Living in Spain: 11 Things We’ll Miss About Valencia Life — And 4 We Won’t

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Living in Spain has altered the course of our lives in many ways. Below I list up some of the memories of life in Spain that we’ll take with us.

Living in Spain: 9 Things We’ll Miss About Valencia Life— And 4 Things We Won’t fallas roman woman

Our Pros and Cons for Living in Spain

We’ve been living in Spain since August of 2015, and are now planning a potential move. We’re leaving the country for now, but our family loved living in Spain, and it’s quite possible that we’ll return.

There is lots to love about living in Spain with kids, and so below I have tried to list up the first ideas to come to my head. This post is rushed as we’re in the final weeks of packing and planning our upcoming trip. But for those considering a move to Spain, I wanted to write out a few takeaways.

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A Caveat

This post is about the pros and cons of living in Spain with children, but many aspects relate specifically to living in Valencia.

Valencia has been very good to us, and we love Valencia very much. That said, the Valencian community doesn’t represent all of Spain. Things are done differently in each region of the country, and Spain is like a lot of small countries in one.

Much of what we love about living in Spain is universal across the country, but some aspects may be more related to Valencia. And of course, this is just one family’s experience living in Spain. Your mileage may vary.

What We’ll Miss About Living in Spain

There are so many great aspects of living in Spain with kids. We love the weather, the food, the people, etc. Those are good places to start, for sure. Let me see if I can put into words exactly what we’ve loved about living in Spain in general, and living in Valencia in particular.

Spanish Food & Produce

Living in Spain: 9 Things We’ll Miss About Valencia Life— And 4 Things We Won’t Fruit shop

One of the best aspects of living in Spain is the food. This place is loaded with good eats. Valencia, in particular, has a dizzying number of enticing restaurants.

Even better, Valencia has loads of beautiful markets and shops with tables groaning under the weight of fresh produce. This has been huge for us. You can’t walk a block or two without running across a shop full of fresh and reasonably-priced fruit and vegetables.

The bread is freshly baked and the meat is cut in front of you. If you love seafood or charcuterie, you’re in the right place, too.

Spanish cuisine is exquisite, of course, but you have other options, as well. In towns like Valencia, Madrid, and Barcelona, you’ll also find plenty of international grub. Even in some smaller towns.

For example, there are around ten Japanese restaurants in Valencia. We love Japanese food of course, but since we get the real deal during return visits to Japan, we haven’t tried them out much.

I won’t say that you have the same variety as you’d get in Tokyo, New York or even Penang and Atlanta, but my point is that you can find a decent variety of food in Spain.

Read more about Spanish Food Kids would Love

Culture & Activities

Living in Spain: 9 Things We’ll Miss About Valencia Life— And 4 Things We Won’t Benimaclet performers

Spanish culture is rich and fascinating for both parents and kids. Add in the country’s history and you have educational opportunities everywhere.

“Culture & Activities” are far too broad of categories here, to be honest. This encompasses everything from centuries-old traditions to that new performing arts fest we stumbled upon one weekend.

Seriously, this could be a series all its own. I could write an entire series on the dining culture alone. Then I could write another series on the arts and music scene, and another on festivals, and yet another on how family life and other traditions permeate nearly every aspect of daily life.

And besides, Spanish “culture” isn’t homogenous at all. Living in Spain exposes you to so many cultural experiences that it’s hard to list them all. You have the Basque, Asturian, and Galician cultures in the north, and the Andalucian cultures in the south. You could spend a month walking in Barcelona and not have enough, or wander through Salamanca and Leon and see something different.

There are museums and festivals. There are the traditions and history. Live in Spain for a year or more and you’ll just keep discovering new layers of culture to explore.

Spanish Weather

Living in Spain: 9 Things We’ll Miss About Valencia Life— And 4 Things We Won’t beard graffitti

What can I say? Most of Spain has fantastic weather. Little rain. Lots of sun. Plenty of opportunities to take off your jacket and walk in the sunshine in winter. That goes double for the Valencian Community. It’s chilly (to us anyway) in the mornings from December to March, but the sun shines 9 out of every 10 days, and it’s glorious.

It’s Easy to Get Around

Getting around Valencia with kids. Bus stations

After over a decade in Tokyo, I have come to love living in walkable cities with excellent public transportation. I actually haven’t owned a car in over 15 years. Never needed one in Japan. Same goes for Valencia.

