Americans moving to Valencia.......maybe?

Hi there.  My wife and I are planning to move to Europe within the next 2-3 years (we hope).  We will be young retired people.   We have narrowed it down to Lisbon and Valencia.....and we would be doing the Golden Visa program.   Each city has different strengths and weaknesses, and I would love to hear from anyone that can "promote" Valencia over Lisbon, so I can get that perspective.   I really would love to know people's feelings on living in each city with dogs.   Lisbon seems less "dog friendly", but we found the people to be VERY friendly, overall.   

What seems to be true to us:

1.  More English speaking in Lisbon (we plan to learn the local language, but it will take time)
2.  Similar weather overall
3.  Similar cost of living
4.  Valencia more accessible to the rest of Europe via train b/c it is "closer"
5.  Lisbon with direct flights back to USA
6.  More green space in Valencia b/c of the central park (we have dogs that need green space)
7.  Perhaps more comprehensive public transportation in Valencia?
9.  Better beaches in Valencia
10. Lisbon perhaps with more "extras" offered b/c it is a capital city - concerts, sports, etc

I would REALLY appreciate anyone's feedback....especially if you have done the Golden Visa for Spain.  We are so excited to make this move, but it is a challenge picking between the 2 cities.  (We previously ruled out Barcelona b/c it was just too touristy for us)

Thank you.


Hi Jeff,

I just saw your post of already 3 weeks ago. Maybe you have already made up your mind about the city you would like to move to (Lisboa or Valencia).
I should say come to our beautiful city Valencia. It has a lot to offer. It is the 3rd city of Spain, with around 830.000 citizens direct in the City. You will love the beautiful historic centre with at every corner a nice restaurant, tapas bar, lot´s of choices to go out and having dinner.  the 9,5 river Park Turia, perfect place for your dogs. The park leads you from the centre to the amazing city of Science and Arts. From there you will be within 2 km at the beach and Port. the boulevard has also again lot´s of very nice restaurants to offer and of course Paella is a must.
Climate is pretty good. 300 sunny days guaranteed. Lot´s of culture activities, Operahouse, museums, Theatre and sports. Last Sunday we had our own Marathon and Valencia  is considered as the best host for that.
The region around Valencia is beautiful (mountains, beaches, orangefields)  It has very good access to Madrid with the AVE (high speed train), in 1,5 hours you can be there. And many flights to the rest of Europe.

Public transport is very well organized, metro / bus. If you like to use a bike Valencia is a perfect bike city. No hills:)).

Regarding your golden Visa: You can buy beautiful apartments in the beautiful 19th century area the Eixample. Comparing to Barcelona and Madrid properties in Valencia are still much cheaper.


Good luck with  the decision making! Good idea to visit both the cities to get a feel of it. And if you are here in Valencia feel free to drop me a line to have a meet&greet.

Best regards,

Christa Brokke

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Sorry I meant: It would be a good idea to visit both the cities.... ;)


Thank you SO much for your reply.   You are the only person that replied to me, and I was surprised about that.

We really love both cities, and we have been to both cities already.   We are coming back to both Lisboa and Valencia in January/Febuary to see if we can make our decision.

The cities have some similarities, and some differences.   We love the biking culture in Valencia, which Lisbon does not have.   But, Lisbon has such great views from everywhere because of the hills.     Valencia is "closer" the rest of Europe for travel, but Lisboa is closer for us to go back to the USA with direct flights.     Apartments in Valencia are less expensive, but it seems the cost of daily goods and services are a bit less expensive in Lisboa.     Lastly, it seems that many more people speak English in Lisboa than Valencia.    We plan on learning the language for either city, but initially, that would be an advantage to Lisboa.   Valencia seems better for dogs because there is MUCH more green space near the city center. 

It really is a challenge!    I will save your information and perhaps when we are back in Valencia in a couple of months, my wife and I can get together with you to talk and see if you can convince us.   :-)

Kind regards,

I was in Lisbon this past March; I too am planning to relocate though sooner than you.

I enjoyed my 6 days there very much - the people are nice and fun and most spoke English - at least enough to make things work. 
The city is very old with lots of renovation and reconstruction. And, have been told that it is the new 'cool' place -
Was also in Malaga on the same trip - very different from Valencia and also lot's of fun.

Let us know what you decide!


Where are you now?   Are you in the US, or already in Europe somewhere?     

Have you spent time in both Valencia AND Lisbon, or only Lisbon?   Both cities are really nice, but the transition does seem like it would be easier in Lisbon because of the much smaller language barrier.    We are taking a trip in 2 months to both cities (on the same trip) and hope to make our decision then.



