I have been in Valencia for a little while now. It is a mixed bag for me. Most of the time I love it, but there is definitely the good, the bad, and the ugly in a place like this.
I have a really cute apartment. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and it even has AC. My apartment is about a block from a convenience store, a bakery, a gym, and a small shopping plaza. It is about a twenty-minute walk to my work.
The city is warm year round, situated in a gorgeous valley, and is only a short drive to some amazing Caribbean beaches.
My school is amazing with a wonderful supportive staff, has great resources, and small classes.
Everything like food, day to day expenses, GASOLINE, utilities, an average taxi ride, household help, etc. is still cheap if you have access to dollars.
I can have internet access on my phone for about $5 a month so when I’m having trouble at home I can still get online. Also I can use it to get around town on my own. Apps like Foursquare plus my data plan on my phone have helped me find some great places around town.
My apartment has yet to be equipped with working internet or a landline (good in case of emergencies or when cell phones are down). These are both important for security and communication with the outside world. Thankfully my MacBook can connect with neighbors’ internet if I sit in the right location. Update: the internet was installed after one week, but it is not reliable (service out for two or three days at a time), so it is recommended that I get a second service provider.
You cannot buy flights out of the country in the local currency and if you want to pay in dollars the flights are extremely limited. Because I bought my flight about 5 months in advance, I was able to buy tickets out of the country for December using dollars.
So far, I have only had working water three hours a day starting at 5:30AM, 12:30PM, and 7:30PM. That means I have to shower, wash my dishes, wash my clothes, brush my teeth, and flush the toilet at specified times (unless I use the bottled water and buckets of tap water I’ve saved). If I want to go out for dinner, unless I plan very carefully, I can count on having greasy hair the next day because I will probably miss the nighttime hour and I wont have enough time to shower before I leave for school. I hate this aspect of my life! Hopefully the water rationing system gets better or I can get a water tank installed in my apartment.
Is it worth it?
For me it is!
I would still say that the benefits outweigh the costs. While I’ve lived in Venezuela for the past two years, I realize that I was really lucky to have zero problems with my water. They say that the water company is working on the water problems. They say they have notified the internet company to fix the phone/internet. The travel agency said they would notify me if the situation changes. If these things do get fixed, I don’t think I will ever want to leave this place!