Moving to Scotland from the US

Scotland has a lot to offer expats.

Can’t get enough of the city life? Head to Edinburgh, Glasgow, or Aberdeen. These Scottish cities have a plethora of fun activities, stunning gothic architecture, incredible history, bagpipers on every corner, and deep-fried mars bars in local ‘chippies’ (British for ‘fish and chip shops’).

Rather soak in the countryside views? Good news – Scotland is mostly made up of rolling hills, dramatic coastlines, and quaint towns.

Once you’ve got Scotland sussed, it’s time to figure out how to get your stuff out there. Luckily, shipping your belongings abroad doesn’t need to be stressful, thanks to our helpful quote tool.

Simply pop a few details about your move into this short form, and we’ll put you in touch with our professional suppliers, who will contact you with free shipping quotes to compare.

Scottish highlands in morning

The dramatic, rugged landscape never gets boring in the Scottish Highlands

Cost of shipping to Scotland from the US

Before you get anything else started, it’s a good idea to check how much it’ll cost you to get your things to Scotland.

To give you a rough idea of costs, we’ve calculated the average international shipping rates for some of our most sought-after journeys from US cities to Grangemouth – Scotland's largest container port.

The rates are sourced from iContainers.com, and are based on the port-to-port transportation of a 20ft container of used furniture worth £40,000 – the typical value of the contents of a three-bedroom house (according to Admiral Insurance). The durations are sourced from Searates.com.

This information was last updated in June 2022.

Bear in mind these are only estimates. If you’d like a more accurate idea of how much shipping to Scotland will cost you, just pop your details into this form, and our suppliers will get back to you.

RouteCostDuration
New York to Grangemouth$2,86110 days
Los Angeles to Grangemouth$2,99425 days
Houston to Grangemouth$1,68416 days

Please note: these container shipping costs exclude typical add-ons such as door-to-door delivery, professional packing/unpacking, and basic insurance cover. Our shipping suppliers normally incorporate these services into their prices, so expect some discrepancy between the rates given here and the quotes you receive. These estimates should be used as an indication only.

Cost of flying goods to Scotland from the US

If you’re in more of a rush, flying your stuff abroad might be a better option – but it’ll come at a price, since container shipping is 12-16 times cheaper than air freight.

Want to get a better idea of how much air freight will cost you? Check out the table below.

These rates are sourced from Freightos.com, and are based on the airport-to-airport transportation of much lighter goods – to be precise, 250 kg of household goods worth £40,000.

Bear in mind that this pallet is only 100 cm x 100 cm x 100 cm, so can carry much less than a 20-foot shipping container.

RouteCostDuration
New York to Edinburgh$3,5752–4 days
New York to Glasgow$4,1232–4 days
Los Angeles to Edinburgh$3,5752–4 days
Los Angeles to Glasgow$4,1232–4 days

Healthcare in Scotland

Scotland is part of the United Kingdom, which means it benefits from the country’s National Health Service (NHS).

Under the UK’s healthcare system, all treatments and appointments are free at the point of use, but most users will have to pay for medicines.

Although the NHS is free to use, it’s mostly funded by general taxation (mainly income tax) and National Insurance contributions – so it’s not completely free.

Primary care – such as treatment in A&E, care for most infectious diseases, and family planning services – is available to all, regardless of their nationality.

Although this sounds great, the NHS system has become overused and understaffed over the past decade. As a result, waiting times are through the roof. By the end of 2019, 86.7% of people waiting for non-urgent treatment had been waiting for up to 18 weeks.

Before your big move to Scotland, it’s wise to consider whether you’ll need medical cover for when you’re out there. Check out our list of recommended healthcare providers.

From there, you can request free quotes from whichever company suits your needs.

Cost of living in Scotland

The cost of living in Scotland depends on where in the country you’re heading – for example, things will be more expensive in Edinburgh or Glasgow, compared to a small town in the Highlands.

Generally, prices are pretty reasonable in Scotland. Check out the table below to get a rough idea of how much different products and services will cost you.

Product/serviceCost
A loaf of white bread£1.03
12 eggs£2.06
A liter of milk93p
A pint of beer£4.00
A bottle of wine£7.00
A monthly gym subscription£25
1 liter of gasoline£1.55
A meal at an inexpensive restaurant£14.00
A cinema ticket£10.00
Monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in a city center£776.47

Data from Numbeo, June 2022

Edinburgh in sunset

Edinburgh has got it all – culture, nightlife, history, beautiful scenery, and deep-fried Mars bars in every chippy

Select the size of your move to get free quotes

Transferring money to Scotland from the US

Speaking of living costs, if you’re thinking of moving to Scotland, you’ll probably need to convert some of your savings into pounds.

It’s best to avoid using high street banks for this process, as you’ll usually have to pay high fees, and you won’t get the best exchange rate.

That’s why we’ve done our research and compared all the major money transfer services on the market, so you can choose the right one. Check out our expert ratings and find the best money transfer provider today.

Working in Scotland

There’s a mixed bag of job opportunities in Scotland – from agricultural farm work to inner-city office jobs, buzzing hospitality roles to wildlife conservation work.

But there are a few things you’ll need to get sorted before getting stuck into work – namely, getting your visa sorted.

