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Edinburgh: Housing and Safety

By moving to Edinburgh, you’ll be relocating to a place steeped in history. It has been the capital of Scotland since the 1300s; in 1999, it became the seat of a Scottish Parliament again. But if you’re looking for practical info rather than historical details, this expat guide is the right resource for you!
Such residential streets are typical of Edinburgh’s older neighborhoods.

The Housing Search

When it comes to finding housing in Edinburgh, it is rather difficult to give any specific recommendations. Your choice of accommodation and neighborhood always depends on factors like your budget, the location of your new workplace, the proximity to schools for your kids, available transport links, and so on.

To get your bearings, it’s probably best to start by looking at the area maps provided by Scottish real estate agency ESPC. Their maps cover a fairly large region in southeast Scotland:

  • the City of Edinburgh proper: Central Edinburgh, Edinburgh North, Edinburgh West, Edinburgh South, Edinburgh East, as well as Northwest and Southwest Edinburgh
  • the Lothians: the region adjacent to the city
  • East Fife: across the Firth of Forth from Edinburgh
  • West Fife & Kinross: also on the opposite side of the estuary
  • Central Scotland: an area that includes Stirling, Clackmannashire, and Falkirk

The maps offer a fairly good overview of individual towns and neighborhoods: their exact location, important landmarks, and transportation options, such as main roads and train stations. Thus you may narrow down your search options to pre-selected areas.

The Housing Market

Unfortunately, the housing market in Edinburgh is rather expensive, though. Rental prices hit a new record high in late 2013.

For instance, a room in a shared flat will cost you about GBP 450. A two-bedroom flat in Edinburgh’s popular areas, such as New Town or the West End, is rented at an average (!) price of GBP 1,000.

The BBC’s popular online calculator for property prices and rental costs in the UK shows a similar result: For a mid-priced two-bedroom flat in Edinburgh, you have to pay GBP 700-800 per month in rent.

Please remember that utility costs for water, gas, and electricity aren’t yet included in those sums.

Once you have found your dream home in Edinburgh, you might want to have a look at the following articles in our UK Expat Guide:

Safety in Edinburgh

When choosing a place to live, people new in town may also be worried about personal safety. In general, Edinburgh is a fairly safe city. For example, in 2012/13, the local police recorded two cases of homicide in the City of Edinburgh and another two cases in the Lothian & Borders region.

The biggest risks probably include getting targeted by pickpockets, especially during festival season, or being accosted by brawling drunks in Edinburgh’s nightlife areas. For this reason, you should probably avoid popular party spots such as Lothian Road or Cowgate at night, especially on weekends.

Some neighborhoods – particularly impoverished areas and council estates – also have a general reputation of being "dodgy" and "unsavoury". They tend to have an above-average crime rate when it comes to vandalism, drug use, anti-social behavior, and assault. However, the City of Edinburgh is working on major redevelopment projects for such areas in order to support local communities.

But don’t worry! Neighborhoods like that are the exception rather than the rule. While not all of Edinburgh is neoclassical architecture or leafy greenery, the Scottish capital is mostly a pleasant place to live.

If you should still happen to have an emergency (crime or accident), just call 999. If you’d like to report a crime, contact the Scottish police via 101.

If you are interested in safety and security in the UK in general, have a look at our detailed Expat Guide!


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Ruben Barbosa

"Whether it's the Edinburgh Fringe Festival or the Highlands -- such great opportunities to explore Scotland with my fellow expats."

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