Welcome to the Expat Interview Series! I’ve reached out to expats in different countries to hear why people might choose to move abroad, and how they do it. If you want to know more about moving to a particular country this is the place. Check out the archive of Expat Interviews for more!
Ah, Spain. Land of sun, siestas, and sangria. I lived in Almería in the south of Spain for a year teaching English and I absolutely loved the Andalusian lifestyle. I’m excited to share another expat experience in Spain, this time from a city famous for another of my favourite things about Spain, flamenco!
They say the only thing that’s holding Seville back from being the best city to live in Spain is a beach. So let’s see what Ania from Ania Travels has to tell us about living in Seville…
Tell us about yourself
Czesc! I’m Ania (An-ya) a 26-year-old Polish-American solo travel junkie. I’m a sushi eating, wine drinking, beauty loving, adventure freak! I’ve quit my 9-5 corporate life and salary for a budget and carry-on. I am a traveler with a purpose to inspire.
I fell in love with traveling at a very young age. I was only two when my parents first put me on a flight to America and decided that we will be Americans. I spent a few summers in Poland and way too many summers going to Wisconsin Dells. We didn’t grow up with a lot of money so my parents could never provide a proper family vacation. But we dealt with what we had and I am very grateful for that.
I always knew there was a little travel bug in me. As I got older the local trips with friends turned into weekend trips to Florida that turned into week long trips in Mexico. I knew travel was my real passion. This is what made me happy.
The wanderlust only grew stronger and the trips with friends started becoming solo weekend trips. My friends couldn’t take off work or couldn’t afford to come with me but that didn’t stop me. I now had a taste of the world and I wanted to see it all.
At 22 I set off on my first international solo trip. I was able to find myself and my real passions on this trip. I came back different, I was more mature, I had a different outlook on life and people, and I knew what it meant to appreciate a different culture. This trip was a domino effect and I planned an international trip every year since then.
Only 4 quick years passed and the wanderlust bug overpowered me. I came to a point in my career where I was hating corporate America and myself. I’ve worked 80+ hours a week and all for what? Of course, so I can save money and travel. However, it didn’t make me happy. I could either look for another job or take a complete leap of faith and go off on my own.
So I booked a one-way ticket to the world, put my apartment into storage, sold my car, and took a carry-on with me. I continued with my graphic design but also started an entrepreneurial venture with a media company focusing on the travel and hospitality industry as well as my travel blog.
What made you decide to move to Seville, Spain?
I went to a very small art college where I never had an option to do a study abroad program. That is one thing I regretted for a very long time, so as an adult I knew I wanted to spend at least a year abroad somewhere in the world. However, adulthood got in the way and I never took that opportunity. I started a career at a very young age. As I worked a corporate job I managed to do two big trips (8-10 days) a year and two weekend trips a month. I have always loved traveling it has been a passion of mine for years. It’s what made me feel alive between the monotony of a 9-5.
I finally came to a point in my career where I was burned out. I was in the field for 8.5 years already and I was started to hate graphic design in general because I hated corporate America so much. I knew I needed to do something different. I had enough freelance clients of mine that I thought I venture off on my own and work completely for myself. And I did.
There were a few things that factored in where I wanted to live. I’m originally from Poland and my heart has always belonged somewhere in Europe. Every time I took a trip to Europe I felt like I was at home, it didn’t matter where in Europe I was, it just felt like home.
On the other hand, I spent 25 years in Chicago. I was sick of intense weather conditions and snow!!! So when choosing a place to live I wanted it to be in Europe and with warm weather all year round. I’ll be chasing the sun for a while.
I have never been to Spain before arriving here but I’ve always loved the Spanish culture, food, music, and I spoke a little bit of Spanish so Spain made a lot of sense to me.
Read More: How to Choose a Country to Move to
Tell me about the cost of living in Spain
There are expensive cities in Europe and there are cheap cities in Europe. Seville falls in the middle. I pay $500 for a room in a shared flat and I live about 20 minutes from the center. Shared rooms in the center are around $800 and full flats start at $1000.
Seville is a small enough city that you can walk practically anywhere. I haven’t used any means of public transpiration since being here other than going to the airport which costs €4. A taxi to the airport costs €25 however if you use Cabify (essentially like an Uber) it’s €13. If I’m out late at night and don’t want to walk home, a cab would cost €12 to get home (5 miles).