Getting a work visa for Scotland

There are a number of work visas on offer for Americans moving to Scotland, including:

The Skilled Work visa is the most popular option for expats in Scotland, which allows you to stay in the UK to work with an approved employer. To qualify for a Skilled Worker visa, you’ll need to:

  • Work for a UK employer that has been approved by the Home Office
  • Have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer with information about the role you’ve been offered
  • Do a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations

For more information on visas in Scotland, head to the government website.

Average salary in Scotland

The average salary in Scotland is $39,663 (£31,605), which is pretty low compared to the US’s average wage of $53,924 (£42,967).

However, this rate will fluctuate a lot, depending on the industry you work in and your specific job role.

Income tax in Scotland

The amount of income tax that you pay in Scotland will depend on how much of your taxable income is above your ‘personal allowance’ (the amount of income you do not pay tax on) – this is at least £12,570 for most people.

To get a better idea of how much you’ll be taxed in Scotland, check out the table below.

Taxable incomeBandTax rate
£12,571–£14,732Starter rate19%
£14,733–£25,688Scottish basic rate20%
£25,689–£43,662Intermediate rate21%
£43,663–£150,000Higher rate41%
£150,000+Top rate46%

Job hunting in Scotland

Job hunting can be challenging in most situations, let alone when you’re looking for one abroad.

Thankfully, there are a lot of helpful websites and job boards out there that can help you with your job hunt in Scotland, including:

  • LinkedIn
  • Indeed
  • Monster
  • Scotjobsnet
  • Reed

Climate in Scotland

If you’re moving to Scotland, prepare to experience all four seasons in one day – one minute it’ll be sunny, the next it’ll be thrashing down with rain.

The weather in Scotland is usually much cooler than the rest of the UK, but temperatures get slightly warmer in the summer months. The hottest months are usually June, July, and August, which have average maximum temperatures of 59°F–63 °F. 

You’ll also experience much longer days during the summer – like, really long days. In fact, the Shetland Islands – located in the northernmost part of Scotland – have about four hours more daylight than London in June.

On the flip side, December, January, and February are the coldest months in Scotland, with an average maximum temperature of 41°F.

Does it snow in Scotland?

It does snow in Scotland – but the amount you get will depend on how far north you go.

Most of Scotland gets about 15 to 20 days of snowfall each year, on average. However, the more mountainous areas in the Highlands experience around 100 days of snowfall.

You can even find a range of ski resorts in Scotland, which open from November to April. The most popular resorts in Scotland include Glencoe Mountain, Glenshee Ski Center, Nevis Range, and Cairngorm Mountain.

The best places to live in Scotland

There’s something for everyone in Scotland, whether you’re after buzzing city life, a quaint seaside town, or an isolated spot in the countryside. The ideal home for you will depend entirely on what you’re after.

To give you a headstart, we’ve listed our top three locations in Scotland below.

Glasgow: best for work

Although Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, Glasgow is actually the largest city in the country, which means there are plenty of jobs on offer.

In fact, Glasgow has the largest economy in Scotland, with over 19,000 companies calling it home. The service industry is one of the major industries in Glasgow, accounting for 28% of the city’s output, as well as the financial and business service sectors.

Thinking about moving to Glasgow for work? Some of the most sought-after neighborhoods to live in include Hillhead, Bearsden, and Shawlands.

Edinburgh: best for culture

There’s a lot of culture to soak up in Scotland – and Edinburgh is right at the center of it all.

This hilly capital houses gorgeous architecture on every corner, particularly in the Medieval Old Town and Georgian New Town. There are also plenty of historical spots to explore, including the 11th-century castle, Arthur’s Seat, and Scott Monument.

If history isn’t really your thing, you can always spend the day making your way through quirky independent shops, trying local delicacies, or wandering around the selection of museums and galleries.

And for three weeks in August each year, locals and tourists alike can enjoy The Fringe Festival – a city-wide celebration of all things art and comedy.

Isle of Bute: best for retirement 

It’s no fluke that the Isle of Bute has been named as the best place to live in Scotland by The Times. This small Scottish island, located in the Firth of Clyde, offers breathtaking views, sandy beaches, a tight-knit community, and an excellent food scene.

And it’s only 90 minutes from Glasgow for those days when you’re missing the hustle and bustle.

Spend your day strolling through the seafront squares in Rothesay (the port town), admiring the stunning work of architecture at the neo-Gothic mansion Mount Stuart House, or wandering through the Ascog Hall Fernery and Gardens’ shrubs and plants.

And if you needed another reason to love Bute, property prices here are an average of £155,000.

7 quick facts about Scotland 

  1. The raincoat was invented in Scotland by a man named Charles Macintosh
  2. The unicorn is the official animal of Scotland
  3. Scotland has approximately 790 islands
  4. Scotland has three officially recognized languages – English, Scots, and Scottish Gaelic
  5. College is free in Scotland – but only for people who have lived there for three or more years
  6. Scotland is home to the oldest tree in Europe – The Fortingall Yew, which is thought to be between 3,000-9,000 years old
  7. There are over 600 square miles of freshwater lakes in Scotland

Next steps

Now that you’re up to date with everything you need to know about Scotland, what are you waiting for?

Once you’ve got your visa, accommodation, and job sorted, you’ll need to figure out how to get all of your stuff over there – luckily, we can help with that.

To get started, all you have to do is pop a few details in this form about where you’re shipping your stuff to and from, and we’ll do the rest. We’ll put you in touch with our professional suppliers, who’ll then provide you with their best shipping prices.