Spain has always been a digital nomad paradise.
Millions of travelers flock to the Southern tip of Europe for its sun and warmth.
And some, decide to stay.
Among all the charming Spanish cities, Valencia and Barcelona are one of the best picks.
Being the second and third most populated cities in Spain, Valencia and Barcelona are both excellent choices. But which one is better for you?
As a digital nomad who has lived in Valencia, Barcelona and other cities in Spain, I have first-hand experience of the lifestyle and culture here.
I understand the challenges that come with finding the right place to call home.
I’m passionate about helping others discover their perfect city in Spain for work and play, so let me guide you through the process of picking out your next digital nomad destination.
Valencia vs Barcelona: Cost of Living
Despite being a big city, the cost of living in Valencia is considerably more affordable than in Madrid and Barcelona.
You will find quality one-bed flats in splendid locations for 850€ a month with the ones outside of the city center asking for only 600€.
Since Valencia has a relatively small city center, you just have to nudge yourself slightly outside to enjoy a significant reduction in rent. A monthly transportation pass costs 30€.
However, eating out is still quite expensive. The starting price in inexpensive restaurants is 12€ with a three-course meal going at 45€. There are lots of options for leisure activities such as going to the gym, cinema, and concerts.
To fully enjoy life, you will be spending around 1,500€ to 1,700€ each month.
The city center sprawls out north and south with several town centers. Depending on the neighborhood, the cost of living varies.
A fairly decent one-bed flat in the city center costs around 1,100€ per month. If you are willing to live in the suburb or outskirts, the rent drops to around 900€ per month. Public transport is well developed, connecting every part of the city. A monthly transportation pass costs 40€.
Food and entertainment are relatively pricier than in Valencia. Eating out in an inexpensive restaurant costs roughly 14€ while a three-course meal for two costs 60€. A movie ticket is usually 10€.
As an expat, your monthly budget should be 1,800€ to 2,000€.
Winner: Overall, Valencia has a clear advantage in terms of the cost of living. It is much cheaper than Barcelona. While the actual cost depends highly on your personal lifestyle, you may find your money to be worth more in Valencia.
Valencia vs Barcelona: Weather
The distance between Valencia and Barcelona is around 300 km.
Both cities benefit from the generally hot climate in the Mediterranean region and have an average maximum temperature of over 20 degrees.
Snow is uncommon in winter as the temperature stays above zero.
Valencia enjoys 100 hours more sunlight each year due to its lower altitude. But the difference is unlikely to be noticeable.
Same to Valencia, Barcelona is situated right next to the sea, which regulates its temperature throughout the year. It rarely drops to minus even in the coldest months.
The city is 10% more humid than Valencia.
The similar geographical location means both cities see almost the same precipitation. There are more than 300 sunny days. Extreme weather does not happen in either city.
Winner: It’s a tie. Valencia and Barcelona share a lot in common. There is no substantial difference that sets them apart in this category.
Valencia vs Barcelona: Beaches
Spain surely has no shortage of coastal cities.
Valencia has its own beach where sports lovers hang out on the beach all year round.
People love coming out here to sunbathe, surf, and parasail. Amenities are well established. And it’s easily accessible from the city center.
Valencia has wonderful beaches nearby as well.
There are 9 beaches in Barcelona scattered across the coastline, including the famous Playa de La Barceloneta, Nova Mar Bella Beach, and Playa de Bogatell. They are all accessible by public transport. All beaches are family-friendly. Beaches in Barcelona are way more crowded because of the large volume of tourists.
Its water quality is nowhere as good as other spots in Spain due to the traffic. Occasionally, visitors may find rubbish left behind by other visitors. The overall cleanliness is worse than the beaches in Valencia.
Winner: Valencia has higher-quality beaches compared to Barcelona.
Valencia vs Barcelona: Languages
There are two official languages in Valencia, which are Spanish and Valencian. Valencian is a dialect of Catalan. Most locals will speak a mix of Spanish and Valencian in the city.
English is the major international language. People under 40s will generally be able to communicate in English, though they may not be fluent in it. Workers and Valencian locals living in the city centre are more likely to speak English.
While you don’t need to learn Spanish to survive in Valencia, you will definitely find yourself in situations where knowing Spanish could be very helpful.
The two official languages in Barcelona are Catalan and Spanish. Barcelona has millions of foreigners residing in it. Therefore, English has become an unofficial language for business and leisure.
Most locals, including workers, are likely to speak and understand English. More importantly, people are more willing to converse in English. It is easier to make friends even if you don’t speak a word of Spanish.
