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Moving to Seville

Lying in the south of Spain on the Iberian Peninsula, Seville is the capital of the region of Andalusia. Moving to this quintessential Spanish city comes with the promise of year-round warm weather, where expats can indulge in all things stereotypical of the country, from appetising tapas and vibrant festivals to folkloric flamenco music and dancing.

Whether relocating to work, study or retire, expats living in Seville will no doubt encounter a city bursting with culture and history, while offering a cosmopolitan feel. The centre is packed with medieval monuments and churches blessed with Moorish and Gothic influence. What’s more, an abundance of tapas bars, lively clubs and plenty of flamenco tablaos give foreigners a real chance to experience authentic Spanish life.

Seville is a prominent Spanish city and the locals remain proud of their traditional ways. The mid-afternoon siestas and the quiet Sundays may be a culture shock for some new arrivals. But expats will soon come to understand and embrace this lifestyle during summer when residents want nothing more than to escape the heat, which hovers around 40°C (100°F).

Expats considering making the move to work in Seville may need to accept that the salaries are generally less lucrative than in the Spanish capital, although the cost of living is also much lower. Young working professionals and students on a budget can find a range of affordable apartments around the city's neighbourhoods, while luxury, modern accommodation is also on offer.

Striving for innovation and avant-garde designs, Seville is an economic hub and there are job opportunities for architects and entrepreneurs. Many expats work as researchers or educators, teaching English as a foreign language. Given the noteworthy education sector, expat families can rest assured they will find a suitable Sevillian school for their children.

Despite being one of Spain’s largest cities, Seville maintains a university town feel where it's easy to make friends and meet people. While there are both pros and cons to moving here, this picturesque city, thanks to its friendly population, will soon have expats calling it home.

Pros and Cons of Moving to Seville

Seville has a vibrant culture and colourful history; although it is a big city it still maintains the charms of a small town and offers expats a slower pace of life than many other European cities. Nevertheless, as with every city, along with these positives, come the negatives.

Below is an overview of the pros and cons of moving to and living in Seville.


Lifestyle and culture in Seville

+ PRO: Vibrant culture with many options for entertainment

Seville encompasses all the usual stereotypes of Spain. Life here is everything an outsider may think when imagining Spain: a place where the tapas culture is an everyday routine, where the flamenco compás (rhythm) echoes through alleyways at night, where bullfighters are carried out of the ring like heroes. Many argue that it's Spain's most romantic and quintessential city – its culture and lifestyle, from its colourful history to celebrated spring festivals, never disappoint.

+ PRO: Small but welcoming expat enclave

While the population of Seville and its surrounding towns is much lower than other Spanish metropolises, it’s a city big enough to have a whole range of amenities and attractions, while retaining the charm of a small town. Groups such as the American Women's Club and Couchsurfing have active communities. There are also language exchanges, flamenco and cooking courses, and art groups all over the city. In a place as friendly as Spain, it's easy to make connections.

- CON: Closed-off culture

The old saying goes, “Sevillanos are the first to invite you to their home, but never tell you where they live.” Social circles in Seville often extend back ages, so breaking into their social scene can be difficult, causing new arrivals to run back or stick to expat circles.

+ PRO: Relaxing pace of life

One of Seville's most attractive qualities is how people live and the slow pace of life they adopt. People from all over the world come to Seville looking for a slower pace of life in one of Europe's most temperate cities. Lunches are long and leisurely, and the concept of time is practically non-existent. 

- CON: The pace of life can sometimes be too slow

On the flip side, Seville's 'mañana, mañana' ('tomorrow, tomorrow') attitude can mean bureaucratic hold-ups, missed appointments, long lines and plenty of frustration. Additionally, the city employs many civil servants as the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia, who have the unfortunate reputation of doing as little work as possible.


Accommodation in Seville

+ PRO: Relatively affordable living

Because Seville is small, virtually anything in the city is central, and there are housing options for every taste. Each neighbourhood has its own feel, and renting a room or apartment is generally cheap, especially when compared to other Spanish cities. Expect to pay much less for a bedroom in a shared apartment compared to Madrid. The general rule is, the closer to the centre, the more expensive rent will be.

