Some Nice to Knows Before Moving to Edinburgh, Scotland

A few posts back, I mentioned bits and bobs about moving from Amsterdam to Edinburgh. Upon further reflection (I have nothing else to do, thanks COVID), I realized what a massive dump life took on me when I moved.

There are those times in my life when everything seems to flawlessly line up. Everything goes my way and it feels like I am walking on sunshine. Then, you have those times where every decision, every action you do is wrong. It feels like I am walking on spikes while people throw things at me. At the best of times, the latter only happens every so often, but for some reason, in Edinburgh, it happened to me on the regular.

1. Is it easy to get a job in Edinburgh?

Answer: depending on where you want to work.

Hospitality jobs such as hotels, hostels, restaurants, pubs, tourist attractions (tour guides, ticketing agents) all had heaps of signs on their windows (and online) in January looking to hire. So if you are on a working holiday visa and want to live life, I am sure you could do a splendid job in Edinburgh.

Other sectors are more difficult to navigate. I found Edinburgh had a lot of Banking and Finance jobs. When looking on LinkedIn (all day, every day), the main companies were Bank of Scotland, University of Edinburgh and the National Health Service (NHS).

Needless to say, I applied to maybe 45+ jobs in 1.5 months and only got one interview. I applied mostly in education, which I found to be very cliquey. I suppose that’s the right word. I went to the uni for two-hour interview with a panel of 3 people and I didn’t get the job even though I was the only one they interviewed. Turns out they internally hired. I knew someone who worked at the University of Edinburgh, made connections through him and I still didn’t get even a call back to anything I applied for there, whether I was overqualified or not. I don’t know if it was because I am not Scottish/ British and the whole Brexit thing is making matters dicey, but it was sad times.

I also applied to every recruitment agency that was relevant to my qualifications. The two that called me in to chat were Hays and Reed Recruitment, the rest never responded to any of my requests.

Bleak is the word that comes to mind when it comes to finding work in Edinburgh. I spoke with my friend who does recruitment in London and he said Edinburgh is notoriously bad for job prospects unless you’re in a very specific sector (IT, Banking) or want to work in hospitality.

Promising is the word that comes to mind when I looked four months before I moved. After searching on numerous job portals, there seemed to be thousands of jobs. LinkedIn added 2000+ new jobs every week in the Edinburgh area! Although, in those four months beforehand, I did apply to 10-15 jobs online and heard nothing back. So maybe I should have taken the hint before I uprooted my life LOL. It feels good to laugh.

Someone once asked me if you should base moving (living/working holiday) to a country on your gut feeling or based on research about the job market and other factors. This time around, I did it on my gut feeling and it didn’t pan out. When I moved to the Netherlands 6 years ago, I went with my gut and it turned out to be the best decision of my life. So you can’t win ’em all.

2. I don’t want to live in shared accommodation, is it affordable to live on my own?

Answer: living alone isn’t the best unless you’re the type who throws cash in the air while you jump on a luxury bed. Shared accommodation is affordable for sure.

I mentioned before that finding a place to live in Edinburgh is super easy, especially when compared to Amsterdam. Since I didn’t have a job and wanted to be the sole renter, I needed to get a guarantor (which was a hassle), have a letter from my previous landlord (which I luckily had) and had to pay 6 months upfront rent (YIPES!).

My budget was 550-750 pounds per month for rental of a furnished apartment. With council tax and utilities, I estimated I would spend 900 max a month. Not so much.

Heating is a doozy. My place was on the ground floor, with thin windows and no heating (apart from 2 movable electric heaters). I have never been so cold in my entire life even though my electricity was more than double my costs in Amsterdam. Word of advise, many of the old buildings don’t have central heating so expect a very large electricity bill or to freeze your tits off.

There was a series of events that resulted in me spending more money than I wanted to:

I wanted to switch from Scottish Power to Bulb energy since it is cheaper -> Bulb doesn’t accept credit card payments, only direct deposit -> you need a UK bank for direct deposits -> I couldn’t set up a bank account because I needed a proof of address letter -> the Council never sent me a letter despite calling them three times -> more expensive energy bill

Cost of living in a two-room (one-bedroom apartment)Per month (in pounds)
Scottish Power heating. I am very energy conscious and always got money back from utility companies in the Netherlands but that damn electric heating. You pay a fee for using their lines and for the kWh. If you had gas heating it would be way cheaper. I tried switching to Bulb, which is cheaper and greener but they require direct deposit, no credit cards.80.00 -100.00
Rent (for a property in Southside, close to The Meadows)750.00
Deposit- 1 month rent (I need to pay 6 months upfront since I didn’t have a job)/
Now TV Internet (after taking two weeks to set-up, can pay with a credit card) 18.00 for 12 months (check for early cancellation fees). Now it seems to be 24 a month so this probably isn’t your cheapest option
Council Tax Band C £1,530.35 per year130.00
Edinburgh Accommodation

For shared accommodation, I can’t speak first hand but online there were heaps of shared spaces for 450/month all bills included when I was searching. So that would fix the heating problem. Also, I think you wouldn’t have to provide all the guarantor stuff and pay heaps of rent upfront since there are less strings attached.

3. What areas are quiet to live in?

Answer: stick to the back roads and residential areas (duh, Corrine)

If you are like me and will wake up from the sound of a butterfly wing flapping outside your window, I tell you now, you won’t sleep in certain areas of the city. Coupled with freezing to death, you are in for a wild time!

St Leonard’s Street has the ambulance and fire trucks blaring down it at all hours of the night. I lived on Parkside street (off St Leonard’s) and there is a bus stop nearby as well, which didn’t help the situation. London and Easter Roads are home to the weekly parties of sports fanatics from the nearby stadium. W Coates is hustling and bustling with delivery trucks and Haymarket station commuters. This goes without saying that all major roads will have noise as well.

I ended up sleeping with my wireless noise-cancelling headphones on playing baby sleep music all night. It was rough.

It sounded like I poo-pooed the entire thing, but I just wanted to keep it real. Edinburgh is an unreal city to live in so please don’t be discouraged by my negativity.

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