One of the most difficult tasks can be finding a suitable
apartment or living situation once you arrive. You may be
looking to live on your own, with roommates, or a Spanish
family. All are possible, with different degrees of difficulty
and there are plenty of services which will help you locate
housing that's right for you and all come at a price. Note
that the summer months of June and July are good times to
search, while September and the winter months may offer less
options. Still, temporary accommodations such as a cheap hostal
may cost much less in the winter, thus making it a better
time to make the move. Some suggestions are below for sites,
classifieds and more which will help you get settled in:
While you begin your search
While maybe not ideal a cheap hostal can provide you with
affordable housing while searching for a more permanent solution.
You may also have some luck negotiating the price down in
some places if you plan to rent for a month. A few suggestions for cheaper accommodations:
Another idea which may lead to long term housing are shared flats, which you can find through other sites such as sleepngo.com (recommended) and roomates-sevilla.com,
which for a fee will help you locate a housing option according
to your needs. They offer a variety of options which can include: shared flats with other foreigners
or Spaniards, housing with families including meals or your
own apartment. Let them know how much you want to spend and
how long you'll be staying (short to long term options) and
you'll get a chance to move in right away or meet with your
possible family or flat mates before deciding to move in.
- Hostal La Montoreña (Santa
Cruz) - prices start at 20€ per night for a single
in the off-season. Some of the rooms have been recently renovated. The hostal also offers a few small studio apartments for the price of a double room in many hostals.
- Hostal Catedral (Santa
Cruz) - prices start at 25€ per night for a single
in the off-season.
- Huespedes Arguelles (c/Alhondiga) - prices start at 20€ per night for
a single in the off-season.
Hostal (c/Isaac Peral) - further from
the center but clean and modern.
- Private Youth
Hostals (Center) - recent additions include Sevilla Urbany and Oasis Hostal. There is a third on Avda Menedez Pelayo. Cheapest options are sharing rooms.
Where and how to search
Your best option when searching in Sevilla is the El
Cambalache, which publishes classifieds for just about
everything three times a week. It costs around 2€ and
can be purchased at almost any newsstand. The website gives
you listings and prices but does not provide contact information,
and it is much easier to search in the print version. You
always place an ad through the paper if you are looking for
a specific living situation. El ABC Sevilla also publishes
a weekly classified section with plenty of apartment listings.
The website Tucasa.com also has listings for Sevilla and other cities, including
house sales as well as rentals. Finally walking around town
and looking for "Se Alquila" signs with phone numbers
and start calling. We found two of our apartments in different
ways - calling off a number on a sign in the street and through
the classifieds in the ABC classified section.
What to consider in your search
Identify the area you want to live in to narrow your search.
I won’t recommend specific places as each person has
their own needs. Factors which should come into play are proximity
to where you work or study, proximity to nightlife or areas
you frequent, plus typical cost of rent. For instance, some
areas such as around the Alameda, will likely be significantly
cheaper than living in Santa Cruz. This may take some time
to decide, and if you are able to live somewhere for a few
months before you find a long term apartment this is the best.
Start looking exactly where you want to live first, then if
it becomes difficult start looking further out or in your
second choice area.
Once you see an apartment you like try a more detailed inspection
of the area. Pass by several times if you can: during the
morning, the afternoon and later at night. How much noise
is there at these times of day? Is there a bar open late at
night below next to the apartment? Is it a scene for the weekend bottelón? What type of people are walking
around in the area? Does it feel safe to you?
Identify the characteristics you want in your apartment: Do
you want a window or balcony on the street? In most cases
this means more expensive and can also mean more noise. Do
you want a bajo (ground floor) or a first or second
floor? A bajo will be less expensive but likely be
noisier, especially if on a street. Do you need air conditioning?
Heat? How many bedrooms? Separate or larger kitchen?
Make a list of everything you want and then prioritize. Write
down every detail you can think of.
When you are looking at the apartment itself make sure you
ask plenty of questions and have your list handy if possible.
Some things to think about, depending on what your list may
have on it:
Does the kitchen have an oven? Many don’t. How many
burners does the stove/hob have? Does it use city gas
or does it use cylinders? In the case of gas cylinders
you will have to get refills – they deliver but
it can be inconvenient if you run out. Is it vitro cermanica?
This is a glass/cermic top which requires special cookware.
If you are bringing cookware with you make sure it is
safe to use on this surface or you will have to buy it
What size refrigerator do you have – a smaller size
with no freezer or a normal size? If you are sharing the
apartment with several people will this be a problem?
