Are you looking for a new (temporary) home away from home? A place with nice weather all year round, friendly locals, laid-back atmosphere, good food, and affordable prices? If so, read on. I might have the perfect place for you. This expat and digital nomad guide to Valencia will tell you all the necessities you need to know about the gorgeous Spanish city.
Why am I writing this guide? I have just stayed in Valencia as a digital nomad for the past 3 months. While this is surely not enough time to consider myself an absolute expert, it definitely gave me enough insights and experiences to forward some helpful information to you.
1. General Facts about Valencia
3. Getting There
4. Getting Around
7. Work Online & Socialize
General Facts about Valencia
Let’s start this guide with looking at some general facts about the city to give you an orientation and better feeling of it.
- Valencia is the third-largest city in Spain (after Barcelona and Madrid).
- Population: About 790,201 (in 2016)
- Currency: Euro
- Official languages: Valencian and Spanish
- The container port is the fifth-busiest on the Mediterranean Sea.
- Almost 84% of the population is employed in the service sector, e.g. restaurants and hotels.
Luckily, Valencia has a great climate all year round. The winters are fairly short and mild. Temperatures hardly ever go below 8°C. On the other side, the summers are long, dry and sometimes hot, with an average temperature of 25°C.
The airport of Valencia, known as Manises Airport, is located 9 km west of the city center. It is easy to reach the city via Metro (takes about 20 minutes to the center), Aerobus (about 30 minutes), a local bus (about 45 minutes) or taxi.
From this airport you can get cheap direct flights to more than 20 other European countries, mainly with the budget airline Ryanair.
An alternative airport, which is fairly close by, is the airport in Alicante (about 170 km in the south).
Getting around in Valencia is very easy. In the city center, you can pretty much walk everywhere.
Bike Rental Shops
If you don’t feel like walking, you can also rent a bike and cruise around town and along the beautiful Turia park. There are plenty of bike lanes which makes it easy and safe to drive around.
Bike rentals can be found all over town and prices are somewhere between 8 and 12 EUR for 24 hours.
The prices usually include a lock, which you should definitely use! Unfortunately, bikes get stolen on a regular basis, no matter what time of the day or where you leave it. So make sure to you’re your bike carefully.
Helmets are not mandatory in Valencia, although most rental place will provide them for an additional fee.
Besides the rentals shops, you will also find a bike sharing system which is provided by the City of Valencia. The blue and grey Valenbisi bikes can be found in more than 250 public stations.
How does it work?
You need to buy a long-term hire card and can then select an available bicycle in one of the Valenbisi terminals. When you have finished your journey, you can return the bike to any station you wish.
The price system works differently to normal rental shops. For example, you can pay a weekly fee of 13 EUR and additionally have to pay for every 30 minutes you use the bike. So it may or may not be cheaper to rent with a local shop, depending on how often you use it.
Buy a Bike
In case you are staying longer, it can also be worth buying your own bike. There are many professional bike shops in town if you want to go for a new one. If you prefer a second hand option, check out the flea market next to the Mestalla Stadium on Sundays or the popular flea market app in Valencia Wallapop.
Public transport in Valencia is another good option to get around. The metro is clean, safe and has frequent departures. Since there are not too many lines or ticket options, it is very easy to use.
Busses are also a popular choice and there are 52 routes, stopping every couple of hundred meters. This is also the cheapest way to get around town. A single journey is only 1.50 EUR, no matter where you go, and you get your ticket from the driver. Easy thing.
Extra Tip: Although there are little TV screens on the busses that should tell you the route and where you are right now, they never worked when I was using the bus. In about 20 or so bus trips with different lines the screen wasn’t on a single time. Unfortunately, there is no other sign or announcement in the bus that tells you what station you are. So make sure you have your phone with a map and GPS ready so you know when you get to the station you want to go off.
