Moving to Glasgow
Its not surprising for somewhere that has a history so steeped in engineering and shipbuilding, that Glasgow is a city that’s constantly in motion. The largest city in Scotland, it’s a place full of people singing, celebrating, working, building, doing. If you think you can keep up, here’s a taster of what Glasgow’s all about.
Since the decline of Glasgow’s manufacturing industries in the 60s, Glasgow has done well to build up new business to keep it the largest economy in Scotland, through pivoting from the old industries (Glasgow is now home to many manufacturing company headquarters) and embracing new service-based industries.
Eight out of ten of the biggest insurance companies in the UK have an office or HQ in the city, and the Financial District in the city centre is home to most of the top banks. Higher education and tourism also bring in a large amount of business to the city.
As with many big cities in the UK, creative industries are very much supported and are really growing from the ground up. The lower cost of living compared to London, reduced rent for residential and office space, and supportive creative communities mean that more young workers are making the move to cities like Glasgow, and finding a smaller, but no less stimulating environment to build up their creative businesses.
Housing and cost of living
If you’re thinking of a move to Glasgow, there’s tonnes of benefits that will leave you feeling a wee bit more flush than in London. The general cost of living is just over 16% lower than the capital, and even better, rental prices are nearly 60% lower than the equivalent in London.
For those already on the housing ladder, or first time buyers, Glasgow is also a great place to put down roots. Now is the time to buy with the market looking healthy, house prices rising 6% in the last year, and the overall average price for a house in Glasgow at £162,000. Average prices can be close to double in the more upmarket areas like Giffnock in the south, or Hyndland in the north, which is a conservation area to protect Glasgow’s iconic sandstone tenement buildings.
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There are 4 top universities in the city centre of Glasgow: University of Glasgow, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow Caledonian University, and University of the West of Scotland. You can’t miss the Glasgow School of Art – housed in a building that’s one of the finest examples of Glaswegian architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s work, beloved by all locals and undergoing massive restoration after a fire in 2014.
Notable students have all made a mark on Glasgow’s bright culture, from musicians like Travis and Franz Ferdinand, to a whole host of Turner Prize nominees and winners, and even Doctor Who himself – Peter Capaldi!
The state and independent schools across Glasgow are varied and diverse. The city is home to Scotland’s only school where pupils are taught exclusively in Gaelic – Glasgow Gaelic School (Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu). There’s no official school for learning the famous ‘Glasgow patter’ dialect, you’ll just have to attune your ear by getting to know your new neighbours and striking up conversation at the pub!
Glasgow’s city centre is easily navigable and divided into some distinct areas. George Square is the starting point for getting your bearings and admiring the stunning civic buildings and statues. The shopping and theatre district is centred around Argyle Street, Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street where you can find all the high street staples and more. Nearby, Renfrew Street is home to the world’s tallest cinema, head to the 18-screen Cineworld to catch a movie with a side of record-breaking. Merchant City is a very popular city centre area with well-heeled Glaswegians young and old.
The grand old buildings have been smartened up and converted into designer boutiques, luxury flats, hip coffee shops and popular restaurants. In the West End, nestled between the lively Byres Road and the grand turrets and spires of University of Glasgow, is Ashton Lane, a picture-perfect cobbled lane lined with bars and restaurants. The most famous of which is Glasgow institution the Ubiquitous Chip (known to locals as simply, The Chip). Its owner was the first to make the move to this rundown lane in the 70s, helping to make it the destination it is today. Independent cinema The Grosvenor has its own bar and cafe as well, and is a great way to round off a date night in your new city.
Music runs through the veins of Glasgow as sure as the River Clyde. UNESCO recognised this in 2008 awarding Glasgow City of Music status. You’ll be surrounded by songs everywhere you turn, whether it’s the busker on the street or the open mic night at the pub. The venues across the city are second to none, and cater for every taste.
The Hydro and SECC host the big-name international acts. The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall has a varied roster of classical and popular artists, the Barrowland and King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut are stalwarts of Glasgow’s indie rock scene – the latter being where Oasis were discovered by Alan McGee and signed to his label Creation Records.
Glaswegians are proud to tell newcomers of the host of festivals that the city puts on throughout the year – and not just a couple of months in the summer, like friendly rival Edinburgh. Glasgow’s festivals celebrate everything that makes the city great, from music to comedy, film and visual arts, LGBTQ culture, Celtic history and the city’s immigrant populations.
Sport & culture
Glaswegians define themselves by many things, but the city’s two football teams is surely one of the longest running rivalries around. Celtic and Rangers, known as the Old Firm, have seen more than their fair share of love lost and difficult times over the years and for a newcomer to the city, the experience of a derby game will be never be dull.
Hampden Park is the home of the national football team and well worth a visit as well. Sports facilities in the city have had a recent upgrade since it hosted the 2014 Commonwealth Games, which was seen as a huge success.
Since Glasgow was picked as European City of Culture in 1990, it has moved strides away from its deprived post-war past. Some of Scotland’s finest collections of art and national organisations can be found and are nurtured here. The must-visit museums are the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, with everything from natural history to French Impressionists in a grand sandstone palace.
The surrounding park is one of the city’s gems. A walk along the banks of the River Kelvin is totally peaceful and idyllic. The People’s Palace and the Riverside Museum both celebrate Scottish history and culture. Finally, the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) is found in Royal Exchange Square, which is also home to the infamous icon of Glasgow’s cheeky sense of humour – the Duke of Wellington statue with a traffic cone on his head!