If you like to freeze meats or foods and have a freezer
only big enough to hold an ice tray it may not work for
- Kitchen furnishings: What type
of kitchen ware, plates, etc. are provided?
- Air and heat:
Is the air conditioning central or are they individual
room units? Are they where you would want them to be,
or only in the living room, or just one bedroom? Is there
heat? Many apartments don’t have heat or rely on
the little heater you hide away under the dining room/living
room table. Is it electric heat (more expensive) or gas
heat (less expensive, also less likely in Sevilla)
- Hot water heater:
What type of hot water heater does it have? If you it
heats water with city gas then you will always have hot
water. If it’s electric what size is the tank? A
smaller tank with more than 2 people can mean cold showers
for some? A smaller tank for just two people can also
mean cold showers for the second person!
What type of furniture does the apartment have? A lot
have cheap/poor quality furniture.
What type of bed(s) does it have? Very important if you
have an inflexible owner who won’t change the beds
or allow you to buy your own. You will have to sleep on
it every night, and many mattresses in rental apartments
are of poor quality.
- Your belongings:
If you have your own furniture or want to buy something
would the owner move the existing furniture? Many have
no place else to put it or simply don’t want the
hassle of moving the furniture.
does all of that ugly stuff fit into a closet or some
other place? What can you live with? We gave up one place
because we knew the large dear heads wouldn’t fit
anywhere and the quantity of really, really ugly furniture
and decorations was just too much. We would have filled
the entire second bedroom with it.
- Washing machine:
Does it have a washing machine? Almost all apartments
do and make absolutely sure yours does. It is expensive
to wash clothing at a laundromat, and there are very few
Once you are looking at the apartment take into consideration
a number of things about the building:
What are your neighbors like? Hard to tell on the first
visit but you may be able to get an idea, or simply ask
the owner/agency. Are their mainly older couples? Students?
Families with children? Loud children?
- Size of building:
How many apartments are in the building? Will you have
a lot of neighbors or just a few?
- Roof top:
Is there space on the roof to hang your laundry to dry?
Is it open to everyone or do people have assigned spaces
to hang their laundry? I always like to see the roof of
the building to see what space and views there are. Sometimes
it’s just curiosity.
Does the building have a community satellite dish so you
can subscribe to satellite television? If not can you
have your own individual dish installed?
- Location in the building:
Is the apartment close to the entrance of the building?
If so you may have more noise as people come and go.
Does the building have an elevator? If you live on a higher
floor or have to hang your laundry on the roof an elevator
is a plus. Trust me, you will tire quickly of climbing
several flights of stairs in either case.
Renting your own apartment
If you want to live more independently renting your own apartment
may be the best option. A few things to consider if you choose
Does it seem impossible to get a place if you've simply saved
up enough money but don't have a steady income? Well consider
my friend who found a one-bedroom studio in the center for
300€ per month including all utilities. He paid no deposit
and didn't provide any proof of employment or income. How
did he do this? Through a friend - social capital!
1 month's rent is normally required for an apartment,
with 2 months being common for some furnished apartments.
If you plan to move at the end of your lease (and assuming
you have no damage to the place) it's customary for the
owner to use your deposit towards your last 1 or 2 months
rent instead of refunding it to you at the end of your
For many utilities you should open a bank account for
automatic drafts. Note that most utilities, except for
some internet and cable/satellite services, will charge
you every two months.
Most apartments come furnished in Sevilla with most major
appliances included. Generally a small amount of cookware,
plates, utensils and glasses are also supplied, although
in most cases you shouldn't expect anything special -
those dollar or 20 duros stores are frequented
by landlords searching for kitchen wares.
If you use an agency or inmobilliaria to help
you find an apartment expect a finders fee, anywhere from
50-75% of a month's rent.
- Income Verification:
Be prepared for the landlord to ask for a nomina (much like a check stub from your employer), showing your
monthly income. Some may require an abal, a certified
statement from your bank which acts as a guarantee for
payment of rent. If you have enough money in the bank
or show steady income you won't need this. If you have
none you can pay a monthly fee, like insurance, to the
bank and they will issue an abal to cover you.
