Living and Working in Edinburgh in 2019
Edinburgh is a dynamic city that is globally considered to be a great place to live and work.
If you are considering making Edinburgh your home, this guide should provide you with all the necessary information about living and working in Edinburgh and all that the city has to offer to its residents.
Seamlessly blending the ancient and the modern, Edinburgh provides all the main features of a major city along with a rich array of culture and history.
Despite its small size, Edinburgh provides its residents with a diverse and vibrant capital city.
There are plentiful career opportunities in Edinburgh, particularly within financial services.
Edinburgh has the second largest financial centre in the UK and is a major centre for asset servicing as well as being one of the world's top fund management hubs and excels in services ranging from brokerage to corporate finance.
Population: 500,364 in 2017, estimated to rise to 502,563 in 2018. Edinburgh has one of the fastest growing populations of any city in the UK.
The National Records of Scotland estimates that Edinburgh’s population will grow to reach 618,978 in 2037. 
Language: English is the main language with Scots, British Sign Language and Gaelic as recognised languages.
Other languages spoken in the city include Spanish, Urdu, Mandarin and Polish.
Currency: Pound Sterling (GDP).
Time Zone: UTC +00:00.
Climate: Temperate. In the summer months, Edinburgh benefits from an average of 17 hours of daylight, though winter months do tend to be much darker and colder.
As described by Invest in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital is “one of the fastest growing and most productive cities in the UK.”
Across Edinburgh, there are a wide range firms ranging from large corporations to small start-ups, making Edinburgh an exciting place to live and work.
Edinburgh is home to 9.1% of Scotland’s population but makes up 15.8% of the country’s productivity. 
Compared with other major UK cities, Edinburgh has one of the lowest unemployment rates as well as the highest proportion of high-skilled occupations.
The city is perhaps best known for its financial services sector, with nearly 11% of the city’s working population employed in the finance and insurance sector. 
Accounting, professional services and law also offer employment opportunities to those in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh has also seen rapid growth in its Technology sector. Edinburgh was the UK’s fastest growing tech hub in 2017 and this shows no signs of slowing down. European Business Magazine named Edinburgh the Best European City for Technology Firms to Locate in 2016/17. 
There is also an expanding pool of home-grown start-ups enjoying significant international success - Edinburgh has a higher proportion of start-ups per 10,000 population than the UK average. 
Other major industries in Edinburgh include health services which is Edinburgh’s biggest employer, life sciences and the creative industries.
Education in Edinburgh is also a major employer with four universities and numerous colleges and schools throughout the city.
Edinburgh also attracts international investment and development, with many overseas companies choosing to have a presence in Edinburgh.
Not only is Edinburgh perfectly located, but it is also a diverse market, constantly offering new and exciting opportunities.
Tax and Employment Benefits
Employment benefits offered in Scotland vary from employer to employer but are likely to include leave from work, sick pay, maternity pay and a pension.
The average working week for a full-time job is between 37 and 40 hours a week. If you work full-time you’re normally entitled to at least 28 days of paid holiday each year. If you work part-time, you are also entitled to paid holiday each year.
Many organisations in Scotland also close for public and bank holidays. While it’s not compulsory for employers to give you paid leave on public or bank holidays, many do as an added incentive.
If you’re pregnant, you may be eligible for maternity pay from your employer. Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) allows you to take time off work both before and after your baby is born. SMP is paid for up to 39 weeks from when you take leave from your job.
Your partner is also entitled to up to two weeks of paternity leave – in addition to another 26 weeks if you decide to return to work early.
If you are eligible, the government will pay you a State Pension when you reach the national retirement age – normally between 60-65 years old. However, the amount you’re eligible for depends on the number of years you have paid National Insurance from your salary in the UK.
The majority of people working in Scotland have tax and National Insurance payments automatically deducted from their weekly or monthly pay.
The amount of Income Tax that you pay depends on several factors including how much you earn in one year.
National Insurance (NI) tax helps pay for social security benefits such as free healthcare, sick and maternity pay. The amount of NI you pay depends on how much you earn.
If you are not a UK national, you will need to apply for a National Insurance number from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). It will be used as a unique reference for your UK tax and National Insurance contributions.
