5 reasons not to live in a city centre

5 years is an eternity to live in the heart of any city, but it’s only since moving slightly out the main centre of Sevilla I wonder how I ever lived there for so long.

Sevilla Cathdral1

View round the back of my old place
Photo by Marco Markovich

Don’t get me wrong, when we first moved to within one minute from the Cathedral, some of the prettiest squares in Sevilla, liveliest places to go out for a beer, and close enough to stumble home after sinking a few pints after watching the premiership footy in an Irish bar, it was great. However, over time, living so deep in the centre made me, and my wife, feel claustrophobic and agitated. I grew to hate Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons when the whole of Sevilla seemed to walk down our street making a racket. I became tired of waking up at 3 a.m. because drunken louts were screaming and shouting below (perhaps karma for my crazy antics when I was a young lad). The fact that we were living in a two-bedroom box flat with only about 30 minutes direct light a day and no window in the kitchen or bathroom definitely didn’t help either.

We’ve only moved a bare 15 minute walk away (which I did about 30 times while moving our gear over), but it feels like we’re in a different city. It makes such a difference to live in a flat with more space and get woken up by natural light and not having to fumble for my mobile to check the time. I feel at peace now and a lot happier, especially after we sorted out the deposit with our stingy landlady.

If you’re thinking of moving abroad and wondering what it’s like to live right in the heart of a city, then here are a few reasons to stay away.

Claustrophobia

Living in a box, living is a funny black box..
Photo by tramp

Claustrophobia

I’ve lived in London, Quito, Sydney and Bangkok, and never used to have a problem with claustrophobia. I used to love the hustle and bustle of getting the tube in London, going for a run round the Opera House in the evenings after work, and appreciated the advantages of being able to pop back home for some food and a beer during Sevilla’s manic festival, Semana Santa.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, and now have a baby to look after and protect, but by the end of my time living in the heart of Sevilla I’d had enough of crowds, noise, and confined spaces. Now I’m out of the centre, where the avenues are wider and my flat looks out into the world, I feel much less cramped up.

Prices

We were paying €700 a month for a two-bed place with a electricity bill of almost €100 a month and water €100 every three months. Here we have 3 bedrooms, a decent terrace where we can sit and have a breakie in the sun in the morning and a few glasses of wine in the summer evenings and we only pay €650 (water included). I’m still waiting for the gas and electricity bills though. Food and eating out is a smidgen cheaper too. If you’re looking to save some pennies, then find a place out of the centre.

Neighbours

I grew up in a reasonably friendly area in North London where you normally greeted your neighbours (apart from those next door) and generally said hello to people you didn’t know when you were walking about, unless they had a skinhead.

I’m not sure if it was the people in the block where I was living, but I found them really stuck up. They would say hello, once prompted, but on several occasions they would ‘hacer la loca’ – turn their head – if they saw me or my wife out and about.

Within a week of living here we have already struck up a relationship with three of the neighbours, admittedly they have kids so there is that common connection, but still they seem a lot more open and approachable than the pompous lot in my old block.

Appreciate the centre for what it is

Now that we’re not right slam bang in the middle of the centre, when we go back it feels as though we are visiting a new place. Sevilla is an amazingly pretty city, especially as the sun is out most days, but living there can get annoying. It’s a relief now I can step away and breathe more here.

Now I feel as if I can appreciate it more at the weekend when I’m not busy running about or trying to dodge past people to get to work. I hope to explore Sevilla more now that I’m a reasonable distance from the heart.

Noise

Okay, so I can hear trucks and motorbikes whizzing past now and then, and during our first weekend some gypsies decided to sit under our balcony and have a jamming flamenco session, but generally there’s a lot less noise here than in our old place. We were also living right above a warehouse owned by Robles, one of the poshest restaurants in town. Over the years the noise of slamming doors, loud conversation by the muppet workers and the sound of their lift going up and down and vibrating through the house, was enough to drive us mad.

Rubbish in Sevilla

Couple of Cyclops eyes.
Photo by Gonzalez-Alba

Where ya bin?

The recycling system in England amazes me. A different colour box for each type of waste seems like a lot of work, but the benefits are astounding. Where I was situated in the centre had absolutely no recycling. The only bins were these stupid grey machines which looked like giant Cyclops eyes popping out the ground. The most irritating aspect was that the hole to put the rubbish in was only big enough to fit a normal sized carrier bag. This normally meant that it got blocked up as people tried to force in giant black sacks, so everyone just left their rubbish on the floor next to it. At times I had to touch the gooey base of my own rubbish bag in order to push it in properly too.

I felt guilty every time I threw my rubbish away because there was no way of recycling. Where I am now, there are huge containers for glass, paper and waste, still not as good as back home, but a massive improvement.

So there you go. Those are my reasons for not living right in the heart of a city. Maybe I just had a bad experience and certain conditions were getting to me a tad. I’d be interested to know what you guys think about living in cities in Spain, or anywhere else in the world for that matter. Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts.

3 thoughts on “5 reasons not to live in a city centre

  1. I guess it’s just more expensive in Seville than where I am, far from the city – houses to rent here for 250 euros a month (from people who are desperate to sell usually…) As for the rubbish, recycling aside, I love the fact that the rubbish is collected 6 days a week. My parents in the south west of England wait 2 weeks for collections.
    I’m glad you have found somewhere where you can both be happy! 🙂

  2. Funny, I have the same issues when I lived on HK Island ~ the crowds and claustrophobia got to me…great to experience but moving to an outlaying island made things much easier.

    One day, sure would like to see Spain…

    1. Yeah I bet HK is pretty mental at times. I lived in Bangkok for 7 months and that was claustrophobic too. Yeah you have to visit Spain, great country to experience. Thanks for writing and following!

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