Below are some of the common words or phrases used in apartment
listings you'll find online or in classified ads.
|aire acondicionado (a/a)
||rent, as in what you pay each month
||community antenna, generally for local broadcast stations
but also for pay television like Digital Plus
|armario empotrado (a/e)
||official statement from bank verifying income
| calle or c/
||old city center
||kitchen is shared with your living room space
||kitchen with appliances
||commission or agency finder's fee
||community expense for cleaning and repairing building
| comunidad incluido
||rent includes price of community expenses
|corral de vecinos
||doors to each apartment within a central patio
|dormitorio or dorm.
||kitchen appliances such as a refrigerator
| exterior or ext.
||facing the street
||security deposit, generally 1-2 months rent
|habitación or hab.
||agency, real estate company, property management company
|interior or int.
||facing an inside patio
||marble, as in marble floors
||central patio in building
||flat or apartment
||parking spot in garage
||doorman who guards building entrance and cares for
| portero - video portero
||video phone enabling to see who is at the building
||reinforced door with series of locks
||floors, as in marble, wood, tile
|vender (se vende)
Once you are in and settled you want to make sure the transition
is smooth and that you have a good relationship with your
nieghbors, roomates or host family. I think it's more fun
to point out how to make them mad. That way you learn what
not to do. As everyone is a bit different that also keeps
me from having to mention all of the things you should do.
Most of these you never want to do, while others you need
to learn your boundaries first and judge the people around
you. It may be ok to do some of the things I've listed below,
especially on the host family list. Still, you need to be
a good judge of when and if it is appropriate to ask. Making
assumptions about what is ok is, well, ok. But be careful
about big of an assumption you may make. When in doubt don't
be afriad to ask.
How to make your neighbors mad…
- Use the patio or common areas to store your bike, dirty
shoes or items you can’t fit in your apartment.
- Hang out in the patio, sunbathing or reading a book.
Hang out on the community part of the roof where they
dry their laundry. Do this during the day as people come
up to hang their laundry.
- Invite people over for drinks or a party. Do this more
than once. Do this during the evening after 10pm.
- Leave the door to the building open in the afternoon
and at night.
- Leave your laundry hanging on the roof for a few days
because you don’t have time to bring it down.
- Play loud music. Do this in the morning or late at
- When you don’t have a balcony don’t worry,
sit in the window and drink your beer.
- Don’t say good morning or good afternoon when
you pass by your neighbors in the building.
- Decide on your own what to place in community areas
- lay out your plants, perhaps some decorations. Don't
ask anyone about this, just start with your own ideas!
How to make your roommates mad…
- Invite people over to dinner or for drinks. Do this
more than once. Make having visitors a regular thing.
- Have a friend or family member come stay with you for
an extended period of time. Assume this is ok and do not
ask your roomates, and certainly don't let them know they
plan to stay for a long time.
- Take long showers and use up the hot water.
- Make a lot of phone calls. Make them to mobile phones.
Then insist that the bill be divided equally
- Monopolize the fridge space, get everything that will
possibly fit in there.
- Leave the lights on in the room you are not using.
How to make your host family mad…
- Come home very late at night on most nights. Use the
kitchen or make noise.
- Complain about the food, or make a lot of special diet
requests. Don’t be flexible about what, when and
how you eat. Don’t take into account that special
needs for your meals may mean a bigger change in the routine
of your hosts than you think: they may have to learn new
cooking methods, go to a different store 10 minutes outside
of the neighborhood to pick up an ingredient.
- Ask to use the fridge to store your own food.
- Don’t show up for meals. Give little notice when
you won’t be home for meals.
- Go on a trip without advising your family.
- Receive a lot of phone calls at the home. Also make
a lot of phone calls from their home line. Get a mobile
phone so you don’t bother them!
- Leave the lights on in the room you are not using.
- Invite people over to study or to hang out.
- Act as if you have a right to certain things because
you pay for staying in their house. You pay for lodging,
meals, electricity, laundry and cleaning up after you.
You don’t pay so you can dictate every detail of
your meals, use the television, phone and all of the common
areas of the house.
- Bring home guests of the opposite sex, especially to
spend the night.
Why should you open a bank account in Sevilla? If you are
living here for a year or longer there are many reasons
to consider doing so, especially if you plan to get your
own apartment and handle your own utilities. Some of the
things a bank account will help you with:
- Mobile phones - you can recharge your mobile phone at any ATM, which
you cannot do with a Visa or ATM card from outside of
Spain in most cases. You can also get a contract phone
instead of pre paid or tarjeta, phone, which
will be cheaper in the long run. Some offices for Vodafone,
Amena and Telefonica may tell you that you need a NIF
(like a social security number), but other offices will
let you set up a contract using your passport number.
