How To Move To Seville – Local Tips To Getting Set Up

Seville, Spain

Seville, Spain


By Cat Gaa

They say we enter this world naked, cold, and alone.

I came to Spain over-packed, burning hot, and alone. Stepping off the train in Seville, an overwhelming dread filled me – I didn’t know anyone, speak much Spanish or even know where to begin setting up a life in my new city.

Moving To Seville

Moving To Seville

Armed with the determination to make things work in my new home abroad, a Spanish phrase book and loads of research, I turned eight months in Spain into five years with little thought of returning back to Chicago. Taking the plunge to move to the land of tapas and ‘toros’ isn’t easy, but I’ve compiled a few tips to help you get over your sea legs (until you get to the beach, of course).

Could you move to Spain?

Finding a Place to Live

Once you’ve chosen a region to settle in, your first order of business should be finding a place to live. Depending on where you’re setting up, different types of housing will be available. Most expats choose to rent, though new legislation states that buying property in Spain will guarantee the right to residency if you spend over a certain amount.

Renting in Spain is a bit different from renting in other countries. As many flats are passed down through generations, many places are old and full of heavy, dusty furniture. Upon finding your ‘hogar dulce hogar’ in Spain requires a great deal of patience and often times discretion. Many expats choose to use online webpages or realtors, but simply walking around the city in the neighborhood you’d like to live in will yield plenty of rent signs, noted as ‘se aquila’. Apartments can be rented out as a whole, or simply by the room.

Your landlord, called a ‘dueño’ or ‘casero’ will expect the rent to be paid within the first five days of each month, and security deposits are often an additional month’s rent, returned at the end of a contract (this may be much more in other cities in Spain, such as Barcelona). Rent prices, of course, will vary by city and location. The general rule of thumb is that the closer to the city center, the more expensive it will be. You’ll also have to pay utilities, called ‘gastos’. These can include water, electricity, Internet and building upkeep.

Other things to consider is that your flat may not have heat or air conditioning, and also may use a butane tank for hot water. In addition, ovens and tumble dryers aren’t commonplace.

Banking And Money Matters In Spain

Expect to spend quite a bit to get into your own apartment in Spain.

Money Matters and Banking

If you’re planning on working or renting in Spain, having a bank account will be important to take care of money matters. In general, Spanish banks are open only on weekdays from 8.30am – 230pm and sometimes open on one weeknight a year. They’re closed on national and local holidays and, in the southernmost region, have reduced hours during the hot summer months. Many expats have a local bank account in Spain and an international bank account in their home country.

To open a bank account, you’ll need to do research with the bank that offers you the best benefits and lowest cost for maintenance fees. Keep in mind the availability of ATMs and transfers to your home country. Major credit cards are also accepted in Spain. If you’re making your living in another currency look into international money transfers.

Banks offer accounts for checking (‘corriente’), savings (‘ahorro’) and direct deposit (‘nómina’). If you’re a resident, you can simply take in your resident ID card and a photocopy, and the bank will instruct you on how to finish the task. If you’re not, you can open a temporary account called a ‘cuenta para no residente’ with a passport, though this account will usually be closed after six months.

Finding a Job

It’s no secret that Spain’s economy has suffered from the global crash and that unemployment – particularly amongst young people – is rampant. The age-old need for ‘enchufe’, or connections, mean that finding work can be a challenge.

One of the most common jobs for expatriates is teaching English. Language academies operate in the evenings and offer a flexible way to make money. European and UK workers have the right to work anywhere in Spain, whereas other nationalities will have to be sponsored and granted a work visa to be allowed to work.

Once you’ve secured a job contract – full-time is considered 35 hours and the average salary falling between 18,000 and 25,000 annually – you’ll have to apply for a foreign residence card and enroll in the social security system. Taxes are due on June 30th each year and local unions and regional documentation lay out benefits and rights. Be clear and firm with your employer, and demand to know the rights you have as an employee.

Meeting People Abroad

Spain’s population has a substantial expatriate population, particularly concentrated in big cities, along the coasts and in the islands. Thanks to the Internet, finding them is easy. For starters, use Internations or Expat Café to ask your burning questions before moving, and then look for local groups. Metropolises like Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville have special interest groups and social communities, such as Costa Women in Malaga/Costa del Sol and The American Women’s Club in Seville. These groups are a fantastic way to meet others and start integrating into life in Spain, while still retaining contacts in your native language.