- CON: Old, crumbling houses

Many homes in Seville have been passed on through generations, resulting in old houses in need of some work. Be sure to ask the landlord who will cover any necessary repairs, even if just for a small appliance. Additionally, houses in the city often do not have dryers, ovens or central air conditioning or heat.


Safety in Seville

+ PRO: Relatively low crime rate

Spain's crime rate is extremely low compared to other European countries, and Seville is no exception to this. New arrivals can rest assured that life in Seville is generally safe.

- CON: Petty crime is an issue

Despite the low crime rate, petty theft is rampant. Expats should always be aware of their belongings and keep them close by. If something has been stolen, always report it to the national police, particularly if it's been taken by force.


Getting around in Seville

+ PRO: Seville is walkable

Seville is flat, counting just one hill in the entire city. This makes using one's own two feet the preferred mode of transport, especially in the pedestrian-friendly city centre. The metro and light rail can be used to access areas and neighbourhoods a bit further out.


Healthcare in Seville

+ PRO: Affordable with basic coverage

Healthcare is available to anyone legally residing in Spain through the government's social security system, and insurance is almost always paid by the employer. Many foreigners often opt for affordable private insurance, which allows for less wait time and greater access to specialists.

- CON: Long lines and waiting times

The public healthcare system, though an invaluable resource in Spain, is not perfect. Expect queues in urgent care clinics and waiting a long time to see a specialist in Seville.


Education and schools in Seville

+ PRO: Public and concertado schools are government funded

Spanish education comes in three forms: public and government funded, concertado and funded in part by the Spanish government and the Catholic Church, and private schools. The government absorbs the greatest part of the cost, so families in Seville only pay the fees for books, school supplies and specialised courses, and possibly bus routes, uniforms and afterschool activities.

- CON: Bigger classes and fewer materials in public schools

Although public schools are inexpensive, classrooms can be cramped and teachers overworked. So expat parents are advised to ask about teacher-student ratios and the facilities available.

+ PRO: University education is affordable

Studying at a public university in Andalusia is far cheaper than in most European countries. This is a major pull factor for expat students looking for a semester abroad exchange programme as well as those who wish to study full time in Seville.


Working in Seville

+ PRO: Many working holidays and a full month paid vacation

Full-time employees enjoy many local holidays, a full two weeks at Christmas paid, and many days off during Easter and the local fair. What's more, one month's vacation is the norm for employees, often taken in August.

- CON: Hard to secure an expat job

While the unemployment rate had been decreasing nationally in recent years, Spain's job market has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Finding a job in Seville as a foreigner could prove extremely difficult and salaries may not be so lucrative. A company must demonstrate that no other European Union citizen is more qualified, and visas for non-Europeans are costly, time consuming and not always granted. The most common profession for young foreigners is teaching English.


Travel and tourism in and out of Seville

+ PRO: Well-connected train travel

Spain's public rail company is regarded as one of the best in the world, connecting even far-flung corners of the country. Getting around by train in and from Seville is easy thanks to Renfe, or Renfe Operadora, which is known for their service and on-time guarantee.

+ PRO: High-class hotels and important tourist destination

Tourism is one of Spain's greatest and most lucrative industries, with major brands recognisable throughout the world providing excellent hospitality standards in Seville. Additionally, Seville is home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites and wonderful cuisine, making it a favoured European destination.

- CON: Heavy tourist movement during holidays and summer

Because of the well-established tourism industry, visitors flock to Spain, particularly in the summer and to the coastal regions, like the Costa del Sol and Costa Dorada. For this reason, hotels and restaurants sometimes operate a separate price quote for heavy tourist seasons and local holidays. Travelling off-peak can be more enjoyable and affordable.

Working in Seville

As the capital of the autonomous region of Andalusia in southern Spain, Seville is an economic hub, attracting both local and foreign workers to find employment here. The city contributes a significant proportion to the region’s GDP, and expats working in Seville are employed in various sectors.

The main factor to consider is the language barrier; while international companies operate in Seville, Spanish proficiency is essential for most jobs.


Job market in Seville

Seville hosts a wide range of job opportunities. Thanks to the presence of multiple tertiary education institutions and universities, academia and research and development are major sectors in which expats can find work. This industry strives for technological innovation across areas from biotechnology and telecommunications to eco-friendly renewable energy and the aircraft industry.