- Utilities - some practically require that you have a bank account,
and if not setting up an automatic draft from your account
is much easier than going to the bank or a central office
during set hours, waiting in line and paying cash.
Insurance - almost every company covering
foreigners requires a bank draft for health insurance
and will not make other arrangements.
- Bank fees - avoid being charged the transaction fee from your bank
back home every time you take out money.
keeping your money in a bank instead of a shoe box in
your house is always safer. Also, many people withdraw
up to their limit from their home bank account to limit
the effect of the transaction fee (smart), but have to
carry that cash back home with them (sometimes risky)
paid - whether you're working legal or
not it's always good to have a bank account where your
employer or the person paying you for contract work can
make a transfer from their bank. Helps with the safety
issue mentioned above as you don't have to carry a large
sum of money home with you.
Opening a bank account in Sevilla (or Spain) is very simple.
You will need to open a cuenta no-residente, or
a non-resident account. Once you become a resident you can
quickly change it over to a resident account, generally
with no charges. They require a picture ID and most will
accept a driver's license from home although a passport
will make it a little easier. Some banks have different
charges for non-resident accounts while others offer the
same services (and fees) regardless of whether you are a
resident or not. Cajas, much like credit unions in the U.S.,
offer cheaper fees but may charge you for other things when
opening a non-resident account. I took into account not
only the fees but also the banks network of ATM's or cajeros
automaticos, to avoid fees for withdrawing from machines
outside of my banks network. All offered online banking
at no charge. The comparison below is a sample of some of
the banks in Sevilla I looked at in the summer of 2007.
Charges may change some over time and options for different
types of cards may be available and will likely cost more.
I looked at three fees for my comparison:
- maintenance - charged monthly or every 6 months
- card -
charged annually and you may have your choice of cards
with different fees
- per transaction - some banks will charge you for every movimiento or transaction. Others do not, or give you a certain amount
per month free
||Maint. Fee (Annual)
||Card Fee (Annual)
||5 free per month, then 0,12€
||cheapest maintenance fee, but per
transaction charge kicks in quickly; not a national
||low card fee and no transaction
fees; national bank
||average all the way around; national
||First year free, then 9€
||a fee per transaction
||first year card fee waived; Person
I spoke with did not have details and didn't want to
help, I looked elsewhere
||0,46€ per transaction
||highest maint. fees and very high
per transaction fee
So who did I choose? I ended up with
La Caixa because of their network of ATMs, low card fee
and no per transaction cost. Also I liked the service -
the fellow at the local branch was the only one to tell
me that they would like to have me as a customer. Cajasol, which was once El Monte and Caja San Fernando (the two have merged) offers by far the largest network of ATMs in the city and likely in all of Andalucia. This is certainly convenient. Depending
on what you need another bank may be better for you, and
as always if you have something to add or know of a better
deal email me!
contributed by Laura Cohen
When I quit my job in the U.S. to move to Spain, I wanted
to live la vida loca and not pay for health insurance.
The company that I worked for offered Cobra coverage, but
for around $350 per month, which I did not want to pay.
However my mother told me “if you get cancer they´ll take our
house” and guilt tripped me into making the outrageous
Cobra payments. Luckily, I haven´t gotten sick here,
so I haven´t needed to go to the ER, the only coverage
that my Cobra provides. Tired of spending more on unused
health care than on rent, I decided to look into Spanish
I chose Sanitas, because it costs about 55€ per month,
has a huge network of doctors in Spain, and provides 100%
emergency coverage outside of Spain. The plan I chose is
called the SANITAS MULTI. It gives me access to a network
of 20,000 primary care doctors and specialists in Spain,
assures a private room if I am hospitalized, and covers
basic dental care. With this plan I don´t have to
deal with sending in reimbursement forms or paying for anything
upfront – instead they just give you a swipe card
to use at office visits. They also have a version of this
plan designed specifically for foreigners, which links you
to their network of English-speaking doctors throughout
Andalucia and the Costa del Sol. If you might have a hard
time explaining what hurts in Spanish, its probably worth
the slight extra cost. Check out the different levels of
coverage at their website, available in various languages.
To apply, I just filled out a few simple health forms on
the website. You do need a bank account to open a policy
since Sanitas draws the payments straight from your account,
so make sure to get that done first. Their customer service
via email is excellent - they have answered every email
I have sent them within 24 hours. And, if you would rather
talk with an agent in person, they have an office on Avenida
San Francisco Javier, near Nervión Plaza.
