Moving to Edinburgh
Hogmanay, the Edinburgh Festival, historic sites and beautiful architecture, Edinburgh is a city that tourists from around the world love to visit at all times of the year, you may have even been here before yourself. If you’re thinking about moving to Edinburgh, you’ll see that it only takes a step away from the tourist traps to find the real city that it’s 460,000 residents call home.
The grandeur of Edinburgh is a reflection of its success in business and industry since the 18th century, and it continues today to be the second strongest economy in the UK. The city’s Old Town and New Town together are now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so this successful history has helped to keep the city’s economy booming through tourism too.
Along with financial services and tourism, the other main provider of jobs in Edinburgh is higher education. There are four universities here - University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt, Edinburgh Napier and, on the outskirts of the city, Queen Margaret University. All have wide ranging opportunities in administration, academics and research.
The student population makes up about one fifth of the city, so education feels ever present here. For those preparing for university, the schools in Edinburgh are very well regarded. A much higher percentage of pupils go to private school here than in any other part of Scotland, but state schools also rank highly for excellence, including the Royal High School which is one of the oldest schools in the world with a history going back to the 12th century!
For families moving to Edinburgh, there are plenty of suburbs to explore and find a new home. Southwest of the city centre, Morningside is the most established popular area for families, not least because it falls into the catchment area of many of the top schools. House prices have stayed buoyant for years, but are still less than half the average of London. If you’re looking for more space and crisp fresh air, Edinburgh’s coastal areas of Leith and Portobello are great options, with Leith in particular having seen a lot of new developments in recent years.
Young families and single renters alike love the buzz of the city centre, and if you’re moving from London, you could enjoy having an extra £800 in your pocket from the savings on the average rent for a 1 bed flat. The difference from London’s “cosy” conversion flats to grand Georgian tenements with high ceilings will feel like a luxurious upgrade too.
Things to do
Wherever you decide to settle in Edinburgh, the city is small and public transport is efficient, so you can enjoy the huge variety of leisure and entertainment on offer here. The big ticket attractions that pull in so many tourists every year are well worth ticking off the list. As a local, you’ll be able to pick the quieter times outside of festival season to see these sights without so many crowds. A stroll uphill on the Royal Mile will start at the Queen’s official residence in Scotland, Holyrood Palace, and end at Edinburgh Castle for views across the city.
No matter where you are in the city centre, you’ll never be far from one of the three National Galleries of Scotland, and with Scotland’s damp climate, you’ll definitely appreciate some indoor activities! The Gallery of Modern Art in particular is well loved by locals, and has an impressive collection including Picasso and Warhol. The sculpture garden is a must-see, especially the Instagram-friendly neon works by Martin Creed.
If you decide to stay in town for the festival in August, be prepared for the culture shock of an extra 4 million visitors. You’ll be rewarded for your perseverance with a world class array of comedy, theatre and music, and the chance to say you “saw them first” for many new comedians and entertainers. If the festival whets your appetite for more cultural pursuits the rest of the year, Edinburgh has many theatres and you’ll never be disappointed with the offerings at the Summerhall arts venue, the third biggest in the UK.
Edinburgh’s main shopping area is Princes Street in the New Town, which has all the high street mainstays that you’d expect. The surrounding streets are full of bars and restaurants too, enough to keep the tourists, students and locals all happy. For something different, Broughton Street has many independent shops, restaurants and cafes, and a little further afield, on Sundays, head to Stockbridge Market for a mix of local produce, street food and crafty bits and pieces that will have you coming back every week.
Sport and leisure
If sport is more your idea of a perfect weekend, Edinburgh can deliver here too. Start by picking your allegiance between the two main local football teams, Heart of Midlothian "Hearts" and Hibernian "Hibs” and grab some tickets for a thrilling derby match. Murrayfield Stadium is a fantastic place to visit as well, especially for the Six Nations or Rugby World Cup, when the party atmosphere is at its peak.
Keeping fit in Edinburgh has the added bonus of breathtaking views and scenic settings. For the adventurous, there’s plenty of hiking trails in East and West Lothian just outside Edinburgh. Scaling Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano, will give you just as much a sense of achievement and picturesque views, whilst only being a mile away from the castle. Finally, for a more sedate stroll, try a section of the Water of Leith walkway which runs from the city centre to the coast.
Moving to Edinburgh might feel like being a world away at first, but this city has so much to offer in terms of history, culture and entertainment, that you’ll feel like you’re at the very heart (or Hibs!) of Scotland in no time.