By nature, most Spaniards are friendly and welcoming. English-speaking expats have a definite advantage when it comes to making friends, too. Larger cities often have ‘intercambios’, which are language exchanges held at local bars or other public places.

Driving In Seville

Driving in Seville

Getting a Driver’s License

Spain’s public transportation – particularly train travel – is extensive and well-connected, as well as affordable. Still, having a car grants freedom and is an even easier way to move around, but note that automatic cars are not the norm.

Citizens of the UK and other European countries are able to drive with their European license, but Americans and Canadians cannot. If you’re only in Spain a short time, consider getting an International Driver’s License to avoid a fine of up to 500 if stopped by the police.

In order to apply for a driver’s license, you’ll have to sign up for driving school and do both a theory exam and practicum classes. They’re often costly, which is why many North American expats risk not getting one. The license will be good for five years, upon which you must renew.

Meeting People In Seville - Expat Life

Meeting People In Seville – Expat Life

Moving to Spain can be challenging and frustrating, yet rewarding and enriching – just don’t forget to pack your sense of humor!

Upon receiving an offer to work at a radio news broadcast center in Chicago, Cat Gaa turned it down and turned up at the Consulate of Spain. Five years and daily cravings for Cruzcampo later, she writes at Sunshine and Siestas ( about life in Sevilla and how to make it happen. Follow her on instagram and twitter at @sunshinesiestas

10 Responses

  1. Very good tips for expats as well as travelers. Great insight. I agree that Spain is a challenging place at first. But when you gradually get used to it, it’s worth every exhausting part of the move.

  2. admin says:

    Yes, there is a big learning curve at the beginning.

  3. Phil says:

    My circumstances are different from some who move to Spain. I became a Spanish citizen under the Ley de Memoria Historica, which gave citizenship to children and grandchildren (me) whose family was impacted by the Spanish Civil War. You mentioned that a driver’s license from the US is not acceptable but the EU’s are. Would this apply to me. We are planning to move to Andalucia in 2014. If anyone at “the Scoop” has any knowledge please let me know.

    I enjoyed the article which is timely for us. Saludos

  4. admin says:

    Yes Phil, you would still have to take your driving test here AGAIN! Sorry!

  5. Cat says:

    Phil, I’m studying for my driving test in Seville as we speak, and have the theory exam on Monday! If you’ve resided in Spain for more than two years, you’re held to the same standards as EU citizens, meaning you’ll have to get one or risk a hefty fine and a driving ban.

    Just a note, the law has changed and licenses are valid for ten years up until age 65, then must be renewed every five years after that milestone.

  6. Mike Angelo says:

    Cat, thanks for the useful info. I have been thinking about moving to Sevilla as well.
    I was there about two years ago on a tour and loved the place. I was curious about how much one bedroom apartments rent for close to the city center. Can you suggest some
    good, safe areas of the city to live that are not too expensive? Thanks in advance.

  7. admin says:

    Also try Cat on Twitter or Facebook Mike!

  8. Lester Bennett says:

    Just looking over Seville…Luis, who is a Spaniard, and I (Lester-American) will be coming this summer 2016 for my permanent residency (using the Family Book) and Luis’s re-instatement of his architectural license and pension benefits. I have been to Spain often, but not for a while. Luis likes Andalucía and believes that Seville suites our needs for now.

    We are planning to retire somewhere in Spain. He is originally from Galicia, but says the weather there is not so good.

    Any thoughts would be nice.

    Lester Bennett & Luis Martinez Garcia

  9. The Spain Scoop says:

    Lester, try renting apartments short-term for the first six months to a year. Try different areas of Andalucia (Seville, Malaga, Granada) and maybe some other parts of Spain (Barcelona? Girona?). Lots of people rent out their apartments short-term through AirB&B and other services. I’d try a few places before you decide.

  1. August 5, 2014

    real estate agents townsville

    Moving to Seville | The Spain Scoop | Traveling in Spain / Stay in Spain | Blogs About Spain | Spain Festivals | Culture Spain

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge