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MOVING TO SPAIN

REVEALED: The cheapest and most expensive areas to buy or rent in Valencia

If you're thinking of a move to Valencia, you should know that the eastern city is renowned for its relatively cheap cost of living compared to other big cities in Spain. So where are the cheapest and most expensive 'barrios' (neighbourhoods) to rent or buy a home?

REVEALED: The cheapest and most expensive areas to buy or rent in Valencia
Valencia is consistently voted as one of the best cities in Europe in terms of cost of living, including when it comes to property prices. Photo: William Carletti/Unsplash

The Mediterranean coast, climate and diet. A city with history, charm, and bustling with life. Valencia has it all, and that is why so many foreigners make it home.

In fact, over 100,000 foreigners have made the eastern Spanish city their home in recent decades, and for good reason.

But what’s the situation when it comes to renting or buying a property?

Before diving into our neighbourhood property guide, let’s have a look at the big picture and see how Valencia stacks up against other Spanish cities. 

Buying a property in Valencia in 2022 costs an average of around €1,839/m2, which means that if you buy a 80/m2 apartment, it would cost you around €147,000.

That’s cheap – in fact, if we compare the average prices in Valencia to Madrid and Barcelona, you’ll realise just how affordable Valencia can be if you know where to look.

Let’s take, for example, Valencia’s most expensive neighbourhood, l’Eixample, in the city centre, which on average costs €3,024/m2 to buy.

That’s quite a bit more than the city-wide average (in barrios further afield the average is around just €1,400/m2), but pales in comparison to the Salamanca district of Madrid (€6,149/m2) and the Sarrià – Sant Gervasi area of Barcelona (€5,228/m2).

Valencia’s affordability is one of the main reasons why so many foreigners have flooded the market in the last two decades.

More than four out of five foreigners in Valencia (82 percent) believe that housing is affordable in the city, compared to 41 percent globally, according to the annual Expat Insider Survey published by InterNations which recently ranked Valencia as the best city in the world for foreign residents.

READ ALSO: Living in Spain: Why Valencia is officially the best city in the world for foreign residents

And renting is cheap too – international cost of living calculator Numbeo found that Valencianos fork out just 27.7 percent of their monthly budget on paying rent.

Before we continue, it’s worth noting that due to rising inflation in Spain and a lack of available properties in Valencia itself, rent and sale prices have increased, keeping in mind that the data in this article is from February 2022, before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

But we know that by general standards Valencia’s is fairly affordable – but where are the most and least expensive neighbourhoods in the city? 

Cheapest neighbourhoods to buy a property in Valencia

According to Spanish property site Kasaz.com, these are the cheapest Valencian barrios to buy in 2022:

  1. Rascanya is the cheapest place to buy an apartment in Valencia. In the north of Valencia and bordered by better known barrios such as Benimaclet to the east, La Saïdia to the south, and Benicalap to the west, Rascanya is really cheap to buy – on average, buyers pay around €1,133/m2.
  2. L’Olivereta comes in at number 2. Located in the west of the city but just a 15 minute walk from downtown, prices in L’Olivereta average out at around €1,302/m2 but it varies quite a bit within the neighbourhood itself. L’Olivereta is home to five neighbourhoods and prices vary depending on where you are: La Fontsanta €862/m2), Tres Forques (€1,017/m2), Soternes (€1,387/m2), La Llum (€1,415/m2), Nou Moles (€1,456/m2).
  3. Jesús district was a historically industrial neighbourhood, and despite many years of housing shortages, prices have stayed low: buyers there pay on average €1,355/m2. However, having 5 neighbourhoods, prices may vary depending on where you are: Sant Marcellí is the cheapest neighbourhood (€1,214/m2), followed by Camí Reial (€1,238/m2), L’Hort de Senabre (€1,306/m2), La Creu Coberta (€1,353/m2) and La Raiosa (€1,453/m2).

    An official map showing Valencia’s city’s neighbourhoods. Map: Valencia City Hall
  4. Benicalap – the fourth cheapest area in Valencia is one of its oldest. Benicalap dates back to 1238 and it even existed as a separate municipality until it was eventually annexed by the city of Valencia in the late-19th century.

    Located in the northern part of Valencia, Benicalap averages out at about €1,408/m2, but within the district are a few neighbourhoods within which prices vary quite a bit. Ciutat Fallera, for example, is very cheap (€1,006/m2), but Nou Benicalap is much pricier, with averages of €2,148/m2.

