Living Abroad Migrant Life

Life Abroad: Valencia

Several months ago, the TransferGo Blog began our series of “Life Abroad” articles, which have become one of our more popular series.

Mobility is one of the key characteristics of today’s society. People often move to find a better quality of life, to explore their entrepreneurial side, and, to be honest, for those migrants living in the UK to avoid the uncertainty of a post-Brexit Britain.

In this installment we take a look at Valencia, Spain.

Brief History

Valencia is Spain’s third largest city, after Madrid and Barcelona, and one of the oldest cities in the country. The city sits on the banks of the Turia and fronts the Gulf of Valencia, the busiest container port on the Mediterranean Sea. Valencia is one of Spain’s most popular tourist destinations due to its large historic centre, views, ancient monuments, and cultural attractions.

Valencia was founded in 138 BC as a Roman colony. In the early 700s (CE) the city was occupied by Arab and Moroccan Moors. The Moors introduced their language, customs and religion to the area. They also introduced updated irrigation systems and new crops to the area. The Moorish influence is still evident in the city’s architecture, culture and cuisine.

King James I recaptured the city in 1238, returning the city to a primarily Christian-dominated rule.

The metropolitan area of Valencia has a population of about 2.5 million; the city centre has about 800,000 residents. During the first part of the 2000s the immigrant population increased at a fairly steady pace. However over the past few years the population has actually decreased due to immigrants returning home due to the impact of the financial crisis in Spain and across the EU. Bolivians, Romanians, Moroccans, Ecuadorans and Columbians are the largest migrant groups.

Getting Around

Valencia’s public transportation system is fairly robust, with most buses running until around 10pm, and a limited number of lines operating until around 1am.

The public transportation system consists of buses, a tramline and an efficient metro system. The system serves not only the city centre, but offers very good service to the suburbs and the beach areas as well.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Valencia is fairly low, with prices about 20% less than in Barcelona. Compared to other EU cities, Valencia is substantially less expensive than London or Berlin, especially when it comes to rents.

Here are some representative prices:

  • Casual restaurant meal: € 10.00.
  • Milk (1 gallon): € 2.79.
  • Loaf of fresh bread: €0.78.
  • One-way public transportation: €1.50.
  • Monthly transportation pass: €40.00.
  • Basic utilities: €105.00.
  • 1-bedroom city-centre apartment: € 513.00.
  • 3-bedroom city-centre apartment: €867.00.
  • 1-bedroom apartment outside city centre: €356.00.
  • 3-bedroom apartment outside of city centre: €558.00.
  • Average net monthly salary: €1,280.00.

Banking in Valencia

The Spanish banking is divided into two types of banks: bancos and cajas. Bancos are mostly privately or publicly owned institutions and offer branch banking and a full-line of services. Cajas are mostly smaller state owned regional financial institutions.

The major banks include ING Direct, Banc de Sabadell, Banco Popular, Santander, and BBVA.

Bank fees in Spain are fairly high. A yearly account administration fee of between €15 and €30 is common, plus there is usually a fee for credit and debit cards, ATM withdrawals, adding an additional account holder, and opening a savings account. Shopping around for banks with the lowest fees is a must.

Money transfer fees are quite high. Fortunately TransferGo services customers in Spain and offers low-cost fixed-exchange rates for individuals and businesses.

In order to open an account be prepared to produce the following:

  • Proof of identity such as a passport.
  • Foreigner identification number and certificate.
  • Proof of address.
  • Proof of employment status such as a student card, employment contract, or unemployment documentation.
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