A large number of expats work as educators in Seville, teaching English as a foreign language. Private language academies are generally preferred to the public school system because wages are higher and the workload is more reasonable. Though not essential, teachers with a TESOL or TEFL qualification may have a better chance at working for a decent organisation that provides training and support. 

Expats can find work in engineering and manufacturing, sales and marketing, and architecture, while there are also frequent job openings in IT for software developers. Seville draws in expat architects; the city has a reputation as a paradise for artists and architects as it is home to historical Moorish buildings and Gothic cathedrals as well as modern designs and structures.

Thanks to this and its rich cultural heritage, tourism is a booming sector. Seville is always bustling with tourists, so bars, restaurants and guide companies take on expats.


Finding a job in Seville

Job hunters should start their search online by looking for work in Seville on platforms such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn. A working knowledge of Spanish is an advantage when applying for work in Seville. Milanuncios.com is also a great resource as it includes classified adverts and job listings, and expats can also search for accommodation using this website.

Some expats may move to Seville with a job in hand, others may start their search after arriving. Networking and making local connections should not be discredited, and it can also help entrepreneurs when starting a business.

When looking for employment, note that wages are lower in Seville than in Madrid and Barcelona, but expats can benefit from a lower cost of living. Nevertheless, expats should research the salaries and working conditions they would expect from their sector to make sure they don’t get taken advantage of with low pay and awkward working hours.

Additionally, the economy has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic, which has made securing a job more difficult, especially for non-EU expats who must apply for an appropriate work visa.


Work culture in Seville

Working hours vary according to the job, although could extend from 8am or 9am until 2pm, and then from 4.30pm to 8pm or 9pm. Sevillanos often work these long days, taking a decent lunch hour or siesta, though not all companies operate like this. Expat teachers working in private organisations may teach from mid-afternoon till the evening. 

Consequently, the long working day in Seville can take its toll. Fortunately, the work ethic is normally quite relaxed.

Accommodation in Seville

Finding accommodation in Seville is a relatively painless task. On arrival, while expats get their bearings, there are plenty of economically priced hostels in the city centre or estate agencies that can provide short-term living quarters.

As in most cities, the closer to the centre or the larger the property, the higher the housing prices. The benefit of Seville is that its central area is relatively small, and it’s easy to get from one end to the other on foot, by bike or scooter, or other forms of public transport.


Types of accommodation in Seville

Apartments

Most housing in Seville is in the form of apartments. These range from small studio apartments to larger three- or four-bedroom flats. 

Expats on a budget, particularly international students moving to Seville to study, can find flatshares. This is essentially renting a room in an apartment and sharing communal spaces such as the kitchen and living room with other flatmates, and dividing the living expenses appropriately.

Serviced apartments

As one of Spain’s most quintessential cities, Seville is no stranger to short-term expat stays and tourist visits. As such, serviced apartments and aparthotels are available which meet an expat’s every need. Fully furnished with cleaning services and access to various amenities, these are usually preferred as corporate accommodation. They offer all essential hotel facilities and also allow for self-catering. Costs may be lower than a hotel suite, although luxury serviced apartments do come with a heavy price tag.

Houses

Houses with gardens are available on the outskirts of the city as well as in Seville’s surrounding towns. This would involve a bit of a commute into the city, but is often considered by expat families with children as well as expats who prefer a more peaceful living environment.

Furnished vs unfurnished

Both furnished and unfurnished apartments can be found in Seville, although free-standing houses and villas are often unfurnished. Tenants in unfurnished apartments will have no problem finding furniture, be their décor preference modern or antique, with a host of stores in Seville, including IKEA.


Finding accommodation in Seville

Thanks to multiple online property portals, the easiest way to find a property in Seville is by searching online. Both international platforms, such as HousingAnywhere and Nestpick, as well as Spanish-based websites, including idealista, yaencontre and pisos.com, are a good start. Online platforms allow for networking and contacting landlords and agents. House hunters can refine their searches based on the types of accommodation, budget and move-in dates, as well as rules on smoking, having pets and allowing musical instruments to be played.

