From 2015-2017 the percentage of foreigners living in Spain’s biggest cities dropped and raised questions that Spain was losing its charm in the eyes of expats or that the recession had hit too hard, but this year´s statistics prove us all wrong and the non-Spanish resident numbers are on the rise again.
At the beginning of 2018 in Barcelona, 17.8% of the population were foreigners, in Madrid 13.2% and in Valencia 12.8%, 0.9% more than in 2017. Although it seems a small increase, 0.9% is almost 8,000 newcomers to Valencia, making a total of 102,269 foreigners registered on the 1st of January 2018. Numbers are expected to rise as an increasing number of expats find Valencia more appealing than Barcelona and Madrid because of price-quality performance.
Despite the policies implemented in 2012 to control the level of immigration, which include stricter residence requirements for EU citizens, the leading group of Europeans to arrive in Valencia in recent years has been Romanian, reaching 11,247 residents in 2018. Romanians, despite their beautiful country and rich culture, often choose Valencia for its economic opportunities, and the similarity between the Romanian and Spanish languages facilitates communication with locals.
Italy takes second place with 8,013 residents, which makes sense considering that they’re neighbours and Italian language is similar to Valencian (the second official language here). Bulgaria, with 3,198 people residing in Valencia, is the third largest group of European foreigners. Following Bulgaria in this list are Ukraine, France and the United Kingdom, with 2,285 British expats relocated to Valencia.
Africa is represented by 3,038 people from Morocco, which is expected as it is relatively close to Spain and many Spanish also choose Morocco as a holiday destination. 2,173 Algerians live in Valencia, leaving Nigerians as the third biggest group from Africa with 2,090 people. Regarding these statistics, most African people live in Rascaña, leaving Jesús and Benicalap in second and third position as the most popular neighbourhoods. These areas are more affordable as they tend to have a less attractive atmosphere and generally the buildings are older. Unfortunately, as many Africans arrive with no residence permit and in most cases are restricted from legalising their residency here at least during their first three years after their arrival, they are forced to earn their living without legal work contracts, some even by helping people spot a parking place (called ‘gorillas’) or by selling brand imitations in the local markets, often being dispelled by the police.
As for North Americans, as of 2018 there are 936 people here from the United States which is 28.4% more than in 2017, mostly living in l´Eixample and Ciutat Vella, both central and lively neighbourhoods. Although they are more expensive, they boast beautiful architecture. The second biggest group are Mexicans with 570 people, followed by Canadians with 128.
Central America is represented by 2,174 people from Honduras, 931 from Cuba and 592 from Dominican Republic. People from Central America have chosen the following neighbourhoods- Quatre Carreres, l´Olivereta and la Saida.
Bolivia with 5,312 people (a 21.1% drop compared to 2017) is still the leader in the South American group, followed by 4,959 Ecuadorians and 4,560 Colombians. Quatre Carreres, Rascaña and Camins al Grau are the top choices for their accommodation.
There is no wonder that there are a remarkable number of immigrants from Central and South America. Although they’re far from home, they have the advantage of the language, and in most cases, find Valencia a safer place compared to their countries of origin.
If we look at representatives from Asia, the People’s Republic of China takes first position with 6,635 people, leaving Pakistan in second place with 5,495 and followed by India with 2,143 people registered. Asians in Valencia are seen as hard-working people, most of them working for years with no holidays. Most Chinese have found Valencia to be an attractive city to run their own shops, where you can buy almost everything for very little money, while their restaurants are often a mix between Spanish and Chinese cuisines. Pakistanis and Indians have filled the niche with their fruit and vegetable shops and some restaurants and food places. People originating from Asia mostly live in Camins al Grau, L´Olivereta and Quatre Carreres leaving so called “China town” in Jesús in the fourth position.
Oceania and the rest of the counties have chosen Camins al Grau and Quatre Carreres, leaving Ciutat Vella and l´Eixample in a shared position with 97 expats currently living there.
