Moving to Valencia
Valencia is a popular tourist destination due to its position on the Mediterranean coast, its long stretch of sandy beach and its vibrant nightlife. Those staying longer though will find, beyond the usual trappings of a tourist town, a city where the modern combines effortlessly with the medieval. Layer upon layer of history, culture and cuisine are the rewards for those choosing a life in Valencia.
The Romans, Vandals, Visigoths, Moors and Christians have all at various times been seduced by the charms of Valencia and all set up major settlements in the city – an important trading port in the Mediterranean. The various inhabitants left behind an impressive architectural legacy that has been wonderfully preserved in churches, trading houses and fortifications that form a counterpoint to modern works like the City of Arts and Science or Norman Foster’s Palau de congres.
Still the largest port on the Med, Valencia’s economy was rapidly growing before the crisis in the Eurozone and attracting foreign workers at quite a rate. Recently though the city has suffered a downturn along with the rest of Spain, been forced to seek a bailout from the Spanish government, seen unemployment rocket to 28 % and faces an uncertain outlook for 2013.
Moving to Valencia from the UK
Making a permanent move from the UK to Valencia poses no problems in terms of visas or work permits – assuming EU citizenship – but finding work could prove very challenging in an environment of high unemployment, especially if you haven’t yet mastered the language.
There are two official languages in Valencia – Spanish and Valencian. While Valencian is used on public signs and notices, in schools and by government, Spanish is the most commonly used language for business.
There is a free course provided by the Valencian government for newcomers that introduces Valencian society, the two languages and the Spanish and Valencian legal systems. The course, while useful, still needs to be supplemented with additional language tuition for most.
Valencia still respects the Spanish siesta – almost completely eradicated in Madrid and Barcelona – so most businesses are closed between 2pm and 4.30pm.
The city is relatively compact so choosing where to live won’t be too much of a headache. Though Spanish property prices crashed severely after the global financial crisis, prices are still buoyant in the expat-heavy neighbourhoods of Canovas and Avenida de Francia. L’Eliana, Puçol and Betera are villages outside the city with good public transport links and which are also popular with expats.
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Comparing Valencia to London
The Valencian climate is much warmer than that of London with average summer highs approaching 30 °C and winter lows rarely dipping below 5 °C at night. You’ll experience almost twice as much sunshine in Valencia than in London and you’ll also endure about 25% less rain, most of which is confined to the period between September and December.
The cost of living in Valencia is significantly lower – rent, property, groceries and restaurants are all significantly cheaper than in the UK capital – though you may find yourself paying more for some consumer goods, mobile phone usage and internet access.
On the whole, Valencians report themselves as feeling safer, experiencing less pollution and spend less time commuting.
Culturally, Valencia punches well above its weight for a mid-sized city. Alongside the gothic architectural gems of the Cathedral, the Silk Exchange (La Llotja de la Seda) and the Torres de Serranos you’ll find breathtaking modern masterpieces designed by Calatrava and Candela at the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències (City of Arts and Science) complex in the heart of the city.
There are many museums and galleries – foremost among them the Museu de Belles Arts de València featuring works of El Greco and Goya – a huge zoo at Bioparc Valencia, a 6.5 km long garden park along the Turia river and the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía concert venue.
Valencia is also famous for the Falles festival which takes place in March, the Tomatina food fight which takes place in nearby Buñol and for Valencia C.F. the Primera Liga football team who play their home matches at the Mestalla.