OPINION: Why Valencia is the best place to live in Spain

Graham Hunt wants to convince you that Valencia is the best place to live in Spain.

OPINION: Why Valencia is the best place to live in Spain
Photo: bobby22/Depositphotos

Lots of places have reasons to live there, the good may outweigh the bad anywhere.

Asturias may be more visually spectacular, the Basque Country may have the best gastronomy, Barcelona may be more international in outlook, Madrid may be more of a 24 hour city and Albacete… well best not to say anything about Albacete, maybe it has more cheese.

But let’s look at the combination of factors which make Valencia the best place to live in Spain. It’s the heady mix that make it the best.

The Climate

The World Health Organisation loves the climate around Valencia. It describes the Northern Costa Blanca and Valencia as having the ideal climate, not too hot, not too dry (so it’s green), and with plenty of sunshine so you get your Vitamin D hit regularly.

When you ally this to the sea breeze that picks up in the afternoons to blow away the cobwebs and any excess pollution that tends to hang over cities such as Madrid then you have a healthy environment to live in.

And that sea breeze means that summer temperatures max out around the 32-35ºC mark as opposed to 40-45ºC like in Murcia, Sevilla, Madrid and other rather inhospitable places in the summer (Notwithstanding the odd really hot day, even here we can’t avoid climate change)

Sunset Over the AlbuferaSunset Over the Albufera. Photo: Graham Hunt/

The Look

A Medieval centre, a Modernist Millenium project in the City of Arts and Sciences, a wonderful riverbed park, a superb city beach, beautiful turn of the century architecture with amazing facades, magnificent modern sports facilities, excellent shopping centres, a light railway and metro, safe bike lanes, tree lined avenues, university campuses, public parks and spaces all under endless blue skies, Valencia gives good value for your photos, your eyes and your envious glances from your friends and family once they know you live here and you constantly remind them.

Valencia's Wonderful City Beach
Photo: Graham Hunt/

The Culture

A cafe society to die for, gastronomy from around the World, a club scene and nightlife renowned throughout Spain, a fantastic musical heritage, a participatory athletic culture, international acts with all types of concerts and performance arts, outdoor cinema, kids’ activities, an outdoor lifestyle, a language of its own, fallas fiestas, fireworks, paella and rice dishes, the sobremesa (Sitting around for hours chatting after meals)… Valencia has a relaxed culture and plenty to choose from, all you need to do is decide what it is that you are going to do today.

Nightlife on the Patacona beachNightlife on the Patacona beach Photo: Graham Hunt/

The Way of Life

If it weren’t for the fine public transport, the excellent communications via road, rail and air, the speedy internet connectivity, the reasonable cost of living, the availability of abundant cheap seasonal foods and the friendliness of the people you might not think that your quality of life would improve on moving to Valencia compared with other places (And if that reminded you of the question in “Life of Brian” of what have the Romans ever done for us? then you would be right)

But when you add into the mix the ease of life, the fact that people work to live rather than defining themselves by their jobs, the laid back atmosphere, the importance of personal connections, the importance of children and the fact they stay children for longer, the family structure and the fiestas to enjoy time away from your place of work then you can see that your lifestyle might benefit and be upgraded by joining us here in Valencia.

The Outdoor Lifestyle in ValenciaThe Outdoor Lifestyle in Valencia. It even includes playing Quidditch in the Turia park. Photo: Graham Hunt/

The Cost of Living

Living in Valencia isn’t as cheap as it used to be, is anywhere as cheap as it used to be? However, it’s much much cheaper than many other places in Spain and much cheaper than most places around Europe.

Madrid and Barcelona property costs more than double Valencia property per square metre on average, and rental prices in those cities are obscene compared with Valencia.

Food, transport, communications, nights out, eating out, cultural activities, sporting events and concerts are all priced well or free to participate in. There are plenty of free events all year round and local councils make sure that their communities have plenty to occupy themselves all year round (The most important position on any council is the Regidor de Fiestas, the person responsible for making sure fireworks wake you up in the middle of the night and early morning)

You need not spend anything to have a great night out at many times during the year as the fiestas are mostly public and free. Walk around and soak up the atmosphere, take a picnic and enjoy yourself.