Funny my husband and I were on the fence about the same 2 cities. We are both on the younger side of retirement also. After visiting both cities a few times, we are choosing Valencia! We also have a dog and the green space of the city, the ease of getting places (no hills to climb in the rain lol), being able to bike and the ability to get around Europe lead us to our decision. We are a little nervous about the language, but plan to enroll in classes before we move next year and also when we are living there. I think the housing is more favorable in Valencia and we did groceries in both cities and they seemed very similar. We also loved the warmer mediterranean ocean/beaches. Our families are both in Los Angeles so getting home is far from both cities for us. Good luck on your decision, both are great options!

Wow.  You broke it down exactly like we did it seems.    I am worried about our dogs going from a USA "neighborhood" with a house, lots of grass, etc to an apartment with very limited outdoor space.   We can live with that part, but don't want to give up green space altogether.   Lisbon has far less close to the city center, but there are still some small parks.    We don't necessarily require a huge park like Turia, but it is soooooo nice.

I agree with virtually everything you said by comparing both places.   The degree of English spoken in Lisbon is a positive, as is the ability to fly back to the USA directly, but being closer to the rest of Europe for other travel is so nice for Valencia.      The hills of Lisbon are part of what we love b/c it gives the city such nice views and a feeling of "dimension" no matter where you are. 

We are so torn.  We will be doing the Golden Visa program, so we are taking a trip to both cities in 2 months to look at apartments, so we can see what we get for our budget.   If there is a really dramatic difference in prices (Valencia seems cheaper for real estate for sure), then that might break our tie. 

Part of this is that we both feel like we connected with Lisbon a bit more in an intangible way, but Valencia seems a bit better on paper. 



We are also coming from a house with a big yard so that's also a concern for us. We met with a relocation company when we visited in August and she showed us different parts of the city ( a few just outside the city still connected by the metro) where you can find houses more like here in the US. If we choose a place in the city will definitely be near the park and have a terrace. We will rent the first year, then buy after we decide which area suits us best. You have to go with your gut on to which feels right and where you can see yourself being happy!

The good news for us, perhaps, is that we know exactly where we want to live in Valencia, so that helps.  We really looked all over the city, and we know we want to live in the city center, but near the park.  So, we are looking at the eastern half of L'Eixample, east of Russafa (b/c that is farther from the park).    We want city center because part of the appeal of moving to a good sized European city is trying to live without a car, and being able to walk everywhere.   We will see how it goes!   We like the hustle and bustle of the city, as long as we aren't living right above a bar.  That might be a bit much in terms of noise.

We also liked the L'Eixample area and the area by the Botanical gardens. Being from a driving city(LA) looking forward to not have drive and have the maintenance of a vehicle! Also from our last visit having a place where the bedrooms are not on the street side (our last Airbnb had bedrooms on the street side and living room in the back) we realized this made a big difference in terms of getting sleep :) yes and not above a bar.

Cost comparison of the two  - about the same: … Comparison

Yep, I love that site.   From looking at real estate sites, it appears that the cost of apartments for purchase are higher in Lisbon, but not too bad.   cost of living for daily items seems slightly cheaper in Lisbon actually.

Valencia sounds like an amazing place to live.  I'd like to hear more.

How interesting.  I too am considering a move to Valencia.  I am currently living in Madrid but am hoping for a place a bit calmer, smaller, and less expensive.  I am going to Valencia in Jan/Feb to spend a week and explore the city and its possibilities. Since it will be my first visit, I have appreciated all of the info you've given.
working remotely
still tethered to South Florida

Hello, I am carolina, from Valencia:  is  the perfect city to live in, with lots of things to do and a human size and an excellent weather... feel free to contact me if you need any advice. Thank you

Baldchick - May I ask what you are doing for remote work? I am currently searching for remote opportunities so my wife and I can make the move from Maine to Granada.

Thanks in advance!


DC , are you asking me? If so, please contact me in private, thanks...

HI, don' t laugh, but this is a really basic answer .... the food in Valencia is absolutely fantastic .... much
much better and more varied than that in Lisbon!

I have visited Lisbon so do have some, albeit limited, experience of the city, but I  have done a lot of travelling in Portugal going back as far as 1979.   In October 2016,  my husband and I , as relatively young retirees (mid 50s) moved to Valencia from  the UK and we lived there for seven months. 

We absolutely loved Valencia, it's a warm, safe and very friendly city with fabulous food and culture,  and great countryside all around too.  The metro system is really really good, and you can get a super fast train to Madrid which may be handy for flights to the US.

