Edinburgh is a city that everyone falls in love with when visiting for the first time. It is Scotland’s capital and a city rich in history, culture, employment, and entertainment. Who could blame someone for wanting to live in Edinburgh? It’s a truly magical city. Edinburgh has been named second in the world for quality of life, because of its unique blend of historic architecture, healthcare, green open spaces, low crime rate, and a diverse range of schools.
One of the joys of living in Edinburgh, though, is the intimate atmosphere. It feels more like a pleasant, snug village than a big metropolis, especially in its suburbs. The key areas are close to one another, making it an excellent city for walking. With so much to see and do, picking where to live in Edinburgh can be difficult. Most residents characterize the city as a collection of neighborhoods, each with its own distinct qualities and conveniently accessible by the city’s world-class public transportation system.
Edinburgh is elegant and graceful, with mystery lurking around every turn. So, here are some of the best areas to live in before relocating to Edinburgh.
Portobello, one of Edinburgh’s most beautiful districts, is a highly sought-after location around three miles from the city center. Portobello was an independent town until 1896, and it continues to preserve its own distinct personality. Given its proximity to the sea as well as the cultural, shopping, and commercial attractions of Scotland’s capital city, it’s no surprise that Portobello is considered one of the top neighborhoods to live in.
Portobello was named the greatest neighbourhood in the UK at the 2020 Urbanism Awards thanks to the introduction of community facilities such as beach volleyball, kayaking, rowing, and sailing, as well as a boom in artistic activity. There are a number of nice parks to enjoy your morning or afternoon walks, and the busy High street includes a selection of quality independent stores and cafes. Moreover, the area’s Georgian homes and Victorian residences have an important conservation area status.
Rents range from £800 to £1200 for a 2-bedroom flat and the area is considered one of the best to live in especially for young people but also for families. It has a strong sense of community, with various activities for the benefit of the local community held by the Wash House which conducts a variety of regular programs that promote and support health, wellness, and lifelong learning. There’s also a monthly local food market, a local leisure complex, various green spaces, and a library.
Lastly, Portobello is located just off the A1, making it convenient to go out of town – but it’s also convenient to get into Edinburgh, thanks to frequent bus service. Brunstane, which is about a 15-minute walk south of Portobello, is the nearest train station to Portobello.
Leith has long been Edinburgh’s port, and what was once a separate town has been absorbed into the city’s north. It used to be an industrial neighborhood, but it has been dramatically rebuilt since the 1980s, and it now has some of Edinburgh’s best restaurants, bars, and shops.
The Port of Leith is the city’s main harbor, opening onto the Firth of Forth, and is only a few kilometers north of Princes Street. Leith is another excellent area for property purchasers, with a wide range of options. The majority of homes in Leith are new-build flats, contributing to the area’s revitalization. The area is also reasonably priced, with monthly rents average of £850 and property prices averaging £190,000. There are several detached and semi-detached residences on the market in Leith, particularly around the Leith Links region, which is popular if you want to walk your dog or go for a morning run.
The principal artery connecting Edinburgh’s city center to Leith is Leith Walk. Easter Road and the Pilrig and South Leith areas are just off it. Also, note that a stroll down Leith Walk provides an accurate representation of Edinburgh.
The region’s progress has been recognized by The Sunday Times, which has named it one of the best places to live in the UK in 2020. The quality of schools, transport, culture, broadband speeds, and the amount of green space were all taken into account.
Corstorphine is a suburb of Edinburgh located in the city’s West End. It’s a pleasant neighborhood with easy access from places like Morningside, Roseburn, Newington Green, and Almond Place. It’s also one of the safest areas to live in Edinburgh because it’s so quiet and well-kept.
Corstorphine has seen an increase in new developments and construction projects in recent years. As a result, there are more residences on the market and demand is decreasing (which means prices have come down). There are many family houses in the neighborhood, making it excellent for all types of people looking for a unique living experience. This little village has excellent schools and serves fresh local vegetables in family-friendly eateries, grocery stores, and pharmacies.
