Entrepreneur and a long time expat himself – Garry has been creating expat friendly city guides for a while now. The latest city on his list is Valencia. We wanted to know a little more about him and what is his opinion about Valencia.
Garry where are you originally from?
I was born in Gosport, Hampshire in England. When I was 10 months old, my family moved to Scotland. From 4 years of age our home was in Somerset, back in England. At 7 years we were living in Cornwall and 3 years later in Norfolk. Following school I moved to London and 3 years after that, became an expat in Germany.
What brought you to Valencia?
My Finnish wife decided she would like to spend winters in Spain. We were in France at the time and spent 5 weeks discovering the coast from Barcelona to Sevilla. Valencia appealed from the first moment. Connections helped us to dock in.
Where is your home now?
I live in the UK. I continue to travel extensively for my business and pleasure. I also visit Valencia as often as possible.
Amazing Capitals. What is it exactly?
Amazing Capitals publishes online guides in English. International residents require knowledge to settle in and live better lives in their location. Amazing Capitals provides comprehensive information in one source. Having lived the expat experience myself, I created the first guide for Düsseldorf 12 years ago.
Why is Valencia amazing?
The environment is top of the list. I have walked alone at all hours and in many areas of the city. This is a safe place to reside and its location is excellent too. The airport is very close and has quite a few international connections. Madrid and Barcelona are easy to reach and and offer the world. Getting around by metro, tram and bus easy. Cycling is even better with so many dedicated bike paths. Everything is walkable. Now the good stuff: A beach to die for; the phenomenal Turia park; compact city centre; magnificent architecture; vast amounts of trees; indoor markets everywhere; delicious fruit and vegetables all year round; organic and vegan outlets; thousands of tapas bars offering healthier fast food; incredible culture of arts and performances; great neighbourhoods to live; accessible nature; friendly atmosphere.
Are local Valencians friendly to expats?
Yes. Most expats come with open minds and love in their hearts. Locals tend to keep themselves to themselves. The Spanish language can be a barrier, especially when spoken fast. Then there is Valencian (valenciano language – Ed.). I have found everyone to be friendly, welcoming, curious and proud that a foreigner would wish to come to their city.
Culture shock in Spain?
The quality of buildings is often appalling, especially compared to magnificent, traditional Spanish architecture. Cables hang everywhere and repairs frequently sub-standard.
The tradition of closing shutters and not posting opening hours is a surprise too. Streets that can seem half abandoned suddenly come alive and a vibrant atmosphere ensues.
Service. Staff may mean well but the quality of customer service in Spain is abominable. Leadership and answerability are lacking, clients are ignored and “no pasa nada” creeps into many areas of life. Banks, utilities and telecoms often fail to meet the expectations of their clientele. It is part of the package of life here.
The lack of ability or desire to speak English amongst younger Spaniards and in corporations is the true culture shock. Having married and spent much time in Deia, Mallorca, I had experienced the phenomena. But that was long ago. Today’s generation could achieve more for themselves and the economy if they chose to grasp that challenge.
What do you plan for future?
My passion is to help expats. I am often asked to create a more holistic expat environment around my location guides. A more expansive approach is being developed to integrate local residents and businesses into the process as well. A first eBook has been published in Düsseldorf and a project to inform locals has been launched in Neuss. That is ongoing.
I wish to create eGuides in many more locations too. This year, I am laying the foundation to hand over existing location guides to individuals or businesses who also wish to become passionate about helping expats and be successful. Global expansion will continue with that concept.
If you could give one piece of advice to people looking to live in Valencia what would it be?
Leave judgement to others, expect everything to be different, go with the flow and, above all, enjoy every moment. Sorry, is that four?