Cultured Coastal Retirement In Europe
Spain’s third-largest city (after Madrid and Barcelona), Valencia, was hit hard by the 2008 property crisis and today is awash in bargains. You can do a slow pirouette anywhere in the center of town and see for rent and for sale signs at nearly every angle, some handwritten, including one offering a “3-room apartment, Plaza España area, 49,000 euros.”
It helps if you have a Spanish friend who can make initial inquiries for you, but, bottom line, under any circumstances, this is a buyer’s market.
Valencia is also a vibrant, accessible, historically interesting, and culturally rich city with a beautiful coastline that, inexplicably, has been overlooked as a serious contender for retirement in the region. The weather is pleasant year-round (with an average daytime temperature of 70 degrees), and it’s not only the cost of buying a home here that’s a bargain right now. The cost of living in Valencia is one of its biggest attractions. You can see a doctor for as little as 35 euros, rent an apartment at the beach for as little as 350 euros, and enjoy a beer in a coastal bar for 1 euro. A man can have his hair cut (a good gauge for the cost of living in a place) in a city-center salon for 3 euros.
The consensus on the ground in Valencia is that this city has turned a corner and averted a Greek-style economic tragedy. A few tower cranes are creeping back onto the skyline, and real estate buyers are arriving from Madrid, Barcelona, and beyond. This is the time to be shopping.
Now is the best time in a long time to be paying attention to Valencia, but its real assets are timeless. Thanks to its long and complicated history, Valencia is a melting pot that has evolved to have its own distinct culture that is evident in its language, place names, and architecture. Valencians are fierce individualists, though not separatist like their Catalan neighbors to the north.
The weather in this part of Spain is ideal for living an active, healthy, and outdoors lifestyle, and this part of the western Mediterranean offers some of the finest beaches in southern Europe, including in the city of Valencia and to the north and south. Valencia’s beaches are well-preserved and well-maintained and surprisingly unspoiled. The main city beaches include El Cabanal, Las Arenas, and Malvarossa, all with Blue Flag status, as well as El Saler to the south inside the Albufera national park. In addition, the mountains are within easy reach.
To get a good sense of Valencian culture, take in a flamenco show. In addition, this city offers many venues for live theater, ballet, and music, from the Berklee-affiliated Palau de la Musica (Palace of Music), where you can hear world-class jazz, to hip clubs and bars.
Many museums and other cultural and historic attractions in Valencia are free or offer entrance at a negligible cost (1 to 2 euros). An all-day, all-museum pass costs 6 euros. This is a city that is proud of its culture, its history, and its heritage and wants to make it as accessible as possible to residents and visitors.
Valencia is well known for its annual celebrations, including and especially the Fallas celebration every March. The name translates literally as “the fires,” and this annual fiesta has been called the best fireworks party in the world. Over these four days every March, this city is lit up by both fireworks and bonfires burning monstrous-sized satirical effigies.
Again, though, it’s the current cost of living (thanks to the dollar’s strength versus the euro) and of buying a house or an apartment (thanks to the bottomed-out property market) that make Valencia particularly interesting right now. At today’s values, you could buy a two-bedroom, two-bath furnished apartment in an historic and central neighborhood for as little as 150,000 euros. At the current rate of exchange, that’s about US$165,000.
A reasonable overall budget for living in Valencia is US$1,500 per month. This means that Valencia offers the chance to embrace a cosmopolitan Continental lifestyle for less than the cost of living in most any other developed city in Europe today. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine living for less in a city that compares in terms of lifestyle on offer anywhere else in the world.
Our man on the ground in Valencia, Europe Correspondent Jocelyn Carnegie, has filed a complete report on living and retiring in this unsung city with so much to offer that will be featured in this month’s issue of my Overseas Retirement Letter.
In addition, Jocelyn is one of the more than 70 experts, expats, correspondents, and colleagues who will be making their way to Orlando later this week for this year’s Retire Overseas Conference. Jocelyn will be a key presenter, not only for the three-and-a-half-day conference, but also for the one-day Retire Overseas Expo that kicks it off on Sunday, Sept. 13, at 1 p.m.
Both the Retire Overseas Conference and the Retire Overseas Expo are being held at the Doubletree by Hilton at the entrance to Universal Studios. You owe it to yourself to be in the room with us for the biggest retire-overseas event of the year, especially if you live in the Greater Orlando area.
Looking forward to seeing you there.
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