(Editor’s note: Terry Boyd also contributed to this post on Valencia, Spain. Valencia just topped InterNation’s survey of more than 12,000 expats as the top city to live and work for 2022.)
When people decide they wish to move to Spain, they’re looking for: great climate and sunshine; a laid back lifestyle; delicious food; culture and entertainment; affordable living and – if they are not yet at retirement age – employment to make a living.
Look no further. Valencia has it all including three UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Valencia, on the east coast of Spain, is roughly equidistant between Barcelona on the north and Málaga to the south. The city – 2.5 million population – has it all, including a gorgeous port city with parks galore, a city center with elegant classical and historical buildings and great food.
City of Arts and Sciences
Valencia’s signature complex is Turia Gardens. After a tremendous flood, the river Turia was diverted and is now Turia Gardens, a vast green area with football and playing fields, running paths, cafes and restaurants and, at the end, the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences.
Designed by Santiago Calatrava, a Valencia native, the City of Arts and Sciences is so futuristic that it was a set for the George Clooney movie “Tomorrowland.”
In a 2015 interview on the design website Dezeen, Clooney calls the Calatrava-designed complex “insane,” adding, “It’s very much a dreamer who built that. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
The City of Arts and Sciences really is a city, with museums, cinemas and even an opera, all on one of the largest parks in Spain.
In late 2022, the CaixaForum opened at The City of Arts and Sciences. The CaixaForum is a six-building complex is designed by Calatrava and includes conference centers and exhibition halls, all constructed from of sustainable materials. You can see the details here on Euronews.
Affordable sun and fun
With more than 300 days of sunshine per year and beaches nearby, you can tick that box on your wish list too. The good weather also accounts for the outdoors lifestyle which makes Valencia so pleasant.
Valencia is the city of oranges and the best known Spanish dish, paella, so naturally you’ll find delicious food at every corner. It’s a university city, which means plenty of young people, a thriving nightlife if you are so inclined and housing that’s a lot cheaper than in Madrid or Barcelona.
Numbeo estimates that the cost of living in Valencia is about 15 percent lower than in Barcelona. However, housing is dramatically less expensive … about 30 percent lower, with a 3-bedroom apartment in the center of Valencia renting for about 1,100 euros per month compared to 1,500 euros in Barcelona.
• Valencia is a lively city with friendly people, as much history or entertainment as you would like, with an international airport, cruise ship docks and railway stations to take you on your travels.
• Metro and buses are easy to navigate.
• Valencia is fashion-conscious, so shopping is a pleasure from designer boutiques such as Gucci and Hermes to department stores like El Corte Ingles.
• Plenty of streets in the city center are pedestrian-only, so walking is easy.
• A 220 million euro sports and culture center, Valencia Arena, is apparently funded and city officials have green-lighted construction. The facility is projected to open in 2023.
• During the main festival Las Fallas in February or March, Valencia gets unbearably crowded and noisy. Best to get out of town or at least avoid the city center.
• A slight difficulty is the local language, Valencian, which is related to Catalan. Although Spanish is the main language, many signs – even in the Metro or explanations in museums are in Valencian – impossible to understand.
Now, about that job ….
Valencia’s economy derives from the tourist and service sectors, manufacturing (Ford’s Valencia engine plant), agriculture, the arts, science and fashion.
The Ford Valencia Body and Assembly plant employees more than 5,000 people and is one of the largest Ford facilities outside the United States, with the capacity to build 450,000 units per year. The Ford Kuga, one of its most popular models, is built here … though at the moment, the plant is closed due to the pandemic.
Since 2017, Ford has spent 750 million euros to upgrade the plant for Kuga production, so Ford is a possible employer for highly skilled internationals who are engineers or robotics specialists and who speak Spanish.
Okay, that’s the conventional economy. Valencia is one of Europe’s most advanced tech startup ecosystems, with eight universities including Universitat Politètechnica de València.
There are also multiple startup incubators, accelerators and funds including Lanzadera and The Valley based PlugandPlay. If you are looking for employment, here are some 2020 startups that might need you.
If you are looking for temporary or part-time work, there are plenty of temp agencies.
All in all, Valencia truly is one of the best under-the-radar cities in Europe for expats.
About the author:
Inka Piegsa-Quischotte is an international attorney-turned-travel-and-lifestyle writer based in Spain. She has contributed to BBC/Travel, several in-flight magazines, TripSavvy (Spain) and TravelAwaits, among many other publications. After several years in Turkey, she now lives on Spain’s Costa Blanca.
Read more about Spain in our Dispatches archive here.
Inka Piegsa-Quischotte is an international attorney-turned-travel and lifestyle writer based in Spain. She has contributed to BBC/Travel, several in-flight magazines, TripSavvy (Spain) and TravelAwaits among many other publications.