The following companies provide insurance that will cover
you both in Spain and likely your home country, depending
on where your from Mapfre, Sanitas, Asisa. Plans differ and provider networks in
and away from Spain should be checked. In almost all cases
(when living in Spain) these insurance plans will be cheaper
than ones in the U.S. and offer better coverage for your
basic needs here.
A note from Jeff: when traveling back to your home country, or better said, to the U.S., please do consider contracting health insurance. I have traveled back to the U.S. without anything on many occasions and have come and gone without problems. Until this past summer, where just before a long trip we bought medical travel insurance for two people for about 530 Euros. This covered us for 3 months. Within the first 2 weeks I found myself visiting the emergency room on 3 nights, and then in the hospital for 4 days. The total bill would have been about $10,000, but instead I ended up paying about $200 for out of pocket expenses.
The following are who you'll likely deal with (in some
cases "have to" as they are national) for your
utilities. More choices are becoming available as the market
is a little less regulated. If you are renting the typical
procedure is to keep the bill in the name of your landlord
and set-up a bank draft from your bank account to pay the
bill every two months for some, while other utilities have now moved to charging you once a month.
For any of these services keep in mind the phrases lectura estimada (estimated reading) and lectura real (a true / real reading) when it comes to your billing. While technically your gas, water or electric meters should be read by a technician at least once every two months, in some cases many months can go by before someone reads your meter. Why is this important? You can coast along for several months paying very little for gas or electric. You'll think you are doing great at controlling costs! Then many months later receive a bill for hundreds of Euros after they do a real reading o your meter. So check your bill and if several billing cycles go by with lectura estimada, then call and ask them to come to a real meter reading so you don't get an unwelcome surprise.
Ahhh...Telefonica. Ok, ahh Movistar as they have changed their name in a bit of marketing genius (genius in that Telefonica is perhaps a bad word in Spanish, so time to change your name!) If you've experienced Time Warner in
the U.S. you may have an idea of what it's like to deal
with them. As I first wrote this I was on day 49 waiting for my
wireless router modem, but that's an internet subject. Since I first wrote this they have become much quicker about getting your modem and service connected, especially if you sign up at the Telefonica stores in Plaza Nueva, Calle Imagen, Calle San Pablo and other locations. There is something about having a physical person accountable for your order which makes for a much quicker service. And I have to say that aside from a few service issues Telefonica has given me the most reliable internet connection of my life. For me at least it almost never goes down. I think I have gone maybe 10 total hours without internet over the last 5 years if you don't count moving and waiting for new installation.
must say they are a little better with straight telephone
service. The other companies still have to
lease the lines from Telefonica, but they manage to compete
on the rates and do better in many cases. The way they compete
is through Telefonica's marketing permission, i.e.: Telefonica
tolerates promotions by their competitors which undercut
their own prices for a period of time. Then some months or a year
later Telefonica offers a promotion themselves to remain
competitive. Taking a stab in the dark The main providers or competitors are currently Orange, Ono, Jazztel and Vodafone.
So what to expect with Telefonica? Generally about 70€
for connection or set up, and then around 25€ per month. The basic fee for the landline is about 17 Euros, plus taxes and other little charges they think up. Promotions
run often and at times you can get free installation. Count
on 10-15 days to get your phone installed (a big improvement
over the 3-6 month wait back in 1989). Flat rate plans are almost always available
with these companies where you can pay one fee per month
with unlimited local and national calls to landlines - check the below section on
internet to see some of the bundled plans which will save
Long distance calling plans are available for cheaper rates
to the U.S., Canada, U.K. and more. Expect anywhere from 0,06
- 0,35 per minute depending on who and what plan you choose.
If you are moving to Seville you will likely want internet
access in your new apartment. You can now choose from an larger
type of service: ADSL, cable, satelite, wireless and the ever
dreaded dial-up. Note that Spain has one of the highest costs for broadband internet service in Europe.
I decided to go with Telefonica and have been somewhat happy
with my service - my connection has almost always been up
- although I can't say I've been pleased with the customer
service. I mainly chose it because of a promotion offering
a discount in set-up and price. While they use existing phone
lines they may still need to come to your place to check things
out - older lines and connections may need to be replaced
but there is no drilling involved.Internet connection speeds have vastly improved in the last five to ten years. I began paying 39€ per month for
my 512K service (on average it's about 400K speed), and had the option of upgrading my bandwidth by paying more. Over time they keep offering higher speed at no additional cost. As of October 2011, I have 10Mbit connection and I can go higher if I pay more per month and I am paying a little less. There are all sorts of plans which typically scale from 1, 3, 6 and 10Mbit. What I got with my first contract in 2004:
- Connection speed - 512K
modem- I now have separately purchased
a wireless modem-router, which also came with a netowrk
- 3 line filters - obligatory if you are going to use your phone while
- Email accounts - 5, each with a 25 MB mailbox
space - 10MB web space, fairly useless
Typical promotions around 2007:
- Connection speed - 3Mbit and up to 10Mbit in certain areas
- Modem-router- Wireless "g" capable.
