Spain’s Valencia named best city in the world for foreign residents

Valencia has been voted the world's best city to live in if you're a foreign resident, ranking top for its quality of life, leisure opportunities and ease of settling in, a new survey by Internations has found. 

Spain's Valencia named best city in the world for foreign residents
Valencia named best city in the world for foreign expats. Photo: Jonny James / Unsplash

If you’re planning on moving to the city of paella, futuristic architecture and crazy fire festivals, or you’re already a resident there, you’ll be pleased to discover that Valencia has been voted number one out of 50 cities worldwide as the best city for “expats” to live in.

Spain’s third-largest city beat the likes of Dubai, Mexico City, Lisbon, Bangkok, Basel, Melbourne, Abu Dhabi and Singapore, which all made up the top 10 spots in the survey by Internations, one of the biggest foreign resident communities with over 4.5 million members. 

The best and worst cities for “expats” in 2022 according to Internations’ survey.

Madrid and Barcelona were also listed in the top 20 cities, with Madrid coming in at number five and Barcelona just missing out on the top 10 at number 14.

All of the Spanish cities on the list did very when it came to quality of life, culture and leisure, as well as cost of living and ease of settling in, but ranked poorly when it came to bureaucratic matters and work.

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

Valencia was voted top for its liveability, friendliness and affordability and also ranked number one in the “Quality of Life” index.

Foreign residents in Valencia loved the city’s travel infrastructure – 85 percent describe public transportation as affordable, compared with 70 percent globally. Valencia was also voted for the number of opportunities for recreational sports (92 percent happy vs. 75 percent globally). 

READ ALSO: How much does it really cost to live in Spain’s Valencia?

The city ranked highly for health and well-being as well due to affordable healthcare (coming in 2nd) and easy access to medical services. Furthermore, 92 percent of its foreign residents said that they feel safe there, compared with 81 percent globally.

valencia best city expats
Foreign residents in Valencia appreciate the city’s travel infrastructure, healthcare offering, safety and cost of housing. Photo: Jonny James/Unsplash

Valencia also scored well on affordable housing, coming in at number three, but received mixed results when it came to local bureaucracy.

READ ALSO: 11 Valencia life hacks that will make you feel like a local

By far the worst part about living in Valencia according to its foreign residents is the work situation. It ranked in at last place when it came to career prospects and 50 percent of foreign residents also rated the local job market badly, compared with only 27 percent globally.

READ ALSO: The downsides of moving to Spain for work

Overall, only 56 percent said they are happy with their job, which is below the global average at 64 percent. Although, it should be noted that only 8 percent of respondents said that they moved to Valencia for work-related reasons, compared to 36 percent globally.

The most popular reasons for moving to Valencia were a better quality of life and the plan to retire abroad.

As for Madrid, which came in at number five on the list and also scored highly for quality of life, foreign residents particularly loved the climate and weather (88 percent were happy with it vs. 62 percent globally). It also ranked well due to its travel opportunities (95 percent vs. 82 percent globally) and leisure activities, as well as culture and nightlife (90 percent happy vs. 67 percent globally).

The Spanish capital also did well when it came to cost of living and affordable housing, but again fell down when it came to bureaucracy and jobs. Around 22 percent said that moving to the city has not improved their career prospects.

Internations’ ranking of Spain’s three most highly rated cities: Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia.

Barcelona on the other hand ranked number 1 in the world for leisure, which included dining options, culture and nightlife (93 percent happy vs. 67 percent globally), but ranked below its neighbours when it came to safety and security, ease of settling in and finance. Despite this, 54 percent rated the cost of living positively, compared to 45 percent globally.

Barcelona also got fewer results for Local Friendliness coming in 22nd place out of 50.

Work and employment, however, was the biggest issue for foreign residents in Barcelona, similar to Valencia and Madrid. 30 percent believe that moving to Barcelona has not improved their career prospects (vs. 18 percent globally), and 22 percent feel that they’re not being paid enough. 

Last year, the Andalusian city of Málaga was voted the second-best city for foreign residents in the world by Internations members, but surprisingly isn’t even on the list this year. It scored highly for cost of living, making friends and socialising. 

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Seven essential apps that make life in Valencia easier for foreign residents

Valencia is one of the world's most liveable cities, but there are still several ways you can make living there easier. Here are seven apps that will improve your life as a foreign resident.

