Becoming a local in Valencia
Valencia is a calm and safe city and locals are generally welcoming. Living in Valencia is cheaper than larger cities, Barcelona and Madrid; it’s small enough for you to walk around the whole city centre within a few hours or less. One cool thing about having a walk in the city centre streets is the graffiti. Some are great works of art and others make political statements.
In Spanish fashion, Valencia is a chilled city, there’s no urgency in this city. For example, you can stroll across the traffic crossing without drivers rushing you. You can go to a restaurant or café and stay there for hours. In fact, it’s encouraged because the Spanish have a culture of talking, a lot. Although, the reason that the cafes are always a full is that the Spanish don’t tend to invite people to their homes. A home is a status symbol and some people may be ashamed of theirs.
Additionally, the Spanish are famous for the siesta, which is 2-4pm, where they have a long lunch and possibly a nap, so this is another reason why dining out is an experience rather just a meal.
The Spanish are generally laid back, but ask them to do anything that is not within their job description then they may get very sharp with you. Even so don’t take this to heart, as it’s their culture, just find another person that will be more helpful. Outside of work, however, they are friendly and willing to help. Meanwhile getting into their social circle is very difficult. This is because they are a very family orientated people, and tend to stick to the people they already know. In other words, building a friendship with locals can time. Fortunately, speaking Spanish and sharing the same interests helps.
Not a lot of people in Valencia speak English, but in the tourist areas, they’re required to speak English for the most part. Outside the city centre, you’ll find some people that speak a bit of English aka enough to get by. In the surrounding towns and villages forget it, Google Translate is going to be your best friend. During their schooling, they’re taught to speak Valencian, but this is only spoken by older people and in the villages. Meanwhile, everyone speaks Spanish and to communicate with locals you’ll need to speak Spanish too. There are lots of language schools and most of them have Spanish classes. One of these schools that have good prices is El Carmen language school
Couchsurfing is a good place to start and is one recommended as it allows you to live with locals, which will help you to understand the culture and the local spots to hit. (Click here) to learn more about Couchsurfing. Just note that some periods of the year you won’t get a response from hosts, which included Fallas (a festival in March), Christmas, Easter and summer period around June – end of August.
If you’re staying a short time or in the process of looking permanent accommodation a hostel might be a good option if Couchsurfing doesn’t work out. It’s cheaper to pay the hostel directly and if you are already in the city it’s worth looking at the hostel before you book. There are many hostels in the city centre and a few near the beach. To check them out look on hostelworld.
If you plan to stay in Valencia for more than a month it’s worth looking to rent, as it’s cheaper. To find cheap shared rental Idealista is the cheapest that I’ve found with only requiring 1 month’s rent as deposit, but this can be negotiated with the owner. Milanucios is also a good place to look for a rental. If you don’t find what you’re looking for on these sites and you find accommodation by other means, be careful and don’t get ripped off. Some will ask for 5 months rent as a deposit or will charge you more as a foreigner, be diligent and compare prices.
3 Most popular areas to live
- The city centre as you’re right in the action, there’s shops, bars, restaurants and monuments so there’s never a dull moment. The drawback is that it can be noisy and busy in the evenings and weekends.
- Russafa, it’s a trendy area with hipsters and lots of cafes and bars. However, it’s an expensive area, so if you want to be in a good area you’ll have to pay for it.
- Near the beach, it has a more village feel with only a short walk to the beach, what more can you ask for.
Nevertheless, other parts of the city can be just as good. Make sure the area you want to live in has the amenities you desire and it’s always an idea to ask a local for their opinion as well.
Being a small city, transport links are good as you can get around the city relatively easy. The best form of transport is the bike. In most areas of the city, the bike is king, as there are bike lanes on most paths. You can hire a bike from rental shops, but do shop around as prices vary, plus they offer different time rates, e.g. per hour, 3 hours, half a day, all day and so on.
Another option to use Valenbisi, which is the public bike. There are two payment options weekly or annual, the weekly option is useless and not even worth talking about as you have to pay a deposit of €250. So ignore that option and go for the annual option, even if you’re not going to be in Valencia for the whole year, as it’s €25 with no deposit. Once you’ve pay online you can immediately use the service. Ride for 30 minutes and dock it in a docking station, so you don’t incur any additional charges then take it out again. This helps the flow of bikes in and out of docking stations. To ensure you stay within the 30 minutes you a timer on your phone and docking station phone app to find your nearest docking station.
The second cheapest way to get around the city is the bus. A journey costs €1.50, note they don’t except notes so have some change on you. To make journeys cheaper get the 10 trip bus card, that can be bought at any Tobacco shop for €10 (€2 for the card and €8 top up). Additionally, you can use as many buses within an hour and be charged 1 tip, so these are two very good reasons to get the card. Navigating where you are and what stop you need to get off can be difficult so not all buses inform you where you are, so the best thing is to use Google Maps. Most buses go into the city centre and the no. 5 does a loop around the city.
