Thinking about moving to the beautiful nation of Scotland? With breathtaking natural scenery, amazing islands, and world-class cities that are full of history and culture, there’s a lot to love about living in Scotland.
However, like with any move, there are plenty of pros and cons of living in Scotland. Whether that’s the expensive cost of living in Edinburgh to the unpredictable weather, Scotland isn’t for everyone.
On the flip side, you’ll have some of the best wildlife and rural spaces right on your doorstep with Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, the Cairngorms, and much, much more.
You’ll also be surrounded by friendly people, amazing bars and restaurants, and so many awesome attractions to choose from.
So, let’s dive in and discover the pros and cons of living in Scotland.
A Quick Overview & Comparison: Pros vs Cons
If you’re looking for a quick comparison between the pros and cons of living in Scotland at a glance, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a simple list to help you see all the positives and downsides of setting up a new life in Bonnie Scotland!
|Pros of Living in Florida
|Cons of Living in Florida
|Beautiful natural spaces
|Poor public transport outside of the main cities
|Tons of history
|Edinburgh can be seriously expensive
|Weather can be unpredictable
|Hard to get off the islands in the winter months
|High quality of living
The Pros of Living in Scotland
Okay, it’s time to dive deeper into the amazing pros of living in Scotland. Let me tell you, there are way more than are on this list, but these are some of the biggest and best ones to consider!
1. Beautiful natural spaces
Whether you’re looking for stunning mountains, amazing islands, windswept beaches, or luscious lakes, Scotland has them all. There are even islands in the Hebrides that look like the Caribbean, it’s kind of insane!
It’s also a year-round outdoorsy wonderland. You can ski and snowboard in Aviemore in the winter months and you can kayak and paddleboard around the islands and on the many lochs in the summer months.
If you love outdoor adventure, you’re going to be spoiled for choice in Scotland.
2. Tons of history
If you want to go back in time even further, head north to the Orkney Islands where there are archeological sites that hark back over 5,000 years! So, whether you’re after historic castles and battles or fossils and mysterious standing stones, it’s a history buffs’ paradise!
3. Free healthcare
One of the biggest pros of moving to Scotland has to be the free healthcare, As Scotland is a part of the UK, you’ll have access to the NHS which provides free healthcare from GP checkups to emergency room visits to surgeries and beyond.
However, Scotland is actually even better than England for healthcare as the Scottish Government offers free prescriptions for all residents. That’s a huge benefit, especially if you have a preexisting condition, as prescription prices can really add up quickly!
4. Free education
Scotland is the only place in the UK that provides free university tuition for its citizens. The catch is that you have to live in Scotland for at least three years before you can qualify for free university tuition in Scotland.
As with the rest of the UK, primary and high school are completely free up until the compulsory age of 18. Of course, there are private and paid schools that you can choose to attend or send your kids to, but it’s not necessary.
5. High quality of living
With plenty of social services, beautiful natural spaces, and walkable cities, Scotland offers a high quality of living compared to many other countries. Even when compared with other nations in the UK, Scotland often comes out on top for quality of living.
Whether you want to check out the best comedy and arts at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, want to eat some of the best seafood and drink the best whisky on the Western Coast, or want to enjoy rural life on a budget, this is a great place to put down roots.
6. Walkable cities
One of my favorite things to look at when I’m moving to a new place is the walkability of the cities and towns. Being able to wander from the local train station to a great coffee shop to amazing restaurants to museums and beyond is an awesome way to live and Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Dundee, and more all offer this.
Pedestrian-friendly cities are great for a few reasons including less emissions and cars, better public transport, and more independent businesses on your doorstep. It means that you spend less money on cars and gas, and you can walk more which is obviously a lot healthier!
The Cons of Living in Scotland
Now we’ve gone through all the great things about living in Scotland, let’s check out some of the not-so-great aspects of living in Scotland.
7. Poor public transport outside of the main cities
If you’re looking to live outside of the major towns and cities, you need to be prepared for the fact that public transport is going to be unreliable at best.
You’ll definitely need to have a car if you live in rural Scotland or live on the islands unless the area is small enough to cycle around!
While the big cities are full of buses and trains, you might be able to find one an hour out in the sticks, so it seriously affects your day-to-day plans. Getting wheels is essential and making sure you have access to affordable petrol or diesel is also a must!