The area is primarily a residential neighbourhood with a wide range of houses available to suit all budgets. One-bedroom flats, semi-detached houses, and huge detached stone houses are all available. Moreover, many of the homes in the neighborhood feature gardens and parking.
This might be your best option if you’re looking for amenities and fresh air. Lastly, keep in mind that from the bus station to work or school, you may walk anywhere, saving time on public transportation. All in all, Corstorphine provides some of the most crucial aspects of a healthy work-life balance.
This suburb, located a few kilometers south of High Street, was built between 1869 and 1914 to provide new homes for those who could no longer afford to reside in New Town. Marchmont is located across The Meadows from Bruntsfield, close to a children’s playground, tennis courts, and sports fields. Every year, “The Meadows Festival,” a free festival with live music and family-friendly activities, is held in this district of Edinburgh.
Marchmont provides quick access to Princes Street in Edinburgh’s main center. All destinations eastward are only a few minutes away by tram or bus. With its excellent transportation system, the residents there find it quick and easy to go around the city thanks to short hop trains and Lothian Buses buses.
There are numerous public parks, food stores, and schools within walking distance, making it an ideal location for children. When it comes to outdoor activities, the options range from gorgeous green spaces to tennis courts, football fields, and a variety of other sports facilities. Marchmont is popular with young professionals and families since it is close to George Square (the heart of Edinburgh’s Festivals), the recently created Quartermile, and the National Museum of Scotland.
However, Marchmont is considered to be an expensive neighborhood to buy property in, with the average house costing over £370.000. Fortunately, there are several lower-cost apartments including small studios or one-bedroom apartments that are within reach. When it comes to monthly rental costs, a two-bedroom flat will set you back on average £1200 if rented privately.
Stockbridge, Edinburgh’s Sunday brunch epicenter, is only a ten-minute stroll from the city center. Despite its proximity to the city center, it has a village feel with a lovely mix of young professionals, families, and pensioners living together.
It is a true mix of wealth and statuses that just go nicely alongside one other. It is home to the immensely popular Stockbridge market every Sunday, design boutiques, and some of the classiest charity shop shopping you will ever encounter.
Stockbridge is a wealthy community, rating high on numerous lists, including #14 on the Telegraph’s list of best places for young professionals and #16 on The Sunday Times’ Top 100 Best Places To Live in England list.
Inverleith Park is accessible from Stockbridge and connects to the Botanical Gardens, providing you with great outdoor places right on your doorstep that, unlike the meadows, are not swamped with students at the first sign of sunshine. Stockbridge is also a big hit with four-legged pals, with numerous dog-friendly establishments.
Stockbridge is the grown-up counterpart of Marchmont, so it’s a reasonable next step if you’re staying in Edinburgh after graduation. With three of Edinburgh’s most expensive streets (Ann Street, Saxe Coburg Place, and Danube Street) located there, becoming a local won’t be cheap. But, as it is a popular area for young families, investing in the appropriate property or rental now might see you well prepared for the next stage of your life.
Colinton lies on Edinburgh’s west end, a few kilometers from the city’s east end and center. Murrayfield, Haymarket, Gorgie, Newington, and Bruntsfield are just a few of the neighborhoods in this area.
Colinton is easily accessible from Princes Street, taking only around ten minutes by car or public means. This community has a unique mix of amenities that will appeal to the majority of young families. The Royal High School, one of Edinburgh’s top-performing institutions, is one of the top schools in the city. There are a number of well-regarded schools in the region, some of which have recently been renovated.
Colinton offers a lot of open areas and parks, which are ideal for a young and active family. In addition, its close proximity to Murrayfield is a huge plus. It’s also close to the Bruntsfield Links golf course and Inverleith Park, both of which provide scenic hikes with city views.
The neighborhood is vibrant, with a variety of local stores, bars, and pubs, making it a joyful and peaceful area to live in while still being close to Edinburgh city. There are large houses available for buying or rent, as well as the traditional semi-detached properties for growing families.
