Expat Valencia

Things Expats hate about living in Valencia & Spain

Valencia is of course a beautiful city, but even somewhere so attractive can have it’s dark side! In this article we explore things that expats dislike about living in Valencia.

Spanish teenagers are the loudest and rudest people in Europe. For some reason the kids in Valencia are the loudest of them all!

Valencian food, indeed Spanish food can become very bland and same same. Most food is deep fried or covered in oil (sometimes both!)

The festivals in Valencia are noisy and crowded! Most expats with any sense will leave the city during major events, like the god awful Fallas!

The Zenlike challenge that is bureaucracy (not too sarcastic here). It should be treated as such because otherwise you might just go on a “spree”.

Having to put up with all of these holidays. You just cannot get into the groove of working here because there are too many opportunities to have barbecues with friends, go out for something to eat and stay out late because there is no work tomorrow.

Having to put up with children and families in restaurants because they are allowed in and welcomed with open arms. It’s really annoying when it should be more like a Catholic Mass with whispering and reverence for the food and having to put up with disapproving looks when you make a sound over 5 decibels.

Having to put up with people coming and visiting and absolutely loving it and envying you for a living in Spain. Why can’t they just leave us alone in our misery as described every day in the Daily Mail?

Getting woken up every day by bells from a church or fireworks as another pointless Catholic Fiesta goes ahead in your neighbourhood. We want peace and quiet, not happiness and celebrations!

Cities are just too small. There is no huge sprawling city like Mexico DF, Shanghai or Calcutta where you can get lost. This in turn means that you are never far from nature. Nature, yuck! We have spent years trying to get away from it in the rest of the world with sprawling cities and now we have to be near to it again.

Like everyone else I thought this was a funny joke at first. Every time a person in Spain – whether Spanish or British let me down I would grin and say manana like it was ok or normal. When I’m paying for a job I want it done as promised – and on time – or am I mad for expecting this?

There is NO customer service in Spain. Much of the time you are served when people feel like it, you get little help and assistance and often you are not even greeted at the counter – you greet them. It is like you are doing them a favour by shopping there!

I hate getting anything done in Spain. Often I end up going to the local town hall and being sent from one department to another where I am told conflicting advice. The paperwork and bureaucracy is horrendous. If you are coming to live in Spain bring a photocopier!

I hate that people prey on each other in Spain. Everyone seems so desperate that getting cheated is a story every expat I know can tell. I personally put a €8,000 deposit down on an apartment and the estate agent did a runner with my cash. God knows where they are now but I won’t stop looking until I find them.

Other common expat stories are ones such as being sold a property that was actually illegal, didn’t have planning permissions etc and often the people had a Spanish lawyer so they were not cutting corners and they still have lost their life savings.

Corruption is a problem in Spain and often there are stories in the newspapers about local town hall officials being involved in shady/illegal deals. Anything and I mean anything, can happen in Spain.

The lack of infrastructure in Spain. The motorways/auto routes are superb as a lot of EU money has been given to Spain but locally our roads are terrible. The amount of tyres we go through because of holes in the road is ridiculous.

Sales assistants are not there to help you (as if!) If you have the temerity to walk into a shop and interrupt the dependiente (shop assistant)’s in-depth conversation with her colleague about the new boots/haircut/boyfriend she’s got her eye on, don’t expect a welcoming smile. At best: a scathing glare. At worst: you’ll be ignored. Similarly, if you’re bold enough to ask them for assistance – availability of item in different size/colour – you’ll be met with a bald “No!” – As in, “No, I don’t know if we have it”, “No, I’m not going to look”, and “No, I don’t care if I’m being unhelpful. You interrupted Carmen telling me about her hot date last night. Now get out of my face, guiri.” One well-known department store (the clue is in the photo) is especially notorious for the baaad-assed attitude of its sales ladies.

Don’t be surprised if people sneer at you with a contemptuous expression when you try to communicate in their language (“¿QUE?”) – such rudeness is, sadly, normal. I still haven’t got used to it. Now I’m not saying my Spanish is perfect, and my accent is not great either, but their inability to comprehend me is more down to their lack of effort in trying to do so, than in my poor command of the local language.

Dropping litter is a national sport in Spain. Watch any person – child, middle-aged or elderly – eating in the street, and I’ll bet you my local rubbish container they drop the wrapper on the ground. Not sneakily or with any shame, just straight-out. No bad conscience, because such behaviour is not ill-thought-of here – they’re used to dropping pistachio shells and those teeny weeny napkins on the floor of tapas bars. Litter bins are just for decoration.

How cold the houses are in winter. Before coming here, I knew that many Spanish houses lacked central heating, since most are built to be naturally cool during the sweltering summer months. But nothing could have prepared me for how cold it would be inside the average Spanish home from January to early March. Even when the temperature outside was Fall-like, the temperature inside was much chillier. With electricity being very expensive, space heaters are generally out of the question. And even if they weren’t financially impractical, the lack of insulation, and the heavy use of marble, tile, and stucco for interiors would render them almost useless anyway.