Categories
All posts Travel

Living Expenses in Spain – Seville

It’s only been a little over a week since I moved to Seville, Spain. This is a post on the living expenses in Spain, particularly Seville. I’ll rewrite this post again in the future, after living here for a few months, and see how it compares.

 

Living Expense Comparison

The only other recent place in which I’ve lived is Portland, Oregon. So I thought I would plug in some numbers into Numbeo’s comparison calculator.

That’s a 63% higher cost of living in Seville, Spain compared to Portland, Oregon in the USA.

Looking over each category in detail, the numbers are fairly accurate. For example, rent in Seville is averaged to be $660/month and $1,520/month in Portland, Oregon.

Interestingly, day-to-day stuff is much cheaper in Seville, Spain. It’s the stuff that people rarely purchase such as cars, TV’s, cell phones, fast food, Nike’s which are far more expensive.

Portland has cheap beer and cheap food compared to other major metropolitan cities. Still, it’s far more expensive than here. But the big-ticket items are cheaper in Portland.

 

Living Expenses in Spain

Housing, food, and transportation – the main three expense categories for most individuals. These easily make up more than 50% of a person’s expenses.

I am writing this post from the perspective of a US citizen moving to Spain, either full-time or part of the year. Having earned the higher wages in the US is the key advantage, of course.

Housing

There are 1M € homes on the same street where I am renting my 500 €/month apartment. There are also 50,000 € condos in the same livable good neighborhoods.

As for neighborhoods. Sure, there are shitty neighborhoods here in Seville, but the variance just isn’t the same as you see in the US.

There are abundant advertisements for 400 €/month ($480) apartments in Seville. While in Portland, the cheapest rent for an apartment would be $900/month (750 €) in a safe neighborhood.

Food

People are skinnier here which means they consume fewer calories = less food = less money spent on food.

Healthy food is abundant and it’s cheap. Eating less food generally means having lower living expenses in Spain.

I’m vegan so can’t comment on the meat, milk, cheese, and egg scene here. But I can get an avocado, tomatoes, cauliflower, rice, beans, mushrooms, onions, and potatoes for cheaper than in the US.

I can buy a massive baguette for $1.20.

For eating out, a ham sandwich would cost around $3.60.

A small glass of beer would be $2.00.

I can buy a bottle of wine for $3.00 all day long.

One of the fancier restaurants here in the non-touristy area has dishes in the 10-16 € range.

Transportation

There are a ton of dedicated bike lanes here, just like Portland. Since the terrain is flat, there would be no need for multiple gears. But there are plenty of people who have electric bikes, though not as much as I saw in Barcelona.

The bus, metro, and train system is solid here. I can get a 1-month pass for 35 euros.

For longer distances, I can either take the trains or use the abundant carpool service called BlaBla Car. The train ticket from Madrid to Seville cost me 72 euros for an upgraded seat which included food and drinks. The trip was 2.5 hours.

Cell Phone

I purchased a prepaid SIM card (no contract) from Vodafone with 7GB for 15 €. The data speed is impressive when I tether through my cell phone.

I have free WiFi at home since I am renting my Seville apartment through AirBnb. With these AirBnb rentals, even when you rent it for a long time, utilities and WiFi are often included.

Internet

You can get a pretty decent service here for around $40/month which is fairly comparable to what home internet costs in Portland.

Living expenses in Spain are already low. One could make the argument that it would be fine to spring for home internet. However, with the ease of a mobile hotspot, I don’t see the point.

Healthcare

I am paying 90 € per month because I had to get the zero-deductible plan. I also had to include a private health insurance plan on top of the public health plan. Otherwise I would pay far less.

In the future I will shop around for something cheaper. Realistic prices are 35 €/month for foreign residents.

Living expenses in Spain are probably low because the government doesn’t spend as much resources on healthcare as we do in the US.

Utilities

Electricity is slightly more expensive in Seville than Portland. With more sun than SoCal, I don’t see any solar panels on the roofs.

The heat is crazy but even in 100 degree weather I’ve been comfortable not turning on the A/C, utilizing a fan instead. I realize I might be an anomaly.

It doesn’t get too cold here so I don’t expect to be using too much electricity for heating.

