Live In Seville Spain as an Expat: The Pros & Cons

Seville, Spain (or Sevilla in Spanish) is the vibrant capital of the Andalusia region. It’s a city steeped in rich history and culture, offering an enchanting blend of old-world charm and modern conveniences.

Seville was our first stop in Andalusia and it did not disappoint! We were amazed by the beauty and lively culture.

We picked the perfect time to go because it wasn’t too hot or too cold and it wasn’t during the height of the tourist season. Overall we loved our time there, but our visit wasn’t perfect. Unfortunately, a few aspects of Seville weren’t that appealing to us.

In this article, we dive into the experiences and observations from our visit and share the pros and cons of living in Seville as an expat.

Watch Our Video About The Pros & Cons of Seville, Spain

What We Loved About Seville, Spain

There’s a lot to appreciate about this romantic city, starting with:

Safety and Peacefulness

Spain ranks high on the Global Peace Index coming in at #32 on the list for 2023. During our stay in Seville, we felt secure wandering the streets day and night. We observed solo travelers, women, and even children walking by themselves and out after dark.

Beautiful Winter Weather

Monumento a San Fernando Seville, SpainWe visited in November and the weather was warm and dry, with a lot of sunshine and just a touch of rain on one day. Seville is a great place to spend the winter months unless you really like snow and cold!

Walkability and Bike-Friendliness

Seville exudes a big-city vibe while maintaining a compact and highly walkable layout. Many streets are designated pedestrian-only zones.

The city is flat and, outside the historic center, the sidewalks are wide and even, making walking easier and more wheelchair accessible. However, some of the streets in the historic center are narrow and you’ll have to share the road with cars so be sure to stay alert.

We were also impressed by the extensive network of bike lanes and the amount of cyclists and scooters zipping around the streets. Visitors and locals can find bike and scooter rentals all over the city. We didn’t expect two-wheeled transportation to be so popular!

Convenient Public Transportation

Seville offers a reliable public transportation system, including local buses, taxis, and ride-sharing services like Uber. If you’re traveling further outside of the city, Seville has a modern and reliable train station.

We took the train from Seville to Granada and it was affordable, easy, and relaxing. The station is in the heart of Seville and it is clean and easy to navigate. One thing to note is that your luggage must pass through a security screening but that process was quick and painless.

Rich History and Culture

With a legacy spanning over 2,800 years, Seville is steeped in history and cultural heritage. Evidence of its storied past can be seen in landmarks such as the Cathedral and Palace, as well as remnants of Roman and Moorish influence scattered throughout the city.

We were in awe of the medieval city walls and the enduring legacy of flamenco, although we heard that flamenco is often geared towards tourists.

Architectural Marvels and Scenic Beauty

We were also awestruck by Seville’s architectural landscape. The city is full of colorful buildings, picturesque rivers, and elegant bridges that are pedestrian, cyclist, and motorist-friendly.

Serene Parks and Outdoor Spaces

Parque de Maria Luisa Seville, SpainThe amount of green spaces and parks enhances the romantic feel of the city.  From the Jardines de Murillo behind the Royal Alcazar Palace to the expansive Parque de Maria Luisa, there’s no shortage of places to unwind and enjoy nature’s beauty.

We particularly enjoyed finding a quiet spot in Parque de los Príncipes to relax, people-watch, and listen to the birds.

Excellent Restaurants

Foodies will love Seville’s diverse culinary scene. We found plenty of options to suit every palate and budget.

However, dining in tourist areas can be more expensive. We recommend venturing a few streets outside the popular areas to find hidden culinary gems serving up authentic flavors at reasonable prices.

Great Shopping

As for shopping, the city offers everything from small specialty stores to a fantastic pedestrian mall that goes on for blocks! Shoppers can find anything and everything thanks to the variety of stores.

The pedestrian shopping areas get crowded but we still felt safe shopping there and we really appreciated that we didn’t have to watch for cars.

