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Moving to Seville

Expats moving to Seville, the capital of Andalusia, will experience a traditional Spanish city bursting with rich culture, interesting history, and vibrant festivals.

Seville’s small population of just over one million residents allows expats to enjoy the activity of an urban centre, while having access to the space and freedom normally associated with rural areas. 

The metropolis also acts as a comfortable hub from which expats can explore Southern Spain.

Seville is a proudly Spanish city, and, despite becoming more cosmopolitan of late, the locals remain proud of their traditional ways. The centre is packed with historical monuments and churches blessed with Moorish and Gothic influence; an abundance of tapas bars and lively clubs; and plenty of flamenco tablaos to give foreigners a real chance to experience authentic Spanish life.

The year-round blue sky is another attraction offered up by the marvellous city, but during summer the heat can hover around (100°F) 40°C degrees, which is why most Sevillianos disappear, leaving the city like a ghost town.

Thanks to a cost of living lower than other Spanish cities, the expat crowd is growing. Though, expats moving to Seville in 2011 will need to realise that the recession has placed heavy strain on the local economic climate. Be prepared to search hard for job opportunities within the teaching and tourism trades. 

Still, Seville is developing, and there are plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs and expats to make Spain’s fourth largest city their new home.

Working in Seville

Expats can work for any of the international engineering, manufacturing, and telecommunication companies in or near Seville – but Spanish proficiency is essential. However, the employment market is currently dormant due to the recession, so expats will have to compete with locals for the best positions. 

The tourism trade is still booming though. Seville is always bustling with tourists, so bars, including Irish bars, restaurants, and guide companies take on expats.

The majority of expats in Seville work in the teaching trade. Private language academies are preferred  to the public school system because wages are higher and workload is more reasonable. To work for a decent organisation that provides training and support, teachers must have a TESOL or TEFL qualification. Expats should make sure they don’t get taken advantage of with low pay, no contracts, and awkward working hours. 

The average wage for full-time teachers in Seville is between €1,000 and €1,400 a month, depending on experience and responsibility. A working knowledge of Spanish is an advantage.

Wages are lower in Seville than in Madrid and Barcelona, but expats can benefit from a lower cost of living. The working day in Seville can take its toll. 

For teachers, hours are normally from 3pm until 10pm, with occasional morning business classes. Sevillianos work from 8am or 9am until 2pm, and then from 4.30pm to 8pm or 9pm.

The work ethic is normally quite relaxed, but recently organisations are asking more from their employees. If you’re a keen worker, and are prepared to look for an opportunity, you can work and live comfortably in Seville.

Accommodation in Seville

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

Most expats rent flats on a ten month to yearly basis. 

Seville is separated into several barrios, or neighbourhoods, and depending on your budget, and luck, you can find the perfect place. Expats are scattered all over the city, a large majority live in the centre and many opt to live with other expats or students. 

As in most cities, as you move away from the centre the price drops, or the size of the property increases. The benefit of Seville is that it’s relatively small so you can walk, or bike, from one end to the other within 30 to 40 minutes.

Popular expat areas are Barrio Santa Cruz, Los Remedios and Triana, Macarena, Porvenir and Alfalfa.

If you prefer to live away from the centre with the possibility of renting a larger three- or four-bedroom flat, or even a house with a garden, there are several small towns on the outskirts with bus and metro connections. Mairena del Aljarafe, Dos Hermanas, Montequinto, and Seville Este are between 30 and 50 minutes away from the centre. Finding a place with a metro connection would be more desirable, as at peak times the traffic can be horrendous. 

The best time to find accommodation in Seville is early September before the university starts. In August, Seville is dead and landlords are normally at the beach. You can come at any other time and normally find something.

Expect to pay a one or two month rent deposit, finanza, and sometimes you need a guarantor to sign the contract for you.

If you’re in the position to buy, then accommodation prices are low. You need between 80 percent and 90 percent of the value.

Lifestyle in Seville

Spain's most romantic city has a little bit of everything for everyone – from historical landmarks to up-and-coming gastrobars to 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 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 Abastos 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. Free tapas are not as common in Seville as they are in other cities in Spain.

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.

Seville is undergoing a huge change in dining preferences as gastrobars become more and more popular. These options offer a spin on traditional dishes, as well as prices. Look for them in Triana, near the Cathedral and in the Macarena neighbourhood.

Ethnic food is not very 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 considerably cheaper 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. To check out a show – or any show, for that matter – pick up El Giraldillo. This monthly pamphlet is the ticket to know what's going on in cities all over the south of Spain. While the flamenco in Seville tends to be geared towards tourists, some of the smaller peñas 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 breath-taking views of the city, particularly at night. Many can be found in hotels near the Cathedral, Plaza Nueva of the Alameda.

See and Do in Seville

Expats will find many things to see and do in Seville. The main sightseeing attractions are the Cathedral - one of the largest in the world; the Alcazar, a Moorish palace; and Plaza España, a marvellous square with a fountain in the centre. 

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

 

The 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.

www.catedraldesevilla.es

Tel: 95 421 4971 

 

The Royal Alcazar

Originally this Royal palace was a Moorish fort, but because kings and queens made it their home expats now 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 for residents.

www.patronato-alcazarsevilla.es

Tel: 95 450 2324
 
 

The River Guadalquivir

Stroll along Seville’s river, stopping off for tapas or a drink, visit the Tower of Gold, or catch a ferry or pedalo. On the far side of the river is Calle Betis, a great place in the evening to meet Sevillianos or fellow expats.

 

Barrio Santa Cruz

The Jewish quarter is one of the most romantic spots in Seville. Expats can wine and dine in traditional bars, wander round the quaint plazas and cobbled streets, or have churros, a fried doughy mixture, for breakfast. 

