Scotland is the ideal destination for anyone seeking to relocate abroad. There are many advantages and disadvantages to moving to Scotland.
It is a truly incredible place for foreign workers, regardless of whether they are visiting as part of a gap year with a working holiday visa, as students attending one of the universities, or as Europeans seeking a new place to live.
Before relocating, it is prudent to investigate the advantages and disadvantages of living in Scotland. There are always two sides to every story, and while Scotland has a few disadvantages, its advantages far outweigh its disadvantages.
Here is my list of the advantages and disadvantages of living in Scotland, whether you plan to move to Glasgow, Edinburgh, or anywhere else in Scotland.
Pros of living in Scotland
Scotland, particularly the major cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, offers numerous opportunities for temporary and foreign workers.
You can find employment in hotels, hostels, offices, bars, and (in my opinion) tourist attractions, which are the coolest places to work. The Scottish job market is extremely receptive to individuals from other nations; they welcome us with open arms.
Interested in working in Scotland? There are numerous jobs available for expats in Scotland, but you must first obtain a work visa. Alternately, you can find temporary employment through Scotland’s employment agencies, which occasionally offer housing in conjunction with employment.
As part of a working holiday in Scotland, there are a plethora of temporary employment opportunities available to foreign workers.
I utilized several temp agencies before deciding to work at one of Edinburgh’s most popular attractions. I believe that visitor attractions are the best places to work in Scotland during a working holiday, but many people also apply for jobs in pubs, hotels, hostels, and general retail.
Employment Bureaux in Scotland
There are numerous temporary employment agencies in Scotland that can assist you in your job search. Check out my post on how to get a job in Scotland for more information, whether you are seeking a temporary office position in a city or a farm position with housing.
Check the websites of places where you’d like to work to see if they’re advertising any job openings. It is worthwhile to send a CV to their HR department even if they have no open positions, just in case something opens up.
As soon as I set foot on Scottish soil, I noticed how kind, friendly, and inquisitive the Scottish people are. When I first moved to Edinburgh, I had to ask for assistance frequently, and everyone stopped what they were doing to assist me.
When I moved into my first apartment with people I had never met before, they offered to drive me to the grocery store and pick me up from the train station.
When I began working, all of my coworkers invited me out, treated me wonderfully, and made me feel like an integral member of the team.
It is also very simple to make friends in Scotland. Check out my post on making friends in Scotland if you are new to the country.
Scotland is home to some of the world’s most breathtakingly beautiful landscapes. No matter where you are in Scotland, you are never far from a fantastic place to spend your time. In Edinburgh, you can visit Arthur’s Seat, St. Margaret’s Loch, or the hilly Pentlands if you want to feel as though you’ve left the city without leaving it. Scotland’s numerous hills, peaks, and hiking trails make it simple to maintain physical fitness.
Scotland is known for its deep-fried cuisine. Delicious, unhealthy, and my personal favorite, the pizza supper consists of a deep-fried cheese pizza served with chips.
I’ve always placed my chips on top of my pizza, believing that this is how the locals do it. However, it turns out that I was odd for doing it!
My other favorite Scottish dish is chips and cheese, which consists of deep-fried chips covered in mounds of melted cheese. Magnificent! You can also get deep-fried cheeseburgers, sausages, haggis, and even deep-fried Mars Bars!
In contrast to the unhealthy world of fish and chip shops, Scotland has a fantastic selection of vegetarian and vegan food in both takeout restaurants and grocery stores.
Alpro is a dairy-free yogurt brand, as well as other dairy-free foods. I thoroughly enjoyed it! It is unavailable in Canada, and I miss it terribly.
Scotland is the home of the infamous haggis, which consists of ground-up sheep heart, liver, and lungs stuffed inside the stomach of a sheep. This one-of-a-kind dish also contains onion, oatmeal, suet, and seasonings.
At least once a year, on Burns Night, a celebration honoring Robbie Burns, the Scots consume haggis. It is also readily available year-round in restaurants.
I did not enjoy a vegetarian version of haggis, neeps, and tatties (haggis with turnips and potatoes). However, haggis is a staple of Scottish cuisine, so you should try it, vegetarian or not.
Irn Bru is the last Scottish delicacy I must mention. It is comparable to sipping the happy tears of every god in existence.
It is a beautiful soda pop/fizzy drink that will simultaneously rot your teeth and fill your heart with joy. Try it! It will be the greatest experience you’ve ever had.