This city has everything you want from a large metropolis: museums, parks, stadiums, and public events. But few cities are as easy to get around as Valencia. Everything fits into a small, flat area. There are ample sidewalks, clean trains, punctual buses, and an exceptional public bike system. For everything else, there are plenty of taxis with fair and competent drivers.

Despite these comforts, I often prefer to walk because it’s so nice. We especially love the pedestrian-first culture of Spain (this may be Europe thing, actually). Most drivers stop when someone starts to step into the street.

That’s very different than many places in Asia, where my son learned traffic safety the hard way.

For us, living without a car has been a plus, but we do rent cars often for road trips. Car rentals are also easy and affordable.

Want to know what I miss about life in Tokyo

Valencia is Safe

Living in Spain: 9 Things We’ll Miss About Valencia Life— And 4 Things We Won’t restaurant outdoor guitarist

It’s really hard to place a value on safety, but it’s easy to take it for granted until it’s gone. I’m sure once we leave Spain to visit other parts of the world, I’ll be reminded quickly of just how valuable that peace of mind really is.

I can’t speak for all the country, but living in Valencia is very safe. Keiko can walk down a street at midnight and not worry. In fact, we allow our boy to go out with his school friends and hang out in the city on Friday nights. We tell him he must be home by midnight.

He’s fourteen.

How many countries or cities in the world would I allow my 14-year-old to stay out that late? Not many.

We’ve heard that there’s an uptick in pickpocketing during festivals and other crowded times. This may be true, but the threat of violence, burglary, harassment or theft has been completely nonexistent while we lived in Valencia.

I’m sure that there are rough neighborhoods here, and elsewhere in the country. There are surely dodgy areas of Madrid, Barcelona and other cities where it’s inadvisable to walk alone at night. Yet living and walking around Valencia has been a safe and wonderful experience.

Wonder if traveling is safe? Read our Family Travel Safety Tips

Festivals in Spain

Living in Spain: 9 Things We’ll Miss About Valencia Life— And 4 Things We Won’t Torres serranos fair

Living in Spain means witnessing lots of amazing festivals. Some are charming local events. Others are jaw-dropping spectacles that get international coverage.

We haven’t been to the running of the bulls in the San Fermin Festival. Nor have I been to the massive food fight at Tomatina, which actually happens outside of Valencia. What we have seen is Valencia’s Las Fallas Festival, and it is truly breathtaking.

For some, seeing the Easter celebrations of Semana Santa are a must. Others consider Carnival in Cadiz is a priority. For us, however, we enjoyed even the local festivals and parades. For example, there are a number of “Moors and Christians” parades in Valencia. These commemorate the return of the city from the Ottoman Empire to the Crusaders. Hundreds dress as the opposing armies and march the streets. The costumes — both Ottoman and Crusader are amazing, and the locals really get into it.

There are obvious themes of race, religion, and politics underlying these, but the parades have never seemed to be charged with animus or stress. In fact, you can see people of all colors there, and some women in hijab watching with enjoyment as the battlements pass. I could be wrong, but that’s what I saw.

Read about Las Fallas, the Fire Festival in Valencia

The Spanish People

We have met so many great and kind people while living in Spain. Spanish people love their families, and they bring their children along to everything, so it’s a great place to let your kids feel free.

Before we moved to Spain, we were warned that we could feel unwelcome in certain areas of the country. People told us that certain city folks might be a bit snobbish and aloof. Which city? I’m not saying because I can’t confirm it for myself.

This couldn’t be further from our experience living in Valencia.

The people of Valencia have been warm, welcoming and supportive to us. They aren’t clingy or overly friendly. They aren’t insisting we come over for tea like in Taiwan, or try to play matchmaker like in Vietnam.

That said, we have met lots of good people: in our apartment building, at the boy’s soccer pitch, and at each kids’ schools. Coaches, teachers, parents, classmates, and teammates welcomed us and tolerated our terrible Spanish.

Our landlord went out of his way to make us comfortable. He installed a new washer and water heater when we asked if they could be repaired. The little old lady on the first floor brought us freshly-fried “papas chinas” at least twice a month.

Spain’s Laid-back Attitude

Spanish people are rarely in a hurry. They take their time. This was jarring for me after living the GO GO GO lifestyle of Tokyo and elsewhere in East Asia. Yet it often reminded me to stop, survey my surroundings, and take a breath.

