Living in Edinburgh - Make Scotland’s capital your new home

Edinburgh. Old Reekie. The Athens of the north. A city steeped in history and marvelous architecture. It is easy to see why this picture postcard town is held in great affection by visitors the world over.

Living in Edinburgh - Make Scotland’s capital your new home

Upon arriving in Edinburgh in 1842 for her first royal visit to Scotland, Queen Victoria remarked that the city was “quite enchanting” and that it is “fairy-like and what you would only imagine as a thing to dream of, or to see in a picture”. 

All year-round festivities, arts festivals and celebrations ensure millions of visitors flock to Edinburgh and keeps them coming back. Indeed, Charles Dickens wrote that the “city is so distinguished in literature and the arts” and that “coming back to Edinburgh is to me like coming home”. Star of Die Hard and Love Actually, the late Alan Rickman exclaimed, “I always feel that when I come to Edinburgh, in many ways I am coming home”.

Of course, Scotland’s capital is not just for tourists, it is an incredible city to live in. Edinburgh’s 513,000 residents have access to an enviable quality of life and everything you can think of in terms of amenities, including access to quality public transport, a second to none arts festival scene, music venues, a robust economy and plenty of job opportunities. 

Edinburgh is the UK’s highest ranking city in Numbeo’s European cost of living index, coming in at an impressive eighth place. Apart from all this, why are so many people thinking of moving to Edinburgh?

What are the best things about Edinburgh?

You can be sure that a warm welcome awaits you on arrival. No, really. Edinburgh has been voted the seventh friendliest city in Europe by readers of influential magazine Condé Nast Traveller. Scotland’s capital was the only UK city to be included in the continent’s top ten places with the smiliest, most welcoming people. Good news for anyone moving to a new town!

The city's population is around 500,000, but that figure more than doubles in size to over one million during the Festival in August. For three weeks at the end of every summer, Edinburgh transforms into one of the best celebrations of the performing arts, where the Edinburgh International Festival showcases world leading performances in dance, opera, music and theatre.

Running parallel to the Edinburgh International Festival is The Edinburgh Fringe which originated when eight theatre groups turned up uninvited to perform  in the 1940s. Despite not being part of the official performances, these groups staged their own shows on the fringe of the Festival hence the phrase – the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Visitors will get the chance to see some incredible performances across a variety of genres and venues around the city.

It is fair to say that these festivals will be top of many people's to do list when restrictions are fully lifted following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Edinburgh is truly a hive of culture, where in 2004, it became UNESCO's first City of Literature, and with 60 libraries per 100,000 people, it means Edinburgh has more libraries per capita than any other city in the world. Another amazing fact is that Edinburgh was the first city in the world to have its own fire service!

All of Edinburgh's medieval splendor is connected by the history-rich Royal Mile. The Royal Mile which runs through the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town and connects the new town areas with Edinburgh Castle with the opulent Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Integral to the Old Town is the curved and colourful Victoria Street. It is the perfect place for a picture and recently featured in the Marvel film, Avengers Endgame. 

Find a home in Edinburgh

Edinburgh has long had the mantle of Scotland’s most lucrative property market, with the average property price of £236,000. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, there was still an increase in property prices of 5.3% in 2020 in the capital city, revealed in the yearly UK House Price Index Scotland.

While affordable, there is no doubt that Edinburgh is a wealthy place, with real estate consultants Knight Frank finding that in the city there are around “30,600 high-net-worth individuals - with $1m or more in assets - and just over 230 ultra-high-net-worth individuals, who have more than $30m”. It is little wonder there is no better time to live in Edinburgh when Knight Frank predicts the east coast city to be a “future global urban hotspot”.

Stewart Milne Home’s Edinburgh developments

Is it expensive to live in Edinburgh? Well, it can, but it doesn’t have to be. For those looking for a new home within easy reach of the city centre, look no further than Stewart Milne's Homes.

Just beyond the city centre provides excellent and affordable living options, including the new neighbourhood of Shawfair. Nestled on the edge of The Wisp and Village of Danderhall with the captivating Pentland Hills, Shawfair North, with a blend of mining villages, market towns and city living all situated amongst its natural beauty; Stewart Milne Homes is building 115 premium three, four, five and six bedroom detached homes.

As a leading housebuilder, Stewart Milne Homes has a range of stunning properties to suit different homeowners and their lifestyles - from family homes, to apartments and townhouses – right across the Lothians.

