Home to the author of the famous and all-time favourite Harry Potter series, Edinburgh is a city well-loved by many for its rich culture and history. Serving as the capital of Scotland, this city has much to offer for all. With its pleasant environment and good-natured vibes, it is almost a more serene, peaceful version of London.

Nonetheless, travelling to a country for a holiday and moving to a country are two very different experiences. With that said, here are some things that we thought you should know about Edinburgh that could help you plan ahead, calm your worries and make your move seamless.

Employment opportunities

A relatively well-educated population, with more than half of all employed residents aged 25–64 holding at least a bachelor’s degree, Edinburgh is bustling with job opportunities in areas such as finance, education and travel and tourism.

Job hunting in a new and unfamiliar country may seem daunting but with these sites available, such as Reed, The Guardian, one of UK’s biggest newspaper that showcases online job advertisements, and Monster, finding a new job could be more streamlined and tailored to your preferences and interests. Alternatively, you could also consider enrolling in recruitment agencies such as Hays, Hudson and Blue Arrow. Remember to use the British spelling when sending out your resumes!

Before you begin work in Edinburgh, it is advisable for you to apply for a National Insurance Number (British Social Security Number). Although it is possible to start work before you receive your National Insurance Number, do remember to inform your employer of your pending application. Here is a quick summary of how the whole process works:

  • Call 0845 6000 643
  • Await the arrival of the application forms via mail
  • Have your postcode and passport ready to fill up the forms
  • Mail the completed forms along with the photocopies of your passport and visa
  • Receive your number in around two weeks’ time

Housing

Finding an ideal house in a new and unfamiliar place may always get a little stressful because you don’t want to make a bad choice. Edinburgh is made up of a few main neighbourhoods, namely the City-centre, Leith, Morningside and Bruntsfield, with Morningside and Bruntsfield being quieter and family neighbourhoods, located just outside the city centre.

Furnished housing units are a common find in Edinburgh, unlike apartments with lifts, and special requests such as housing that allows for smoking and/or pets may narrow your options or require you to pay a higher deposit amount. You can source for accommodation either via liaising with the house owners directly or through real estate agencies such as DJ. ALEXANDER and VMH Solicitors.

With rental prices soaring in recent years, for those moving alone, you might want to consider flat-sharing if you are on a tighter budget.

Education

Making sure your children settle in well to a good school is always a top concern for families with children. This makes Edinburgh an ideal country to move to, with its holistic education system in place.

Ranging from state comprehensive schools, denomination schools, Integrated Community schools, boarding schools to private schools, there are various options available based on your preferences. At a higher education level, the University of Edinburgh is well-established, coming in 23rd in the 2018 QS World University Rankings. International schools may be of particular interest to you, and these offer a range of qualifications such as the International Baccalaureate (IB).

Transport

With an extensive bus network service, the buses in Edinburgh bring you almost anywhere you need to be. For easy viewing of route maps and bus timetables, visit Lothian Buses or download their mobile app which allows you to check bus schedules in real-time to better plan your routes. The app also allows you to purchase tickets online, where you can flash your screen to the driver when boarding the bus. This could come in useful for those of you who do not like carrying loose change around as purchasing tickets on the bus itself requires you to have exact change.

In addition, depending on where you are travelling from and to, you may take the trams as well, which covers a limited route between New Town and Edinburgh Airport. Click here for a quick guide on how the trams work.

If you foresee yourself taking the public transport as your main form of commute, you might consider purchasing the Ridacard, which provides you with unlimited bus and tram rides at £54 a month. This is definitely a more worthy deal as compared to purchasing single trip tickets daily!

Driving

If you are moving from EU/EFTA countries to Edinburgh, you would not need to exchange your driver’s license if it is valid. For third-country citizens, your national drivers’ license is valid as well for up till 12 months. If you are living in Edinburgh for more than a year, you would then have to obtain a local driver’s license at the DVLA.

Cars in Edinburgh operate on left-hand drive which may take some getting used to for those of you who are used to driving on the right!

Healthcare

Medical services are made available to residents in Edinburgh, locals and foreigners alike, via the National Health Service (NHS), the United Kingdom’s public healthcare system. Your first visit to a general practitioner (GP) will allow you to be automatically enrolled with the NHS, where you will be allotted a 10-digit number for your health records (remember to note this down somewhere as it is important!). The GPs will usually serve as the first point you go to when feeling unwell, and here is a tool that you can use to locate the GPs nearest to you: NHS24.com, which could come in handy especially when you have just settled into your neighbourhood.

If you prefer to go for private medical insurance with benefits such as shorter waiting times, specialised and wider range of medical treatments, these are the well-known insurance companies in the market — AXA, Aviva, PruHealth and Bupa.

Nonetheless, trying to fix an appointment via the NHS could be challenging at times due to the long queues and inaccessibility. Hence, with the implementation of Q Doctor, an online platform collaboration between pharmacies and doctors, this could help lighten the load on NHS GPs, and patients can seek medical services more efficiently and conveniently. This is accessible either online or by visiting the selected branches, starting from £25.

Food and culture

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the largest arts and culture festival in the world and is labelled as the “world’s greatest platform for creative freedom”. It is an open access performing arts festival, where anyone can partake with any kind of performance. Showcasing as many as 53,232 performances in 2017, this festival gathers people from all over the world to celebrate the arts, and makes Edinburgh livelier than ever. This is definitely something you don’t want to miss if you move to Edinburgh!

With a large array of food ranging from Asian cuisine to dessert for those with a sweet tooth to your all British Fish and Chips, there is something for everyone. If you are feeling adventurous, don’t forget to try out the black pudding and haggis which are food unique to Scotland! Here are some recommendations to give you a headstart on your food journey! On days where you would like to wind down a little from school or work, there are various cafes all around the city that you can pop into and have a chill afternoon with a cup of tea.

Edinburgh has a lot to offer to many, and we hope this guide has given you a rough idea of what your future life would be like. There’s a lot to worry about, but fears and concerns about your new home country would hopefully be out of the way by now! Furthermore, what is there not to love about this city, when it has a nickname like “Auld Reekie” created by its citizens?

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