In Valencia, people here take two-hour lunches. Sometimes three. Then they go for a walk. Hurry? Worry? What do those words mean?

Spain’s Natural Variety

Spain road trip. Asturias with Kids: Hiking and eating on the Ruta de las Xanas

One of the best things about living in Spain is you have so many different climates and environments to choose from.

Visiting Spain is like visiting several countries at once. You have the lush forests, arid deserts, and spectacular mountains. Then you also have great beaches and spectacular natural formations in several directions.

If you live in Spain, then you can make time to experience all of these. Yet even after nearly two years living in Spain, we have more places we still want to visit, not less.

We were blown away by the hiking and the wild swimming in Northern Spain. For beach lovers, Valencia’s location on the Mediterranean has given us great opportunities as well. Then there are places like Mallorca and the Canary Islands, which are worlds unto themselves. There is still much more to explore, however.

Some of our friends live in the far south near Malaga. In the winter, they can go skiing one day, hike the next, and then have a picnic on a beach the day after.

Spanish Drinking Culture

Living in Spain: 9 Things We’ll Miss About Valencia Life — And 4 We Won’t spanish wine

Okay, so maybe this one doesn’t relate to kids, but I love Spanish wine and I love how Spain drinks.

How does Spain drink? Well, kind of all the time, but only a little at a time. It’s not uncommon to see people sipping a beer at 10:30 am with their almuerzo in a cafe. Then maybe a glass or two of wine at lunch. Rarely more.

There’s a moderation to it that I admire. I can’t do it much anymore really (I get sleepy).

More than this, I have grown to love Spanish wine. You see that bottle in the picture above? That’s my usual bottle for a few glasses at dinner. It costs about three dollars. In the States, three dollars buys you swill.

I’m no connoisseur, believe me, but this is a decent bottle of table wine. I could spend more — and occasionally do — but why? Besides, in some shops, the most expensive bottles are only around 15 dollars.

The Spanish drink a lot of beer, too. This surprised me. And in northern regions like Asturias, cider is king. Great stuff.

Diversity and Tolerance

I won’t say that Spain is the most PC place, but it is a diverse country that is tolerant of multiple religions, races and sexual orientations. Same-sex couples — along with marriage and adoption — are not only legal and “tolerated,” but also seem to be just accepted by most people.

Spain is certainly not free of racism, sexism, and homophobia, but on the spectrum of tolerance and peace towards one’s neighbors, life in Spain ticked all the boxes for us.

Read more about How we got visas, schools & soccer teams in Spain

Things We Won’t Miss About Living in Spain

Living in Spain is full of advantages, and I’d venture to say that living in Valencia is even better. Yet there are a few elements of Spanish life that I have yet to adjust to.

This is not meant as a hit on Spanish life. If it’s not clear above, we loved living in Spain, and the pros far outweigh the cons. However, it’s worth noting that no place is perfect. These are a few things that I deem worth mentioning to anyone considering a move to Spain with kids.

Dog Poop on the Sidewalks

Living in Spain: 9 Things We’ll Miss About Valencia Life— And 4 Things We Won’t dog

I don’t know if this is a Europe-wide thing or what, but living in Spain means dodging turds on the sidewalk.

Valencia is a big dog town. There are lots of dogs. Big beautiful dogs and small, manicured miniatures, as well. Thanks to the many sidewalks and green spaces like Turia Park, there is plenty of room for a dog to roam.

I see people walking their dogs all the time. I see people cleaning up after them, too. But lots of people don’t. Lots. I dodge at least two or three steaming piles every day. Occasionally right in front of a doorway or the entrance to a shop. It still confounds me.

Siesta Culture

 Living in Spain: 9 Things We’ll Miss About Valencia Life— And 4 Things We Won’t siesta

I know when most people think about a culture that advocates nap time for all, they’d be all for it, right? I thought I would be, too. But after a month or so, the siesta became my nemesis.

Why? What’s my problem with a culturally sanctioned break in the afternoon? Let me explain.

First of all “siesta” time doesn’t usually mean “nap time” as you see above. It just means closing up shop and either going home or meeting people out for a long, casual meal. Sounds great, right? Not if you have errands to run.