  5. Patraix – a family friendly area just 3km from the city centre, prices to buy average €1,437/m2.

    READ ALSO: Moving to Valencia: A guide to the best neighbourhoods to live in

Cheapest neighbourhoods to rent in Valencia

  1. Favara – sandwiched between Patriax and Jesús is the small barrio of Favara in the south of the city, where renters on average pay just €6.03/m2 – the cheapest rate in Valencia.
  2. The Torrefiel neighbourhood of Rascanya comes a close second, costing on average just €6.47/m2 to rent.
  3. San Antoni is Valencia’s third cheapest neighbourhood- up in the north of the city and neighbouring Rascanya – where rents average €6.67/m2.
  4. La Llum – on the western outskirts of Valencia lies La Llum, where renting is also a very affordable €6.86/m2.
  5. San Marcelino – a small neighbourhood belonging to the bigger barrio of Jesús, San Marcelino is an old working class area with cheap rents – €6.95/m2 on average.

Renting or buying in Valencia’s old town Ciutat Vella is logically more expensive. Photo: Al Elmes/Unsplash

Most expensive neighbourhoods to buy in Valencia

If money’s no object to you, here’s a quick breakdown of the most expensive parts to buy in Valencia. See a more detailed sub-neighbourhood by sub-neighbourhood breakdown list over at 7televalencia, which includes both the most expensive and cheapest barrios, but be warned, it’s in Valenciano!

  1. L’Eixample – €2,876/m2 – Upscale L’Eixample is filled with wide, leafy streets lined by department stores and posh brunch spots. Pricey, but trendy.
  2. Ciutat Vella – €2,859/m2 – The old town, or casco antuigo in Spanish, is stuffed to the brim with gothic cathedrals and cobblestone side streets. This is the ‘heart’ of Valencia, and living amongst such hustle, bustle, and history comes at a price.
  3. El Pla del Real – €2,487/m2 – Known by some as Valencia’s nicest district, El Pla del Real is full of green spaces and parks, and is a great place to bring up kids.
  4. Campanar – €2,082/m2 – Campanar’s canal walks and vineyards give it a village like quality right in the middle of the city.
  5. Extramurs – €2,062/m2 – Bordering the old town, Extramurs central location mean it’s pricey and brimming with life – the barrio is home to some of Valencia’s best tapas bars and very popular with students. Top tip: visit the university’s botanic garden for an escape from city life.

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MOVING TO SPAIN

Six hard facts Americans should be aware of before moving to Spain 

There are 40,000 US nationals living in Spain but the road to residency and integration isn’t always straightforward for them. Here are six practical points Americans should factor in before embarking on a move to 'España', from work, to tax and healthcare.

Six hard facts Americans should be aware of before moving to Spain 

If you’re a US national who is considering making a move to Spain, you’ve no doubt already been captivated by all the country has to offer: the food, the people, the rhythm of life, the culture, the wine (of course), the scenery, the festivals, and so on. 

There’s a long list of quality-of-life positives that come with a move to Spain which could indeed make you happier than you are in the US. 

But before you start considering a permanent or long-term move to the country of your dreams, you should first think of the practicalities and potential downsides of such a big life change. 

MAP: Where in Spain do all the Americans live?

Above all is the fact that despite the United States’s reputation as a world leader in many regards, for the Spanish government you’re a third-country national with the same rights (or lack thereof) as any other non-EU national, from a Chinese person, to an Australian or an Indian citizen.

This is the crux of the matter, and a factor which will influence most of the important points to be aware of that we will now list.

Finding work or building a career isn’t easy

You’ll no doubt already know that Spain is renowned for its high unemployment rate, unstable work market and relatively low wages, but as a non-EU national there is an added set of obstacles to consider.

Firstly, applying for residency through a contract job is near impossible. Spanish employers would have to first demonstrate that they have been unable to find a suitable EU candidate for the position before being able to sponsor/hire you. 

Alternatively, you’d have to have the skills and experience which are included in Spain’s shortage occupation list, but this is made up almost entirely of jobs in the maritime and shipping industry.

It is true that Spain is set to make it easier to recruit non-EU foreigners to cover some of its most pressing labour shortages, but these are mainly in the tourism, hospitality and agricultural sectors.

Then there’s the nightmare non-EU foreigners in regulated professions are currently enduring – think doctors, dentists, engineers, lawyers and so on – as the validation of their qualifications (known as homologación) is a pricy and convoluted process which takes at least three years. Others who need to have their qualifications verified for non-regulated professions (known as equivalencia) will have to wait two years on average.

With that in mind, setting up your own business might be one of the best bets to make a living for yourself and gain Spanish residency. This self-employed work visa is also a bit arduous as you’ll need proof of financial means and a business plan among other requirements, but on the whole it’s probably one of the most feasible residency options.

The Spanish government did announce an upcoming Startups Law and digital nomad visa in 2021, legislation which could indeed make it easier for Americans to remote work from Spain, but it isn’t clear yet when this will be approved.

A final option is that of becoming an English-language assistant at a Spanish school. It’s an easy way to get into Spain, it offers decent pay for the few hours you’re required to work and it can be a stepping stone to other work goals from within Spain.  

