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An Expat's Guide to Living in Córdoba, Spain

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If the fortune teller that stopped me as a tourist at the Alcazar in Seville back in 2014 would’ve told me that five years later, I would be living in Córdoba, Spain, I would’ve guffawed in her face. At the time, I had maybe six passport stamps under my belt and hadn’t batted an eye at the notion of living abroad long-term. 

Eight short but adventure-packed years later, I’ve lived in three different countries, earned 58 passport stamps, and lost count of how many solo trips I’ve taken. But in this guide, I will take my advice one step further for those courageous enough to follow my serial expat steps through Andalusia to discover more about the city of Córdoba, Spain. 

Discovering Córdoba, Spain

Photo by Jean-Baptiste D.

Those that discover Córdoba as tourists get a sneak peek into this delectably warm culture and the lives of Spanish people. Throughout the entire south, visitors will find streets lined with orange trees and cities of all sizes bathed in white paint. 

The history of Córdoba is phenomenal and runs deep through the cobblestone back alleyways of this old city. Once occupied by practicing Muslims, Christians, and Jewish religions simultaneously, the runoff of each is still felt, seen, and tasted throughout the city. 

While many expats love living in Gran Canaria, Barcelona and Madrid, Córdoba had my heart.

Culture in Córdoba, Spain

Córdoba is a special region for many reasons, king among them is its diversity as a result of the different cultures in its history. As the capital of the province, Córdoba is where most bureaucratic happenings take place, as well as any major cultural festivities.

Behave Like A Local

Moving around Córdoba city like a local is completely doable if you know the right places to go. If you want to blend in consider having a picnic in the park, going for a long walk, or throwing back a few cañas near the Roman Bridge built in the 1st century.

Blending in is easier still when you know the language and dialect of the south. For example, the bathroom is not only called el baño, but los aseos, or el servicio. Practice dropping the letter “s” in words like gracias and Buenos Días because locals rarely pronounce them in el acento Andaluz.

Of course, there’s nothing quite as influential for learning foreign languages as immersing yourself in a culture entirely. 

For the best chance at really integrating into your community and making friends with locals, learning Spanish will take you far. I recommend you start learning a few months before your move online with Mondly. This online language platform teaches basic vocabulary, grammar, and even helps you speaking with practice conversations. Start speaking Spanish with Mondly today.

Moving to Córdoba, Spain

What made me choose Spain over other countries in Europe, you ask? I’m happy to answer this question for you. Not only do I adore the Spanish culture and lifestyle, but I also appreciate the weather and the low cost of living.

Originally, I relocated to Spain as an Auxiliar de Conversación, a teaching assistant program sponsored by the Spanish Ministry of Education. But there are several ways to get a visa in Spain if moving to Córdoba entices you.

The short-term stay option (aka the tourism visa) for U.S. citizens entering Europe will soon be changing. As Europe comes to terms with Brexit, traveling in and out of the U.K. as well as Schengen countries will have new regulations starting in November of 2023. Until that time, a valid passport, a declaration of tourist intentions, and financial means to support the trip are all that are necessary for visits up to 90 days.  

But if a long-term stay in Spain is something that interests you, there are a handful of options available. Each one differs, however, depending on nationality. And if you marry or are marrying a Spaniard, then the visa game changes entirely. 

Photo by Saad Chaudhry

Available Long-Term Visas in Spain

Most of the visas in Spain require the applicant to apply in their home country via a Spanish Consulate. Each visa also has its own tax (TASA) attached to it; be sure to read the fine print during the application process.

Study or Student Visa

Those who are enrolled full-time at an accredited campus can apply for a Spanish study or student visa. So can volunteers or interns for study programs, au pairs, and teaching assistants (Auxiliars).

Non-Working Visa

If your savings account can support you for an entire year without working, this type of visa might be of interest to you. But know that this visa does not come with working capabilities.

Self-Employed Visa

If you would like to live in Spain and legally earn income, then a self-employed (or autonomo) visa is required. But only for non-EU or EFTA citizens. Those residents of the latter are eligible to live and work within Spain as a country of the EU without the need for a work permit or visa. For freelance earners in recent years, this was the best visa around until the country decided to launch the highly anticipated digital nomad visa. 

Digital Nomad Visa

The coveted digital nomadic visa is finally being moved through the Spanish parliament and being made available to applicants come March 2023. The biggest difference between the two is the length of the visa and the taxing options for monies earned. They'll soon join the long list of European countries with a digital nomad visa.

Transitioning from one visa to another is possible but may require the guidance of a lawyer depending. It’s also worth noting that the rules for accompanying spouses and offspring may differ between visa options and require additional paperwork and fees. 