- Meal at a restaurant: €9
- Cost of beer at a restaurant: €2.50
- Cost of wine at a restaurant: €5
- Cost of bread: €0.85
How do you make a living in Seville?
I have a couple different sources of income, all which are online and all I need is good wifi connection.
- I do freelance graphic design work for all sorts of clients.
- I have a media agency focusing on travel and hospitality industries.
- I’m a beauty consultant at a beauty counter.
- I have a travel blog.
Do you need a visa to live in Spain?
You do need a visa to live here, however, I have dual citizenship Polish/American so I didn’t have to worry about that.
Read More: How I Moved to Spain to Teach English
What’s the social scene like in Seville? How easy is it to make friends?
I’m a very outgoing person and I can make friends practically anywhere, my friends always joke that they can put me in a room with a rock and I’ll come out there being best friends with it. Sevilla has been a bit more difficult though.
Most Spanish people that are my age (in their mid to late 20’s) don’t speak English. Since my Spanish isn’t the best it’s been a bit tougher to make friends. However, I live by a university that holds a lot of exchange students so I’ve made a lot of friends that way. They are all younger than me (and they sure do make me feel old when I’m with them haha) it’s still nice to have some friends.
I’ve also used dating apps to meet people here.
Read More: 5 Ways to Make Friends When You Move Abroad
What’s the best thing about living in Spain?
Sunshine, wine, siesta, tapas!
Like I’ve mentioned I’m chasing the sun for the next unknown time so constant sunshine here is amazing. We’ve had a couple rainy days but overall the weather here is amazing.
I’m a huge wineo and foodie so having tapas and delicious wine every day is amazing. Then if you drink too much a siesta is totally appropriate.
What’s the hardest thing about living in Seville?
I really wish my Spanish was better. I can get by and have a basic Spanish conversation, I can ask for directions and order food but I can’t have an intelligent conversation with someone in Spanish. The communication has been the hardest part for me since not many people speak English here. But I’ve managed to make friends and I can get by.
How is your new home different from your old one?
It’s two completely different cultures. I come from a big city (Chicago) where it’s constantly go go go go go, nonstop all day every day. There are tons of different food options at your fingertips. The weather goes to two extremes. There will always be millions of people nearby, it’s the whole hecticness of a big city.
Whereas here, like many other cities in Europe it’s way more relaxed. Siestas are completely appropriate in the middle of the day, drinking is totally acceptable at any time of day. There are way less people here. The weather is always perfect. People are always tan and beautiful too.
If we had just one day in Seville what should we not miss?
Other than wine and tapas which you would do either way I suggest:
Royal Alcazar Palace: This is a Moorish royal palace dating back to the 12th century. The place is absolutely breathtaking with its art and architecture. You can spend hours there just being lost and admiring its beauty. There is also a royal garden that has a cafe where you can enjoy a glass of vino and people watch. But I think the best part about it… Parts of Game of Thrones were filmed here.
Plaza de España: Beautiful beautiful beautiful plaza where you can come and relax or take a tour to get to know more about. It’s absolutely breathtaking and another location where GOT was filmed at.
The Mushroom (Metropol Parsasol): Not quite sure why people call this the Mushroom, as it looks nothing like one, but this piece of architecture is one of the most intricate and coolest things I’ve ever seen. Be sure to take the lift up as it is quite high. Once on top, you can see the entire city from a perspective you’ve never seen. Sit down, relax, and have a glass of wine while people watching from above.Can you share your best local/insider tip about where you live?
Can you share your best local/insider tip about where you live in Spain?
Don’t come here in July and August, it gets super super hot here that even the locals leave. It averages 55 C (130F) every single day between these months. Also, brush up on your Spanish before coming here. You’ll be fine without in the center touristy area but anything outside will be difficult.
If you could give one piece of advice to people looking to live in Seville what would it be?
It’s a beautiful city that has absolutely stolen my heart. Everything from the culture, food, people and everything in between is incredible about this place. If you’re thinking of moving to a place with a lot of culture, great weather, and that smells like orange blossoms definitely consider Sevilla.