You need a lot of money to ‘buy’ Spanish residency

If you’re retired or don’t plan to work in Spain, then you’ll need to show you have the financial means to cover your costs. 

This can best be done through Spain’s non-lucrative visa or the so-called golden visa. 

As the name suggests, the non-lucrative visa (NLV) is a residency permit which doesn’t allow you to work in Spain or technically carry out professional activities you have abroad from Spain.

A US national wanting to apply for the NLV for the first time in 2022 will need to prove they have €27,792 ($31,390) for one year, an amount which rises if you include other family members. You’ll have to show proof of financial means when you renew the NLV again.

You can find more in-detail information on the NLV’s financial requirements as well as a breakdown of the pros and cons in the articles linked directly below:

As for the other main option for those who won’t work in Spain – the golden visa – the main options are buying a property (or more) worth €500,000+ (the option most applicants choose) or investing €1 million in a Spanish company or having €1 million in a Spanish bank account.

READ MORE: What foreigners should be aware of before applying for Spain’s golden visa

So all in all, applying for Spanish residency as a US citizen who can’t or doesn’t want to work in Spain involves having a lot of money saved up.

Public healthcare is the standard in Spain, but access to it as an American is subject to conditions

As you hail from a country where healthcare is notoriously not available to all, you may have assumed that here in Spain, where the approach is starkly different, anyone can walk into a public hospital and receive treatment. 

And there would be nothing wrong in thinking that initially, but the truth is that access to Spain’s sanidad pública is based on social security contributions, which are paid through your taxes as a contract employee or self-employed worker.

What this means is that if you’re a US national residing in Spain you won’t automatically get access to Spain’s public healthcare system. 

In fact, if you’re applying for the NLV or golden visa, you will have to take out comprehensive private health insurance for your application to be accepted, something which can be difficult and costly if you have pre-existing conditions.

You should also keep in mind that there’s a scheme called the “convenio especial” (special agreement) which allows foreigners who have been registered as residents in Spain for a year to pay a monthly sum into the country’s public health system to have access to it.

Under 65s pay a fixed monthly fee of €60 per month and over 65s pay €157 per month to obtain full cover through Spain’s public health system.

You’ll have to resit your driving exam again

The US is for the most part a nation of drivers. In Spain, if you live in a town or city you will be able to move around easily on foot or by using the country’s efficient public transport network.

However, if your intention is to buy a car and continue driving in Spain, keep in mind that after six months of residency in the country you will need to resit your driving exam again in Spain and get a Spanish driving licence.

Unfortunately, Spain and the United States have no mutual licence exchange agreement or recognition scheme.

READ MORE: How much does it cost to get your driving licence in Spain?

It’s certainly frustrating to think that you will have to cough up a considerable amount of money for something that you already know how to do, but on the plus side you’ll get to understand Spanish roads and driving, and possibly learn how to use a stick (gearbox) as most cars are manual in Spain.

You have to commit to living in Spain

Keep in mind that when you obtain Spanish residency, it won’t necessarily entitle you to enter and leave the country for the rest of your life, especially if you spend extended periods of time outside of Spain. Permits have to be renewed and their conditions respected.

At first you will be given temporary residency (which lasts five years) and with this permit you risk losing residency when you leave Spain for more than six months in a period of one year.

In the case of sporadic absences from Spain, the sum of these periods outside of the country during those five years of temporary residence must not exceed ten months if you intend to apply for permanent residency. 

Permanent residency is valid for ten years (you can then renew it or apply for Spanish citizenship), but you can lose your residency if you’re outside of Spain for more than 12 months continuously, or for more than 30 months during the last five years.

Only the golden visa offers more lenient rules in terms of time spent outside of Spain. 

None of this means that you can’t spend several months at a time back home in the States – in fact extenuating circumstances such as caring for a sick family member, work or study allow for a bit more time outside Spain – just keep in mind that you have keep tabs on long absences outside of Spain as a non-EU citizen.

You have to pay taxes in Spain even if you’re not working here

As a Spanish resident (someone who spends more than 183 days in a calendar year in Spain), you have to pay taxes here.

Foreign residents in Spain pay tax on their worldwide income at personal tax rates which are progressive, from 19 percent to 45 percent.

Fortunately, there is a treaty between Spain and the US which helps determine which country to pay taxes to and the tax deadlines.

Equally, if you live in Spain and own assets abroad worth more than €50,000, you have to declare all this to the Spanish taxman, through the Modelo 720.

There are plenty more tax matters to keep in mind if you have assets and/or income sources on both sides of the Atlantic (it may be worth consulting a tax expert), so just keep in mind that if you move to Spain you will have to deal with all of this complex scenario.

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