Is Scotland a safe country?
Scotland is a very safe place to visit and reside. During the two years that I lived there, I never felt unsafe. You should avoid certain shady neighborhoods in larger cities, such as Niddrie, Wester Hails, MuirHouse, and Pilton in Edinburgh.
Additionally, it is prudent to be aware of your surroundings when in public and to keep your wallet, mobile phone, and other valuables out of the reach of potential thieves.
The greatest threat to safety in Scotland is public drunkenness. It is not unheard of for someone who has consumed too much alcohol to attempt to communicate with you or yell at you from across the street.
Typically, these encounters are infrequent and harmless. But if it ever occurs to you, I advise you to disregard the individual and continue on.
Simply employ common sense, and you will be fine.
During your stay in Scotland, dial 999 to contact the emergency services if you ever feel in danger or unsafe. (911 will still connect you to emergency services in the UK if you forget the local number!)
Free medical care
When you apply for your temporary work visa in Scotland, you are required to pay a one-time immigration health surcharge. As of 2019, the annual fee for a working holiday is £300. (2-year max stay). However, unlike in other nations, after paying this fee, all healthcare in Scotland is free.
Doctors are accessible at any time, and prescriptions are free. Due to the fact that I had a permanent address in Scotland, I only had to visit the doctor once in my two-year stay and received excellent care.
In addition, the initial immigration surcharge ensures that people living in the country on a working holiday are not abusing the National Health Service if they become ill.
Even though you will have access to free healthcare during your stay in Scotland, you should still purchase travel insurance. I utilized World Nomad’s Travel Insurance during my two years abroad.
No Cost Eye Care
Similarly to how seeing a general practitioner is free, seeing an ophthalmologist is also free! Additionally, eyewear in Scotland is incredibly inexpensive.
I never bought glasses there, but I did purchase high-quality contact lenses at a very low cost. Rain is one of the few disadvantages of living in Scotland if you wear glasses. Contacts were essential!
Zero Bank Fees
Coming from Canada, the land of fees, I was surprised to find that bank accounts in Scotland were free. Even using ATMs from competing banks was free.
There is the occasional machine that charges for withdrawals. However, you will always be informed of the fee and given the opportunity to cancel the transaction prior to being charged.
Outstanding Mobile Phone Plans
The mobile phone plans in Scotland are phenomenal. Unlimited data plans and unlimited text messaging are truly limitless.
Many companies offer additional perks, such as free mobile phones and deals that include a free weekly movie and meal, in addition to affordable, unlimited phone plans.
The public transportation in cities is excellent. Within Edinburgh and Glasgow, a number of buses and trams operate within minutes of one another.
If you do not reside in a major metropolitan area, you will still have access to frequent buses and trains that will transport you across the country quickly and affordably. It is easy to get around Scotland without ever needing to purchase a car.
You do not want to move to a new country as a temporary worker and live in an empty apartment. But you don’t want to spend a lot of money furnishing a place you’ll only be in for a few years.
It was uncommon to find unfurnished apartments or houses for rent in Scotland. Having easy access to fully furnished apartments facilitates temporary living in a foreign country. The majority of apartments include all of the essentials, including dishes, beds, couches, and everything else.
Check out my post on where to live in Edinburgh or how to find an apartment in Glasgow if you need assistance finding an apartment or renting a room in Scotland.
Scotland provides its students with free tuition and excellent treatment. It is irrelevant whether or not you were born in Scotland.
If you have lived in the country for at least three years prior to applying to university, you are eligible for free tuition.
The universities in Scotland have an international reputation for excellence. The University of Edinburgh attracts students from all over the world who travel to Scotland to study.
Numerous Locations to Live
Large cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow have an abundance of available flatshares. If you don’t mind living with strangers (who will often become your best friends), finding a place to live will be extremely simple.
Websites like Gumtree are fantastic for locating the ideal residence. Depending on who you meet during your search, you could end up living with Scots or with other foreigners like yourself.
The past is everywhere!
Scotland is also home to some of the world’s oldest places, boasting thousands of years of captivating history.
From exploring Edinburgh Castle on the Royal Mile to exploring the once plague-ridden Mary King’s Close beneath the city streets.
Scotland is loaded with fascinating locations. Scots are extremely proud of their history, so be prepared to hear a lot about it if you make local friends. During my time in Scotland, I learned so much about the country because of my patriotic friends.
