Find and book the best deals in confidence

Booking.com

Monday, April 24, 2017

8 Reasons to Live in Valencia in Your 30's



Valencia is vibrant and youthful; the third largest city in Spain and yet, mysteriously, one of the most under-rated. Fortunately, going under the radar gives it some significant advantages, especially for those of us relocating there in our 30's...

 

 1) Feeling Young, Wild and Free

El Carmen. Photo: Sarah Harvey
Valencia has the gritty, urban, up-and-coming vibe of Shoreditch or Brooklyn 10 to 15 years ago; shabby-chic bars, street art, quirky independent shops, alternative fashion, a flourishing live music scene, music festivals, wine festivals, food festivals...It oozes creativity and has that random juxtaposition of architectural styles (art nouveau/baroque/art deco/60s concrete block/derelict crumbling glory/bulldozed hole in the ground) that always gives the eye something to marvel at. 
Sure, it has its fair share of Erasmus kids but I never feel out of place because the majority of the city bars are full of people in their 30s. I did some digging and City of Valencia statistics back up my initial impression of a youthful city. Apparently 33% are aged 30 to 49, and 19% are 15 to 29. Sure makes a pleasant change from Nice...

 

 

2) Valencia is Social Central

This city gets 10/10 from me not just for how easy it is to make friends, but also for the sheer amount of social events throughout the week. It goes a huge way towards helping you settle in, even if you turn up solo. Perhaps that’s why out of all the cities I’ve lived in so far (Cairns, London, Male', Colombo and Nice), it’s my favourite yet. (I've visited 27 countries so far but visiting somewhere is an entirely different thing to living there).
After floating the idea on an expat forum and getting dozens of replies within hours, I started a Facebook group called Valencia Coffees and Co-working for digital nomads and remote workers who want to bring their laptops to cafes to work alongside like-minded people, and maybe to enjoy some after-work drinks sometimes too. It’s proving pretty popular and attracts a very nice crowd of mostly 30-something young professionals, the majority are copy-writers or working in IT. 
There are also dozens of events, day and night, organised on Meetup.com. CouchSurfing is pretty active here too, mostly in terms of people using the ‘Hangout Now’ function on the CS app. I'd recommend it as another great way of meeting open-minded, globally-minded types. 
It's also really easy to chat to randoms at bars, festivals and sports events, you'll be amazed by how friendly everyone is! 

3) It’s Easy to Settle In

The City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia. Photo: Sarah Harvey
I’ve been chatting to a lot of fellow newbies about this because I wanted to find out if I’m not alone in finding it pretty easy to settle in here (even if you’re not yet fluent in Spanish). Well, it's certainly easier than the time I moved to a 2.2sq km island in the middle of the Indian Ocean then realised I didn't know anyone in the entire country or have any colleagues yet. So far everyone I’ve spoken to seems to agree that getting settled in Valencia is surprisingly easy. 
Certainly the fact that making friends in Valencia is a snap goes a long way towards helping you settle in, but there are also lots of useful online information resources (in English) such as Valencia Information Exchange and the two 'Expats in Valencia' Facebook groups. 

Marina Beach Club is a restaurant/bar/nightclub. Photo: Sarah Harvey
Wouldn't normally put 'lovely' and 'dentist' in the same sentence but I found a really lovely English-speaking dentist fairly easily, Puchades Clinica Odontologica; then opened a non-resident bank account at Bankia in Carrer de Russsafa within just 45 minutes, after simply walking in off the street and inquiring if it was possible. The very friendly clerk at Bankia only required my EU passport to open the account. There’s no set-up fee, the account is free for the first 6 months, and internet banking is available in English. (Pretty handy since most of us don't learn Spanish banking terms at school!). Most banks have an English-speaking member of staff, which was certainly a help. On that note, if you ever get really stuck with someone who doesn’t know any English, about a third of Valencians seem to be able to speak French! 

4) Eat. Sleep. Rave. Repeat.

You can party every night of the week in Valencia. But unlike in the notorious Spanish resort towns, you won’t find the streets filled with boozed-up bachelor party participants lying in pools of their own vomit. What you will find is find is bars and clubs full of people having a good time, all week long. There are bars absolutely everywhere but the best late-night venues are concentrated around Ruzafa and El Carmen. 
Valencia’s nightlife is really eclectic and fun, whether you’re going for cocktails with friends, dancing the night away in a club, or belting out some of your finest karaoke. That said, the nightlife never feels intrusive or OTT so if you’re just having a quiet stroll at night you won’t be bothered by hordes of party-goers either. 
My tip is to check out La Manera Coffee and Cocktails for authentic cocktails in the Old Town – I may be biased because it's run by friends of mine but it’s one of the few places to have an actual mixologist enforcing some quality control (cocktails can be a bit hit-and-miss elsewhere). La Manera is run by two cool Slovakian girls, so do your bit to support some ambitious female entrepreneurs!

5) You Can Climb that Fabled Property Ladder...

