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Being an expat in Seville: a guide to housing, work, and culture in Spain

Being an expat in Seville can be an amazing experience, but finding a job and adjusting to the unique Spanish lifestyle takes time. Read our tips to help you adapt in record time.

13 min read

Spain is one of the liveliest and most exciting countries in Europe, and Seville is an ideal place for expats to experience the country's charms. People who choose to live in Seville are often attracted by the simple, relaxed lifestyle — although living in a large Spanish city still has its share of stress.

The good news: In general, the cost of living in Seville is more affordable than in other European cities such as London, Paris, or Amsterdam. The earning potential may not be as high in Seville, but many people find the warm climate and cultural richness more than make up for it. Expats who thrive in Seville tend to focus less on the potential drawbacks and more on the positives, such as:

  • The leisurely pace of life — people take their time to do things and enjoy themselves, such as lingering over a long meal.
  • The lower cost of living, especially in comparison to other large European cities.
  • The good transportation network and Seville’s great connection with other Andalusian cities.

Ready to learn more? The following guide covers what you need to know about being an expat in Seville so that you can adapt to your new life in record time.

The expat community in Seville

Thanks to its rich history, picturesque streets, and relaxed lifestyle, Seville is a very popular city among expats. The relatively low cost of living in Spain and the growing number of companies will likely make Seville even more attractive for expats in the coming years.

So, how many expats actually live in Seville? According to figures from the Junta de Andalucía, 43,164 of Seville’s residents are expats or foreign-born. 

That all adds up to a robust community of people to meet and interact with, and you should have no trouble finding bars and events that cater to the expat crowd. 

Most social media platforms have groups created specifically for expats living in Seville, which you can easily join to meet people.

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Expat housing in Seville

Because you may be interested in either renting or buying, let’s look at some key facts about how both housing options work in Seville.

Basics of renting in Seville

If you’re planning to rent an apartment or a house in Seville, you can expect to pay an average of €9.90 per square meter per month, according to estimates from the Idealista portal. To give you an idea, that’s about €495/month for a 50-square-meter apartment. But that’s not all.

Seville is a popular destination, and the rental market reflects this. Even so, it’s not impossible to find an apartment at a good price — you just have to search a little harder. 

Most rental contracts in Spain are valid for 6-12 months, although it’s generally possible to renew them for the same period.

When calculating a budget for rent and moving costs, be sure to factor in a security deposit equivalent to two months' rent, plus a one-time fee of a few hundred euros if you use a real estate agency to find your home. 

If you want to be closer to the city center, opt for a smaller apartment. Also keep in mind that a furnished rental usually costs more than an unfurnished one — although if you choose an unfurnished place, you’ll have to budget for the furniture yourself.

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Basic aspects of buying a home in Seville

Seville may be a popular destination for expats and Spaniards alike, but don’t worry — the real estate market isn’t out of control (at least, not yet). There are good reasons to invest in a house in Seville. 

If you’ve decided to buy a property, the average price of housing in Seville as of 2023 is €1,523 per square meter, according to the Idealista portal.

As with renting, the price to buy a house can vary dramatically depending on the area. The most expensive houses and apartments tend to be located in affluent neighborhoods, such as Centro and Nervión.

You could limit your property search to less expensive areas such as Macarena,  Cerro-Amate, or other districts further away from the center.

Buying a house in Seville can make a lot of sense for those who are in love with the local culture and know they want to live here for many years. 

But you have to go into the decision with your eyes open. When comparing prices, think beyond just the purchase price of the house. You should also take into account the financing costs and other expenses that you may have to pay when purchasing property, such as hiring a real estate agent to help you find a home, a surveyor to inspect the building, and a lawyer to make sure the paperwork is in order.

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The best places to live for expats in Seville

The most popular and in-demand neighborhoods in Seville are:

  • Triana: Recently revitalized, this neighborhood has a high number of new houses, but also is more popular with tourists.
  • Los Remedios: The major draw here are the luxury stores — and the water sports, thanks to the nearby Guadalquivir River.
  • Nervión: The most commercial district of Seville, it’s located in the eastern part of the city.
  • The Prado de San Sebastián area: The neighborhood around the Prado de San Sebastián bus station is known for its tree-lined promenades, open-air bars, and great atmosphere.
  • La Macarena: This area is famous for its alternative style and retro clothing and book stores.

Finding a job in Seville

Seville is home to a growing network of companies, so job opportunities are much easier to find than ever before. Booming sectors such as commerce and agriculture  make Seville a particularly attractive place to look for work. In fact, companies like Bida Farma and Heineken are always on the lookout for local talent.