It’s also close to the Braids, a great spot for blackberry picking, as well as Blackford Hill and The Hermitage, a wonderful woodland glen with great walks and plenty of kid-friendly activities.
If you want to live in a UNESCO world heritage site, it’s not cheap, but if you can afford it, it’s worth the living! Wide cobblestone streets are dotted with magnificent Georgian townhouses with enough historical details to make George Clarke lose his mind. It is a well-connected neighbourhood with easy access to shopping, restaurants, and museums in Edinburgh’s city centre. George Square Gardens, Queen Street Gardens, Royal Botanic Garden, and Stockbridge are the top locations in New Town.
New Town’s population is made up in part of young families that enjoy living in this area since it allows them to be close to their workplace while maintaining a high quality of life.
In all seriousness, New Town can’t be beaten for its convenient location with the city center only a five-minute walk away. In other words, it is great for city center offices or catching the train if you need to commute. After cocktails or dinner at one of the city’s hundreds of fantastic restaurants, you won’t even need to take a taxi!
Note that the average property price is £285,000, which is more than the average house price in Edinburgh, which is roughly £230,000. If you want to live in New Town but can’t afford it, have a look at Broughton Street and East Claremont Street, which are technically outside the world heritage site but share the same broad streets and classical architecture.
Basic Costs of Living in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is a relatively expensive city to live in by UK standards, but it is not as costly as London. When compared to other big cities throughout the world, it is a very affordable metropolis. Of course, prices differ by location; more central equals more expensive. People tend to fall in love with this city as a result of the high employment rate and high salaries, and consider relocating there alone or with their families, as it is a very family-friendly and student-friendly city.
- A one-bedroom flat will cost between £650 and £1000 per month to rent. Extra bedrooms will, of course, cost more, but a 2 or 3-bedroom flat and flatshare may be more affordable.
- A two-bedroom flat will cost between £800 and £1200, depending on the area.
- In the City Centre, the price per square metre is £2,100+.
- Outside of the city, the price per square metre is £1,250+.
- New Town, Belford, Marchmont, Murrayfield, Cramond, and The Braids are the most expensive areas in Edinburgh. Stockbridge and Morningside, which are better for families, are cheaper. Calton and Leith are newer areas that are less expensive than the places indicated above.
- Bills are usually not included in most rental agreements.
- Unless you qualify for an exemption, you must pay council tax in the UK (for example, if you are a student). The costs vary but expect to pay at least £75 each month (per household, so you will split this with whoever you live with).
Keep in mind that people in Edinburgh enjoy spending their spare time in restaurants, and if you are one of them, picking the least expensive option will help you save money. Whether you use your car or you prefer to move by bus, transportation will consume approximately 12% of your monthly budget. There are, however, free things you can do in Edinburgh on a budget.
If you drive instead of taking public transportation, costs will obviously vary, but commuting should not be too expensive. A monthly pass costs about $70, while a one-way ticket is $2.
On a monthly basis, nearly equal amounts of money are spent on utilities, food, transport, and entertainment, with apparel taking the smallest amount. Whether you live in the least costly or most expensive city in England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland, you will discover that energy and utility bills are very high throughout the country. The average monthly price for essential services in Edinburgh is roughly $200, which is slightly less than in other big cities.
All in all, Edinburgh is one of the top cities to live in, speaking at an international level. In terms of quality of life, the educational and healthcare system, as well as the working environment and conditions, are considered to be among the best in Europe. According to UNCLE by Censuswide, Edinburgh ranks 3rd among the best places to live in the UK in 2021. Furthermore, Edinburgh was named one of the world’s 20 most liveable cities for expatriates by ECA International in February 2022.
The list, of course, is longer but the important thing to keep in mind if you’re considering relocating to Edinburgh with your family, solo, or as a student is that the city won’t let you down in any aspect. Apart from some high living costs compared to other EU cities, the quality of life, high salaries, and wide range of amenities and public services may counterbalance the expenses. Edinburgh residents and workers benefit from the city’s high living standards, which are not as expensive as those found in other UK cities.
Hope that you will enjoy your first steps in Scotland’s vibrant capital!