One of Valencia's many chilled-out plazas. Photo: Sarah Harvey
Trying to get on the property ladder can feel as slippery as Edmund Blackadder trying to shimmy up a pole covered in Castrol GTX. However, I’m not the only one to have noticed that Valencia right now offers us 30-somethings a tangible chance to actually own some property. What’s more, due to some major city redevelopment plans/the general pace of gentrification, buying a property in Valencia will be an amazing investment. So I’m wheeling out Anna who runs a Valencia-based property franchise for details: She tells me property values in Valencia have increased by around 8% in the past 12 months and this figure is expected to shoot up even faster in the next five years due to the redevelopment plans for the (currently shady) Cabanyal beach area and the proposed ‘Central Park’ being built over the railway tracks south of Xavia station. It’s currently possible to get a nice one-bedroom apartment in the city for 60,000 or a good quality 3-bedroom apartment for 105,000, according to Anna.
I'm still undecided on taking the plunge because I have too many other cities to explore after this one, but the idea is tempting...But even if you're only renting, you can get a really good room in a shared apartment for 400/month, and sliding towards something more studenty for €250/month or even as low as 150.
 

6) Fall in Love 

Photo credit: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Fall in love in Valencia. The city is full of fascinating, ambitious 30-somethings of all nationalities living life to the max. So even if you turn up single, you’re not likely to stay that way for long. What with all the social events, sports clubs (and let’s not forget dating apps) I will put money on you getting coupled up within months. Not that it's a meat market, it's just a magical kind of place...And if you are already with someone, it’s a great city to explore with them. I’m not going to start gushing about picnics in the park and yada yada, but Valencia is an amazing city, there are hundreds of bars and restaurants, there’s a 7km-long park, there’s a beach...you get the picture. One more observation: Seems like the majority of people in Valencia (Spanish and expats alike) don’t even start their families until their late 30s and early 40s, so you won’t feel like a social outcast for not having had everything figured out by 25, or, you know, having a career and an insatiable wanderlust...

7) Valencia is Foodie Heaven

Red Velvet cake at La Mas Bonita. Photo: Sarah Harvey
Life’s too short to not enjoy food. I’m sure you've figured this out by now too. Valencia is famous for being the birthplace of paella (OK technically speaking it comes from the rice fields of Albufera in the district of Valencia, which happens to be a cool day trip, but let's not split hairs). 
Tapas is, of course, in plentiful supply, and Valencia has more open-top sandwiches than mankind has ever known. They start from as little as 1, washed down with a 1.50 glass of red wine at one of my cheap-and-cheerful pre-party spots, Porque Lo Digo Yo in Carrer de Cadiz, in Ruzafa. (My favourite is the blue cheese with cured ham and tomato chutney). 
Even tapas can get a little boring after a while, but thankfully there are also a heap of international restaurants, including Thai, Chinese, Italian, French, Korean and sushi (the sushi isn't world-class but the rest are pretty decent). There are even five Michelin-star restaurants as of 2017.

8) The Active Outdoor Life

The Turia, Valencia. Photo: Sarah Harvey
The Turia (the huge riverbed that was turned into a 7km-long park snaking through the town) is one of the biggest hubs of activity in Valencia. Apart from being a superb chill-out space, there are cycle lanes and jogging lanes stretching the entire length of it. You can also join one of the many low-cost al-fresco yoga sessions or a group workout with a personal trainer for as little as 2-5, such as with Tranamos. (If you insist on being indoors, gym bunnies will find countless gyms for as little as 20/month, or up to 120/month for the fancy Tyris Spa + Fitness gym in Avinguda del Regne de Valencia which has three saunas and countless hydrotherapy pools).
All kinds of sports groups for tennis, football, volleyball and hiking are organised on Meetup.com. Skateboarding and rollerblading is big, with the main hangouts being the skate park next to Parc Gulliver and at the Marina. 
Sadly, waves are almost non-existent in the flat, shallow bay although I have spotted some surfers occasionally catching some small waves. This is one thing that would make Valencia better, nay perfect…
Me, jumping for joy on the main beach (in winter)
I plan to investigate scuba diving options but it seems like the best bet is to join a dive centre in Valencia and they’ll take you to some coves out of town, which figures, because the visibility looks to be about 3 metres max at the city beach. (My standards are high after living in the Maldives, and I can’t help being disappointed by knowing we won’t see sharks or mantas, but will keep you posted on my future scuba outings!). 
In the winter, snowboarding and skiing can be found just two hours away in the mountains, again, if you don't know anyone, there are often group trips organised on Meetup.com.
  

There you have it, my first impressions of Valencia and why I think it's fantastic for 30-somethings...I should have moved here years ago! How about you?!

3 comments:

  1. I am 59 and find that all the reasons you discussed are perfect for my age group as well! Thanks for the great post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jo! Thanks so much for your comment. I'm really glad to hear it! Have a wonderful time in Valencia :)

      Delete
  2. Same here - 59 years old and I feel right at home. The streets are not littered with aggressive ravers and, as you say, I feel very comfortable and safe walking home at night. The buses take some getting used to but that goes for most cities. They are air conditioned though which is way ahead of London.
    I would say that over all, Valencia and its people are very comfortable with themselves, so are happy to welcome people to enjoy what they have.

    ReplyDelete