Barcelona vs Valencia for an expat

Spain, a country rich in history, culture, and diverse landscapes, is a traveler’s paradise. From the bustling streets of Madrid to the sun-soaked beaches of the Balearic Islands, Spain offers a multitude of experiences that cater to every kind of wanderlust. Among the many jewels in Spain’s crown, two cities stand out for their unique charm and captivating allure – Barcelona and Valencia.

I think Spain is the best country to live in Europe if you have income/business in other country. I have been living in Marbella, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Valencia. Both Valencia and Barcelona are big cities and I compare living in the city and not the metro area.

Weather and Pollution. The weather in Valencia is a little bit milder, but for me there is not big difference. Barcelona is more polluted – at least iphone weather app says that.

Parks. This is why I like Valencia the most. It has 9km long park Turia located in the old bank of the river. Apart from that I like the Cabecera park (next to Bioparc zoo), Jardin de Vivers (collection of roses and kids playground to learn traffic signs) and finally the new Parc Central next to Ruzzafa. The city of Barcelona really lacks parks and greenery.

Business life

Barcelona here is real winner. 4x more startups funded in 2021 compared to Valencia. Trade shows and fairs. Meetups and conferences = probably 10x difference. Barcelona startup district.


Both cities have great international schools. Read about Valencia schools here and Barcelona schools here.


I would say Valencia is safer – it is rare to hear about robberies. Barcelona on the other hand is full of thieves and burglars

Real Estate

My favourite neighborhood Padralbes – 6800 euros per square meter (2022 June). Sarria – Sant Gervasi – 5800 euros per square meter. The most expensive El Pla de Remei in Valencia – 3900 euros per square meter.


Barcelona is a clear winner here, where it has more than 6x bigger airport by passenger count.

Final Verdict

If your priority is family life – choose Valencia. If your priority is business choose Barcelona.

Valencia review of an expat

I have lived in 6 countries in my life and I have chosen Valencia to settle down with my family.

In this blogpost I will try to describe why I like Valencia – and give links to frequently asked questions

Valencia vs Barcelona

My favourites Restaurants


Central Bar – both for breakfast and lunch or something in between. Bar in the Central Market (must visit) by a ** Michelin chef

La girafe. Good with kids at the beach

Bluebell coffee. Not good with kids. Cozy cafe in Ruzafa


Tariq – Pakistanese / Indian cuisine

Swagat – Best Indian food

Contrapunto. Nice location. You can visit sciene museum later

Kamon. Sushi. 10x better than Nobu at Hyde park

Marina Alta – north of the city – seafood


  1. Casa Navarro La Patacona
  2. Restaurante Arrocería Duna – outside the city at the beach

Michelin restaurants

La Salita * – Best restaurant for me

El Poblet **

Ricard Camarena **

Places to visit for me:

  1. Tavella (Cortes Valencianas: carnes y pescados. Menú degustación. Horno de leña tradicional).
  2. La Bulería (en el centro: comida típica española + espectáculo de flamenco).
  3. Mas Ferrat (Bétera: celebraciones, comida buena, hay mucho espacio para que los niños jueguen) *
  4. La Pedrea (L’Eliana: pescado y marsicos)
  5. La Bienpagá (L’Eliana: comida española, pero está buena).
  6. La Diez. (L’Eliana: tapas, platos argentinos, todos los días cambia el menú).
  7. Oris (Cánovas: comida venezolana → arepas con pollo y aguacate, pabellón, tequeños)
  8. All indian restaurants that i haven’t visited

Restaurants I do not like:

Vertical (CC Aqua)


Virtuo – Rent a car. Quality cars – self service – no need to wait. The downside only 2 pickup locations: Airport and Train station

Drivy – car sharing for days/weeks. Some cars have self checkin/pickup – some you have to meet in person.

Alhambra del Mar Marbella review

Main places to find a rental is, but particular apartment was found in

I could recommend Norwegian realtor and another real Estate agency in Puerto Banus

We have spent 7 winter months in Marbella. Renting a 140 square meter, 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath apartment for 1750 euro at Alhambra del Mar condominium.

The best thing about this condominium is – location. It is in the middle of the old town and Puerto Banus. Both walking distance. Many cafes and restaurants are close and my favorite Cuppuccino cafe just 50 meters from my apartment. Only 10% of apartments have people living during winter months.

Negative things about this condominium: no heated pool. (november is already cold to swim)

No decent tennis court nearby. (Grand Melia hotel which is 5 minutes walk has both tennis and padel courts, but tennis courts are very poor)
view from balcony

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