Fringe Festival of Edinburgh
If you enjoy live theater and festivals, you must visit Edinburgh’s Festival Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival.
In addition to the Edinburgh Tattoo, for which tickets are frequently sold out six to twelve months in advance, the Festival Fringe brings the city to life with street performers, theatrical plays, and hilarious comedians.
During the Festival Fringe, the city will become incredibly crowded with tourists. Give yourself additional time to get to work if you must travel through the city center or the Royal Mile.
Having left Scotland
An advocate of living in Scotland is leaving the country? Yes! The remainder of Europe is immediately accessible.
Cons of living in Scotland
As a lover of rain, I had difficulty placing weather on the list of negatives. After 18 months, I grew weary of the weather in Scotland, which typically consists of rain, cold, wind, and humidity.
Check out my packing list for Scotland if you want to know what to bring to keep warm.
Because Scotland is surrounded by water, the humidity is consistently high, making the already chilly days even chillier.
On a few days per year, the temperature is so high. All Scots declare that it is “taps off” weather! Grab a drink and join the shirtless Scots in appreciating the fleeting but much-appreciated extremely hot days.
The Cultural Shock
Depending on where you are from, you may experience the dreaded culture shock.
From not being able to understand the Scottish accent (don’t worry, you’ll get used to it so much that you won’t even notice people have accents) to not knowing where to buy certain items of clothing or how to do laundry, Scotland’s culture can be difficult to adapt to.
Please review my post about what to expect when moving to Scotland if you have any concerns.
There are a few unexpected taxes in Scotland. The amount you pay depends on where you live, the type of housing you occupy, and whether or not you have a television.
Local services, such as garbage collection, schools, and general city maintenance, are financed by these taxes, making them necessary and significant. (yet we can still gripe!)
There are a number of different council tax bands, ranging from Band A (the least expensive) to Band H (the priciest), which determine how much you must pay.
These fees are separate from your monthly rent, so be sure to find out the council tax band of your future apartment before you sign the lease to avoid unpleasant (and costly) surprises in the future.
To quote my friend Chris, “I introduce you to the council tax, which sets fire to your hard-earned money!”
Another added tax is the TV tax! Due to the BBC’s desire to remain commercial-free, every household must pay a monthly TV tax. The only way to avoid payment is to not own a television. Does anyone still watch television?
Clothes Washing and Drying
In the majority of countries, drying clothes on a clothesline is the norm. But if you’re moving from North America to Scotland, you’ll have to adjust and learn how to do your laundry without a dryer (or a tumble dryer, as they say in the UK).
Even if you manage to obtain a cherished tumble dryer, they are awful in Scotland! Typically, the machines consist of a single washer-dryer unit, with a quality compromise on the dryer side.
I’ve heard they have significantly better machines now, but it’s unlikely that your rental apartment will have them. Learn how to hang your clothes, and life will become a breeze.
It’s almost as if they move the laundry around in a circle for ten hours until it’s just damp, and you give up hope of ever receiving warm, dry laundry.
I’ve heard that you can purchase better stand-alone tumble dryers, but if you’re renting an apartment for two years, you’re stuck with one of those awful combo dryers! (or no dryer whatsoever)
In addition, Scotland is a rainy country. Be prepared to frequently dash outside to remove your clothes from the line and dry them indoors on a clothes drying horse.
That is the exact dryer horse I bought and gave to my friends when I relocated. Who in turn shared the information with their peers. I’m curious as to where my dryer horse is now.
No Displays on Windows
I am uncertain as to why people in Scotland do not install window screens. If I did not have a window screen in my bedroom in Canada, I would be plagued by spiders and other insects because there would be no barrier between the interior and exterior.
If you enjoy having fresh air enter your bedroom, be prepared to coexist with spiders. Depending on where in Scotland you reside, this may not be a problem, but in Edinburgh and South Queensferry, spiders were abundant!
Should you consider moving to Scotland?
Whether you plan to live in Scotland for one year or permanently, you are making the right decision!
It is a beautiful country with awe-inspiring landscapes, a rich history, delicious (if unhealthy) food, fantastic opportunities, and remarkable people.
If you are apprehensive about moving to Scotland, be sure to review my Moving to Scotland Checklist so that you are well-prepared.
You will become a proud Scot, even if you have no Scottish ancestry, regardless of how long you reside in Scotland.
Topic: The Pros and Cons of Living in Scotland
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