It is not a secret that Valencia has become very attractive as a destination country for expats from all over the world, due to its Mediterranean climate, cuisine, diversity, affordable living costs and the laid-back lifestyle. There are thousands of words that could describe this sparkling city, but friendly is one of the most common characteristics when talking about Valencia´s vibe, and especially when referring to the locals and the expats living here.
We would like to think that Valencia is a friendly, tolerant and safe place for everyone, including LGBTQ expats. As we have been fortunate enough to assist several same gender couples and their families throughout their relocation process, we wanted to get some insight to how they feel about moving to Valencia.
We asked some questions to three families – our former clients and current friends. We know that they have so much more to share, but this time we wanted to explore their personal experience from an LGBTQ perspective.
We were curious about the general scene in Valencia…
Jimmy and Tom have lived here for nearly three years. They moved to Valencia from Denmark and brought their two lovely cats with them. They rent an apartment in the city centre and seem to be enjoying their lives very much here!
“We have always felt safe in Valencia and have not experienced anything negative from people because we are gay. For a city that is supposedly very Catholic and conservative it has been a pleasant surprise to be met with a natural acceptance. As foreigners we are met with a relaxing indifference which seems a part of Valencians’ initial approach when meeting any strangers.”
Roger and Eric – a gay couple from Seattle with a lovely teenage daughter, have been living here for a year now, and they couldn´t agree more:
“Valencia is a wonderful city with a very laid-back attitude. Family and friends are the priority of the people who live here. We see all types of folks from varied backgrounds and lifestyles. It’s not uncommon to see gay couples holding hands or walking with their family through the park. Although the diversity in the population isn’t large, the attitude towards them is positive and respectful. Safety is never an issue and we feel comfortable day and night in all parts of the city.”
The third family we were lucky to interview is Carry and Jane – two beautiful and intelligent women raising their toddler here in Valencia. After living in Valencia for almost a year, they have made a big step and have just purchased an apartment to make it their home.
“We have never experienced any negative attitude just because we are a same gender couple. We would say it is the other way around. We feel that they see us as native English speakers sent by God.
Till now we have rented two different places, both from very traditional Spanish families, and they didn´t seem to see the fact that we were two married women. We believe that the people living here pay more attention to your nationality, wealth, and social background than being a minority.”
As relocation experts we’re aware that each family has got their own priorities when assessing the potential places to relocate to, so we inquired if the choice of city of these families were directly linked to the fact that they were a same gender couple.
“Actually no. If we are totally honest, Valencia wasn´t even on our initial list. Yes, we had a list with the requirements we wanted, such as safety, airport nearby, weather, child friendly, the beach. We considered different countries and different cities. From more than 10 cities, from the Spanish ones, we had Barcelona in our minds. But once we visited Valencia, we knew that this was the one. It just felt right, and it checked most of the boxes.”, continues Jane and Carry.
Jimmy and Tom say they hardly think in those terms, meanwhile Eric and Roger admit that their decision to choose Valencia was influenced by the fact that the LGBTQ community´s rights are being respected: “Yes, Spain has very strong legal protections and rights for the LGBTQ community. This was an important fact in us choosing Spain for our family. Specifically, for Valencia, we knew a larger city compared to rural living was going to offer us options to connect with a larger LGBTQ community.”
About obtaining residency and sorting out other formalities
Eric and Roger continue: “As residents from Seattle we obtained our visa from the Spanish consulate in San Francisco. Our experience was extremely positive, but it is important to be very prepared and informed on what is needed. The support of YES Valencia team was invaluable as they were able to provide us the needed documents, insight to the process and the requirements. YES Valencia is dedicated to supporting LGBTQ communities and their families. They have knowledge and experience in our specific needs. As for the details in the paperwork and bureaucracy, there are typical incongruencies that all LGBTQ people experience in forms, paperwork and documentations. Due to this, the authorities may have to ask some clarifying questions as part of the process. Thankfully we had the support of the YES Valencia team to help in these instances.”
Carry and Jane had also thought it all through before: “It was very easy! We don´t even know what other people are talking about. Since the very beginning of our relocation process, we knew that we would hire some help to sort out the legal part. And that was the right decision!”
We’re aware that raising a child in a same gender family has been quite a polemic issue all over the world, and we are especially interested to hear more about their experience with educational institutions and other parents:
Eric and Roger share their overall positive experience: “We have a child and we choose to enrol her in the American School of Valencia. The process for enrolment was typical of any private school process. You need to start early to secure enrolment. Fortunately for us it was all in English, so the documents and communication were easy. The American School of Valencia has a summer camp program that helped our daughter in the transition and prepared her for the school year.”
Jane and Carry signed up their little boy with a day care centre in the Gran Vía area, and they were excited to learn there was another Spanish family with two mums: “It was fantastic! It still is. All the other parents are Spanish, and they are very friendly, even too friendly! They seem to be very comfortable with the fact that our kid has got two mothers. For example, for Mother´s day we got two personalized flowerpots!”
Although we suspected that our interviewed families hadn´t chosen Valencia due to the gay friendly scene – such as the bars and clubs, we still wanted to hear their thoughts.
“We feel welcome wherever we go. There is also an LGBTQ establishment, groups, and a community to connect with,” adds Roger.
Jane and Carry don’t think about it either: “We wouldn´t know. We do not look for the special LGBT places. We create social circles based on social interests, not on sexual preferences.”
Jimmy and Tom are on the same page as the rest of the families: “As we don’t often go out to gay places, I couldn’t really say. But it appears there is a rather dynamic gay life, especially in Russafa.”
Anything you wanted to add?
“We would like to add just one comment- we always thought that Spain as a Catholic country is very traditional but after moving to Valencia, we are very surprised that they are actually a very open-minded society.” – Carry and Jane