 

Currency Exchange Rates

If we’re going to talk about the cost of living of one country to another, it’s important to take into account the currency exchange rates as well.

But exchange rates can also be misleading. Media often uses this irresponsibly to make for a sexy headline: “Poverty is rampant in Guatemala! The average family earns no more than $25 a month!”

Current EUR:USD exchange rates are in the 1.17 range. Therefore, the US dollar has 85% the buying power of the euro. Even though Portland has a 63% higher cost of living, I would lose 15% to conversion rates.

In fact, this conversion rate likely will be higher once you account for fees. My own US bank gave me an exchange rate of 1.24 instead of the 1.18 rate at the time.

Despite this, Seville is a cheaper place to live, with room to spare.

 

Income Differences

If the average person in a poor country only earns $100 a month, for example, then labor wages are incredibly low. Getting your bicycle fixed, your clothes repaired, your equipment serviced, and your farm staffed, all will be cheaper.

I’ve discussed income difference in US and Spain in previous posts. The best and most recent example I had was an orthopedic trauma surgeon who earns around 80,000 € per year. Their US counterpart would earn closer to $500,000 and likely much more.

Many salaries here for labor and professionals are capped. Unemployment rates are also higher in Spain than the US. But the reporting methods the US uses are possibly a little shady compared to how other countries report unemployment.

 

Healthcare

There is ¹healthcare and ²health care and finally, there is ³health.

Health

Health is for the most part up to the individual person. Eating well, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding stress.

Healthcare

Healthcare is the health delivery system of the particular country. This would include physician availability, oversight, regulation, and ancillary services such as physical therapy, psychotherapy, and pharmacy.

Health Care

Health care is the actual delivery of medical services to an individual. I rely on my physician for my health care but on myself for maintaining my health.

Finally, I rely on my government to regulate the insurance companies in order for the healthcare system to function. Though recently I have decided to opt out of the US healthcare system because it’s no longer equitable.

 

Geoarbitrage

Geographic arbitrage or geoarbitrage describe the concept of taking advantage of higher income or lower expenses by moving to another location.

The move doesn’t have to be permanent. I could spend my 40’s living in Spain and then return to the US at 50 to work. By 50 I will have even better retirement options due to IRS catch-up rules.

Or, one can earn a high income in a high-paying country such as the US and retire in a lower-cost country such as Spain, Thailand, or Philippines.

For the rest of us, we can stretch the spending power of our USD by living in other countries. Spain knows this. Which is why many of their banks offer special accounts for those who are willing to transfer their pension deposits into that particular account.

Countries such as Spain also offer pension visas and other types of wealth visas.

The point of writing such a post is to make you aware of options. I hope that every reader finds sustainable and fulfilling work which they will continue to perform for a long time, making no object of money. Maybe you’ll never need to sacrifice spending but at least the option is available.

12 replies on “Living Expenses in Spain – Seville”

Interesting, there are a few other vegan readers of this blog. I have been vegan for the past 6 years, vegetarian before that. It’s cost effective and honestly just simpler when it comes to grocery shopping. My reasons weren’t financial, mostly because I don’t want animals to suffer. I’m not sure if I’m fully against humans eating animals, I think in the right setting that’s okay but keep animals in crowded spaces and make them suffer all their lives just so we can slaughter them in masses… dunno, just doesn’t feel right.
My staples are rice, beans, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, onions, and fruits. I was a little more into the processed fake meats but my BP was getting up in the 170/120’s from all the salt and since I’ve cut it out and made a few other changes I’m down to 100-110/50-60.

That is quite an improvement in your blood pressure! Yeah, my wife and I eat a whole food plant based diet too. We have pretty much the same staples, but we also eat a lot of oatmeal and sweet potatoes. And we primarily eat this way to reduce animal suffering and to be optimize health.

Thanks for the detailed info. Watching from the east coast (US), but we lived off of Hawthorne in PDX for a few years. Also Veg and Climber but older and looking to execute a geo arbitrage strategy to Spain for the climbing. So, how is the rock gym there, what does it cost and have you gotten outside yet? Sevilla, Granada are on the list but so are many areas up north.

