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Expat Exchange - 10 Things to Know Before Moving to Scotland
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St Andrews, Scotland


10 Things to Know Before Moving to Scotland

By Joshua Wood, LPC

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Summary: If you're planning a move to Scotland, here are 10 things expats living there wish they had known before moving to Scotland.

Scotland, with its breathtaking landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture, is a dream destination for many. If you're considering making the move to this beautiful country, there are a few things you should know to make your transition as smooth as possible. Here are the top 10 things to know before moving to Scotland.

1. Understanding the Scottish Weather

Scotland's weather is notoriously unpredictable. It's not uncommon to experience all four seasons in a single day. Winters can be harsh, especially in the Highlands, while summers are generally mild. It's essential to invest in good quality, waterproof clothing. Despite the weather, the stunning landscapes, from the rolling hills to the rugged coastlines, make it all worthwhile.

2. Embracing the Scottish Culture

Scotland has a rich and diverse culture. From the traditional music and dance to the world-renowned festivals like the Edinburgh Fringe, there's always something to experience. Scots are also known for their friendliness and hospitality, so you'll feel welcome wherever you go. It's also worth noting that Scotland has two official languages: English and Scottish Gaelic, although the latter is only spoken by a small percentage of the population.

3. Navigating the Scottish Healthcare System

Scotland's healthcare system is publicly funded, meaning that residents have access to free healthcare services. However, it's important to register with a local General Practitioner (GP) as soon as you arrive. Prescription medications are also free in Scotland, unlike in other parts of the UK.

4. Getting Around in Scotland

Scotland has an extensive public transportation system, including buses, trains, and ferries. The major cities are well-connected, and even the remote areas are accessible with a bit of planning. However, if you prefer to drive, keep in mind that in Scotland, they drive on the left side of the road.

5. The Cost of Living in Scotland

The cost of living in Scotland can vary greatly depending on where you choose to live. Cities like Edinburgh and Aberdeen tend to be more expensive, while smaller towns and rural areas are generally more affordable. It's also worth noting that Scotland has a progressive tax system, so the amount of tax you pay will depend on your income.

6. The Scottish Education System

Scotland boasts a world-class education system, with several top-ranking universities and excellent public schools. Education is compulsory for children aged between 5 and 16. Scotland follows a unique curriculum, different from the rest of the UK, focusing on a broad and balanced education.

7. The Scottish Food and Drink

Scotland is famous for its food and drink. From haggis and black pudding to shortbread and whisky, there's plenty to tantalize your taste buds. Scotland is also home to some of the best seafood in the world, thanks to its extensive coastline. And don't forget to try the national drink - a good Scotch whisky.

8. The Scottish Outdoor Life

Scotland is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. From hiking and mountain biking in the Highlands to golfing in St. Andrews, there's something for everyone. Scotland also has a 'right to roam' law, which means you can walk, cycle, or camp on most lands and inland waters for recreational and educational purposes, as long as you do so responsibly.

9. The Scottish Wildlife

Scotland is home to a diverse range of wildlife. From the red deer and golden eagles in the Highlands to the dolphins and seals off the coast, there's always something to see. Just remember to respect the wildlife and keep a safe distance.

10. The Scottish History and Heritage

Scotland has a rich history and heritage, from the ancient castles and standing stones to the tales of legendary heroes like William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. There are numerous museums and historical sites to explore, offering a glimpse into Scotland's past. And of course, there's the iconic kilt, a symbol of Scottish identity and pride.

Moving to a new country is always a big step, but with a bit of preparation, you can make the transition to life in Scotland a smooth one. So pack your bags, embrace the adventure, and get ready to fall in love with this incredible country.

Expats talk about Moving to Scotland

"In the UK there is a television permit fee that must be paid if you have a TV in your home. I thought it was a scam when I received the notice in the mail. Luckily I had a neighbor that I was able to ask about the legitimacy. If you don't have a TV, they will make an appointment to come out to your residence to verify. Also, before you move, change your address to reflect your new Scotland address on at least one of your credit card statements. When you arrive, you will need to provide a statement with your Scotland address on it in order to open a bank account. If your spouse will also be on the account, he/she will need to have a statement that reflects the new address too. It took about a month after we arrived to open an account because we did not know this small detail," said one expat living in Banchory.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


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St Andrews, Scotland

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