 

Museum of Fine Arts (Museo de Bella Artes)

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

www.juntadeandalucia.es

Tel: 95 478 6500 

 

Flamenco Shows

Expats can feel the duende - the magic of flamenco - in various tablaos. A popular venue with expats, mainly because the show is authentic and free, is La Carboneria. Others include:

 

Plaza de España

Plaza España is one of the most picturesque public places to hang out in Seville. Each region in Spain is represented by a plaque, and expats can see views over the adjoining Maria Luisa Park. Star Wars and Laurence of Arabia scenes were filmed here. 

 

Plaza de Toros

Bull fighting is still popular in Seville. The season runs from April to October and expats can watch matadors run riot during La Feria and most Sundays. If expats would prefer not to see a fight, but are interested, they can have a tour of the museum and bull ring.

www.plazadetorosdelamaestranza.com

 

La Feria

Expats will love this week long dancing, eating, and drinking festival. It normally takes place in April or May, and expats can learn how to dance typical Sevillianas, drink rebujito - fine sherry and lemonade - or have fun on the attractions.

 

Semana Santa 

For a more serious, but entertaining festival, expats can enjoy this religious event at Easter. Each church brotherhood takes their Christ and Virgin, atop a uniquely designed parade float, around the city and through the cathedral. The brass band music and crowds are intense.  

 

Alfalfa, Alameda, and Triana

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 your Spanish.

 

Sevilla FC 

Not quite up there with Real Madrid or Barcelona, but expats can still see a decent game of football by watching Sevilla FC, who normally finishes in the top four. Their main rival, Betis FC, are in the 2nd division. 

www.sevillafc.es

Getting around in Seville

While this Andalusian capital may be old - it’s one of Spain’s most historic cities - its public transportation 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, offering a variety of methods for getting to and from here and there.

For expats living in Seville, a car is an unnecessary evil. The historic centre is tackled easiest on foot, and driving through the windy one-way streets can be complicated and stressful. 

So overall, instead of driving, expats should plan to get around Seville on foot, or by bicycle, bus, tram, metro, train and taxi. 

Orientation to Seville

Getting around Seville is simple, primarily because the city centre is quite small. A person can walk from one end to the other in less than a half an hour, and there are plenty of storied landmarks that can double as great meeting points or memory joggers. The Seville Tourism Office provides walking maps where one can find all of the centre’s famous monuments for those initially acquainting themselves with the layout. 

Do be careful when walking though, and take care to stay on the sidewalk whenever possible. On the small, one-way streets, cars, motorbikes and bicycles must also make their way past, and sometimes it’s even necessary to press against a building to allow a large vehicle to move forward. 

Only cross the street at official crosswalks, as jay walking is discouraged and dangerous. 


Public transport in Seville

Seville has a variety of public transportation options to fit the needs of all its citizens and visitors. It offers a public bicycle lane and bicycle rental system, an urban bus system, a tram line, a metro line, two train stations, and many official taxis. 

Biking

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

You can purchase a one-week membership to Sevici at any of the stations or you might opt to mail in a long-term application for a year’s membership. 

Membership entitles you to swipe your card at any station and take out a bicycle at anytime. If you return the bike within a half an hour your rental is covered by your base membership fee. This is an excellent and inexpensive way to get around Seville. Just make sure to respect traffic laws and stop at red lights. 

Buses

Along with getting around by bike and on foot, Tussam, Seville’s city bus system, is one of the most popular and efficient means of public transit available. Residents have the option to purchase a rechargeable multi-trip bus card at any tobacco shop or kiosk for a one time deposit fee.

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 stop running at 11.30pm (right after Spanish dinner time), and night buses run only until around 2am (a time when the night may be just getting going for many). 

Metro

Seville’s metro is one of the least efficient means of transport in the city. Made up of only line, the metro’s reach is severely limited. The city plans to create at least two more lines, but until then, this form of transport is only useful for limited numbers of people.

It is an adequate alternative for getting from the historic centre to the Nervion shopping mall (but you could also make the trip by bus or by tram). The metro’s price depends on how many zones you pass through.

Tram

The tram line (T1) was recently expanded to connect the historic centre and the San Bernardo train station, making it a good alternative to the bus. It is a comfortable and efficient way to get around; although, many prefer walking the short distances its routes cover. You can use your bus card, which is a convenient advantage compared to the metro. 

There are plans to expand the tram to reach Seville’s main train station, Santa Justa, which would certainly increase its efficiency. 

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 locomotives, it also offers the renowned high speed AVE train to cities like Madrid and Barcelona. 

Ticket prices range based on the destination you’re travelling to and the train’s speed. 

From Santa Justa train station you can make it to the downtown area by foot in about 20 minutes, or you can take the bus or a public bike for a quicker option.


Taxis in Seville

Seville is filled with plenty of official green and white taxis. Fares depend on the distance and the time of day. Drivers are strict about only transporting four people per taxi, and will charge you extra for luggage. 

It is always a good idea to ask for a rate estimation before taking a taxi in Seville. When paying for your taxi you aren’t expected to leave a tip, but as in restaurants, rounding up the bill is always appreciated. 


Scooters, motorcycles and driving in Seville

Having your own vehicle in Seville is not necessary; however, if you often travel outside of the city, having a car is convenient. If you do have a car expect to rent a garage space, as street parking is extremely limited and break-ins are common. 

Another option is buying or renting a scooter or motorbike. For a small scooter a driver’s license isn’t necessary, and utilising this mode of transit can definitely make it easy to get around the city quickly. As always, safety is encouraged and helmet laws are enforced.