Stewart Milne Homes communities can be found across both East Lothian and West Lothian allowing the benefits of rural life, while being within an easy commute of the city centre. 

A home in West Lothian

In West Lothian, Stewart Milne Homes has two highly sought-after communities - Calderwood in East Calder and Viewforth Rise in Bo’ness. The stylish one bedroom coach houses available at Viewforth Rise, Bo’ness, are popular with first time buyers. So too are the spacious contemporary townhouses and five bedroom family homes. 
Also in West Lothian, the Calderwood community is the perfect base for family life, with beautifully designed homes, ranging from three to six bedrooms, in a variety of styles, including luxurious townhouses and detached homes with double garages. 

A home in East Lothian

Castle Gardens in Pencaitland, Letham Views in Haddington and The Orchard in East Linton can all be found in nearby East Lothian. Castle Gardens has homes ranging from three to six bedrooms with a huge amount of options for each, including six styles of five bedroom home.

Letham Views has a selection of executive apartments, ideal for taking the first steps onto the property ladder. The neighbourhood also includes three, four, five and six bedroom homes. 

Council and building tax

As a result of Scotland having a devolved parliament, there are some subtle, and not so subtle differences between the UK’s tax systems.

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax - The new stamp duty

A prime example of this is with The Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT), a tax applied to residential and non-residential land and buildings transactions (including commercial leases). UK Stamp Duty Land Tax was replaced by LBTT in Scotland on 1 April 2015. 

To make your new home more affordable, Stewart Milne Homes can make a contribution to the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax due on your new home, which could save you thousands of pounds. 

For first time buyers, an LBTT relief is available from the Scottish Government, which increases the residential nil rate band of LBTT to £175,000. From 1 April 2021, the availability of the financial assistance provided will result in a reduction in tax of up to £600 for first-time buyers.

Council Tax

Edinburgh City Council will freeze its council tax next year, and instead use the money to pay for an iPad for each of the 39,000 secondary school pupils in the city (more to come on education).

With councillors agreeing not to not to increase Council Tax in 2021/ 22, that means your bills to the council will look like this:


Council Tax 












































The city’s council was previously considering raising council tax to 4.79 per cent – but has instead accepted a £9m grant from the Scottish Government in to keep the tax at current levels.

The cost of living in Edinburgh

Living in a prestigious city, or its outskirts, rarely comes cheap and Edinburgh is no exception.

Typically, Edinburgh features among the top 100 most expensive cities to live in the world and among the top 40 in Europe.

Steven Kilfedder, from ECA International whose company produces the yearly Cost of Living Survey, said: “The British pound has rebounded from the lows reached last year when uncertainty over Brexit culminating in a general election pushed the value of the pound down.

"Since then the pound has gained strength, including rising 8% against the US dollar, which means visitors and international assignees visiting and living in the UK may find goods and services more expensive.

"With Brexit negotiations reaching another crunch point this could have a significant impact on the UK’s ranking in the future through exchange rate changes and possible inflation due to increased trading costs." 


Are there good schools in Edinburgh?

Edinburgh can match and surpass the education offering of any UK city, outside of London. 
State-funded schools in the city, both primary and secondary, are generally well regarded and children are given priority admission to a school within their particular catchment area – a boundary determined by the local authority. 

Applications can be made to Edinburgh City Council to place a child at a school outside a catchment area, however such requests are regularly denied. 
In 2020, The Times newspaper ranked Boroughmuir High School as the best secondary in the Lothian city based on exam results. This achievement of 72% of pupils having achieved five Highers made it the eighth best performing secondary school in Scotland.

Alternatively, there are nine independent, also known as private, schools based in Edinburgh. Some provide a boarding experience, while others are designated as boys or girls only. Fees are usually charged per term and vary according to each school.

International readers should note that Scotland has an independent and distinct educational system where the curriculum, exams and qualifications are overseen by the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

A great choice of universities in the city

As many students will testify, moving to Edinburgh alone, or any other city, can be daunting. However, with 100,000 students enrolled in the universities around Edinburgh, these scholarly hopefuls quickly learn how to make friends in the often frequented student areas.

The University of Edinburgh is an institution whose rich history spans over half a millennium. A cursory glance at its alma mater reveals an enviable list of renowned scholars, including “David Hume, philosopher, economist and essayist known for his philosophical skepticism and empiricism; Joseph Black, the chemist behind the discovery of latent heat and carbon dioxide; and James Hutton, the ‘Father of Modern Geology’.” 