I don't mind basic replies at all.  :-)

I agree that the food is a little better in Valencia, but that said, I think the food in Lisbon is great (other than the canned sardines...I just can't get into them).  We love the location of Valencia (in terms of closer to the rest of mainland Europe), but we find the people of Lisbon to be more open/friendly, in our experience thus far.   While we love the giant park in Valencia, we really love the hills and views of Lisbon, so we think we have decided that Lisbon has "won" the battle.

No I was asking baldchick - sorry it took so long to respond to your question.

Must be lovely to have made your decision, and begin planning.  I wish you the very best, we made our move over a year ago, and have never looked back.  Every day is a new adventure so much to learn and see ....  We are now in rural Andalusia, closer to Granada than Malaga, and not at all far from Cordoba, Sevilla and Ronda.  If you are ever this way, look us up ... we can exchange stories ...

Good luck with everything..

That is very kind of you!  Thank you so much.   When we do make the money (once finances allow for it), I will post again and would love to meet up with other expats as we explore our "new" home in Europe.

Where are you? We are relocating to somewhere in or around Pinos Genil, so we won’t be far from you.

We are from Tampa, FL.  We are looking at end of 2019 (I hope), or 2020 (maybe more realistic).  Have you lived in other parts of Spain already?

My family and I are currently living in Tampa as well and are planning on moving to Spain in June. We are in between Alicante area and Valencia. Could anyone in this post list the pros and cons of both areas?

We are a young family (40s) with two girls in elementary school. My husband and I both speak Spanish, but no Valenciano as of yet. We love the ocean and the mountains and are looking to live near good schools and a family friendly environment. We also wouldn’t mind being close to some commerce, shops, restaurants, grocery. We will probably opt for a house over an apt. Our preference would probably be somewhere about 15 min away from the city center. Close enough but not right in the middle of all the action. We would like to be in a more Spanish area with some expats sprinkled in and not the other way around. We plan to send our children to public school so they can integrate faster. Any suggestions on good areas in this region would be greatly appreciated.

My wife and I are also from Tampa Florida and were torn between Valencia and Lisbon.  The overriding factor for us was the closer proximity of Valencia to the rest of Europe as we plan to travel extensively during our year abroad.   Each month we will pick a different country to visit.  The 12 European trips overrode the 1 trip back and forth to the US that required a 1 stop over vs. a direct flight.  We also thought Spain offered more interesting places to travel in country than Portugal did, ie Granada, Seville, Cordoba, Malaga ... I especially recommend a trip to Granada and the Alahambra.  Lastly in our case our daughter wanted to do a college semester abroad and we found that FSU has a program there.  We travel to Valencia on March 7th out of Miami to Lisbon and then to Valencia.  Note: Flights out of Miami were considerably cheaper than flying out of Tampa or Orlando.  Cant go wrong with either city.  On the subject of Valencia, is their a US Expat group there?

If you are on Facebook there is an Americans in Valencia Group.

internationalme :

We are a young family (40s) with two girls in elementary school. My husband and I both speak Spanish, but no Valenciano as of yet. We love the ocean and the mountains and are looking to live near good schools and a family friendly environment. We also wouldn’t mind being close to some commerce, shops, restaurants, grocery. We will probably opt for a house over an apt. Our preference would probably be somewhere about 15 min away from the city center. Close enough but not right in the middle of all the action. We would like to be in a more Spanish area with some expats sprinkled in and not the other way around. We plan to send our children to public school so they can integrate faster. Any suggestions on good areas in this region would be greatly appreciated.

If you want more natives and fewer expats, then you want Valencia proper over Alicante. Alicante is a really big expat area, compared with Valencia city and the immediate suburbs.

Both are great overall, of course.

If you want a house I'd strongly urge coming to look at the ends of the various metro lines that run through/out of Valencia. There's some really nice little areas to live.

Hi Jeff,

I only joined the forum and saw your post, so sorry about the late reply but if you haven't made up your mind yet, I thought I'd put in my two cents...

We moved to Spain last June (2017) under the Golden Visa program and we "retired" relatively young as well (we're in our 40's).  I also lived in Lisbon for a year in the mid 80's before immigrating to Canada and we just spent a night there on our way back to Spain after visiting family in Canada for Christmas.

