So I’ve been living in the Mediterranean city of Valencia for several years now, after having lived in the vivid city of Cologne and the more industrial city of Essen (both situated in the western part of Germany).
As a matter of fact, Valencia has some magnet kind of effect on me, and I know several people that are saying the same. But why is it that people fall in love with the city and what makes it so attractive? I’m gonna list some reasons that I think make this place very unique, and why I think that it is an amazing place for startups.
Cheap flats and low office prices
The monthly rent for office spaces has never been as low as it is now. Looking at the monthly evolution of rental properties, the price level used to be twice or three times as high before the crisis as it is now.
For example, an office space that used to cost around 2000 EUR monthly rent in 2007 is now available for around 700 EUR per month, with decreasing tendency.
You (and your company) have to learn a new language
You can’t get away with speaking English that easily as in other parts of the world. In order to deal with most of the Spanish fellows, you need to learn their language.
For me, it has always been a challenge, and it still is. But if learning a new language and pushing your skills every day sounds exciting to you, this is the best place for you to be.
A big advantage of this is that if you have a globally selling product, you can get it very easily internationalized, thus having access to a whole new market of more than 447mio Spanish speaking people in the Iberian Peninsula and (South) America.
For those who don’t know, Valencia is crossed by what used to be the river “Turia" which is now the green lung that splits the city into two parts. It is about 8km long and is a recreation area beyond comparison.
Beside its great variety of trees and plants, it offers long routes for walking and running, fitness trails, football fields and other sport facilities.
For the less active, it also provides bars and quiet spots for enjoying the piece and quietness of nature, plus the regular “Ferias" which are cultural events (particularly during summer) with wine or tapas tastings.
The two major universities of Valencia (Universidad de Valencia and Politecnica de Valencia) accomodate around 80.000 students in total. So should you be looking for young people to join your company, you’ll probably have the choice among a huge range of highly motivated students.
The current company culture - from what I have been told - is still dominated by bosses and staff executives that do not value and appreciate employees as much as in other well-developed countries. Companies tend to offer internships with little or no compensation and try to keep employers with very poorly paying contracts.
In my opinion, this is a great chance to stand out as a competitor and offer fair salaries and better labor conditions, thereby attracting qualified people and cultivate long-lasting employee relationships.
The Spanish mentality
If you’re from Germany like I am, you’ll be able to learn a thing or two from the Spanish people. It’s probably for a reason that they are more relaxed and less preoccupied than our lot, having in mind that Valencia has about 300 sunshine days per year.
It’s not that you’ll entirely change as a person and abandon your former principles from one day to another, but you might be starting to become less rigid with yourself and others.
You’ll probably be amused by how people care a bit less about some details (like the way they park their car or look at the hour), and you might start to become less meticulous and serious, but instead more spontaneous and informal.
In either case, these experiences usually result in that you’ll become more open-minded.
Valencia wouldn’t be the same without its beach. Especially during the summer month, this is the perfect place to disconnect and recharge your batteries.
The beach is only about 10-20 minutes away from the centre, depending on your mode of transportation.
Since it is very long and wide, you’ll always be able to find a quiet spot. And if it gets too hot, you can just take a bath without having to fear a cold shock. (It’s still the Mediterranean Sea, not the Atlantic Ocean)
There are several companies in the city that are dedicated to finding potential start-ups and giving them the opportunity to grow more quickly by investing a significant amount of money.
For instance, the startup factory Business Booster "is the first accelerator in Spain to boost projects based on internet and smartphone apps businesses."
The globally active accelerator called Plug and Play has similar goals and “is focused on sourcing, funding, and accelerating the growth of the most promising young high tech companies."
Good opportunities if you think you have a great idea and the capabilities to grow, but are still lacking financial resources.
Another major benefit of living in Valencia is that everything is within reach. The metropolitan area of the city covers around 51 square kilometers and if you want to go from one place to another, you will probably not need a lot more than 20 minutes.
The historical center is pretty compact, and most of the people live in its close surroundings, that means about 10-15 minutes away from it.
If you’re going by metro, you’ll get from A to B very quickly (that is about 5-10 minutes), and in 2010, the government installed a bike rental system called Valenbisi which permits subscribers to rent a bike for half an hour at one of the 250 stations that are distributed among the entire town.
The beautiful old city
For me, there is nothing more inspiring than a walk through the city centre.
You’ll experience a cultural voyage through centuries, with ancient monuments from the past, typical Spanish bodegas and tapas restaurants with decades of tradition, as well as cosmopolitan shops and cocktails bars from the present.
The city hall and the old post office alone make you feel like in a 19th century movie. Places like the Plaza de la Reina or the Plaza de la Virgen are busy and chilled at the same time, not overcrowded by tourists and vivid enough to keep you inspired.
Valencia is international
So with this topic I would like to close the subject.
Assuming you’re a socially active person and regularly join events, courses, language exchanges etc, you have access to a huge variety of people from all over the world.
That means being a start-up company, you have access to a lot of different cultural views and opinions.
People can usually tell you a lot more about the their country and its characteristics than a research on the internet ever could. You just have to ask, and people will be happy to give you lots of valuable feedback.
After telling you a bit about the city and its qualities, I would like to sum up that these views are mostly my personal experience.
Each person has his or her own perceptions, and I have heard people talking in many different tones about the city (and the country in general), which might not be as positive as my personal review, sometimes leading to very controversial discussions.
In my opinion this has a lot to do with the current crisis and the fact that there is a high unemployment rate, and that a significant percentage of the population is affected by the economic situation.
This however is not a topic I wanted to discuss in this particular post. I wanted to point out the positive facts that I have experienced during the four years of living in Valencia and that I think make it an extraordinary place for working and living.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this blog post.