Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of emails from young families wanting to live in Valencia and I love reading them because it reminds me of myself a few years ago when we initially thought about moving to Spain.
Of course, the first thing I did was read and search the web to find out more about the list of areas we want to live in. I took on the quest for finding any kind of advice from a family like ourselves who had lived in Valencia for a while.
I went on forums, online groups and explained my situation. In all honesty, based on my experience I found that some forums are not as ‘friendly’ and the people who seem to be frequent on them will immediately question my motives in a snarky way.
Fair enough, we know that moving to Spain will not all be rainbows and unicorns, but it would be helpful if we didn’t get immediately judged about it. We were aware that moving uprooting our young family in a totally different country will be hard work, that’s why we want to know as much as we can from people who have already had experience in living here.
In the early days (when we were house hunting in Alicante), I recall a particular incident at a shopping centre. My husband and I overheard a British couple talking on the same aisle and of course, wanting to know more about that area and excited to hear a familiar accent we approached them to politely say hello. I also asked if they lived here long as we were thinking of relocating. Well, she was a ‘little off’ and I could tell as soon as I opened my mouth that she wasn’t remotely interested.
She carried on pushing her trolley mumbling something like “We live inland…” While her husband also shuffled himself as far away from us as possible! Charming! I’m pretty sure we weren’t too weird about it! Well, that was our first ever experience with expats here in Spain! For sure not all expats are like that, but being nice and helpful is always a welcome gesture, don’t you think?!
With that in mind, I thought it would be a great idea to compile the TOP FIVE popular questions that my readers have asked me through my blog about what it’s like living in Valencia, especially if you have children.
Renting or Buying?
I would really advise to try renting for a year or so before consider buying. Planning your move carefully will be beneficial in the long run. I know of a family that moved from the UK with school-aged children, who are having endless problems with the house they bought only a year ago!
They came to Spain after selling their property in England, but the dream soon turned into a nightmare when they suddenly faced problems with leaky pipes, dodgy electric connections and an estate agent who doesn’t really give two cents! It’s a very stressful time and instead of enjoying their new life, they are far too busy sorting out what needs to be fixed as well as making sure that their kids are OK!
Renting gives you a good idea on suits your lifestyle. More importantly, you’ll soon learn that many Spanish houses in the campo do not have gas mains and can get very cold in the winter! Not so ideal if you have very small children or if you like your home comforts such as central heating and double glazed windows.
You have to keep in mind that old chalets and villas in the countryside are mainly used as summer houses by many Spanish families and some properties unless they have been renovated can get very cold in the winter.
Where are the best areas to live in?
Well, this all depends on the lifestyle you want. If you have young children, I assume that you would like to be near the schools. So living in the middle of nowhere and taking 30 minutes more to drive the kids back and forth wouldn’t be so ideal. It might be great in the first few months, but imagine doing it for the next 5 or more years?!
Choose an area where there are facilities for families. There are many urbanisations here in Valencia that have access to sports centres and a have large community areas without having to drive out. Ideal for making friends and getting to know people who live in the area, especially when the 12 weeks of summer holidays begin!
I also found that older urbanisations in the countryside don’t offer as much when it comes to facilities for families and you will probably need to drive to the nearest town to go out and socialise. This is fine, but if you have teens, it’s also good for them to have their own social life. So it’s ideal to have access to the nearest bus or metro so you don’t play taxi driver during the weekends!
What are the crime rates?
It’s more than likely that if you choose to live in the city the crime rates will be higher compared to a small town or village. Our town has a very low crime rate. It’s the kind of place where you would feel comfortable walking with your kids late at night. There is always a mixed crowd and there’s never been a time where I can remember seeing or hearing anything that made me feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
But, if you must know about the crimes that I have heard while I’ve been living here, then it would be orange thieves, burglars who take advantage of empty houses during the winter and occasional car break-ins which mainly happens in town. Aside from those incidents, I haven’t heard of anything that made me cause for concern. Many homes in our urbanisation are fitted with alarms and it is also very common for households to have at least one dog to guard the property.
Public, Private or Concertado
It is a fact that the younger the child is, the easier it is for them to learn and adjust. So if you are moving here with a child younger than 10 years old, a public school would be a lot better and cheaper in the long run. My son was 5 years old when we moved here, and he took over a year to learn how to communicate confidently in Spanish.
However, it is a lot different if you have older kids. The older the child is, the harder him to adjust. You must remember that they have to deal with the culture shock and a totally different way of learning and speaking amongst other things. This process will take time and it also depends on your child. Whatever you decide, be prepared to invest a lot of time helping your child with homework, keep communications open with the school and ask for help like extra tutoring if necessary!
What about Valenciano?!
Unless you send your children to a British, American and other private schools, then there is no getting away from the Valenciano language. Public and concertado schools will teach Valenciano! For example, my son has two subjects in Valenciano. One is Llengua (Valenciano) and also Ciencias Social (Social Sciences) which is also taught in Valenciano.
Bear in mind, unless your child already speaks the Spanish language, they will have to learn TWO languages. Even though there is a saying that kids are like sponges, you must also invest the time to make sure that your child has all the help and encouragement that he needs. Whether be in the form of extra tutoring or dedicate a lot of time to try and learn the language yourself.
Are you a family of expats that took the big leap? How did you go about finding information about the country and area you wanted to live in?
I’d love to hear your stories, let me know in the comments below!