Posting a comment or question on social media pages and expat forums can also help a new arrival secure accommodation. Adventurous expats travelling on a shoestring budget can also find temporary accommodation in a homestay environment and can connect with hosts through platforms such as Couchsurfing.

When looking for accommodation in Seville, enlisting the services of a real estate agent or relocation company can also take the weight off a new arrival's shoulders. Real estate professionals may have access to housing that is not yet on the market while also be able to navigate any language barriers between property owners and prospective tenants.

The best time to find accommodation in Seville is early September before the university starts. Finding accommodation in August can be hard – landlords are normally at the beach enjoying their summer holiday. Otherwise, new arrivals can find housing any other time of year.


Renting accommodation in Seville

Leases

Most expats rent flats on a 10-month to yearly basis. When making an application, prospective tenants may need to provide proof of finances, a credit check and for a guarantor to sign the contract on their behalf.

Deposits

Expect to pay a one or two month rental deposit. 

Utilities

We recommend that tenants confirm with the landlord who will be responsible for paying utilities, including water, electricity, gas and internet. Usually, in serviced apartments and holiday lets, utility costs are fully or partially included in the rent. However, rental agreements in other property types and for longer-term stays may require the tenant to pay for all utility bills.

Lifestyle in Seville

Spain's most romantic city has a little bit of everything for everyone – from historical landmarks to up-and-coming gastrobars and quaint neighbourhoods, which is why so many expats make up Seville's colourful community.

Living in Seville means having many of the amenities a more cosmopolitan city like Madrid or Barcelona would have, but with a more small-town feel. The central neighbourhoods are compact and retain an old-world charm, despite the inception of a Soho-like trend and change in dining options. Still, the flamenco, bullfighting and dark-featured sevillanos are hallmarks of Seville, and cheaper rent, better weather and oodles of cultural offerings make it a place that many foreigners come to call 'dulce hogar dulce' – their home sweet home.


Shopping in Seville

Seville is a fashionista's paradise, and the main shopping streets, Sierpes and Tetuán, are pedestrian friendly and only steps away from attractions, hotels and dining. Flanked by brand names like H&M and Camper, shoppers can also find Spanish fashion houses like Mango, Desigual and Adolfo Dominguez. Sales usually happen each year in January, February, July and August.

Seville is also a special place to buy gifts. Known in the Spanish fashion market for trajes de gitana, the colourful, ruffled flamenco dresses, Seville is home to top moda flamenca designers who roll out their designs for the dozens of local fairs during the spring and summer months. Francos and Puente y Pellón are the most popular streets to pick up dresses, hand-embroidered shawls, accessories and shoes.

Other popular gifts include ceramics from the Triana neighbourhood, hand-painted fans, hand-sewn shawls and veils, olive oil and old-world bullfighting posters.

What's more, food markets and artisan fairs in Seville are wonderful ways to glimpse how Sevillanos socialise and do their shopping. The Mercado de Triana stands out, with food vendors selling everything from produce to saffron packets to pig heads.


Eating out in Seville

Seville is the home of tapas. Indeed, these tiny dishes are the city's culinary hallmark – and a part of its dining culture that should not be missed. Another interesting feature is the daily Menú del Día. For a reasonable fixed price, diners can have a starter, main course, dessert, bread and a drink.

For traditional dishes, venture a little bit further outside of the city's attractions. Buried deep in the heart of the more traditional barrios, there are loads of food gems. Bares de tapas are traditional tapas bars, restaurantes and mesones are sit-down restaurants where one can order full or half-ration dishes, and pastelerías are pastry shops.

Gastrobars, which offer a spin on traditional dishes, have become increasingly popular in Seville. Look for them in Triana, near the Cathedral and in the Macarena neighbourhood.

International food is less popular in the Hispalense capital, though there are a few good Italian restaurants and places with a bit of Moroccan cuisine. American eateries are becoming popular dining options, too.

VAT tax is included in all restaurants in Seville, and leaving a tip, called a propina, is not necessary. In most cases, patrons round off the bill.


Nightlife in Seville

Seville constantly appears on lists of top places to party in Spain. Drinks are relatively cheap and patrons can find a little bit of everything within walking distance of the city's attractions.