Vibrant Community Atmosphere

Mercado in Seville, SpainThroughout our visit, we were struck by the sense of community in Seville, with locals and visitors alike enjoying the city’s offerings. We loved seeing friends and family hanging out over tapas and wine or beer and enjoying the beautiful evenings. There’s an undeniable energy that infuses every corner of the city.

The Downsides of Seville, Spain

Although we loved Seville there are some downsides:

Sweltering Summers

While Seville’s sunny weather is generally pleasant, summers can be scorching, with temperatures often exceeding 95°F (35°C).

Lots of People

Popular tourist areas can become overcrowded, particularly during peak seasons, necessitating patience and strategic planning to avoid the crowds.

We were shocked by the amount of tourists and large tourist groups when we were there, during the supposed low season!

Limited Grocery Options and Higher Dining Costs

Antonio Garcia Hats Seville, SpainVisitors may find the selection at local grocery stores somewhat lacking in variety, requiring trips to additional stores.

We enjoy going on a “scavenger hunt” as we like to call hitting up the small shops to find everything we need.

However, if you prefer one-stop shopping you’ll need to go to one of the larger supermarkets outside the city center.

Dining out in Seville can be relatively pricey in tourist-centric areas, although still more affordable compared to many other destinations.

We ate at a popular restaurant in the heart of the tourist area and ate at other restaurants in the local neighborhoods. The local restaurants were half the price for more food and an overall better dining experience.

Language Barrier

We struggled to understand the Spanish spoken in Seville because the accent is much different than what we are used to in Latin America. The Spaniards speak rapidly and we had trouble understanding some of the words and slang.

Cultural Differences

We didn’t experience a lot of culture shock but we weren’t prepared for some of the cultural differences.

Stores and restaurants close during the day for hours and that meant we needed to change our schedule a bit. We’re used to eating dinner around 6 pm but restaurants close around 4:30 and reopen for dinner at 7 pm or 8 pm. We had to get used to eating later.

Most stores close around 2 pm and reopen between 4 pm and 5 pm, including some grocery stores. Additionally most stores close on Sundays.

We learned the hard way that we shouldn’t wait to buy groceries! A couple of times we wanted to pick up a few things to cook and the stores were closed.

Another cultural difference is tipping. Tipping isn’t expected or required, except in the tourist areas. However, if you do decide to leave a tip, the norm is 10%.

Popular Expat Neighborhoods in Seville, Spain

Seville is a big city with a lot of interesting neighborhoods. Here are a few of our favorites:

Macarena

Setas de Sevilla SpainDuring our stay, we resided in the vibrant Macarena neighborhood, which is conveniently located close to popular areas. We walked to Setas de Sevilla in around 8 minutes and to the cathedral in around 15 minutes.

Macarena has a lot of history, colorful buildings, funky stores, and great restaurants. There’s a nice Mercado and several small grocery stores making it easy to get your essentials without leaving the area.

We also ventured across the river to explore the popular neighborhoods of Tablada and Triana.

Tablada

Tablada is a local neighborhood with a lot of younger people including young families and university students. We saw lots of high-rise condo buildings, and the vibe of the pedestrian mall, Calle Asunción, was quite a bit different because it wasn’t full of tourists.  You’ll find local shops there and they do close in the afternoons and on Sundays.

Triana

Guadalquivir River, Seville SpainTriana is more touristy although it is still popular with locals. We liked walking along the river past all the lively restaurants and the view of the bridges.

This neighborhood has a big Mercado and its own pedestrian mall which is located on Calle San Jacinto. The pedestrian mall has local stores and popular chain stores along with restaurants, bars, and tourist shops.

Final Thoughts

Despite a few drawbacks, we had an amazing time in Seville, Spain. We fell in love with the charm, vibrancy, and history of this incredible city.

However, due to the hot summers and huge amounts of tourists, we wouldn’t want to live there year-round. But it would be great to go back and spend more time exploring Seville and immersing ourselves in the culture.

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