Although a century younger, Heriot Watt University can trace its origins back to 1821 where it began, in its own words, “pushing new frontiers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, business and design”. 

Edinburgh Napier University and Queen Margaret University are also popular institutions that attract students from Lothians and all across Scotland’s central belt to their many on and off-site courses.

All of Edinburgh's universities provide detailed guides on living costs for students.

Is there a college in Edinburgh?

Edinburgh College’s 35,000 students make it one of the largest in Scotland. It forms part of three colleges in the region and all offer a variety of courses to support students of all ages in gaining employment or a place at university. 

Why do people live in Edinburgh? Visit a local park and find out why

Glasgow might be known at the Dear Green Place, but Edinburgh has a whopping 112 parks and can claim more trees per head of population than any other UK city! What’s more, the city has been given more International Green Flag Awards (a prize for green spaces) than any of Scotland’s other 31 local authorities, making it one of the most green places to live in the country.

The Gaelic name for Edinburgh is Dùn Èideann which is where the name of the city in New Zealand Dunedin gets its name from.

City centre green spaces

These magnificent green spaces are not just to be found in Edinburgh's periphery. From the moment you leave Edinburgh Waverley railway station, one of the first sites you will see is the lush emerald slopes of Princes Street Gardens. The gardens comprise of two city centre parks, found directly beneath the famous Edinburgh Castle. 
Also with great views of Edinburgh Castle, Inverleith Park is a great location for family walks and has an abundance of opportunities to explore and study its various nature trails. A wooden boardwalk allows visitors to access the area and view the flora and fauna in its large pond.

A park with a roof

The Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh is a really lovely way to spend the day exploring and learning about the world of plants set over 70 acres and can be enjoyed all year round. Visitors can also take in a tour of the garden's 10 glasshouses including the Victorian temperate palmhouse and tropical palmhouse. They each have their own climatic zones and are home to more than 3,000 exotic plants from around the world.

A park with a volcano and a view!

Holyrood Park makes a great case for the finest park of them all. Located next to Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament, visitors simply cannot leave without first having climbed the 251m tall Arthur’s Seat, which is the remnants of a volcano! A great experience!

Public transport - Make your way around the beautiful city

Edinburgh is  proud of its green credentials and as of 2022, the council will begin introducing Low Emission Zones (LEZs). In these areas, older and more pollution emitting vehicles will be banned from entering in an effort to tackle pollution. They will mostly be set up around the city centre. 

Travel by car

To help with the change, the Scottish Government is offering eligible households in Edinburgh up to £2000 to buy low emission vehicles. The ‘Travel Better’ is also offering up to two £500 vouchers to buy a bicycle or electric bike.

Public transport in Edinburgh is reliable service and offers a comprehensive bus network that is one of the best ways of getting around. In a similar way to how London’s fleet of publicly owned buses are famously splashed in red, Edinburgh’s stable of public transportation vehicles are easily identified by their maroon colour. 

A region-wide bus network

Lothian buses provide a 24-hour service. These around the clock journeys offer excellent value for money, with an adult ticket costing £1.80 and a child’s (5-15 years olds) priced at £0.90. A day ticket costs £4.50 for an adult and £2.20 for a child. This gives even more bang for your buck with unlimited journeys on day services across Edinburgh and beyond.

Save time on the tram

Alternatively, Edinburgh's tram line opened in 2017 and has 16 stops along its 14km track. Adult fares begin at £1.80 and children’s prices from £0.90. Work is ongoing to extend the network to Newhaven, a district to the east of the city centre. 

Edinburgh Airport

Edinburgh Trams’ most westerly station is at Edinburgh Airport, Scotland’s biggest airport where  14million passengers use it every year. Services run all year round is and the best way to get into the capital of Scotland.

An adventure by foot

Of course, walking might be more ideal to get a feel for this medieval city and its cobbled streets and to keep living costs down. Even better, why not lace up your running shoes and take to the Royal Mile and other history-steeped streets? In terms of size, this is one of the best places to live if you plan to get around on foot. 

Job prospects in Edinburgh’s strong city economy

Packed full of potential for career-driven individuals, Edinburgh is one of the fastest-growing cities in the UK, with Scotland’s National Records suggesting a 28.2% rise in population by 2037. 

Although the coronavirus pandemic has seen a sharp decline in the growth of the economy across the UK, Edinburgh’s Southside is among the lowest percentage of those claiming unemployment at 2.8%, compared with an average of 5.3% across the capital city. 

Edinburgh is home to more FTSE 100 companies than any other UK city outside London and is one of the most prosperous cities in the UK, second only to London in terms of earning potential. The average salary in this historic town is an impressive £35,000 a year compared to the national average of £24,486. Those looking to find employment in the financial sector are spoiled for choice, which isn’t surprising considering Edinburgh is home to the Royal Bank of Scotland. Other thriving sectors in the city include life sciences, software development, and energy. 

A better work-life balance

For those looking to excel in the creative industry, it may be interesting to know that Edinburgh was the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, making it the ideal location to find inspiration and a great place to live for jobs in the arts. In addition, the rich history of Edinburgh and its stunning architecture and beautiful green space is sure to spark your imagination. This vibrant city is also home to the largest number of start-ups across the country, with 42% of ambitious tech businesses based in and around Edinburgh. 

Whether you’re looking for a change of career or just a change of scenery, Edinburgh has a wealth of opportunities and is the ideal location for both work and life. Edinburgh provides the perfect backdrop upon which to pursue your goals and enjoy the rewards. 

Spectator sports in Edinburgh

Glasgow claims Hampden Park, the home of Scottish football, as its own, but Edinburgh is still a hub for sport and a great place to become a fan. 


Scotland’s biggest arena BT Murrayfield Stadium is the home of rugby and regularly plays host to capacity crowds of 67,000 screaming fans, willing the team on during the Six Nations and against the mighty teams of New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. It is a sporting experience like no other.
In the shadow of the magnificent steel structure sits the newly built Edinburgh Rugby Stadium. Completed in February 2021, the city’s club rugby side will no longer use Murrayfield and instead move to the capacity of 7,800.  As you will see from the club's badge, they proudly display Edinburgh Castle as their emblem.


Fierce football feuds can be found outside Glasgow. Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian form the Edinburgh derby and a rivalry that stretches all the way back to 1875. 
Easter Road, the home of Hibs, and Tynecastle Park, Hearts’ stadium, both hold 20,000 spectators. For their diehard fans, the result does matter.
Of course, we can’t forget about Edinburgh City F.C. who are steadily making their way up the leagues. They are fighting for promotion from the fourth tier of the SPFL and will soon move back into a newly renovated Meadowbank Stadium, a multi-purpose facility that hosted the opening ceremony of the 1970 Commonwealth Games. 

The city’s sporting icons

Edinburgh's proud sporting tradition extends well beyond team sports. Sir Chris Hoy, the Olympic cyclist is Scotland’s most successful Olympian and even though his eponymous velodrome might be in Glasgow’s east end, the proud Edinburgh man calls the city his home. 

From a pedal pusher to powerful puncher, Scotland’s greatest boxer and International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee Ken Buchanan MBE is a former undisputed world lightweight champion and an Edinburgh native.

Legal requirements for living in Edinburgh and the United Kingdom

The very short version is, a person has a right to live in the UK if they are a British citizen (which includes nationals of the Channel Islands or Isle of Man); they are a citizen of Ireland; they have pre-settled or settled status through the EU Settlement Scheme or they have indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK (ILR) or they have a residence document.

If any of those factors apply to you then it is likely you have already done the work needed to move to or continue living in Britain. However, those at the beginning of the research and moving process should be aware that the UK’s decision to leave the European Union in 2016 has changed the residency process for EU citizens. 
For EU citizens already in the UK, their rights and status will remain the same until 30 June 2021. To continue living in the country after this date, they and their close family members must apply for the free EU Settlement Scheme.

For the most up to-date information on visiting or living in the UK, please visit: 

Moving to Edinburgh with Stewart Milne Homes

Perhaps writer Alexander McCall Smith, author of 44 Scotland Street and who has lived in Edinburgh for decades, said it best about the beautiful city and its people, “the Scots think of it as their capital; they’re too possessive, Edinburgh belongs to the world”.

For anyone thinking of moving to Edinburgh alone or with a family, or in close proximity to the capital of Scotland,Stewart Milne Homes is ready to help with anything in finding the right home across a range of new build developments with a wide selection of property types available.

Get in touch with us now to find out more about the latest developments, places to live and stunning show homes or look at our homes for sale within easy reach of Edinburgh and all across 

Living in Edinburgh - Make Scotland’s capital your new home


Posted in: Lifestyle Neighbourhoods Buying a Home Selling a Home First Time Buyers

Posted on: Apr 22, 2021