Lots of businesses close up shop for several mid-day hours in the afternoon. So let’s say that it’s one o’clock and I need a pen or a light bulb or some other item. I need to get out the door NOW or wait for three hours. The same goes for bakeries, pharmacies, dry cleaners, doctor’s offices, some museums, and other shops.

Is this a minor quibble? Possibly.

Maybe I’m spoiled after living in places like Japan and Taiwan, where everything is open all the time. But it did get on my nerves from time to time.

Split School Schedule

In Valencia, that also meant that kids come home for 2 or 3 hours in the middle of the day for a long lunch. This threw off productivity in the Epic Education household. Keiko and I were trying to work while the kids were at school. Now we had to stop at 11 and cook lunch, pick up our girl and feed her, then walk her back to school at 2. Then go pick her up again at 5.

We love eating together, of course, but splitting up our workday like that just never clicked.

Eventually, we decided to pay for her to stay at school during that 2.5-hour break. This turned out to be great, since many of her friends stayed, too. This meant that she had extra time with friends (speaking Spanish) in the cafeteria and playground instead of in the classroom. Her language abilities spiked. So in the end, maybe it wasn’t bad after all?  

Late Nights, Early Mornings

Living in Spain: 9 Things We’ll Miss About Valencia Life— And 4 Things We Won’t Fallas Russafa street

When people think about living in Spain, they often think of late nights and waking at noon. They’re half right. Yes, the Spanish do stay up quite late. In fact, it’s not uncommon for some families to start eating dinner when we usually want our kids in bed.

However Spanish people still get up early. In fact, I’d say that the Spanish are some of the most sleep-deprived people in Europe. For example, our children’s classmates often eat dinner at 10 o’clock. They text my son about a homework assignment they’ve just started at 11 pm or midnight.

His first class in the morning starts at 8 am. That means these kids are all up and out the door by 7:45 at the latest.

We don’t feel that’s enough sleep for our teen and tween. This causes countless conflicts in our house every week.

If I was still a single, childless night-owl and I worked my own hours, this would be heaven. Not as great when you have early morning obligations.

Spanish Education

How to Start Living in Spain with Kids: Our Story Valencia school uniform fruit stand


I won’t go into this too much. Why? Because my issues with education in Spain would be the same with any public school system in almost any country. Besides, like living in Spain in general, the pros of our kids in Spanish schools outweigh the cons by a ton. Let me start by reiterating how much good came out of their time in local Spanish schools.

  • Our kids now speak Spanish well.
  • They have loads of local friends and had the support of parents, teachers and classmates alike.
  • They learned a lot in Spanish schools and I wouldn’t trade a day of it.

That said, the Spanish schools our kids attended are quite similar to schools in Japan, the United States, and many other countries. The importance is placed on memorization and test-taking. Things like creativity, critical thinking, and real-world skills were rarely addressed. At least that’s how it seemed to me.

Both kids had heaps of homework every day, and our son’s teachers often scheduled tests right after a holiday. That meant that he had an exam looming over him during vacation times.

Most importantly, education in Spain seemed to be considered work and an obligation. Not a gift, a joy, or anything resembling fun.

I don’t want to be too hard on Spanish schools because this is a sign of the times. You see this everywhere. But if we continued living in Spain, I would look into alternative ways to educate the kids.

Homeschooling is not 100% illegal here like it is in countries like Germany and Sweden. However, there are certain additional hoops you must go through. I would probably be willing to go through those hoops if we return.

Spanish Kids Don’t Work

How Our Kids Enjoyed Schools in Spain: Our Story

I don’t know if this is part of Valencian culture or Spanish culture as a whole, but teens don’t work. They don’t get summer jobs or earn their own money. If I’m wrong about this, please let me know.

Keiko and I both think that it’s important to establish a strong work ethic early in life. We both started working in our teens, and have worked ever since.

In Spain, however, it’s common for kids not to work until they graduate from college.

Read that sentence again. That’s right: most kids live off of their parents until their early 20’s. That’s a norm I don’t want in our house. I’m not against asking for help from family. Indeed, I’ve done that myself. However, I want our kids to understand the value of earning their own money beyond household chores.

When I’ve brought up the topic with locals about my 14-year-old son having a job to earn extra money, the initial response was mild shock. Kids working for money, at least in Valencia, is considered the sign of poverty or deadbeat parents.

The Value of Warning

We want our son to earn his spending money. Not by washing the dishes and cleaning his room. After all, no one pays you to clean your own house in the real world. Yet that’s what we’ve resorted to because we haven’t found other feasible opportunities to work.