Fireworks in ValenciaEvery fiesta involves fireworks at some point! Photo: Graham Hunt/

The Surroundings

You are never far away from a lovely day out, whether you cycle there, take public transport, plan a car journey or walk, you have different experiences all within a stone’s throw of the city. The city is surrounded by The Huerta – The orchard style green belt allowing you to explore small villages and hamlets surrounded by rice, tiger nut, onion or artichoke fields or orange and almond groves.

A bit further out the commuter belt offers high quality living and village life in the river valleys to the west of the city, the mountains to the north west or by the rice paddies to the south. Public transport will take you there and back easily and efficiently to explore.

A car trip will take you to Medieval fort towns like Peñiscola or Morella, villages as art installations like Fanzara, rivers allowing you to swim all year round as in Montañejos, skiing in Teruel, wine tasting in Requena and Utiel, beaches on the Costa del Azahar or Costa Blanca north, bustling towns with Roman and Moorish Castles and fiestas such as Xativa, Alcoy and Sagunto, fantastic hiking and climbing in and around Chulilla.

And a bit further afield but still available on a day trip, our trains are so quick that a day out in Madrid is perfectly possible in just over an hour and a half and even Barcelona in three hours.

ChulillaThe picturesque hilltop town of Chulilla. Photo: Graham Hunt/

There are so many reasons, potentially too many, Valencia used to be known as the Hidden Jewel of the Mediterranean. These days in our interconnected Instagrammed world not many places are hidden. However we like it here, in fact we love it and so do so many of our clients. 

This is the argument for why Valencia is the best place to live in Spain and potentially in Europe. Downsides exist of course, not too many, and I am sure you can provide some, but the upsides easily outweigh them. If you have a chance to come here remember that you only have one shot at life, why not make your shot in Valencia? 

Graham Hunt is a real estate agent and relocation expert based in Valencia. Originally from just outside Liverpool he came to Spain as a student and never left. Read more at his blog or follow him on Twitter.

And if you want him to show you around some properties in Valencia, drop him a line.

READ ALSO: These are the 17 absolute worst things about living in Spain 

If you don't agree with Graham and believe that you your village/town/city is the best place in Spain, send us an email and tell us why! Or leave a comment in the section below. 

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Rampant branch closures and job cuts help Spain’s banks post huge earnings

Spain’s biggest banks this week reported huge profits in 2021 and cheered their return to recovery post-Covid, but ruthless cost-cutting in the form of thousands of layoffs, hundreds of branch closures and the removal of many ATMs have left customers in Spain suffering, in this latest example of ‘Capitalismo 2.0’. 

A man withdraws cash from a Santander branch in Madrid.
More than 3,500 Santander workers lost their jobs in Spain in 2021 and a further 2,000 more employees working for Santander across Europe were also laid off. Photo: PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP

Spanish banking giant Santander on Wednesday said it has bounced back from the pandemic as it returned to profit last year, beating analyst expectations and exceeding its pre-COVID earnings.

Likewise, Spain’s second-largest bank BBVA said on Thursday that it saw a strong rebound in 2021 following the Covid crisis, tripling its net profits thanks to a recovery in business activity.

It’s a similar story for Unicaja (€137 million profit in 2021), Caixabank (€5.2 billion profit thanks to merge with Bankia), Sabadell (€530 million profit last year), Abanca (€323 million profit) and all of Spain’s other main banks.

This may be promising news for Spain’s banking sector, but their profits have come at a cost for many of their employees and customers. 

In 2021, 19,000 bank employees lost their jobs, almost all through state-approved ERE layoffs, meant for companies struggling financially.

BBVA employees protest against layoffs in May 2021 in Madrid. Spain’s second-largest bank BBVA is looking to shed 3,800 jobs, affecting 16 percent of its staff, in a move denounced by unions as “scandalous”. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

Around 11 percent of bank branches in Spain have also been closed down in 2021 as part of Spanish banks’ attempts to cut costs, even though they’ve agreed to pay just under €5 billion in compensation.

Rampant branch closures have in turn resulted in 2,200 ATMs being removed since the Covid-19 pandemic began, even though the use of cajeros automáticos went up by 20 percent in 2021.

There are now 48,300 ATMs in Spain, levels not seen since 2001.