Getting a residence permit for Seville for non-European expats

One major difficulty for some people wanting to live in Spain: residency status. 

If you’re not an EU citizen and you want to move to Seville for work, you’ll most likely have to find a job and a company to sponsor your residence permit or visa

Expats have to complete a number of formalities when they arrive in Spain. Before moving to Seville, it’s best to familiarize yourself with what you need to do.

Getting a residence permit for Seville for expats from the EU

If you come from an EU member country, you’ll have no problem settling in Seville, although you’ll still have to complete some formalities.

Expat salary expectations in Seville 

If you’re imagining getting a job in Spain with a large salary, you may need to rethink your expectations. Compared to other major European economies, such as France and Germany, the average base salary in Spain is not very high.

According to the Spanish Statistical Office, the average base salary in Seville is €23,154 per year, which is equivalent to an average hourly rate of €10.96. This is lower than the average base salary across the rest of Spain, which is €25,896 per year.

If you’re looking for a job in Seville, keep in mind that a place can seem more or less expensive depending on how much money you earn. If you can, negotiate a salary that equals or exceeds the average salary in Seville.

Cost of living in Seville

Living in a city like Seville doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically save more money. People who live in Seville tend to earn higher salaries than their suburban or rural counterparts — but they also tend to pay more for essentials such as rent and food. 

Seville in particular is known for its high prices for attractions and activities, especially anything that’s connected to the tourism industry. It can also be pricey in terms of housing. Although it’s cheaper than other cities in Spain, Seville continues to be one of the more expensive areas.

Keep in mind that the cost of living in Seville includes not only essentials, but also activities that allow you to really explore the local scene. If you’re looking for a quick way to balance your main expenses, check out our 50/30/20 calculator, designed to help you divide your income among three major categories: basic needs, disposable income and savings/debts. Or, input your specific expenses into our monthly budget calculator to get a clearer idea of your monthly spending.

Healthcare in Seville

Healthcare in Spain is free and generally high quality, but you’ll have to register with the Social Security system in order to access it. There are different ways to do this, depending on where you live and what your situation is. 

Check out our complete guide on how to register for Social Security in Spain, which includes everything an expat living in Seville needs to know.

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Education in Seville 

If you plan to study in Seville as an expat and you already speak Spanish, you probably won’t have any difficulties. In Seville, you can also choose to study other languages such as English, French, or German. 

Looking for a study program in Seville in Spanish? We recommend exploring the programs of the best universities in Seville, including:

  • University of Seville: The oldest university institution in the city, it’s the third largest in Spain in terms of number of students.
  • Universidad Pablo de Olavide: Founded in 1997, this is the second public university in the city and has almost 12,000 students. 
  • Universidad Internacional de Andalucía: This university only offers postgraduate, master’s, doctoral, and specialized training programs.

Education in Seville (for non-Spanish speakers) 

If you plan to study in Seville as an expat and you don’t speak Spanish, you might encounter some difficulties because Spaniards aren’t generally fluent in English. Although more and more programs are becoming available in English, the vast majority of courses are taught only in Spanish or in Castilian Spanish (also called Castellano).

That said, universities such as the Universidad Internacional de Seville offer more courses in English.

Looking for a study program in English in Seville? We recommend checking out programs at the best universities in the city, including:

  • University of Seville: This public school currently has two degree programs that can be taken in English: finance and tourism.
  • Universidad Pablo de Olavide: Out of its degree programs, 279 subjects are taught in a language other than Spanish, such as English, German, Italian, or French. It’s also a public university.
  • Universidad Internacional de Andalucía: Some courses at this public university are offered in English — mainly master’s degrees.

Children’s education for expats in Seville

As in many other European countries, the school year in Spain usually runs from September to June, with a break in the summer. If you have kids, you might choose to enroll them in a local public school, which is free. Classes will almost certainly be taught in Spanish in public schools.

You can also choose a private school, where teaching may be in English or another language, and there may also be a religious component. Some of these schools can be quite expensive, especially the internationally oriented ones.

Getting around in Seville

As a major communications hub, Seville is well connected to the rest of Spain. This makes it an ideal starting point for expats who want to explore the country. 

Seville also has a modern network of trains, buses, and trams that allow you to travel relatively quickly to any point in the city.

Public transport in Seville

Public transportation is a relatively affordable and reliable option. A single public transport ticket costs €1.40 and can be used on buses any time after being purchased. 