In the past, our girl found ways to earn money through Fiverr, but with her school duties and homework, this became too difficult. This may change once we hit the road again.

Every place has their own culture and their own rules for childhood and responsibility. I’m not here to tell Spanish kids or Spanish parents how to do things. That said, I want our kids to experience what it feels like to work hard and earn what they spend.

Consider Living in Spain?

Moving on: Our Family Travel Plans for 2017 Family Portrait Turia Bridge Valencia 2

Living in Spain has been a significant part of our family’s story, and we hope to live in Spain again. In the weeks and months ahead, I am sure that more thoughts and ideas about life in Spain will surface in my mind, so I may return to add and/or edit this piece as needed.

I’d love to hear your views on this as well. Does anything resonate with you here? Anything ring true or false? How is it similar or different to where you live?


Living in Spain: 9 Things We’ll Miss About Valencia Life — And 4 We Won’t spanish life life in spain PIN 2

Image credits: #10


  1. Casey Mendiola says

    Thanks for this helpful article! I was just wondering if you could give a general idea of your cost of living monthly in Valencia? Our children are only 3 and 7 but we’d like to bring them over next year for at least a year. Thanks!!

    • We tried to live frugally while we were based in Valencia, so roughly under US$3,000 for four of us, including rent, utilities, school fees, extra-curricular activities, transportation, food and entertainment. One-time payments such as doctor visits, winter clothes shopping & school field trips broke the budget every now and then. Our major spending was for several road trips we took over the two years. Your kids are younger so they don’t eat as much as our teen did. And little ones can be entertained by just going out to the park. You probably can do as low as $2,000 – $2,500 depending on how you want to live. But please keep in mind that these are approximates, and that your tastes may be more expensive than ours. Also, prices will change over time and we left Spain in 2017 (returned for visits but stopped living there in 2017) Good luck!

  2. Hello. Great article. I am from the USA but lived in Madrid 8 years. I moved back to the USA about 3 years ago and now am considering moving to Valencia (which is what brought me to your post). Everything was true! 100% it is every emotion I have about Madrid. Thanks for taking time to put it into words.

  3. Michelle Kelly says

    How many ways do I love your post? Let me count the ways… 1) the level of detail (sometimes I feel like people just post a cursory summary in order to get up their blog post for the day/week/whatever) 2) the photographs (love that their personal and not just out of tourist guidebook) 3) the link within the post letting me jump off to all different sorts of rabbit holes!

    Currently, we are planning to begin our retirement in Valencia in 2020 (sounds so far off, but it’s not!) for approximately one year. We will be early 50s by that time but feel like we’re 30. We’re looking for somewhere in the city center because we don’t plan on purchasing a vehicle. What areas would you recommend that would provide easy access to transportation, restaurants and shops? At the same time, will there be lots of noise at all hours of the night if we choose to live so centrally?

    How is Wi-Fi there? Are utilities generally included with the rental price? What are some “hazards” to look out for? Do you handle your own taxes? How about banking? So many questions on our end but after reading your post, we’re convinced it’s the perfect starting point. (We do both speak Spanish passably, so that’s a help but not sure if it’s fluent enough to navigate obtaining a Resident Card.)

    • Thanks for the kind words, Michelle. I’ll try to cover a few of your questions. As for areas to live, anywhere near the Turia Park i think is best. Shops, transportation, and all of that is near. Noise levels change by the block. Depends on if there’s a restaurant/cervezeria there and how much al fresco dining/late night they are. Most of El Carmen will have some noise at night. Our wifi was fine, but dunno if it’s representative of the entire city. We had a local bank account for paying for kids’ schools. What utilities are included depends on the landlord I think. Good luck!

  4. Jason,

    What a great post. Thank you so much.

    Sorry for being long-winded…

    My wife, an EU national, and I are considering Spain for an early, semi- retirement. We’re early 40s/mid- 50s, respectively and can work as digital nomads. We’ve visited various regions and cities in our quest (Galicia, San Sebastian, Barcelona, Madrid) and are so charmed by Spain, and the Spanish people. We both speak Spanish fairly well.

    As New Yorkers, and on the young side of middle-aged, we’re used to having large numbers of things to do, many friends and are very physically active. That said, we’ve yet to find the balance of affordability, climate and activities we’re looking for. Your words make me think we might do so in Valencia and we plan on visiting shortly.