Apart from losses caused by the coronavirus crisis, Spain’s financial institutions have justified the lay-offs, branch closures and ATM removals under the premise that there was already a shift to online banking taking place among customers. 

But the problem has been around for longer in a country with stark population differences between the cities and so-called ‘Empty Spain’, with rural communities and elderly people bearing the brunt of it. 


Caixabank laid off almost 6,500 workers in the first sixth months of 2021. Photo: ANDER GILLENEA/AFP

Just this month, a 78-year-old Valencian man has than collected 400,000+ signatures in an online petition calling for Spanish banks to offer face-to-face customer service that’s “humane” to elderly people, spurring the Bank of Spain and even Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to publicly say they would address the problem.

READ MORE: ‘I’m old, not stupid’ – How one Spanish senior is demanding face-to-face bank service

It’s worth noting that between 2008 and 2019, Spain had the highest number of branch closures and bank job cuts in Europe, with 48 percent of its branches shuttered compared with a bloc-wide average of 31 percent.

Below is more detailed information on how Santander and BBVA, Spain’s two biggest banks, have reported their huge profits in 2021.


Driven by a strong performance in the United States and Britain, the bank booked a net profit of €8.1 billion in 2021, close to a 12-year high. 

It was a huge improvement from 2020 when the pandemic hit and the bank suffered a net loss of €8.7 billion after it was forced to write down the value of several of its branches, particularly in the UK. It was also higher than 2019, when the bank posted a net profit of €6.5 billion.

Analysts from FactSet were expecting profits of €7.9 billion. 

“Our 2021 results demonstrate once again the value of our scale and presence across both developed and developing markets, with attributable profit 25 per cent higher than pre-COVID levels in 2019,” said chief executive Ana Botin in a statement.

Net banking income, the equivalent to turnover, also increased, reaching €33.4 billion, compared to €31.9 billion in 2020. This dynamic was made possible by a strong increase in customer numbers, with the group now counting almost 153 million customers worldwide. 

“We have added five million new customers in the last 12 months alone,” said Botin.

Santander performed particularly well in Europe and North America, with profits doubling in constant euros compared to 2020. In the UK, where Santander has a strong presence, current profit even “quadrupled” over the same period to €1.6 billion.

Last year’s net loss was the first in Banco Santander’s history, after having to revise downwards the value of several of its subsidiaries, notably in the UK, because of COVID.

The banking giant, which cut nearly 3,500 jobs at the end of 2020, in September announced an interim shareholder payout of €1.7 billion for its 2021 results. “In the coming weeks, we will announce additional compensation linked to the 2021 results,” it said.


The group, which mainly operates in Spain but also in Latin America, Mexico and Turkey, posted profits of €4.65 billion ($5.25 billion), up from €1.3 billion a year earlier.

The result, which followed a solid fourth quarter with profits of €1.34 billion, was higher than expected, with FactSet analysts expecting a figure of €4.32 billion .

Excluding non-recurring items, such as the outcome of a restructuring plan launched last year, it generated profits of 5.07 billion euros in what was the highest figure “in 10 years”, the bank said in a statement.

In 2020, the Spanish bank saw its net profit tumble 63 percent as a result of asset depreciation and provisions taken against an increase in bad loans due to the economic fallout of the virus crisis.

“The economic recovery over the past year has brought with it a marked upturn in banking activity, mainly in the loan portfolio,” the bank explained, pointing to a reduction of the provisions put in place because of Covid.

In 2021, BBVA added a “record” 8.7 million new customers, largely due to the growth of its online activities. It now has 81.7 million customers worldwide.

The group’s net interest margins also rose 6.1 percent year-on-year to €14.7 billion, said the bank, which is undergoing a cost-cutting drive.

So far, it has axed 2,935 jobs and closed down 480 branches as the banking sector undergoes increasing digitalisation and fewer and fewer transactions are carried out over the counter.

At the end of 2020, BBVA sold its US unit to PNC Financial Services for nearly 10 billion euros and decided to reinvest some of the funds in the Turkish market.

In November, it launched a bid to take full control of its Turkish lending subsidiary Garanti, offering €2.25 billion ($2.6 billion) to buy the 50.15 percent stake it does not yet own.

The deal should be finalised in the first quarter of 2022.