Hola Stump! I heart the shit out of PDX, great little city for the money.
I don’t do any outside climbing, maybe I’ll get into it eventually. I mostly boulder and the gym here is fun. Got a little cafe inside where everyone has a beer between sessions. Nice little outside area for smoking since… everyone here smokes.
It’s awesome getting a membership at these Spanish gyms. You walk in, tell them your name, they give you a card, they charge you for however many months you want. The whole process takes less than microwave popcorn and you walk in. You don’t sign shit. You don’t watch a video. You don’t need to even get certified, you’re more than welcome to fall off any height you’re comfortable with.
I paid 43 euros for 2 months. Normally it’s 30/month but the Sevillians are all out on vaca because it’s summer so it’s cheaper.

The Barcelona gym of Chris Sharma’s was more interesting because it’s close to amazing outdoor rock climbing and people planned weekend excursions there all the time. His gym was 50 euro a month.

Curious, are you planning a longer stay or a short one in Spain?

Wow 50 euro for the Sharma gym! Hrmmm it seemed small to me from their website but I guess there are perks as you mention. Beer at the climbing gym, wow that would definitely be a first for me though I think I recall seeing people drinking beer a few times at the Portland Rock Gym on a hot summer day when the garage doors were open, maybe they were just lifting weights. Anyway, lots of good information here and my Wife and I are reading through it all. Thanks for the posts on the Visa, that will come in handy and hopefully save me a lawyer fee. I’ll buy you a pack of smokes at some point to make up for it. I assume you’ll be smoking by then right? 🙂

Yes – I’m thinking Winston’s because that’s the popular brand here. And the packaging even has colorful pictures of the dead, cancers sticking out of people’s necks, and dissected lungs.

I’ll definitely help out any way I can with the visa stuff. I ended up hiring a lawyer to do it for me for $500 as you read, but I think it’s very doable yourself.

On duration, not sure but seeing as our strategy is to stay out of the US for 10-15 years to keep expenses low so that our principal can grow more I would have to say longer is probably in the cards.

love your posts. a lot. setting up telehealth right now. the fiancee somehow moved abroad before i did! we’re excited about it. question from left field, but, how feasible would it be to host a wedding in southern spain? you have insight on everything, so i figured i’d ask this shameless question!

Oh man, the fiancee jumped the gun, awesome!
Keep working at the telehealth stuff, it can be tedious to get started but once you do, it’s a cash cow.

As far as feasibility, you’ll have no roadblocks socially or culturally – weddings are a big deal over there but fortunately they aren’t commercialized the way they are in the US. Churches are the favorite place for weddings and people dress in the most vibrant colors, it’s very fun to watch.

Getting anything done in Spain can feel tedious for an American so you would want to hire a planner there because they know how to get things moving. Remember that few people in Southern Spain are motivated by money so it’s harder to push someone to get something done timely.
Catering, flowers, and transportation won’t be a problem since none of those are expensive in Spain. Timing and weather should be your biggest factor to consider.

If you’re thinking of doing it at a vineyard or mansion then you’ll have a massive selection since lots of rich folks from all over the world, especially Brits, own big ass homes overlooking some gorgeous scenery. Finding a mansion as an event space or even one on AirBnb won’t be a problem and will still be far cheaper than anything stateside.

With a giant mansion you get to have the lodging thing figured out for out of town guests.

Sevilla is a great option and if you want a beach city then there are tons of small villages near the water or something more mainstream but quaint like Cadiz.

I’m sure you can find an event planner overseas who will handle it all for you. Sounds exciting!

wow, dr. mo, i can’t believe you responded this quickly! though, you’ve responded to everyone else so efficiently, so i’m not sure why i’m taken aback; still, i really appreciate it, esp. for a somewhat strange question. and thanks for all the feedback! you rock. i’m even more excited about the telemedicine world now; gives me flexibility to be a wedding planner (alongside an official planner abroad, of course), hah! yeah, biggest thing for us is being able to do a place that’s ‘off the beaten path’ (which andalusia might not be, but who knows) but that also has housing (for the few guests who ACTUALLY are going to make the trip and aren’t just pulling our legs). btw, you’re totally invited; would be so awesome if you came!!

Comments are closed.

× How can I help you?