    My questions are did you encounter any folks, ex-pats or otherwise, in a later stage of life than your family and if so how were they getting along? Do you feel that Valencia offers a broad enough range of activities to keep a food, art and culture person reasonably happy?

    Thanks in advance,


    • Hi Vernon. No, we didn’t meet any older expat types. Then again, we weren’t out socializing as much outside of our kids’ school & soccer. There are Facebook groups for Valencia residents. That might be a good place to look.
      As for active culture seekers like yourselves, Valencia certainly offers a broad enough range of activities in my opinion. Galleries, museums, festivals, performances, concerts (modern as well as opera and classical) and more. And it’s great because most of it’s either walkable easy to reach by bus, train or taxi. In addition, Spain is such a small country that you can drive 4 hours north to Barcelona, 4 hours east to Madrid, or 5 hours south to Granada. You’re close to France and Morocco as well. Plenty of hiking and outdoor activities in every direction (check out our Spain page for more ideas).

      As for food, it depends on your tastes, but there is a lot of variety to try, but most of it is Western/European. I saw one Korean place in town. There are LOADS of Japanese places, but they seem to focus on sushi and little else. We wanted Korean, Malaysian, Indian, Thai, Japanese (other than Sushi), Taiwanese, etc. There is some in Chinatown (near the train station), but not on a level of a New York, Tokyo or London. Having said that, now that we’ve left, I crave so many things that we ate in Spain all the time…

  5. Haha, valencian guy here who enjoyed reading your thoughts about life in Valencia. It’s always great to see one’s life through other’s glasses. Most of your cons are the same for lots of valencians as well. I totally agree with the “dog poops on the sidewalk” and the wrong perspective of the education system (but as you said, I think that’s a global affair).

    I felt weird reading about siesta/nap time. I always hate that time, and I hate falling asleep during that hours (maybe it happened to me just a few days in my life) since I feel I’m not being productive. But reading about how it affects people’s life was strange. Because I got used to deal with shops closed between 2-5, but I really appreciate the chance of entering to almost any store around 8 pm or later. It can be the most annoying
    My point is spanish times may be the worst for productivity, but might be the best to many other life’s stuff. It’s a hate/love relationship with siesta time. Anyway, a global culture should bring less diversity, and I’m not sure about this being good, either.

    • Thanks for chiming in, David, and I hope I don’t come across as critical of Spanish culture. It’s not an issue of being right or wrong for us…just what we liked and what we could get used to. For the record, out of everywhere we’ve lived thus far (Malaysia, Mexico, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan), the kids want the Spanish life again 🙂

  6. hey jason – this is super helpful, thank you!! we’re planning to be in Valencia for 6 mo (early 2019) with our two girls, 5 & 9. Did you like living in Russafa? We’d like to find a compromise somewhere betweem between loud & ulta-urban – and the ‘burbs. Green space is a plus! The schools we’re looking at are in Campanar or Rascanya – I think. How did you find a good rental? I’m going to Spain in a few months, so it might make sense to start chatting with some real estate folks. Any tips on any of the above would be much appreciated!!

    • Hi Kristin. If you want green space and “somewhere between between loud & ultra-urban” then try to be as close to Turia Park as possible. Campanar borders is. Rascanya doesn’t. We lived just south of Russafa, very close to the Gulliver Playground in Turia and loved it. Living in the middle of Russafa is a gamble: great area, but lots of al fresco restaurants with patrons eating/drinking late. As for how to find the place, we just checked loads of websites, pounded the pavement, visited loads of realtors and had Google Translate ready (we spoke zero Spanish when we arrived).

      Here are some of the sites we used: (a Japanese national we stumbled across. Very helpful and had some great places/advice, although we ended up finding something better on our own. Her office is near the Serranos Towers and she has some good stuff so worth a look)

      Real Estate Sites:

      • Hey Jason – thank you for the above advice! I am heading to Valencia later this week to do some scoping (we plan to move to Valencia in Dec 2018, staying for 6mo or so). I only have a few days – and some time will be taken up visiting possible schools for my kids – but I’d love to know if you have any suggestions for ways to get a feel for life in Valencia (not the tourist scene really, there will be time for that when we move!). I want to walk/bus around to some interesting/livable neighborhoods – sounds like near Turia Park is where I should focus. Any other suggestions for how to get a quick bead on Valencia life, any major must-sees/dos? Thanks a ton.

