Moving to Valencia with a family? Encantada are here to assist you every step of the way. Spanish administration is pretty complex and time consuming, particularly if you don’t speak the language. Stephanie Kirtley Alacreu, a British expat and Maria Alacreu Carbonell, a Spanish lawyer, offer the perfect combination of legal and practical know-how and language skills to make your relocation experience as smooth as possible. In an exclusive article for MumAbroad Life, Stephanie highlights the main administrative requirements, the best places to live in the city, what to consider when renting and buying property and once you are settled, the best sights to see.
That depends on where you are from and what you are planning to do! If you are from a country outside of the EU, including Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland and you are looking to stay in Spain for more than ninety days at a time, then you must have a visa.
There are different options that you can apply for such as the non-lucrative visa, work visa (of which there are also various options depending on your profession and work situation), a residence visa is also possible in the case of joining a family member who is a resident in Spain and The Golden Visa if you are looking to invest in property or capital in Spain.
For anyone moving to Spain, regardless of where you are from and which visa you are on, the most important piece of paperwork you will need is your NIE which is your foreign identification number (Numero d’Identidad Extranjero).
A NIE is needed for any administration or professional procedure and economic activity in Spain. A NIE is required when buying a house, renting an apartment, setting up a business, as well as to study or work in Spain. You will also need your NIE to open a bank account, set up your phone and internet lines, register with social security, buy a car and even to be able to have parcels delivered at home.
Once you are settled in your new Spanish abode (rented or purchased) you must register at the Town Hall where you reside, this is called getting the Padron a census registration certificate and the process, Empadronamiento.
Getting your Padron is fundamental if you plan on sending your children to a public or Concertado (Charter) school as it proves that you live in that particular area where your child’s future school is. The school registration system in Spain is based on a scoring system and will give you some of the points necessary to get into that school.
Lastly, you must ensure that you have private health coverage unless you are eligible for social security in the case of working for a Spanish company or registered as an Autonomo (self-employed or freelance) therefore, you are paying taxes in Spain which entitles you to public healthcare.
There are lots of great private clinics in Valencia however, they are pricey and if you don’t have healthcare coverage you could end up paying high amounts for it.
Where to live?
The Spanish in general just love children and Valencia in particular is a wonderfully family friendly place to live and the fantastic all year-round sunny climate means that you will spend a lot of time outdoors. Distances are small and the city centre is just fifteen minutes away from the beach and there are so many green parks to choose from, such as the Turia Park, otherwise known as “The Rio” which was once a river bed that the Valencian council developed into a stunning park running along the north of the city (and also contributes to Valencia’s low pollutions levels!)
Whittling down the best family friendly neighbourhoods here in Valencia is tricky as there are quite a few…but here are just some of the ones we recommend:
This neighbourhood is full of sport centres, parks and gardens. In fact, the word “real” comes from the Arabic “riyad” which means “jardin” in Spanish. Here you will find the Jardin Viveros which is one of our favourite gardens where you can also find a menagerie and scooter track which young kids will have fun zooming around for hours.
Pla de Real is also includes La Alameda which is a path lined with trees, fountains and nice relaxed restaurants where you can eat out with the kids.
Also close to Viveros Gardens, we love Benimaclet as it has a nice village vibe about it and you don’t feel like you’re in the city – even though you are still really close to the centre. It’s not quite walking distance away but it is really well connected with public transport.
You will find a lot of families here who are a mix of Valencians who have lived in the area for generations as well as a lot of expats who have recently made Benimaclet their home.
Campanar, just on the outskirts of the city also has a village-like atmosphere. It’s surrounded by canals and riverside paths, “huertas” (farmland) and olive groves.
Cabecera park is also a popular destination which covers 330,000 square metres along the Turia Park where urban planning meets nature and is lovely to wander around with your family. Campanar is also home to Bioparc Zoo one of our top Valencia destinations to visit with kids.
Cabanyal is fantastic for hanging out with children. For starters, you are right on the beach for swimming and playing in the sand. Cabanyal is an up and coming area with new restaurants and shops opening up all the time. It’s incredibly charming and there’s a nice relaxed atmosphere with an international crowd.
A wide boardwalk lined with palms runs along the beach that kids can scoot/ cycle/ stagger(!) along, with playgrounds set in the sand with no danger and stress from passing cars. There are so many great and affordable restaurants along the stretch of the beach which means you can enjoy food and a drink while your children build sand castles.
Renting vs buying a property
We recommend that anyone looking to move to Valencia without having visited – and we do come across a lot of these cases – should rent somewhere first for at least six months to a year to get a feel for the city and it’s different neighbourhoods. Either way, renting or purchasing, you must get your NIE sorted first and foremost.
There are lots of great affordable furnished and unfurnished options to choose from. It’s good to know that in Spain, the Spanish laws protect the tenant more than property owners. For example, once you have rented an apartment for one year (with a minimum of 6 months), tenants have the right to stay for up to five years. That is, unless you break a clause in the contract. If you want to leave before, you must inform the property owner in the normal way giving the notice stated in your contract. Most contracts now however, contain a clause stating that the minimum rental is 6 months. If you leave before the 6 month period is up, you will have to pay the full 6 month’s rent. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you have a Spanish lawyer revise your rental contract.