I do understand your dilemma as both cities are very nice, the people are very friendly and the weather is GREAT - maybe not compared to San Diego but certainly compared to Toronto!  ;)

We actually live in a small town near Denia, exactly half way between Alicante and Valencia on Costa Blanca.  We are absolutely in love with this place... authentic Spanish charm, recognized by UNESCO as a city of creative gastronomy, 2000+ years of history and best of all 320 days of sunshine... it's the closest thing to living in heaven without actually dying!  ;)

We chose this quiet and heavenly part of Spain for a few reasons (some of which may overlap with your questions):

1 - We were tired of living in a big city with all the pollution, noise and traffic... here, the air smells fresh (the smell of orange blossoms is just starting to wear off after 3 weeks), we hit two traffic lights a week and all is quiet outside the festivals, fireworks, concerts and the occasional rooster or dog in the neighborhood!  Obviously both Lisbon and Valencia are still big cities so they do have the hustle & bustle of N. American cities but a lot better "buzz".

2 - You have all the small city charm but within an hour, you can be in Alicante or Valencia, 30 minutes to Benidorm and 2 hour ferry ride to Ibiza.  Both Alicante and Valencia also have major international airports so lots of options to fly and even more to drive (5+ hours to the French/Portuguese/Andorran borders).

3 - Although the percentage of people speaking English here is less than bigger cities, it is still a tourist destination (although not at all saturated like southern Costa Blanca and much more diverse), so you will get by very easily and people here are super nice and friendly as long as they know you're trying to learn.  There are also lots of expats here so we haven'd had any problems finding contractors, bankers, notaries, lawyers, accountants, etc. who speak English fluently.  So I wouldn't worry about that at all.

4 - There is no comparison between the weather in this area and in Lisbon and although Cascais has some nice beaches, it doesn't even come close to Costa Blanca (you can't compare the turquoise and warm waters of the Mediterranean to the cold dark-blue waters of the Atlantic).  Lisbon is also a lot cooler and much more windy than either Valencia or Alicante in the winter and much milder in the summer.

5 - The cost of living in Valencia is similar to Lisbon but Valencia definitely has a lot more to offer in terms of culture and nightlife than Lisbon.  Where we live, the cost of living is even lower than Valencia and of course we have access to all the cultural events and concerts in both Alicante and Valencia with a bit of a drive and the nightlife of Ibiza with a short ferry ride.

6 - Since you're coming under the Golden Visa program and if it's the real estate investment option you are choosing it's of course VERY important to consider the real estate trajectory in both places and more generally the overall business environment very seriously.  Real estate prices in this area just started their recovery two years ago and the activity levels and how quickly properties are being snapped up reminds me of Toronto in 2011... that means a potential upside of 200-250% before the next correction which I'm estimating will be between 4-7 years from now.  This area is also befitting from the political instability in Catalonia (foreign investments the Valencia Community were up 520%+ in 2017 compared to 2016!!!) as well as the baby-boomer generation looking for a nice, happy and sunny place to park their money and retire and for their kids and grand-kids to come and visit.  Lisbon is not generally that kind of in-demand city and for that reason, as well is the average incomes and household wealth being much lower, I really don't see prices appreciating there in the next 5 years anywhere close to Valencia (the community).

All in all, I recommend that you start looking at actual properties for your investments (if under that option) or to rent if under the other options.  Kyero is the best portal for that:

And I also strongly recommend the very informative Spanish Property blog from our good friend Mark to get an idea of real estate trends in Spain:

In closing, nothing is more exciting than making a decision to move to Spain!  The only thing that comes as close to experiencing that is being there for, or watching other people experiencing it!  ;)


P.S.  We came here with a dog and two cats (a.k.a. the bambinos) so I wouldn't worry at all about your dog... he/she's going to love it  here.

Hi Internationalme,

Please read my post above to Jeff... you're pretty much describing Denia, although Javea, Calpe, Morraira and Altea are all beautiful and amazing towns between Alicante and Valencia.

We're your age but don't have any kids (just our dog and two cats) but one of the things we love the most in Spain and particularly in this area is the closeness of families with their children and how they do all activities together.

Check out Kyero to look at houses and villas to see what you can get in each area (Denia is the least expensive one).


Valencia!!! Of course.
Best Way of live than Lisboa
Best Park for dogs and friendly
Palau de Les Arts,  great opera house.
Nice market, Mercado Central
And cheaper houses.

Thank you for your reply. We are in packing /selling mode and will be arriving in June. I’m excited to start the adventure !!!!

If you need a bank account as non resident in Valencia, l have had a good experience with Banco Sabadell, Luisa, speaks English and shes helpful
Have a nice trip!

Thank you.!

Fantastic Internationalme... these are exciting times.  Safe flights and we hope to catch up with you when you get here.

Don't forget to sort out any tax issues that may arise from you leaving the US... the IRS is infamous for chasing you around the world to collect!  ;)

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