An expat’s experience of moving to Valencia
Wondering what living in Valencia is like? We’ve put together a few insights from expats who’ve moved to the city. Discover Valencia through their eyes.
Interview with Elsa
Our first interviewee is Elsa who is widely travelled and has been in Valencia for a couple of months. She is bi-lingual, which gives her an edge over other expats as knowing Spanish can help a lot!
Tell us a bit about where you come from and what you do for work?
“I was born in Mexico City and migrated to London over 30 years ago. I’ve lived in Singapore, California, New York and Hong Kong, where I spent the last 10 years. I am originally a family therapist but am now working as a full-time writer.”
Why did you choose Valencia as a city to live in?
“Firstly, its closeness to the UK as my son lives there. Then the weather, proximity to the beach, size, safety. I find Valencia has everything a big city has to offer without the complications. People are friendly and helpful.”
What are the best things you like about living in Valencia?
“Walking! I can go anywhere without the need of a car and look forward to the day I can ride a bike like a local. It feels safe day and night. It is a lovely city to look at and walk around in.”
What are the biggest challenges you face in your daily life?
“The move to Valencia from Hong Kong has been very smooth. I feel very lucky and grateful. However, food can be a challenge of reasons that go from health to taste and I am not a very good cook. Supermarkets not always having a wide variety of international products can be frustrating… Bureaucracy.”
What are your recommendations for someone thinking of moving to Valencia?
“Experience the city before making a move. Be patient with yourself.”
Lauren’s insights into Valencia
Our next interviewee is Lauren who has been here for 7 years now and considers Valencia pretty much her home. Lauren learned Spanish while she was here and probably knows more about Valencia than most locals. Her hometown is Texas, US and she spent her childhood in the Middle East. Lauren is an international teacher at the American School of Valencia.
Reason for moving to Valencia
“I did not know anything about Valencia to be honest, but I was looking to move overseas and the job rather than the location was my primary motivation. When I saw an opportunity in Valencia, I applied and then did some research. Like everyone says, it has the best of everything! Not an overwhelmingly large city, beach, mountains and affordable!”
Favorite things about living in Valencia
“Love the proximity to the beach, the different barrios and how each barrio has a different feel. The size of the city is perfect and we can easily access other towns nearby for weekends away. Love the local produce and the numerous markets around the city.”
Describe your biggest challenges about living in Valencia?
“When I first moved here the general lack of English was difficult but this is gradually changing and the locals are kind as you try to struggle through in Spanish. Some systems like banking, getting a phone, installing wifi, taxes (which are different than back in the States) can be challenging and it takes time to understand how things work here. Also, all the paperwork required can be daunting.”
Any suggestions for someone wanting to move to Valencia?
“To come and give it a try! Consider finding/enlisting the help of companies who support the transition for paperwork. Do some research in the city and find the best area for you.”
We thought we’d also include a team member to give you a broad overview of experiences. Nicky is on our team at Dasha and has lived first-hand the benefits and issues a move to a city like Valencia can entail. She’s lived in Mumbai, London, Madrid and made the move to Valencia 12 years ago.
“To be honest we left London to escape the rain! Initially our first thought was Madrid as Valencia seemed too ‘small-town’ in comparison to London. After two years in Madrid though, my husband and I thought about settling down and starting a family and all of a sudden Valencia seemed ideal!”
Best bits about Valencia
“The number of cycling paths around the city. It’s ideal to bike around with the kids and especially with the Turia gardens, which run the length of the city, you can go anywhere. Also, the climate and relaxed way of life allows us to wander and sit down in a terraza to have a beverage without even having to reserve ahead. Valencia is extremely laid-back, with the vibe of a city so you feel safe but still have enough to entertain you.”
Biggest challenges with living in Valencia
“I came here with no Spanish and initially found it very hard to get around. I could order food off a menu and tell a taxi driver where to go but that was about it. You learn quickly though and the locals will rarely correct you but nod politely and are quick to help. Also, a decade ago, trying to find a decent furnished apartment to rent was a nightmare. Luckily the rental market has become more professionalized over the years.”
Suggestions for anyone looking to move?
“You can take a Spanish course but the best way to learn is once you’re here and immerse yourself in the language. Definitely having a few friends who are bi-lingual helps and try living here for the short term before you make the big decision to move. We came over with the idea of it being a temporary change and 12 years on, this feels like home.”