Seven essential apps that make life in Valencia easier for foreign residents

Valencia is a fantastic city that flies under the radar a bit. Most tourists visit Madrid or Barcelona, or stick to expat hotspots further down the coast, but Valencia has incredible weather, food, architecture, and people.

It’s not as frantic as the two bigger Spanish cities and has everything you could ever need.

It’s also a popular place with foreign residents. In fact, the Mediterranean coastal city was recently named the best city for foreign residents in the entire world. 

READ ALSO: Spain’s Valencia named best city in the world for foreign residents

But like anywhere in the world, Valencia does have certain quirks and peculiarities and there are some tricks that can make your life a whole easier here.

Fortunately, The Local has broken down the 7 essential apps that make Valencia a little easier for foreign residents. 


Most major cities have their own bike rental system and Valencia is no different. In fact, the south-eastern city is great for cycling, as it’s not too big and incredibly flat. The submerged Turia Gardens (in the old riverbed) that surround the Old Town and run through the city towards the Museum of Arts and Sciences, are particularly enjoyable.

Luckily, there’s no need to bring your own bike when you move here, which can often take up a lot of space in small apartments. Instead, you can use the brilliant Valenbisi system, where you’ll have a bike available to you 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, with stops spread all over the city.

The Valenbisi app enables you to find the nearest stations and how full they are in real-time, unlock the bike from the station and notify you of your routes.

Find out how to sign up for the subscription here.


AppValència is the official app of the ayuntamiento, Valencia’s town hall.

It’s basically the go-to app for anything you’d want to do at the town hall, such as registering your residency in the padrón or paying taxes, as well as a whole host of other official administrative stuff. It also gives you live traffic updates, lets you check how many Valenbisi bikes are available close to your live location, order taxis, and sends you alerts on local holidays and police advice.

AppValència is available to download on the Apple App Store and Google Play, and you can read more about it here.

EMT Valencia

The EMT app is your go-to place for all things public transport in Valencia and is available in Valenciano, Spanish and English.

Using your location, EMT Valencia allows you to search and plan routes across the city using all modes of transport, view every bus, tram and metro station, get information on ticket prices, top-up your travel card, and even give live updates on delays, route changes and diversions.

It’s available for download in the Apple and Google Play stores, and you can read more about it and scan a QR code here.

READ ALSO: 11 Valencia life hacks that will make you feel like a local


Phenix is an anti-food waste app that allows you to save money, help the environment and support local businesses. This app basically lets you snap up food products that are going to be thrown out at bargain prices, in the form of a ‘surprise basket’.

With over 150 local Valencian shops, restaurants, cafes, and butchers already signed up, there’s even a great deal of variety to choose from.

It’s simple to use: download the app here, activate your geolocation, choose the local stores that most appeal to you, pay securely through the app, and then go and pick up your basket at the store at the time slot given to you. 

READ ALSO: Do I need to learn Valencian if I live in Spain’s Valencia region?

Yego Scooters

You might’ve seen Yego in other major cities around the world. These distinctive lime green electric scooters are an environmentally friendly way to travel around the city and avoid traffic at the same time.

Starting at around €0.30 a minute (which includes the fully-charged scooter, helmet, and insurance) they are also affordable, and allow you to ride around a green zone called the YEGO ‘activity zone’ which covers pretty much the entirety of central Valencia, including the Old Town.

The YEGO app allows you to both locate and book your scooter as well as unlock it and start the engine in just one tap. 

You can find out more about the YEGO activity zone here, and download the app here as well as via the Apple and Google Play stores.

Too Good To Go

Too Good To Go is another app that allows you to get your hands on food that would otherwise be thrown out.

According to the Too Good To Go website, a staggering 5,600 tons of food are thrown away every week in the Valencia region, which means around 300,000 tons are wasted every year.

Not only is that bad for the environment, but it also means that you can take advantage of loads of perfectly good (and tasty) food that would otherwise be thrown out.

You can download the app here, and through the Apple App Store, Google Play y Huawei AppGallery. From there, you can browse the various local restaurants and businesses partnered with Too Good To Go, including Dulce de Leche and Lizarrán and arrange to pick up your food from a nearby location. 


TikEat is an all-in-one restaurant review and reservations app that gives you a premium pass to eat in your city and helps you enjoy some of Valencia’s best restaurants. 

The search portal allows you to find restaurants close to you, view the menu, see availability, make reservations, and can even give you directions. TikEat has everything you could need to have an excellent lunch or dinner in Valencia.

You can download the app here as well as through both the Apple and Google stores.