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 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.

being-ignored

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 of what 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 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 a 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!

Take a look at my post ‘List Of Concertado Schools In The Region Of Valencia’ and check out a detailed map of schools around the area. You can also download an extensive list of schools in Valencia to help you with your search.

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 ex-pats 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!

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British/Filipina now living in Valencia, Spain. Mum, wife, designer and illustrator. I am also the author of Ohla Living where I share my lifestyle, travel, recipes and creative ideas.

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Angela

Hi Maria Thank you so much for writing this blog! My situation is slightly different to yours in that we’ve been living in murcia for almost 15 years! I moved here from London with my now ex partner who is spanish. I’ve now been offered a job with the possibility of moving to valencia. I have two boys aged 17 & 10 who both speak Castellano and English of course but not Valenciano. I’m concerned about my little one, as he wold need to go to school in Valencia and will have to learn a new language. I would prefer… Read more »

Christine Alevizakis

Hi Maria Thanks so much for taking the time to write this blog! We’re a canadian family looking to have a sabbatical year in a bit of a warmer clime and hopefully/possibly have the kids learn some Spanish. My kids are 14, 14 and 10 so I’m in the tricky zone with regards to schooling. We don’t really want to send them to international private schools (and they’re so very expensive!) and were wondering about public schools, with tutors and perhaps even pulling them out of school a couple of hours a day to do a math/English basic curriculum on… Read more »

Meg

I have a completely different outlook to being an expat only now that i am one myself. i get a lot of people also asking about moving over and the thing that always surprises is me is how easy they think it is! I can only imagine moving to a country in a foreign language is 10 times harder than what we are going through, and with kids! But as you say, if someone asks you for help in the store – i hope I come across as friendly and approachable because I definitely want people to learn from our… Read more »

Karen

Very nice article. Thank you Maria. We are in the process of house hunting in Valencia Spain. We have two young girls 7 and 9 and are torn between living in a bigger more spacious property in the suburbs or in an equally amazing apartment in the city closer to everything. Some cons about this particular apartment is that there is no outdoor space and it is about a 10-15 walk to school. Secondary school is no longer walking distance. The girls have also been asking for a dog, which is not as convenient to have in an apartment. The… Read more »

Sharon Anderson

Hi, This blog has been really helpful. My husband and I are considering a move to Valencia where I have applied for a teaching job at a British School. We have 2 children, a girl (5) and a boy (1 1/2). We’ve never been to the city but from what I can see it seems beautiful. I was wondering about health care etc particularly with having young kids. Also we have a dog and I was wondering if you have any information on moving to the region with a pet. Sorry this is all a bit vague. A mindfield at… Read more »

siobhan erasmus

Hi Maria, thank you for your blog – most friendly and helpful. We are a family of 3, our daughter is 13 and my husband and I are in our 50’s. We currently live in Jhb, south africa and are concerned about the future prospects of education, medical care and the overall economy of our beloved country and so we are in the throws of planning a move to Spain over the next 18 – 24 months. Sooner would be nice but there is a lot of prep to organise prior. We are coming to Spain in March 2019 to… Read more »

Colette Cortez

Hi Shiv, I have never responded to a blog before(ack!) but I am also in the same boat as you, and am so excited to know there are others out there planning the same thing. This blog is wonderful! We are a family living on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. I am originally from South Africa, but have lived here for 17 years now. We are planning a move to Spain in 2 years and I have just begun the process of trying to find the right town/city/village/neighborhood, the right school, etc. It’s so daunting! But so exciting!! I have… Read more »

[…] So, you’re thinking about living in Valencia? […]

[…] So, you’re thinking about living in Valencia? […]

Agustina Cobas

Hello Maria! Your blog has been a blessing for me today! 🙂 My name is Agustina, I am originally from Uruguay, but have been living in Costa Rica since 2003. My husband is from Argentina, we met here in Costa Rica…we have two kids, Sofía, 10, and Joaquín, 6. Since we are italian citizens and we both have online jobs, we are planning to move to Valencia next year, hopefully before the beginning of school year in september. All the information you have in your blog has been of great help!! I have been googling and although I have found… Read more »

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