If you want to go for a taxi, you won’t have any difficulties finding them, either. Simply hail a driver with a “Libre” (“available”) sign on the street. The starting price is 4 EUR. Make sure you have enough small cash with you, since most of the drivers won’t accept cards and don’t have much change.
What Area Should You Move to?
There are many lovely neighborhoods in Valencia and it’s obviously a matter of personal preference where you should move. To give you a very rough overview, look at the map below. In my opinion these areas are probably the most interesting ones for digital nomads or short-term expats.
(1) As you can see, the beach area is a bit away from the city center. But if you like staying close to the ocean, this is a good place for you. You can easily bike to town or catch a bus or metro. You will find some nice restaurants down there and also get to enjoy all the beach activities, like beach volleyball.
Be advised that it can be really quiet at times, especially during low season. On the bright side, this also results in rental prices being a bit lower.
(2) This area very popular among students. You will find the university and plenty of cheap restaurants and bars. Apart from the usual student parties here and there, this area is still not as busy and vivid as the city center. If you are staying in this area, you need more time to get to both, the center and the beach. On the other hand, prices can be fairly low.
(3) Ruzafa is the trendy and alternative part of Valencia, some might even compare it to Berlin. It has plenty of cute little shops and a very hipster-like atmosphere. Relax in one of the many cafès and restaurants and enjoy the multicultural flair. I assume that prices for accommodation will go up in the future, simply because it is such a trending neighborhood.
(4) Ciutat Vella is pretty much the city center with lovely architecture, markets and churches. There are countless of restaurants and cafès, both top class and very local. This is where you can find most tourists, that’s why accommodation is most expensive here. But if you like to be in the center of events, this is the place for you.
How to Find Accommodation in Valencia?
Unless you start looking for accommodation in February or March (which is where the Fallas take place – read below), you shouldn’t have too many difficulties finding a nice an apartment. You have several options to find a good place:
1. Online Services
If you want to book something in advance because you are not in town yet, you can go for services such as Spotahome, Beroomers or Uniplaces. There you will find furnished shared units, studios and apartments for short- and long-term rental.
- You can see when the property is available and make a reservation online for your desired period.
- You don’t have to go and view the place because the teams behind the websites usually go and inspect them for you.
- In case something doesn’t work out the way the landlord promised, they have your back and help you with issues.
- The offers are in English and even if the landlord doesn’t speak English, they are usually happy to help you out.
- You will have to pay a service fee which depends on the amount of your total rent.
- Some of the places they offer are for students and young professionals only.
2. Rental Platforms
- Plenty of apartments to choose from.
- Most of them available immediately.
- Often offers are not updated.
- Many are in Spanish only.
- You have to contact the letting agent / landlord directly and they usually don’t speak English.
- If you end up with a letting agent, they might ask you for an agency fee, too.
Extra Tip: Don’t even try to email them. Your chances of getting a reply are close to zero. Send them a WhatsApp message (they love this app here) or call them directly to make an appointment. Be prepared to speak Spanish with them.
A quick note on the deposit: Normally, the landlord will ask you for one to two months’ rent deposit in cash.
If you weren’t lucky with the first options, you still have a few more chances to find your new (temporary) home.
Of course, Airbnb is very popular in Valencia, too. During popular events, like the Fallas (read below) or Christmas, prices will go up significantly.
It’s also a good idea to check out Facebook groups such as Alquiler habitaciones pisos / Rooms flats for rent valencia or Flats 2 4 Valencia (rent rooms pisos habitaciones).
How Much Does it Cost to Rent in Valencia?
According to the Nomadlist, a studio in the center costs about 615 USD per month. Speaking from my experience, this is about right. Numbeo states that a 3-bedroom apartment in the center costs about 870 EUR a month.
If you go outside of the city center you should be able to get a nice furnished apartment for about 400-500 EUR per month. I paid 600 EUR a month for a one-bedroom apartment down at the beach but that was right before the Fallas and it was the only flat available.