        • Hi Kristen. Yes, I’d definitely use Turia Park as a focus point. The neighborhoods near it are often nice, and if you’re with kids, you really want to be within walking distance of that park. Walk through the park on a Sunday. We like the L’eixample/Russafa area a lot. Walk in the markets, buy a bus card at a tobacco shop and take a few around town (download the EMT bus app…huge help). Use the card to rent a public bike, as well. Valencia is a very walkable town, so take advantage of it!

          Also, you mentioned that yoU’ll plan to stay for 6 months or so. Do you have a European Passport? Or are you filling out the right visa/paperwork? You may already know all about Schengen visas, but if not I’d see where you fit in.

          • Kristin Sherwood says

            Hey Jason – awesome, thank you! Great tips, and I have a feeling I’ll be doing a lot of walking. I’d like to test out getting to the beach – what would you suggest? I’d guess that would be a bus trip??

            Re visas – I’m an american, and I’ll be applying for a non-lucrative visa. My husband and girls will (hopefully) have Irish passports, and I am pretty sure that means they’ll have free movement in spain. We need to double check.

            Thanks again!!

          • Thanks Jason – this is ace. I’d like to test out getting to the beach while I’m there – advice on best ways to do that/closest or best beaches?

            I’ll be on a non-lucratve visa – and my husband and girls will likely be on Irish passports, which I think allow free access. Tho now I feel like I need to double check!

            Thanks again!

            • There are several beaches near Valencia. Closest to the city where you can easily access by public bus is Malvarrosa Beach (which stretches out to Playa del Cabanyal), a long strip of beach with a nice walking path with cafes and restaurants where many locals hang out on the weekend. Another one where you can access by bus is El Saler, though it doesn’t have as many restaurants as by seashore. Playa Port Saplaya on the north of Valencia is only 20 min car ride. In less than hour car ride to the south of Valencia, you will get to Cullera, a beach town where many locals have summer houses by the beach.

  7. Hi Jason,

    As expats, what did you and your wife did for a living in Valencia ? I assume neither of you spoke Spanish when you arrived, how did you manage to find jobs ?

    And also, do local people have any tendency of excluding expats from their social circles ? Especially those coming from a non Western country ?

    Thanks vm for helping me out.


    • Hi James,

      We were on a Non-Lucrative visa which restricted us from working in Spain. We were not allowed to find a job in Spain. We work online and our income comes from outside the country

      As for excluding expats, I am not sure. We are from both Western (USA) and non-Western (Japan) countries. At first, Keiko thought she felt a cold shoulder, but later discovered it was more because she didn’t speak a word in Spanish.

      As for school and community, we felt pretty included and welcomed as long as we tried to be involved. We didn’t speak Spanish well so that we had no idea what’s happening around us. But we were included. Some parents and teachers spoke English and helped us whenever we needed help. Many were patient with our bad Spanish or us using Google translate….everyone except for VISA police, that is. Those officers deal with people all day long everyday so they had no patience and showed (understandable) annoyance when we didn’t speak any Spanish. Other than that, we never felt really unwelcome.

      However, as you might be able to imagine, if you have lived in the same place for a long time and you already have your own circle of people, there is no need to actively invite new people who you can’t really communicate with…especially when you have no idea how long they will be around. That is what the reality might be. Even though, from a foreigner’s point of view, it might feel like “excluded.” Sometimes, it might be us foreigners who need to try harder to be invited and welcomed. When we made an effort, we were included.

  8. Hi Jason
    Your blog is great! We are thinking of moving as a family to Valencia for a few years with our kids (2&3- will turn 3&4 soon). We’d like them to go to school to help with learning the language quickly. Can you recommend an area we could look at to to live? We live in (leafy) west London currently in a large apartment so are used to city/apartment living. I guess we would want somewhere accessible with a school that had the balance tipped more towards Castellano than Valenciana. Some green space v close nearby is super important to us as we are really out-doorsy. We will both be studying while we are there so won’t have a huge budget. Can you help with some pointers?
    Also was interested to read about Japanese restaurants- I lived in Japan for 2.5 years and we eat Japanese food all the time so that was great news! Would welcome any recommendations.
    Thank you so much!

