It’s not just sunshine, oranges and palm trees, although all three feature heavily in Valencia. A less obvious Spanish destination, than Barcelona and Madrid, but now a city throwing out a fairly irresistible lure (including international schools) to expat families.
Unemployment has been rife in Spain, even before the arrival of Covid, but Valencia is the country’s third largest economy, mainly built on tourism, plastics, agriculture (oranges!) and ceramic tiles. A large number of these companies are international and employ English speaking expats, although it is a huge help if you can speak (at least some) Spanish. It also has one of the four stock exchanges in Spain, a thriving port and excellent connections with the rest of Europe, which definitely put it on the map for digital nomads.
When it comes to finding a home, the charm of the historic core of the city, Ciutat Vella or adjacent Plaza de Real, is tempting but probably not ideal for families to live in, as there is a price to pay - NOISE. Night-time is for partying not sleeping and this is definitely where it’s at, when it comes to having a good time. L’Eixample, the 19th century southern extension of the old part of town, with its bohemian quarter Russafa has larger apartments and is slightly quieter but beware, no Metro station.
A number of incomers are not put off by the name of the area called City of Arts and Sciences, as this is not just a 21st century theme park but also the site of luxury properties, not too far from the centre of the city or there is Benimaclet, which has grown over the last 50 years from being a locally inhabited ‘pueblo’ (town) on the edge of the city into a multi-national/cultural neighbourhood.
British families are likely to consider living in the centre of Valencia as it is home to the most obvious choice for an English education, the British School of Valencia and also fairly close to the middle are Cambridge House Community College (almost entirely Spanish students) and English School Los Olivos, where they teach in Valencian as well as English and Spanish.
However, a large number of wealthier expats live on ‘urbanizacións’ outside the city including Los Monasterios and Alfinach near Puzol to the north, where there is the attraction of having the choice of two international schools, the American School of Valencia, with a particularly wide range of nationalities and Caxton College Valencia.
Mas Camarena in Bétera, to the northwest of Valencia, has an eponymous school, Colegio Mas Camarena and in the same direction from the city are the various ‘urbanizacións’ of Paterna, which have the international schools, British College La Cañada, the Catholic, bilingual Cumbres School and El Plantio International School within easy reach.
IALE International School does have a Spanish curriculum but includes some classes taught in English. The British School Alzira, one of three schools under the same ownership teaches in both English and Spanish to mainly local students.
If you are looking for a traditional French education, the Lycée Francais de Valence is one of the oldest (1889) and largest lycées outside France. There is also a Montessori school, both teaching up to the age of 12.
When it comes to curriculum, almost all the international schools teach an adapted version of the National Curriculum for England, followed by IGCSEs and A Levels or the IB Diploma, several also offering the option of the Spanish Bacchillerato.
For more information on these schools, please go to each school’s individual entry on the GSGI database or The GSGI article 'Best schools in Valencia considered by expats'.
Escuela pública is probably a less popular option for expats (unless Spanish is already part of daily life) as there is no guarantee that the teachers will speak English. Smaller children tend to adapt and become integrated more easily and it is a good solution (particularly at the primary stage) if you intend to stay for a long time and want your child to speak fluent Spanish and it is easier to move from state to private than vice-versa.
Also, be aware of two things; one, the standards of these schools can vary dramatically but will probably be higher, if in an area favoured by expats and wealthier Spaniards; two, there is a move to increase the proportion of classes taught in Valenciano as opposed to Spanish.
In addition, and probably more appealing to expats, are private Spanish schools (escuelas privadas), which are mainly co-ed, day schools used by about one third of Spanish families.
Maybe not as glamorous a posting as Madrid or Barcelona but the quality of life and the climate (cooler and less humid than the capital) make Valencia and its surrounding towns, a very attractive place to settle.
The choice of schools covers most parental demands, providing you are happy with A Levels, the IB Diploma or the Spanish Bachillerato as the exit qualifications and a high proportion of Spanish students. It is much more of a problem if you are looking for an American education as the only option at junior level is the Valencia Montessori School and the American High School Diploma is only available at the American School of Valencia or at IALE International School where they offer a Dual Diploma (USHSD & Spanish Bachillerato).