Some contracts include bills, some don’t, so always double check! For electricity, water, gas and WIFI you can expect another 70-120 EUR a month for one person in a studio (that’s what I was told when asking around).
As everywhere in Spain, food is a very important part of the culture. That’s why you will find hundreds and hundreds of cafes and restaurants all over town. It would probably take you years to go and test them all.
The popular Spanish dish Paella was actually born in Valencia and originally made with chicken or rabbit (not as many assume with seafood). You can get paella at every corner.
Another thing that you have to try when you are there is Agua de Valencia, a drink made of orange juice, Cava, vodka, and gin, served in jugs.
In case you are vegetarian or vegan, you will probably struggle in smaller cafes and restaurants, as Spanish loe to put ham in about everything. However, there is a good handful of very nice vegan establishments in Valencia, too. Check out places like Loving Hut, Jardin Urbano, Nomit or Aloha Delights.
Many restaurants will offer a “menu del dia” for lunchtime at a fantastic price, usually around 10 EUR. This includes a starter, a main and a dessert, and often you get a few options to choose from.
To give you a better feeling for the food prices, I just throw in some numbers:
- Fresh orange juice: 2.50 EUR
- Beer 0.5l: 2.50 EUR
- Agua de Valencia for 2 people: 10 EUR
- Tapas: 2.50 EUR
- Salad: 5 EUR
- Paella: 8 EUR
- Pizza 8 EUR
- Water bottle 1.5l (supermarket): 0.40 EUR
- Cigarettes, e.g. Marlboro: 5 EUR
Work Online & Socialize
As in every city, Valencia has a couple of options for digital nomads and remote professionals to get their work done.
Despite Valencia being fairly small, it still has a few nice coworking spaces to offer.
One of the most popular coworking spaces in Valencia is definitely Wayco. The shared working space has two locations, one in Ciutat Vella and one in Ruzafa. The one in the historic center has a gorgeous little coffee shop with an inner terrace. They are the perfect for everyone who likes the classical office atmosphere.
Wayco offers free test days. After that, you pay 15 EU for daily use, 75 EUR per month for 10 hours a week or 175 EUR per month for unlimited access.
Another option would be Botani, which is located right next to the botanical garden in the city center. This bike-friendly place welcomes all freelancer and independent professionals to work surrounded by green plants and with lots of natural light.
Prices are 15 EUR per day or 170 EUR per month for unlimited access 24/7.
Working from Cafès
If you prefer working from cafès, you will love Valencia. There is an absolute abundance of lovely restaurants, bars and cafès and almost all have excellent WIFI connection. There are simply too many to list them here but a few of my favorites are:
- Ubik Café in Ruzafa (a café / bookstore combination)
- Café ArtySana in Ruzafa (the coworking Facebook groups meets there every once in a while)
- Bluebell Coffee in Ruzafa (lovely outside terrace and gorgeous decoration)
- Federal Valencia in Ciutat Vella (great breakfast and brunch options)
What I have found super charming in Valencia is the Facebook Group Valencia Coffees & Co-Working.
How does it work?
Admin Sarah posts an event invitation for the weekly meet-ups (mostly on Wednesdays) in varying locations. Expect to meet around 15 people who come together to co-work and connect. There is no fee or anything, you only pay for your drinks and food at the location. Afterwards, the group often goes out for drinks.
A great way to meet new people, get work done and check out new cafés on a weekly basis.
Meet New People in Valencia
As just mentioned, the coworking group is a fantastic way to meet other digital nomads and expats in Valencia. Apart from that there are a few other ways to connect with like-minded people.
There are two other very active Facebook groups you should check out: Expats en Valencia, España and Expats in Valencia. These groups are not only great to meet new people in town but also have a ton of information about the city. Members are helpful and happy to answer questions.
As with most cities, you will also find a variety of Meetup groups in Valencia. You can either go for general ones, like Expats in Valencia/ Hi-VLC or Things to do in Valencia, or go for any specific topic that you are interested in, for example Outdoors Workouts Valencia or anything like that.