Flamenco has been a staple of Sevillano culture for decades. While the flamenco in Seville tends to be geared towards tourists, some of the smaller peñas (clubs) that welcome students learning flamenco to perform in front of a crowd are often more authentic.

Seville boasts everything from pubs to clubs and outdoor music terraces. For the best nightlife spots, check out the Alameda. For a more relaxed, dress-down crowd, the area known as El Arenal for fancy cocktail bars, Calle Betis for student bars, and the riverfront for summertime terrace bars.

Rooftop bars are also becoming quite popular in Seville for the weather and the breathtaking views of the city, particularly at night. Many can be found in hotels near the Seville Cathedral.


Sports and outdoor activities in Seville

Home to many parks and botanical gardens, nature lovers can easily take a break from city life. The various parks and playgrounds are popular among families residing in Seville as well as visitors who want to explore some of the city's top attractions and best green spaces, especially Parque de María Luisa. Alamillo Park is another popular green space.

Thanks to the presence of the Guadalquivir river, boat rides, rowing and kayak adventures are on offer in Seville.

While golf, basketball and horseriding are among the popular sporting activities, there’s no avoiding the football hype. Whether expats play football or prefer to watch games on TV at a local bar or live at Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium, life in Seville will suit them just fine.

See and Do in Seville

Expats will find countless things to see and do in Seville. The main sightseeing attractions are the Cathedral – one of the largest in the world; the Alcázar, a Moorish palace; and Plaza de España, a marvellous plaza with a fountain in the centre. 

Seville, as the capital of the region of Andalusia, is a traditional Spanish city and expats have many churches to explore, parks to relax in, and squares that are perfect for people watching or grabbing a coffee or some tapas. The architecture in the Jewish quarter and Triana will dazzle expats. There are a few museums with regular exhibitions, and Calle Tetuan and Sierpes are lined with the latest fashion shops.

Here is our list of the best things to see and do in Seville.


Recommended attractions in Seville

Alcázar of Seville

Originally this royal palace was a Moorish fort, and because kings and queens made it their home, expats also can marvel at the mosaic walls, wander round the well-kept gardens, and even play hide and seek in a bush maze. There’s free entry to the Royal Alcázar for residents in Seville.

Alfalfa, Alameda, and Triana barrios

These barrios (neighbourhoods) are the most popular with Sevillianos and expats for tapas and beers in the evenings. There are plenty of places to eat, dance, and practise Spanish.

Barrio Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is a barrio in the heart of the city. Also known as the Jewish quarter, it is one of the most romantic spots in Seville. Expats can wine and dine in traditional bars, wander around the quaint plazas and cobbled streets, or have churros, a fried doughy mixture, for breakfast.

Catedral de Santa María de la Sede (Seville Cathedral)

Completed in the 16th century, this Gothic cathedral is the central point of Seville. Expats can see the whole city from the Giralda tower, pose for photos in the orange patio, and explore the nooks and crannies in this amazing building. The coffin of Christopher Columbus is here as well. Known in Spanish as Catedral de Santa María de la Sede, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-see.

Flamenco shows

Expats can feel the duende – the magic of flamenco – in various tablaos, or places where flamenco is performed. One of the many popular venues with expats, mainly because the show has an authentic feel, is La Carboneria.

Guadalquivir River

Stroll along Seville’s river, the Guadalquivir, stopping off for tapas or a drink, visit the Torre del Oro (Tower of Gold), or catch a ferry or pedalo. On the far side of the river, along the Canal de Alfonso XIII, is Calle Betis, a great place in the evening to meet Sevillianos or fellow expats.

Museum of Fine Arts (Museo de Bella Artes)

Apart from the lovely square in front of this wonderful building where you can watch tango performances on some evenings, the museum has regular exhibitions to interest expats. The museum is one of the most important in Andalusia and has exhibits from the medieval period to the 20th century.

Plaza de España

Plaza de España is one of the most picturesque public places to hang out in Seville. Each region in Spain is represented by a tiled plaque, and this spot offers views over the adjoining María Luisa Park. One of the top landmarks in the country, new arrivals often can't help but fall in love with Seville after visiting this plaza.

Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium

Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium is the home stadium of the city's football club, Sevilla FC. Perhaps not quite up there with Real Madrid or Barcelona, expats can still watch an exciting game of football at this stadium.

Getting around in Seville

While this Andalusian capital may be old – Seville is one of Spain’s most historic cities – its public transport system is anything but aged and out of date. The options for getting around Seville are modern and efficient, and the city is easy to navigate.

For many expats living in Seville's city centre, a car is unnecessary. The historic centre is tackled easiest on foot, and driving through the windy one-way streets can be complicated and stressful. Instead, expats can plan to get around Seville on foot or by bicycle, bus, tram, metro, train and taxi.


Public transport in Seville

Seville has a variety of public transport options to fit the needs of all its residents and visitors. It offers an urban bus system, a tram, metro, two main train stations and many official taxis. 

Buses

TUSSAM, Seville’s city bus system, is one of the most popular and efficient means of public transit available. Residents can purchase a rechargeable multi-trip bus card at any kiosk or tobacco shop. When waiting for the bus people are expected to form a line and respect the order.

The only downside to the bus system in Seville is its schedule. Day buses usually stop running at 11.30pm (right after Spanish dinner time), and night buses run only until around 2am (a time when the night may just be getting going for many).

Many bus services also connect Seville with other cities and towns.

Metro

Seville's metro is another way to get around various areas and neighbourhoods, and stations are easily found through apps such as Google Maps. However, coverage is limited as not all areas can be reached by metro alone. Depending on where an expat lives or needs to go, they may also need to catch a bus to complete their trip.

Trams

The tram, called MetroCentro, is a good alternative to the bus or metro for getting around the historic centre, although many prefer walking the short distances which Seville's tram covers. The tram routes also connect with the San Bernardo and Santa Justa train stations.

As the tram is run by TUSSAM, passengers can also use their bus card to pay for their trips.

Trains

Seville’s train stations connect the city with the rest of Spain. Santa Justa is the main station and is also a regional hub. In addition to the standard trains, the renowned high-speed AVE train is also available to cities like Madrid and Barcelona. Ticket prices range based on the destination and the train’s speed.


Taxis in Seville

Taxis make getting around in Seville easy. Fares depend on the distance and the time of day. Drivers are strict about only transporting four people per taxi, and may charge extra for luggage. It's a good idea to ask for a rate estimation before taking a taxi in Seville. When paying, passengers aren’t expected to leave a tip.

Ride-hailing apps such as Uber are also available in Seville and are often preferred by expats as they eliminate the language barrier.


Motorcycles and driving in Seville

Owning or renting and driving a vehicle in Seville is not necessary, thanks to the various other means of transport available. That said, for expats who frequently travel outside of the city, or expat families with kids, having a car is convenient. Expect to rent a garage space, as street parking is limited in Seville.

Another option is buying or renting a scooter or motorbike. This mode of transit makes it easy to get around the city quickly. As always, safety is encouraged and helmet laws are enforced.


Cycling and e-scooters in Seville

Seville offers extensive bicycle lanes and a public bicycle rental system. Both expats and tourists benefit tremendously from Sevici, Seville’s public bicycle-sharing program. In line with the program, two-way bike lanes surround the historic centre, and there are bicycle rental stations throughout the city.

Users will pay to rent a bike for a length of time and can also get a year-long membership. This is an excellent and inexpensive way to get around Seville – just make sure to respect traffic laws and stop at red lights.

Similar to the bike rental system, e-scooters can also be rented in Seville and this is linked to a phone application. E-scooters are a fun way to explore the city, but be sure to park the scooter in a designated area.


Walking in Seville

Getting around Seville is simple, primarily because the city centre is relatively small. There are also plenty of storied landmarks that can double as great meeting points or memory joggers for new arrivals. Seville's tourism office provides walking maps which locate all of the centre’s famous monuments for new arrivals initially acquainting themselves with the layout. 

Do be careful when walking though, and take care to stay on the sidewalk whenever possible. Only cross the street at official crosswalks, as jaywalking is discouraged and dangerous. On the small, one-way streets, cars, motorbikes and bicycles must also make their way past, and sometimes it’s necessary to press against a building to allow a large vehicle to move forward.