things, etc.

And, if you decide to retire in Valencia, accept that things sometimes move a lot slower here than back home but that’s part of what makes Spain the country with the more relaxed pace of life we all love!

If you are interested in retiring in Valencia, or just want to visit the city, also read:


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4 interviews with people who decided to move to Valencia to retire

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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.

4 thoughts on “Retiring in Valencia, Spain – 4 Retirees Share Their Experiences & Tips”

  1. We are considering a move to Valencia, having spent 3 weeks in an apartment in the old city and adoring it. We are U.S. citizens, and I am concerned about taxes in Spain. Is there somewhere to find out more about them, specifically, taxing U.S. retirement accounts?

    • The tax situation in Spain, especially for foreigners, can be quite complex and fines can be very high if you forget to pay something. I’d recommend hiring an accountant or gestor in Valencia to help you with that.
      There’s a Facebook group called American expats in Spain. You might want to join that to get some recommendations for who to work with and other tips from people who have had to figure out the same things when they moved here.

  2. Thanks Mike, this is so true: the tax system in Spain is much harsher than in many other European countries. And quite difficult to figure out, especially if you’ve just moved to Spain.
    Most people I know who have moved to Valencia or decided to retire in Valencia got a gestor or accountant to help them with the nightmare that the Spanish tax system can be.

  3. Excellent article that covers many valid points. No matter how much research you do in advance, there will always be some things that take you by surprise.

    In hindsight, we would have arranged our investments differently before we moved to Spain so they weren’t vulnerable to the tax man. We had no idea that you could be fined for not declaring that you will get a pension in two years time. That sort of thing.

    Quite a few expats stay under the radar and don’t declare financial interests but as we are both applying for citizenship, we need to be totally above board and legal. The Spanish tax system is harsh and very fast to act if they decide you have money that could possibly be taxed. You can challenge the decisions but it can take years to sort out so best be prepared in the first place.


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