Even if you’re a seasoned traveller, moving somewhere for the first time is always a daunting task. Valencia is a small city but it’s important to know that your new neighbourhood will define your experience in this city.
So you might ask, how do I go about investigating each area? I still find it tricky when I travel to locate the area I want to be in. Hopefully, this guide will relieve some of that stress by outlining reasons why you might choose an area to live in Valencia.
Your other question might be, “What happens if I move somewhere and then later find somewhere better?”. Despair not because legally, after six months on your lease, you can give one month’s notice and move out without penalization. It is always recommendable that you scrutinze your contract so you avoid getting tied in for a longer ‘ minimum period’. You are entitled to ask for your contract in English if Spanish is not your forte.
Spanish Law favours the tenant so landlord’s tend to be demanding with deposits. When you find an apartment you like, your landlord may ask you for a deposit, which is usually calculated as one month’s rent. This protects against any damage in the flat. There is another legal deposit they could ask which is the ‘fianza’. This acts as an additional guarantee in the case of non-payment of rent. Avoid renting apartments where they ask you for an ‘aval’ or ‘guarantor’. As long as you can provide payslips, to verify employment, you should be fine.
Ruzafa, voted #1 neighbourhood in Valencia
Everyone’s favourite neighbourhood in Valencia is by far Ruzafa, located in the l’Eixample district. Hip and trendy Ruzafa is favoured by those looking for a vibrant city experience. Its streets are lined with bars and restaurants and it is home to all the ecogolical loving boutiques. Its proximity to the city center and high demand for living has pushed prices up in this area but if you’re looking to escape the touristy center, this area is for you.
Valencia, unlike Madrid and Barcelona is still relatively cheap and informal. You can stop by a restaurant without a reservation, grab a coffee for less than 2€ and a continental breakfast will probably cost you about 3.50€. Rental prices in this neighbouhood range from anywhere between 500€-1,500€. If you’re looking for quality, your range will probably be more in the 950€-1,300€. Luxury flats are sometimes priced out of this market range, so it really depends on what you’re looking for. It might be worth noting that the length of your lease will also probably affect the price.
During the Spring festival of Fallas, Ruzafa is the hub of street parties, firecrackers and a general air of ‘fiesta’. Even though the streets resemble Mardi Gras, Valencia is generally very safe and Spanish people seem to know how to party without getting obnoxious.
So, if you’re young or feel young, enjoy night life, drinking and dining or simply enjoy sitting out on a terraza and watching the world go by, this neighbourhood is for you.
Also, having Mercado Ruzafa at your doorstep means you always have access to incredible fresh food at reasonable prices. The market includes a fish market, meat stands with chorizo, ham, sausages, fruits and veg stalls and your typical Spanish tapas (olives, cheese etc).
El Carmen, old town in Valencia
El Carmen or the ‘old town’ is a favourite area of Valencia particularly tourists. Its historic buildings and churches are emblematic of European culture. The narrow streets and architecture make you feel like you’ve stepped into medieval Europe. The apartments with their original features include wooden beams, shutters and high ceilings with stunning cornices and mouldings.
El Carmen is another popular place for bars and restaurants but make sure you look up reviews on them beforehand to avoid tourist traps. You can also look up our favourite spots.
If you’re planning on living here, there are a few things to keep in mind. Always ask your prospective landlord for photos with street view as well as it helps to understand the street you are living in. Many streets in Carmen are in ruins and not necessarily the place you might choose to live. Valencia is safe but like any city you have your strange characters and they seem to gravitate towards this part of town.
The Mercado Central is an amazing building and its produce even more so. If you like to buy fresh produce, they sell fish and meat during the mornings (Mon-Sat). It might be a little more expensive than your supermarket but you really pay for quality here. They also do home delivery which is an added bonus.
If you choose to live in this neighbourhood of Valencia, being near the market or the famous Cathedral are good spots. You should make sure that your building has a lift as many old buildings don’t and the last thing you want is to climb four flights a day. Many aticos (penthouses) offer terraces with views to the Cathedral. These will invariably be priced higher but given that we have sunshine all year round, it might be worth it. Just make sure your terrace has some shade as you’ll be wanting it from Spring-Autumn.
Cánovas, in the beautiful area of L’eixample
This is by far one of my most favourite neighourhoods in Valencia. Cánovas is characterized by beautiful architecture and if you manage to find an apartment here, you really have hit the jackpot. Most of the flats have original features with gorgeous entrances, high ceilings and shuttered windows.
Cánovas is located in the exclusive neighbourhood or ‘barrio’ of l’Eixample so expect the rental prices to match the location. If you plan on renting for the long-term however, you can find affordable unfurnished apartments here. The famous street Conde de Altea is reknowned for its bars and restaurants but the street is still pretty much residential, with everything closing down by 01.30, which is early by Spanish time.
If you’re looking for leafy green streets with easy access to terrace bars, supermarkets and boutique stores, this is the neighbourhood for you. Also, keep in mind you are about 2 streets away from the main shopping street, Calle Colon and a street away from the Gran Via Marques del Turia. All the streets in Cánovas lead down to the Turia gardens, the park which runs through the center of the city.
El Cabañal, the seaside in Valencia
This neighbourhood of Valencia became popular with the Americas Cup and later the Formula 1. Surrounding the harbour are all the warehouses that the sailing teams used and are now being converted for other purposes. EDEM, the business school in Valencia enjoys beautiful views of the marina and if you fancy a meal or an evening drink, this area is packed with terrace bars and restaurants.
Valencia has historically had its back towards the sea for defense purposes, but now this neighbourhood is slowly being rejeuvenated as expats automatically look for proximity to the water. Most of the buildings here have heritage protection, which means re-development of the area has been stilted. However, this hasn’t stopped prices from going up and if you head further down the beach towards La Patacona, you can find modern, beach-front condos.
El Botanic, the neighbourhood by the park in Valencia
If you’re looking for an area by the Turia gardens and the old town, El Botanic has the right mix of the old and new. This area is not under the strict legislation of El Carmen so building re-development is easier here.
Situated in the district of Extramurs, this area derives its name from the beautiful gardens. It is a quiet residential neighbourhood and is ideal for families, looking for proximity to the city center and park.