- Email accounts - 5, each with a 25 MB mailbox
space - again, fairly useless
Typical promotions around October 2011:
- Connection speed - 3Mbit to 10Mbit, speed may be limited in certain areas
- Modem-router- Wireless "n" capable.
- Email accounts - 5
space - I'm sure it exists but again, fairly useless
Some notes about my service on some specific topics, some
of which have bothered me in different degrees:
I do recommend checking out other providers, which include Orange, Ono, Jazztel and Vodafone. As offers and prices are changing constantly I recommend checking
the pages. Several years ago Wanadoo settled with a customer lawsuit
for selling broad band that wasn't really broadband. With
that result and barring Wanadoo from risking more money, it's
safe to say you will get real broadband from them
now, especially because they changed their name to Orange after realizing their reputation was just so bad that a new name would be better. Many months later and this looks like sugar-coating the same old product. The speeds may be more guaranteed, but the service problems continue. And this is where I see a big difference between Movistar and other providers: customer service level and problem resolution times for many of the other providers can be much worse. Granted, I 've had problems with Movistar as well, but I can't tell you how many horror stories I've heard from friends about waiting weeks to get their connection repaired, or to simply get connected (and in some cases waiting a month only to learn that although you did all the paperwork, they now realized you are out of their service area!).
space - after 6 months I still cannot
access or use my web page space that comes with my account.
- Managing account information - their Panel de Control, an online user account
configuration tool, makes me log-in for every type of
modification rather than remember who I am - example:
configure an email account (log-in), try to activate your
web space (log-in), use a subdomain (log-in). Whoever
built this tool is a moron.
- Email issues-
Roadrunner blocked all email coming from Telefonica
on some of it's servers because of repeated abuse by spammers.
I tend to blame RoadRunner rather than Telefonica. Several business I know have had problems with Telefonica / Movistar blocking the outgoing email port on their router to control spam. This also prevents the businesses from sending desired email to their customers! I would not recommend using Telefonica for your business emails nor for hosting a web page.
For cable service in Seville you can get a bundle of services
(cable television, internet and phone) with Ono.
If you've been to Seville you may have noticed the little
Supercable lizard on the metal covers on some sidewalks. Unfortunately
that little lizard isn't in too many places, as the service
is limited and in some cases non-existent in the center. They have not been granted permission to install the lines in the historic center. A simple call can let you know if
you are in the service area. Ono offers two bundled plans with internet, phone calls and television.
A more recent option is broadband via satelitte, almost always
through Astra which then sells rights to national providers.
You get good download speeds but slow upload speeds if you need to upload or send large files. Still, you can get broadband with a small dish
and a simple phone line if your location is outside of an
ADSL service area. Prices start around 40 €.
Not your standard Wi-Fi, I am talking about a service provider
with using the high speed mobile networks. Currently Vodafone, Orange and Movistar are the largest in the market, with smaller companies out there offering some alternatives. You can go with a contract (typically 18 months and this requires residency) or pre-paid (best for travel and short term use). All of course have a bandwidth limit and those who don't simply drop you to something around dial up modem speed once you pass your limit. All sorts of options exist with little USB sticks to MiFi where you can connect multiple devices. It's also worth noting that tethering is quite possible: if you have an unlimited data plan for your mobile you can often use it as a modem. I've done this on several ocassions with good speeds and no extra charge (my provider can't tell the difference between my phone internet use and when I use it as a modem).
Then we have Clearwire, also known as Instanet. This is WiMax and limited to city centers and then limited to very few cities. Sevilla was the first test market outside of the U.S. for this product. You can get a WiFi / WiMax enabled modem or a USB stick, and even a combination of both. They have an advantage over the the other mobile providers: true unlimited bandwidth without a reduction of speed. Where Clearwire fails is where they also fail in the U.S.: the connection often drops completely or to a painfully slow speed. They advertise 4G but I got much better speeds and reliability using a Vodafone 3G USB modem. If you need internet access while travelling around it is best to go with Vodafone, Orange or Movistar.