    • Hi Sara. If you need to be near a green space then look along the Turia Park — that’s the huge snake-like park that runs through town (built in a riverbed). Very green with lots of activities (bike lanes, footy pitches, etc). We lived in the Russafa area, and there are lots of schools around there. Our kids went to local schools — not international schools — so very little English involved. And by law, kids must learn Valenciano as well. They can be exempt for a certain amount of time, (1 year I think? Maybe two?) but after that they must take classes if it appears that you plan to stay longer. Valenciano isn’t spoken as much in the city, but required by law, last time I checked. As for Japanese restaurants, we lived just south of Russafa/L’eixample and there were several in that area (ramen, sushi, etc), but we didn’t try them much as we usually save ourselves for when we visit family in Osaka every year 🙂

  9. Ricardo Zoner Baptista says

    Hi Jason, Next year me and my family will change to Valencia, we are from Brazil but we have dual citizens.
    Can you help me about costs of life? Like School and Apartments to rent.
    Thanks in advanced

    • Hi Ricardo. Wow, those are really large, non-specific questions! The costs can vary dramatically on many factors: apartment location, number of bedrooms, furnished/unfurnished, etc. Prices range from 300 to 1300 euros or more I guess. And with schools, there are public (almost free), private (more cost) and concertado schools (less than private but not free). We had a 3br furnished apartment near the park for 500 euro/month. It was small and in an old building, but was perfect for us & our needs.

  10. My future husband and I really want to move to Valencia. We visited two years ago and this past Spring with three of my children. We have decided on the Russafa area. My biggest concern is Education. I have two children left in school. One in her last year of high school and one in her first. I have read that the Concertado’s are the best route, what do you think? The whole memorization thing and testing is an issue where we live, and is changing hopefully the same for Spain. I really would like my youngest to experience schooling in Spain. Concerned about the language issue, we all know that languages are not taught in the States until high school. Anyway, I do not want to wait, we are not getting any older, I am 55 and he is 69, we want to enjoy things while we can. We love to travel, and feel Valencia is the place for us. Any advice on
    Secondary Schools? Also, my future husband can live anywhere in the EU and my kids are dual citizens, as their father is from Ireland.

    • Hi Clare. I can only tell you what our experience was like, and both of my kids had a good experience, despite not knowing any Spanish when they started. They were younger than yours when they started (9 and 12), but made plenty of friends and picked up the language quickly. They both went to concertado schools: one just south of Russafa and the other east of it. Yes, it is conventional schooling (memorization, tests, homework, etc) but it worked great for us for two years. Our biggest problems dealt with the visas as we weren’t EU citizens, and you wouldn’t have to worry about that, it seems. We’re jealous!

  11. Completely relate to ALL this!!!

  12. My wife and I moved to Valencia with our preschool-age daughter in Sept 2016 and share many of the same observations as you. The siesta particularly drives her nuts- me, not so much!

    Also, with preschool hours, the time problems you mention aren’t as big. I’m sure it’ll be more of a challenge as she gets older.

    • Glad someone relates 😉

      The pros of living in Valencia far outweigh the cons, but yeah…siesta culture…who knew that anyone *wouldn’t* like it? Especially me?! Hope you enjoy Valencia as much as we did. Such a great city.

  13. souvenir ulang tahun says

    Indonesia please

    • What do you mean? Write the 11 things we’ll miss about Indonesia? Hmm. Things we’ll miss: waterfalls & surfing. Things we won’t: unreliable internet.

  14. Jason this is a cool breakdown. I appreciate the siesta thing too. Never been to Spain but spending time in a few areas of the world where things shut down for a few hours, regularly, you see how it is what it is, but also how it makes getting stuff really tough. Not super convenient. I also know growing up in New Jersey where 24 hour stores and places being open 6-7 days a week are more normal that I was a wee bit spoiled LOL. Ditto on dog turds too. We spend a ton of time in SE Asia. Thai street dogs and Balinese street dogs place landmines everywhere.


    • Yup, big boo on street animals in general, but it’s understandable why they leave it there. But in Spain it isn’t strays or feral animals, which is what I can’t get my head around. As for the siesta time, some people (understandably) love it, and if we had less obligations or stayed long enough to truly fall into the pace of life, I might have felt different. BTW: We’re in Lombok at the moment a far fewer dogs than we see in Thailand and elsewhere. Lots of cats, tho. Not a fan (allergies).