Valencia, Spain, is the No. 1 city for expats to live and work abroad in 2022, according to a survey of more than 12,000 respondents from InterNations, an online expat community with more than 4.5 million global members.
The third biggest city in Spain, Valencia was also named the World Design Capital of the year for its sweeping architectural marvels spanning Unesco World Heritage sites to13th century Gothic cathedrals to the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences complex. It’s the birthplace of paella, close to a number of sandy beaches and boasts a number of bars, cafes and clubs for a thriving nightlife scene.
Among expats, Valencia earns the top spot for being “a safe place with an excellent climate, a vibrant nightlife and culture, a pleasant urban environment and great travel opportunities” while still being “fairly affordable,” says InterNations founder Malte Zeeck.
A low cost of living make it an especially attractive place for retirees to settle abroad, Zeeck says. And for those still in the workforce, it’s pretty easy for remote workers from other European Union countries to move to Spain without applying for a visa or work permit.
It could become the next big hotspot for non-European digital nomads to relocate, too.
The Spanish parliament recently passed the so-called Startups Act, intended to boost entrepreneurship and diversify the economy, which includes creating a new type of visa for digital nomads expected to launch in January 2023.
It’s likely visa holders will be able to work in the country for up to five years, after which they can apply for permanent residency, Insider reports. To qualify, it’s expected digital nomads will have to earn around €2,000 (approximately $2,069) per month, receive at least 80% of their income from a company located outside of Spain, and they’ll pay a reduced income tax of 15% (down from the usual 24%).
Of the 50 cities included in the InterNations analysis, Valencia also ranks No. 1 for having the happiest expats worldwide: 85% of expats there are happy with life in general, compared with 71% of the global average; and 76% of people working in Valencia are happy with their work-life balance, compared with 62% of the global average.
The survey, conducted in February 2022 and released this week, asked expats to rate their satisfaction across five main categories, including quality of life (like a healthy environment and robust public transit), ease of settling in (such friendliness of local residents), personal finance (such as access to affordable health care), working abroad (such as job security and a stable local economy), and “expat essentials,” which covers digital life, housing options, language barriers, and dealing with local government and administrative tasks.