Other options are also available. For example, you can buy a metro ticket, costing anywhere from €1.35 up to €1.80 depending on the route you take.

Keep in mind, however, that bus and intercity train services may be less frequent on weekends. To help you plan your route, the Spanish rail network RENFE has a website available in a range of languages, including English, Spanish, Catalan, and Basque.

Cycling in Seville

More and more expats living in Seville are choosing to cycle to work, school and social events. Cycling is especially easy if you live in central neighborhoods such as Triana and Macarena.

If you decide to travel by cycling, you can expect to pay between €250 and €1,000 for a bicycle, depending on the quality you’re looking for.

Driving in Seville

Car-sharing apps such as Uber are available and becoming increasingly popular in Seville, although there may be a surcharge at peak times. Cabs are also common, and fares are usually not too high.

If you plan to drive yourself, keep in mind that parking in the city can be expensive and traffic can be a hassle. 

You can exchange your driver’s license for a Spanish one if it was issued by a country that has an agreement with Spain. Otherwise, you’ll have to get an international license or apply for one once you settle in Spain.

Cultural differences in Spain and Seville

Seville is a large, multicultural city where many people live together in relative harmony, but Spanish culture is still very important here.

Some expats find it difficult to adapt to the Spanish way of life, while for others, it’s exactly what they’re looking for. For example, punctuality isn’t exactly a priority in Seville. You might schedule dinner for 8:00 p.m., but people don’t start arriving until 8:15 p.m. Although it may be frustrating at first, look on the bright side: It also gives you a little leeway when you’re running late!

Other things that expats find a bit strange in Seville are:

  • The orange trees: When they begin to bloom, the city develops a very unique, sweet scent — which only adds to the atmosphere.
  • Tapas capital: Although these classic small dishes can be found throughout Spain, Seville and Granada are where tapas take on a greater dimension (also when it comes to their size!).
  • A city with many Roman remains: Julius Caesar loved Híspalis — the city that we now call Seville. This fondness can be seen in the many traces of ancient Rome that are still scattered throughout the city.
  • Greetings and farewells: Spaniards usually greet each other and say goodbye with a small kiss on the cheeks. Often, it’s just an air kiss and there isn’t any actual contact. One exception is when men greet other men — in this case, a warm handshake is customary.
  • Spanish slang: Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, but there are many differences between countries. Spain is no exception, and terms that are familiar in Argentina, Colombia, or Chile might be completely different in Spain. You won’t have any trouble getting by in Seville with your Spanish, but to really participate in the culture, we recommend learning the local slang. Spaniards will appreciate it.
  • Siesta time: Even if you’ve never been to Spain, you may be familiar with the concept of the siesta: a break in the day between 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm that in some parts of the country is used to take a nap. In a big city like Seville, with its cosmopolitan atmosphere and pace, it’s not very common for stores and restaurants to close in the afternoon, and you won’t find many people taking a siesta here.

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Managing your money as an expat in Seville

If you’re preparing to move to Seville, you may be feeling some stress about how to maintain your saving habits in a different city and country. 

The good news? N26 makes it easy for you. With our fully online bank account, you can set daily spending limits to help you stay on track with your budget goals and use Spaces to create sub-accounts for different needs.

Oh, and speaking of bank accounts, you probably need more information to get started. See our guide on how to open a bank account in Spain for the whole process.

Frequently asked questions about being an expat in Sevilla

Is Sevilla a good place for expats?

Thanks to its culture, history, architecture, and all the activities and experiences it offers, Seville is an ideal place for expats. It’s also a center for business, education, and research, which makes it an interesting destination for people from all over the world

Where do expats in Seville live?

Expats in Seville live all over the place, but the highest concentrations of expats tend to live in international neighborhoods located in La Macarena and Centro districts, among others.

Can I live in Seville without speaking Spanish?

It can be difficult to live in Seville for a long time without speaking Spanish, at least at an intermediate level. Even if you can manage, you won’t get a full experience of the local culture. You’ll also find it more difficult to do basic tasks such as shopping, filing a tax return, or getting around.

Is Spain friendly to foreigners?

Spaniards are usually quite friendly to foreigners. Still, it’s a good idea to make an effort to learn their language and respect local customs. Spaniards who see you at least giving it a try will likely be impressed and warm up to you more quickly.

Can I live and work in Spain if I don’t have an EU passport?

Yes, you can live and work in Spain if you’re not a citizen of another EU country. To find out what options you have, visit this link.

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