8. Edinburgh can be seriously expensive
Honestly, while the cost of living in Scotland is largely pretty decent, Edinburgh is the shining exception to the rule. The cost of living in Edinburgh is pretty crazy with one-bedroom rent in the city center coming in at around £1285 per month without any bills or utilities.
Although it’s around 16% cheaper to live in Edinburgh than in London, it’s around 47% higher than living in Aberdeen. Glasgow isn’t much cheaper, but it’s still 18% cheaper than London overall.
9. Weather can be unpredictable
If you don’t like the weather in Scotland, wait 10 minutes and you might like it then. You can easily have wind, rain, snow, sunshine, and sleet, all in one day in Scotland. While it’s great to have a glimpse of sunshine or a wintry snowstorm that makes skiing a possibility, it can make it difficult to plan your day.
According to a survey, there are around 250 days of rainfall per year in the Highlands of Scotland and around 175 rainy days in other parts of Scotland. So, if you’re thinking about moving to Scotland, you need to invest in a warm raincoat!
10. Hard to get off the islands in the winter months
Look, I love the Scottish islands as much as the next person, but it can be tricky to get off the islands either to another island or back to the mainland in the winter months. Between the rough sea conditions and the cold weather, ferries don’t always run consistently during the winter months.
When you add in the fact that winter ferry timetables are already massively reduced, you might need to stock up for winter if you plan on living on one of the Scottish islands or pick a larger island with more amenities and stores.
FAQ’s About Pros And Cons Of Living Scotland
So, now that you’re clear on the pros and cons of living in Scotland, let’s round out this guide with a few frequently asked questions to help you make your decision.
Is Scotland a good place to live in?
Yes, Scotland is a great place to live! From wide open spaces that are good for your soul to free healthcare and university tuition to walkable cities, there are so many things to love about living here.
The cost of living is also pretty reasonable for Western Europe, especially outside of the major cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. So, if you’re looking for a country with a high quality of living without breaking the bank, consider moving to Scotland.
Is it expensive to live in Scotland?
The average cost of living in Scotland is around £1500 per month which is cheaper than a lot of other places in the UK, especially in England which tends to be pricier. Of course, if you opt to live in Edinburgh or Glasgow, the average cost is going to increase quite a lot, and in some cases can even double.
Like with any country, there are more budget-friendly cities that you can choose to live in or cheaper suburbs or commutable towns around the more expensive areas if you want to save some money.
Is it cheaper to live in Scotland than England?
It is cheaper to live in Scotland than England. With rising costs of living in England, Scotland remains cheaper than most places. When you compare similar cities, for example, London to Edinburgh and Birmingham to Glasgow, the Scottish cities are still cheaper than England.
When you add in the free university tuition and free prescriptions, the cost of living in Scotland remains lower than in England.
What is the average salary in Scotland?
The average salary in Scotland sits at around £26,000 per year. While this seems low, the cost of living is a lot lower than elsewhere in the UK and Western Europe, so it does tend to even out.
There are also plenty of remote jobs available where you can benefit from Scotland’s low cost of living while earning a higher average wage from elsewhere.
What is the cheapest place to live in Scotland?
According to a recent survey, the county of North Ayrshire has been ranked the cheapest place to live in Scotland. Despite the name, this area is located in the south of Scotland to the southwest of Glasgow.
Popular places in North Ayrshire include the Isle of Arran, Dalry, and Irvine, but you can easily get to Glasgow, Ayr, Troon, and more within a short drive or train ride depending on the route.
Is Scotland a good place to retire?
Yes, with a high quality of living, free healthcare and prescriptions, and plenty of outdoor recreation to keep you active in your older years, Scotland is a great place to retire. Scotland is also home to great restaurants, fresh and local seafood and meat, and tons of great whisky and gin distilleries to keep you warm and cozy in the long winters!
What is the most peaceful place in Scotland?
There are so many peaceful and tranquil spots in Scotland to choose from. However, one of the most beloved peaceful places in Scotland has to be Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.
Located just a short drive away from Glasgow, it’s easily accessible by train or car, and there are so many outdoor activities to enjoy. Whether you want to kayak or paddleboard on the loch, spend some time enjoying the peace on the hiking and biking trails, or want to chill out with a cup of tea in one of the quaint loch-side villages and towns, you can do it all here.