Winner: Barcelona has a more diverse landscape. Foreigners can live comfortably without learning Spanish. Although you will still get by with just English in Valencia, it could hinder your effort in making connections with locals.
Valencia vs Barcelona: Work
Unless you arrive here with a job, it can be a lengthy process to start working. The Valencian economy is not as diversifying as big cities like Madrid or Barcelona. The vast majority of expats work in tourism and education.
There is no shortage of cafes around town for digital nomads to continue working remotely while living in Valencia.
As the second-largest city, Barcelona is home to thousands of international companies. Digital nomads are happy about the abundant job opportunities. You can incorporate your skills to cater to the local needs.
Digital nomads mostly work in coworking spaces around the city. Thanks to the thriving digital nomad community here, coworking spaces usually offer lots of networking and fun activities for their members to mingle and collaborate. It fosters a tight-knit digital nomad community.
Winner: Undoubtedly, Barcelona provides much better career prospects for digital nomads looking to expand their professional network. They often collaborate with other creatives to take their career to the next level.
Valencia vs Barcelona: Things to Do/See
Valencia is the perfect example of when history meets the future. Buildings are well-preserved. You are surrounded by history as you walk and explore the streets. For example, the San Nicolás de Bari y San Pedro Mártir is the epitome of a Gothic church. Visitors are blown away by its magnificent structure and interior.
Closer to the sea, there is the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. It embodies every futuristic element you can imagine. The city has a lot of green areas to offer for a quiet afternoon stroll too.
The town has theatres, shopping malls, museums, and other facilities. However, the density and variety are not as rich as in bigger cities like Barcelona.
Barcelona definitely has plenty of striking spots for taking Instagrammable photos. From the world-famous La Sagrada Familia to the adorable neighborhood of El Born, there is something for everyone.
Aside from things to see, Barcelona has so much to offer in its entertainment sector. Cable car rides, football matches, wine-tasting, jazz concerts…Just to name a few of the countless activities you will find in the heart of Spain.
Winner: Barcelona has a better variety of entertainment activities. It won’t bore you out to live here.
Valencia vs Barcelona: Sports
Spanish people are proud of their football culture and achievements. This holds true whichever part of the country you go to. In Valencia, there is the beloved Valencia CF. Although this football club may be lesser known to international football fans, you will surely scream your heart out watching one of their home games.
When talking about football in Barcelona, who can forget about FC Barcelona? Its reputation may have been slightly impaired by several management scandals over the years, but its position in the league remains strong.
Football fans fly from the other side of the world to watch FC Barcelona plays. Whenever there is a big game, fans will dress up and party on the streets like a real carnival. You have to catch a game when you visit Barcelone.
Winner: Barcelona has a stronger football club and a more enchanting football culture.
Valencia vs Barcelona: Which one is right for you?
Both Valencia and Barcelona are fantastic options for digital nomads. They are gorgeous, easily accessible, and enriching. In the comparison above, you’ve probably decided on your favorite.
That’s right. Whether you love living in Valencia or Barcelona will solely depend on what you are looking for.
Valencia is ideal for those seeking to stay away from crowds and admire nature without compromising their quality of life.
It is a much calmer lifestyle but still offers the perks of an international city.
On the other hand, Barcelona is more expensive, but the fun doubles. You will never run out of things to do. There are more job opportunities locally as well.
Barcelona is perfect for those constantly seeking thrills in life.
Its prosperous digital nomad community is appealing to newcomers.
What Visa Do You Need to Live in Valencia or Barcelona?
EU citizens do not need to obtain a visa to live in Spain. But, you do need to declare the change of residence to the authority for tax purposes.
If you are a non-EU citizen, don’t be frustrated yet. Spain has introduced a digital nomad visa to increase mobility among talents. The visa allows you to stay up to 5 years.
You can enter Spain on a tourist visa first and then apply to extend your stay. Alternatively, you can apply for it in your home country. In your application, you must at least have one non-Spanish employer.
Oftentimes, digital nomads have multiple streams of income, which is fine. However, your Spanish clients should not contribute more than 20% of your total income.
A digital nomad visa gives you the chance to live in Valencia or Barcelona to experience true Spanish life. You can even change cities as often as you want to explore more of the country.
Final Thoughts: Valencia vs Barcelona
There are reasons Spain has always been crowned the most livable country in Europe. Valencia and Barcelona say it all. Both cities are unique in their own way.
Valencia satisfies all your social needs without the burdensome price tag while Barcelona offers more trending leisure activities and better career prospects.