The metro has 8 lines with 3 of them being trams which go near the beach. The metro is the quickest way of getting around the city costing up to €4.50 per journey, and like the bus, you can get 10 trip bus and metro card from the ticket machine. When getting the metro 10 trip cost you must select a zone, thus you can use the card for one zone and the bus. If you live in or near the city centre, you’ll more than likely need zone A. Also you can use the metro to get to Valencia airport, which is very useful.
In Valencia it’s cheaper to cook at home than to eat out. Supermarkets that have good prices include Consum, Aldi, Lidl, and Mercadona, however, there are others but these are the cheapest. When eating out, generally, restaurants outside the city centre are going to be cheaper. Meanwhile, there are restaurants within the city centre that are reasonable, which include a sandwich chain called 100 Montarditos, with small sandwiches for €1 but you’ll need to buy at least 5 to feel full. There’s a shop called El Racó de Merí on Calle del Trench that sells cheap paella in the evenings about after 6pm for €1.50.
Things to do
During the spring and summer months, there are lots of outdoor things to do. Valencia is famous for the Turia, the river park that surrounds the city. It used to be a river but due to consent flooding of the city, it was turned into a park. Within Turia, there are football pitches, parks bike lanes, cafes and more. Festivals and other one-off activities are held in the park.
On Sundays all museums are free, so pick up a city map for the tourist information office and eat your heart out. There’s also car boot sale on Sundays at av de Blasco Ibáñez next to the Valencia football stadium. There’s a whole heap of crap, some stuff that will make you laugh in the fact that they are even trying to sell it and a few gems. It’s worth looking at even if you do intend to buy anything.
There are markets that are open every day except Sundays; these are the city centre market, which is the largest indoor market in Valencia, Colon market, and Rusaffa just outside the city centre. There are more but these are the ones in or near the city centre. Most locals go to these markets to buy meat, fish to fruit and veg.
The city beach is only 30 minutes from the city centre via bus or quicker by metro/tram. Tourists and locals alike enjoy the beach, although during the summer it can get busy with lots of tourists. You can enjoy paella and fish dishes and get involved in beach activities including volleyball, beach tennis, beach football and fitness on the beach.
If you don’t like to live under a rock and need to keep connected with the world, wifi connection is vital. Unfortunately, Valencia doesn’t have very good public wifi. You’ll need to use wifi in a cafe or restaurant; aka a business, which means you’ll have to buy something to use it. An alternative is using the city public library; all you need is an ID to get a username and password. This option is useful if you need to use a laptop for a long period of time.
Another way you can keep connected is with mobile by getting a sim card. When getting a sim card you will need your passport, this is required in Spain. If you’re staying in Valencia or Spain in general then buying a sim card is worth doing. Lebara has the best data plan with 6GB for €20 prepaid. check out Fandom to compare deals. However, if you have a Spanish bank account you can get better contract deals.
To get NIE number, which stands for Número de Identificación de Extranjero (social security number) you need to fill out the form that can be downloaded online or can be collected at a police station. Then you’ll need to make an appointment a police station, which can take around 2 months. An alternative is if you have employed you can go through your employer. For more information click here.
Now you have your NIE number you can open your bank account. Most banks require a proof of income via bank statements, some may accept statements from your home country and some from a Spanish bank only. With Deutsche Bank, however, doesn’t require a proof of income and seem to be one of the easiest banks for foreigners to get sorted with a bank account in Spain.
There are two residency routes: for EU residents and Non-EU residents, however, both require for you to be in the country for more than 3 months and once you’ve past this time period you need to make an appointment with the police station. Click here for more information.
Valencia is relatively cheaper than Madrid and Barcelona, with paying rent (in shared apartment) as little as €200 per month, and transport and food are cheap. The minimum you’ll need is €600-800 per month that includes rent, food and a few activities. If you want to be like a true Spaniard than your budget will have to be slightly bigger as they like to socialise a lot. All in all, once you’re settled and have paid for initial costs on moving to Valencia life is reasonably priced and during the spring and summer months, there are plenty of free outdoor activities to get involved in.
Living in Valencia
Valencia is a small city that you’ll grow to love as you discover its charm. Locals are friendly and to get into the Spanish circle you’ll have to speak Spanish and be patient as it takes them a while to warm up to outsiders. Being a coastal city, you have easy access to the sea with the city beach. If you’re willing to travel further, then there are better beach along the coastal line. It has good transport links and is bike friendly. There are plenty of language schools to help you with your Spanish language skills. Spain people are very social, which is reflected in the structure of the day. Furthermore, it’s a very family-oriented culture, as it’s family friendly and Valencia has lots of activities for children and when you go out in the evening children are brought along and not left at home with a babysitter.