In general, the local mentality in Valencia is very welcoming, open-minded and friendly. If you don’t speak any Spanish and prefer to meet up with internationals in the beginning, you shouldn’t have any difficulties with that. There are many around.
Finding decent internet in Valencia is not a problem. Most coffee shops offer free WIFI and you will also find free hotspots in several public places, for instance, Mercado Colon, Turia park or the Xativa train station.
If you want to make sure you always have internet, you can, of course, buy a local SIM card. All you need to do is go to a shop, for example Vodafone or Orange, ask for a SIM card for travelers, pick your plan and get your card.
Note: SIM cards have to be registered in Spain so you need to show your passport or ID card.
Packages and prices are often fairly similar. If you go for Vodafone, you can get 2GB at a 4G+ speed and 50 minutes of national and international calls for 15 EUR per month. If you buy a SIM card at Lebara, you can get unlimited national calls and 10GB at a 3G speed for 20 EUR per month.
Valencia is a very pretty city with gorgeous architecture. Stroll along the cobblestone streets and discover churches, squares, markets and lovely historical buildings.
Apart from the old town, Valencia is also popular for its 9 km long Turia park (which is the old riverbed).
The lovely wide beach offers plenty of space to sunbath or play beach volleyball and there are some lovely restaurants right next to the promenade.
Valencia is also famous for The City of Arts and Sciences. This is a cultural and architectural complex. It hosts an opera, planetarium, museum, and a sea life aquarium. I DO NOT recommend the aquarium because it keeps big marine animals, such as dolphins and sharks, in captivity and, as we all know, this can never be species-appropriate.
As already mentioned, the two official languages are Valencian and Spanish. Valencian is mostly spoken by older generations and outside of the city. However, everyone in town is able to understand and speak both languages.
If you are planning to stay for a while, you should definitely learn at least a few words Spanish. Unless you go to very touristy restaurants and markets, you will hardly find anyone who can understand or speak English.
I found Valencia very safe, even as a female solo traveler. I saw people going for a run in the Turia park at 2 in the night! There wasn’t a single moment when I felt not safe or threatened in any way.
Of course, you will have the normal pickpocketing you can find in every bigger city. But all in all safety won’t be an issue in Valencia.
By far the most important and popular event are the Fallas. Traditionally, many neighborhoods will build huge monuments out of wood and paper that are displayed in the city center. The most creative ones get awarded and the rest will be burned.
This festival takes place every year from March 15 to March 19. But those are only the official dates. Valencians are so enthusiastic about their Fallas that they can’t help but start with it about one month earlier.
You will hear firecrackers all day long, gun shots at 6.30 in the morning, firework until late at night, random little parades, marching bands and celebrations in the streets, and people work on their monuments whenever they can. Needless to say that the entire city is upside down.
Although this is truly a remarkable event with lots of things going on, you should probably stay away from Valencia during that time of the year if you don’t like firecrackers, noise or crowded places.
Extra Tip: Keep in mind that prices for accommodation will go up significantly during the Fallas. Make sure to book well in advance if you want to go there.
One thing that you have to get used to when you move to Valencia are opening hours / mealtimes. The following restaurant opening hours are not uncommon:
1.30pm – 4pm and
8pm – midnight.
Stick to the bigger places if you prefer an early lunch or dinner.
You will find that in general many shops close in the early afternoon, from about 2 pm to 5 pm. Why? Siesta time!
Digital Nomad Guide to Valencia: Do I Need to Say More?
Oh dear, that got a bit longer than I expected! I hope you are still with me…
All in all, I can say that Valencia is a great place for living and I definitely consider coming back (probably not for the Fallas, too loud and busy for me lol). You might not have the Wow-Effect that some other cities have, but you won’t need that here.
Valencia has everything you need and makes life so easy. Friendly people, affordable prices, great internet and lovely weather make Valencia a perfect place for expats and digital nomads and I can only recommend checking it out.
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