Moving to Scotland
Last updated on Feb 03, 2023
Summary: Many expats and digital nomads move to Scotland for its stunning natural beauty, vibrant culture, and excellent quality of life. Scotland is also known for its strong economy and high standard of living. People looking for a place to live in Scotland can find a variety of options, from renting an apartment or house to buying a property. The most popular cities for expats and digital nomads in Scotland are Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Dundee.
What do I need to know before moving to Scotland?
When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Scotland, they said:
"Before moving to Scotland, it is important to research the cost of living, housing, employment opportunities, and education. Additionally, health insurance, tax requirements and banking information should be researched. Depending on where you are coming from, it may be necessary to apply for a visa. Make sure to learn about cultural and traditional customs of Scotland and also the climate, as the weather can be surprisingly changeable. Finally, familiarize yourself with the public transport system in Scotland and know that Scots Gaelic is an official language in some parts of the country," said another expat in Scotland.
"Before moving to Scotland, you should research the cost of living, job availability, taxation system, educational and healthcare systems, cultural norms, climate and lifestyle. You should also research immigration and visa requirements to ensure you are able to live and work in the country legally. It is also recommended to arrange temporary accommodation prior to moving in order to have a place to stay while you are looking for more permanent housing. Lastly, be sure to open a bank account in Scotland to manage your finances and make sure you have the right type of health insurance in order to cover costs in case of any sudden medical costs," remarked another expat who made the move to Scotland.
How do I find a place to live in Scotland?
We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:
"When looking for a place to live in Scotland, it is important to consider where in Scotland is best for you, whether you are looking for city centre living, a more rural lifestyle, or a combination of both. You can begin your search using online resources such as Zoopla, Rightmove and Property Aberdeenshire. You can also seek advice from local estate agents who are familiar with the local area. Additionally, you may wish to consider hostels, room-letting schemes and student accommodation as these may provide temporary housing or alternatives. Finally, there are organisations such as Homeless Connect or the Citizens Advice Bureau that may be able to help you find suitable housing," said another expat in Scotland.
What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Scotland?
"Expat homes and apartments in Scotland vary widely in style and size. They can range from traditional terrace houses to modern flats and luxury homes. Most expat homes feature amenities typical of British homes, such as central heating, well-equipped kitchens and access to gardens or common patios. Generally they are decorated with a mix of traditional and modern furnishings and decor reflecting their occupants' cultural backgrounds. Beautiful scenery and access to outdoor activities often make expat homes in Scotland especially appealing," explained one expat living in Scotland.
"He resides in council housing, and no, an expat does not qualify unless they are a citizen," said another expat in Aberchirder.
What is the average cost of housing in Scotland?
If you are thinking about moving to Scotland, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:
"The average cost of housing in Scotland varies depending on the area and housing type. Generally, the average cost of a house in Scotland is higher than the rest of the UK," said another expat in Scotland.
"They are equivalent to the condo fees I am paying. A three bedroom house, though, in Foggie is far more expensive than in Michigan and is more representative of East Coast US prices," added another expat who made the move to Aberchirder.
Should I buy or rent a home in Scotland?
If you have not spent a lot of time in Scotland, you should rent before even thinking about buying. We asked expats there about the buy vs. rent decision:
"Whether you buy or rent a home in Scotland will depend on your financial situation, lifestyle goals and availability of houses in the area. Buying a home means making a long-term hard investment, so it is important to consider the cost and potential risk of buying a home. On the other hand, if you plan on staying in Scotland for a short period of time, renting may be a better option. You should also consider the availability of houses in the area; if there is a shortage of rental properties it could be more beneficial to buy, as paying off a mortgage is more cost-effective in the long run," added another expat who made the move to Scotland.
What should I pack when moving to Scotland?
We asked people living in Scotland to list three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They responded:
"Clothing suitable for all weather including waterproofs, warm coats and jumpers, boots, hats, and scarfs. Basic kitchen essentials such as pots, pans, cutlery, plates, mugs and glasses. Bed linen and towels. Toiletries and cleaning supplies. Sellotape, scissors, and string for packing. Beds, sofas, tables and chairs, if required. Electrical items, such as a TV, laptop, mobile phone, and charger. Stationery items, digital camera, and other personal items.Any items necessary for specific hobbies or interests. Appropriate documentation such as passport, identification, travel tickets, and visas," added another expat who made the move to Scotland.
What cultural faux pas should I try to avoid making in Scotland?
We asked people in Scotland if they could share any humorous cultural blunders they commited. For new expats, keep in mind that these incidents are an inevitable part of expat life. Learning to laugh about them is the key!:
"In Scotland, it is important to be respectful of their culture and avoid causing offence. Some examples of cultural faux pas to avoid include not speaking openly about sensitive topics such as politics or religion, avoiding negative stereotypes about Scotland and the Scots, dressing appropriately for sacred sites and events, not taking photos or videos without permission, and not talking too loudly in public or in restaurants. Additionally, visitors should be aware that many public places such as pubs and train stations are smoke-free, and should refrain from throwing rubbish on the ground," explained one expat living in Scotland.
About the Author
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.
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- Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Scotland accepting of differences?
- What are the schools in Scotland like?
- Is the cost of living in Scotland high?
- What advice do you have for expats having a baby in Scotland?
- What are healthcare services like in Scotland?
- Is the cost of living in Scotland high?
- What type of recreational facilities are in Scotland?
- What is the weather like in Scotland?
- Are there good restaurants in Scotland?
- Where will I buy groceries and do other shopping in Scotland?
- What are the visa & residency requirements in Scotland?
- Are healthcare and health insurance expensive in Scotland?
- What do I need to know when buying property in Scotland?
- Are foreigners allowed to own property in Scotland?
- What appliances are typically included in a rental?