Photo by Jean-Baptiste D.

How to Find Housing

When searching for a place to live in the city, I recommend beginning the search online. Idealista is the most common website to hunt for the perfect place to call sanctuary in Spain.

An experienced expat tip: It’d behoove you to be in the country when attempting to secure housing from this website. 

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Cost of Living in Córdoba

How much you spend living abroad is individual, depending on the desired comforts and conveniences. Spain remains one of the most affordable countries in Europe alongside other countries such as Portugal and Slovenia. 

An easy way to manage finances is to choose the neighborhood wisely. The closer to the city center you get, the more expensive (sometimes) the rent can be. Additional factors include a vehicle, any domestic pets, and the expense of electricity.

Photo by Gabriel Trujillo

Here’s a breakdown of the popular barrios in Córdoba to visit and/or live with easy access to the city center:


Home to the city's Jewish population from the 10th to the 15th century, this neighborhood houses the most popular landmark of the city, the Mezquita. This mosque-turned-Catholic cathedral is the reason why thousands flock to the streets of Córdoba.

San Andres-San Pablo

This is the busiest neighborhood in the city and is the backdrop of dozens of tapas shops, and restaurants. If you can handle the noise and clutter of the area, the possibility for total cultural immersion exists as most people work in and around the area. 

San Basilio

Nearest to the old town, this neighborhood is known as Alcazar Viejo. The traditional white-washed buildings here are stuffed tightly together and the patios overflow with flowers. 

Santa Maria

Plazas galore, enchanting cobblestone streets, and the famous patio feria happen in Santa Maria. Also located in the heart of the city, this is a charming area for a solo person (female) living abroad. 

Moving Abroad Solo

For those debating moving to the city solo (I applaud your moxie) concerns can fall to safety and security. Córdoba is a larger city so petty crimes happen, but in my opinion, they pale in comparison to massive cities like Madrid.

Keep money, essential items, and those things of value hidden or at home when out and about. English isn’t widely spoken in Córdoba, but thanks to tourism, it’s around. But I cannot stress enough the importance of learning the language should living in Córdoba be a goal.

Exploring in Córdoba, Spain

Photo by Jean-Baptiste D.

Thanks to the solid infrastructure in Andalusia, exploring the entire province is a breeze, and trust me, there are plenty of things to do in Córdoba! Overland travel options offer both short and long-distance connections from big cities to small villages making it simple to visit as much of the province as possible.

With comparable temperatures almost the entire year, it’s always a good day for an adventure in Al Andalus.

Must-See Sites in the City

There are plenty of activities to fill a day, a weekend, or an entire month in Córdoba. The history of the area alone can keep you busy for a week. Perhaps you also relate to being excited by wandering the streets of a place that once belonged to ancient Rome. 

If traveling on a budget, consider seeing as much as you can for free, i.e. free walking tours, early entry options, and giveaways. But no visit to Córdoba is complete without seeing the following:

  1. The Mezquita — Also known as the mosque-cathedral. Originally a mosque that was converted into a cathedral, the latter being built over the former. Take your time snapping pictures of this architectural phenomenon. 
  2. The Old Town — Or the city center is a must to enjoy the sounds of the language and the busyness of the atmosphere. Remember, it's customary to eat dinner closer to Midnight in Spain and many eateries will charge extra for served bread. 
  3. Mercado Victoria — The solid choice for traditional and international gastronomic options — it's not the best selection as a vegan option, but there are plenty of meatless tapas to go around. But expect to pay higher prices for services at this one-stop-eating shop.
  4. Plaza de La Corredera — The Castilion-style plaza is the only one of its kind in the southern region. The plaza is the place to go for fun, traditional restaurants for food with great prices, and live flamenco shows.

Public Transport System

Within the city, the transit company, Aucorsa, offers several active bus lines. The exact lines, prices, and departure times are displayed at each bus stop or can be verified on their website.  Most of the places in the province are walkable, but for those destinations of interest a little further out, grab the bus or train.

The train station is well-located in the suburb, roughly ten to fifteen minutes on foot to the center. And connects you to dozens of Spanish cities in the province worth including on your itineraries such as Lucena, Priego de Córdoba, and Baena

Is Moving to Córdoba in Your Future?

A year living in Córdoba is a blip in time, but more than enough to know it’s worthy of consideration. Whether you’re debating relocating to Spain solo to live your best life as an Auxiliar as I did, as a family, or couple, Córdoba is worth deliberation. 

With warm weather, a laidback lifestyle, and a food culture that will make anyone swoon, Spanish living is waiting for you. 

Hero photo by Jean-Baptiste D.

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