9.4% of the foreigners residing in Valencia have chosen Quatre Carreres, the next popular neighbourhoods being Camins al Grau (9.4%), Rascaña (8.1%), Poblats Marítims (7.8%), l´Olivereta (7.7%) and la Saidia (6.6%).
The neighbourhoods with the highest percentage of nationalities other than Spanish are:
L´Olivereta with 16.3%, Ciudad Vella 15.9% (8.3% more than in 2017), Rascaña 15.5%, Camins al Grau 14.5% and la Saida 14.3%
If we look closer into distribution within the neighbourhoods, in 2018 the leading neighbourhood in terms of popularity is Benicalap, with 5,251 people with nationalities other than Spanish, the second most popular being Torrefiel with 4,004 and Orriols with 3,769 registered residents.
All three of these areas have no historical added value and the buildings are old fashioned which makes it cheaper to live there. Lots of immigrants have come here to Valencia for economic reasons which explain the popular choice of these areas.
To compare, it is worth mentioning some famous areas such as el Carmen where 1,045 are registered expats filling the old city centre streets. Russafa´s area, with 3,163 expats, has been in high demand for the last few years and offers a wide choice of restaurants, bars and cultural events which attracts a huge amount of British and other young professionals, and people looking for the city buzz and crazy crowds during las Fallas. Gran Via is home to 864 foreigners and Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias has 923. Gran Via offers very Spanish architecture with old, remarkable buildings with high ceilings and balconies and is packed with fine dining places and exclusive lounge bars, while close to the Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias you will find more modern building complexes often with swimming pools and gyms in the common areas. Both attract expats as the Turia park is just a few steps away.
Other areas like Trinidad with 1,188 expats and Mestalla with 1,697 are top choices for families with children who plan to stay in Valencia long term. El Cabañal is home to 3,077 foreigners and is one of the most charming districts near the beach, with low buildings, narrow streets, alternative bars and Eastern processions. As they say – el Cabañal is not for everyone but if you love it, you will feel like home there. The most popular neighbourhood for students and young professionals – Benimaclet – has 3,145 foreigners and offers a wide choice of bars and cultural places adapted for students. It is cheaper than Russafa and is not so central, but you can still find there the old charming village of Benimaclet.
Age and gender
Of the 102,269 expats in Valencia, 51.3% are male and 48.7% female. Amongst men the most represented age group is 35-39, while the majority of women are aged between 30-34 years. This indicates that Valencia is a city with a lot of young and multicultural people making it even more attractive to new expats when deciding to relocate here.
In both gender groups the mentionable age drop starts from the age of 65 and older.
The period of residence
The majority of foreigners from the EU and other European countries who have chosen Valencia as their home stay here for 4 years or longer. They find the weather and the fact that they are relatively close to their home countries attractive, which makes it easier for them to stay in Valencia long term with a possibility to travel from time to time. Although in Valencia it is still a challenge for non-Spanish speakers to find a job, a lot of Europeans find it appealing because of the weather, quality of life and the easy going and “mañana” culture of Spain.
Expats from the United States have a more complicated process getting visas and most of them come here with a non-lucrative visa which doesn’t allow them to work here in Spain. This could be one of the reasons why more Americans stay in Valencia from 6 months to 1 year. They use this period to experience Spanish culture with their families and to travel Europe.
Some interesting facts
You will find expats from the United States of America in l´Eixample (22.1%), Ciutat Vella (18.9%) and Camins al Grau (9.5%).
British expats are mostly represented in l´Eixample (14.8%), Ciutat Vella (12.4%) and Extramurs (10.3%)
For Canadians the most popular areas are Ciutat Vella (18.8%), Quatre Carreres (15.6%) and Camins al Grau (11.7%)
By the way, there are 152 Latvians in total living in Valencia 😊
Data sourced from:
Ayuntamiento de Valencia / Área de Govern Interior
Information has been prepared with the numbers of registered residents in Valencia on 1/01/2018
While diving into the statistics, I must admit that Valencia City Hall has done a great job!