In Valencia specifically, many apartments in older areas haven’t been renovated for a LONG time and so you may want to look for newly remodelled “reformado” apartments from the get-go.
It is also important to know that many Spanish landlords, particularly in Valencia, don’t speak English and so if you don’t speak the lingo, make sure you bring a Spanish speaking friend to viewings to avoid any misunderstandings.
Costs around a purchase of a property in Spain should be broken down by the following: tax, deposit, real estate agency fees, notary and registry expenses. The highest payment in the process is the tax along with the initial deposit at around 10% of the purchase price.
Real estate fees are between 3% and 7% of the purchase price depending on where you are buying, and can be agreed to be paid solely by the seller or by both the buyer and seller. The payment of the fees to the real estate agency are usually made at the time of signing the deposit contract or at the time of signing the Public Deed, however this can also be divided.
Notary expenses on average amount to between 0.2% and 0.5% of the price of the property with the registry charging between 0.1% and 0.25%. Notary and registration expenses, when agreed, are paid according to law and are shared between buyer and seller.
Something that is also good to know, while it isn’t mandatory, having a bank account in Spain will facilitate the procedure, enabling you to make payments faster and save on commissions between transfers.
Overall, Spanish banks are stricter than say in the UK however mortgages with Spanish banks are possible and this will depend on your situation, age, your income as well as your financial situation and whether you have any debts.
If you are a non-resident, the maximum mortgage granted will be 70% of the purchase price or appraisal value of the property. They will also apply the lowest appraisal value so be prepared to be financed for a lower amount than expected. For a rural house you should anticipate a lower amount of around 60% on the appraisal value of the property.
Additionally, none of the extra costs such as lawyer and real estate agent fees can be included in the mortgage and so you will need a considerable amount of equity capital in order to finance through a Spanish bank.
We advise that you shop around with banks and seek legal advice before opting for a mortgage with a certain bank as there are different entailments such as having to take out added insurance.
don’t forget to enjoy the great attractions on your doorstep!
Valencia’s Bioparc spreads over 10 hectares and and has so many amazing animals from habitats around the world to see, it is by far one of our favourite Valencia day outs with the family.
Biopark is incredibly well designed, with no railings or cages which we are typically used to in zoos. Instead, they use rivers, ponds, streams and rocks to separate visitors from the animals. It’s refreshing to be able to meander freely around the animal enclosures.
The buffet restaurant is perfect for lunch with your little ones overlooking the zebras and antelope.
The City of Arts and Sciences is an absolute must-visit when in Valencia. Take a leisurely stroll or bike ride through Turia Park and hop off to soak up the incredible architecture and pack a picnic for lunch and the kids can run around the grounds freely.
Just next door to The City of Arts and Sciences, The Oceanographic is the perfect educational day out with the kids.
There is the perfect range of aquatic life from penguins, dolphins, sea lions, walruses and beluga whales, as well as tropical birds and reptiles. Be sure not to miss the dolphin show!
Spacious and incredibly kid friendly, Bombas Gens was traditionally an old family workshop which was transformed into an incredible contemporary art museum back in 2014.
You can make your way through the spacious galleries and exhibitions and finish by relaxing in the peaceful gardens.
Parque Central is a hidden gem located just on the outskirts of Ruzafa. Lined with palm trees and beautiful flowers in vibrant colours, it’s an absolute must for nature lovers, especially with children.
There’s an incredible imagination playground as well as a skate area that children can spend hours burning off all that excess energy and, in summer, the skate park turn into a water shoot shoot park for the kids to run through and cool down as they play!
How can Encantada help?
If you are relocating to Spain, be warned, Spanish administration is pretty complex and time consuming, particularly if you don’t speak the language. Encantada can assist with visa applications and essential paperwork.We will always go the extra mile to make your move run smoothly and have you settled in and enjoying Spanish life in the shortest time possible and with the least amount of stress.
We are on hand to assist you upon your arrival however if unable to be here in person and you would like everything ready for your arrival, Encantada can work under power of attorney on your behalf.
Our bespoke property search is popular as we understand each client is different and has different needs and we give assistance on both the property search itself and legal services to complete the purchase.
We can also connect you with our network of architects, interior designers and builders and we can also recommend the right banks for your mortgage.
Our legal support is very comprehensive and includes checking the property has all the necessary licenses and utilities and is free of debts and other charges, drafting the contract of sale or negotiate a contract supplied by the vendor, providing information on the taxes due for purchase, reviewing all documents prior to purchase, assisting with the Spanish notary to grant the Deed of Sale and arranging registration of your title at the Spanish Land Registry.
See MumAbroad’s Directory of International Schools in Valencia
Find out more about Family Services & Activities in Valencia