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Valencia City Guide

By Victoria Fellows


Our guide to living and working in Valencia

Despite being the third largest city in Spain, Valencia retains much of its small town feel, traditions and attitudes, making it a fascinating place to relocate to. It was named the best city in the world to live in by InterNations in both 2020 and 2022.

Housing in Valencia

Houses in Valencia are very rare, with the majority of residential properties being apartments. The El Cabanyal neighbourhood has some houses, but they are generally over a century old and come with associated maintenance challenges.

It wasn’t until recently that building regulations were brought in to require insulation, meaning most apartments can feel cold in the winter. More modern developments are therefore highly sought after.

Apartments in Valencia tend to be rented for a minimum of 12 months. Whether you’re looking to rent or buy, the Old Town is popular with expats due to its central location, while El Cabanyal and Patacona are both by the sea. Patacona has many modern apartment complexes but is much further from the city centre.

Visa requirements for working in Valencia

Employers must submit the application for a working visa on behalf of an expat moving to Spain for a job. This process can take up to eight months, but once submitted you should receive a stamped copy of the application, complete with a file number so you can track its progress.

Once you have the initial working permit, which is valid for a year, you can then extend it up to five years when you should apply for long-term residency. Blue Cards, which allow highly qualified people from outside of the EU to work in the EU, are valid in Spain.

The cost of living in Valencia

Valencia is more affordable to live in than other major Spanish cities like Madrid and Barcelona. If you exclude rent, it’s a staggering 42 per cent cheaper than London, with restaurants 49 per cent lower and groceries 27 per cent less than the English capital.

Renting culture is very different in Spain to the UK, with the average tenant paying 68 per cent less in Valencia when compared to London. Diners can enjoy a three-course meal for two for €45 (£38.45) or grab a combo meal at a fast food joint like McDonalds for €8. A domestic beer retails at €2.50 and a litre of milk at €1 in the Spanish city.

Salaries in Valencia

The average salary for a software engineer in Valencia is €42,383, which is €1,000 above the average compensation for roles in the city. Tech workers with more specialist skills can expect to earn a higher rate and anyone looking to use the EU Blue Card scheme must have an annual gross salary that’s at least 1.5 times the average national salary.

Commuting and public transport in and around Valencia

Commuting is relatively convenient in Valencia as all of the city’s neighbourhoods are connected via its public transport network. A combination of 60 bus lines, five metro lines and four tram  lines, as well as 180 metropolitan bus routes and six dedicated commuter trains, makes longer journeys achievable without a car.

Much of the city is walkable and boasts 160 km of bike lanes. For those who don’t have their own bike, the Valenbisi scheme has 300 stations where you can pick up and leave a rental set of wheels.

The education system in Valencia

All children living in Spain must receive an education between the ages of six and 16, with the most common format being six years at primary school, followed by four years at a secondary institution. This can be completed within the public, private or international system, all of which are available in Valencia.

The thriving technology sector in Valencia

Valencia's startup ecosystem is currently ranked third in Spain and 184th in the world, according to StartupBlink. It’s also begun to get the recognition it deserves from much larger tech firms, with Siemens, HP, Hitachi and Toshiba all securing a presence in Valencia recently.

The city is well-placed for tech companies to flourish due to a combination of startups, investors, accelerator programmes, business schools and world-class universities working together. This symbiotic relationship has been recognised by the multinationals, making Valencia an exciting place to be working in tech moving forward.

Life in Valencia outside of work

Situated on Spain’s eastern coast, Valencia is a vibrant and liveable city. Its affordability, manageable size and Mediterranean climate make it a desirable place to relocate to, and that’s before its culture and culinary heritage is taken into consideration.

Linking the Old Town to the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences, Turia Gardens is a nine-kilometre park established in a former riverbed. It’s now home to many different tree species, fountains, statues and sports facilities, while some of the city’s most fascinating museums and monuments line its banks.

Instantly recognisable from its impressive architecture and the blue pools across the complex is the City of Arts and Sciences. This scientific and cultural landmark is home to an aquarium and cinema, as well as venues to host concerts and exhibitions.

Traditional festivals are continued throughout Spain and Valencia is no exception. Las Fallas, which takes place each March, combines processions, fireworks, flower offerings and the burning of huge paper sculptures to dramatic effect. Just outside of the city, in the Valencian town of Buñol, 20,000 people gather in August to throw tomatoes as part of La Tomatina festival, which has become a bucket list item for many.

As the birthplace of paella, there are hundreds of restaurants offering the delicacy. Book your meal in advance or expect to wait 40 minutes to an hour for it to be prepared, as true paella should be made from scratch to order. Casa Carmela near Malvarrosa Beach is family-run and has a strong reputation for its paella, while Masusa Paella Bar in the Ruzafa neighbourhood offers many different takes on the traditional dish.

A good paella can be identified by the socarrat - an almost burnt, caramelised section of rice at the bottom of the pan, which has been in the most direct contact with the heat. Valencians compete with each other to scrape this crust from the pan during a meal.