With a history of financial services in the city dating back to the late 1600’s, Edinburgh is now home to many of the world’s largest and most influential financial services organisations, as well as some very exciting fintech start-ups.
The financial sector is the second largest employer in Edinburgh and the city hosts a variety of financial services including banking, life insurance and pensions, asset servicing and investment management.
It also has vibrant corporate finance, brokerage, professional services and fintech sectors.
Impressively, Scotland’s financial services industry:
- Accounts for 9% of Scotland’s GDP
- Employs almost 161 000 people
- Generates around £9 billion for the Scottish economy 
Edinburgh’s global financial services sector is well established, with strong representation across the banking, insurance and pensions, fund management and asset servicing sectors.
Edinburgh is the UK’s second largest financial centre behind the City of London. The city regularly ranks highly for investment attractiveness, financial services competitiveness, commerce and conference hosting.
Scotland has been ranked best performing destination for inward investment outside London for six consecutive years, since 2012. 
Almost 53,000 people work in Edinburgh’s financial and related professional services sector- over 15% of the city’s population. 
The city is home to Europe’s second largest asset fund manager, Standard Life Aberdeen, as well as Baillie Gifford and Artemis Investment Management. BlackRock, Citi, JP Morgan, Bank of New York Mellon, HSBC and State Street all operate out of Edinburgh, processing billions of pounds worth of transactions every day.
Edinburgh has built a reputation as an attractive place to do business for financial services companies and there has been an increasing trend in of companies choosing Edinburgh over London.
The industry also, on average, employs a younger workforce than other sectors. Just over 50% of those working in financial services in Edinburgh are under 40 years old, compared to 47% in other sectors.  This provides plenty of opportunities to graduates from Edinburgh’s world-renowned universities.
The strength of Scotland’s financial services industry lies in its diversity. Scotland has strengths in banking, life assurance and pensions, investment
management and asset servicing.
Whether you’re looking for a job in banking,
savings and investments, insurance, or any other area of financial services, Edinburgh has opportunities for all.
Scotland is a renowned centre of excellence in investment management with its origins dating back to the nineteenth century.
Edinburgh is highly regarded across the world for its excellence in asset management and is the second largest centre for this in the UK.
The Scottish asset management sector is heavily concentrated in Edinburgh- more than 90% of all Scottish fund managers are based in the city managing more than £500 billion of assets. 
The sector encompasses a broad mix of large institutional and smaller businesses that deliver a wide variety of innovative investment services to institutional and personal clients around the world.
A number of these firms have their global or UK headquarters in Edinburgh. These include industry leaders Blackrock and Standard Life Aberdeen.
Edinburgh has a long and distinguished history in banking. The has been a world-renowned banking hub since the late 1600s and has set a precedent for modern day banking.
The Bank of Scotland was founded in 1695 and the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1727. In 1875 the Chartered Institute of Bankers was founded in Edinburgh, making it the world's oldest professional body for practising bankers.
Today, the city is still one of the most desirable banking destinations and is home to the headquarters for many prominent banks including RBS, Tesco Bank, Virgin Money and The Bank of Scotland (now part of the Lloyds Banking Group).
Many other UK and international banks have sizeable operations in Scotland, including HSBC and Barclays.
There are not only many banking roles available in Edinburgh but also in support services such as operations, customer service and HR.
Insurance and Pensions
With its origins dating back to the early 1700s, Scotland has a strong reputation in the insurance and pensions industry.
Scotland’s capital has also been at the forefront of the life assurance market for more than 200 years and Life Insurance was invented by two Scottish clergymen, in 1748.
The UK’s insurance sector is the third largest in the world, employing over 330,000 people. 
Scotland has a significant concentration of life and pensions activity, accounting for 27% of employment in the sub-sector in Britain. 
Edinburgh has a wealth of expertise in this area, with many prominent companies operating out of the city.
For more than 30 years, asset servicing has been a key growth area for financial services in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh is also one of the main centres for asset servicing in the whole of the UK as well as being one of the leading European hubs for asset servicing on behalf of fund managers.
Six out of the top ten largest asset servicing organisations have a presence in Scotland, which includes BNY Mellon, BNP Paribas, Citi, JP Morgan, HSBC and State Street.
Companies based in Edinburgh offer a comprehensive range of services, including securities servicing, investment accounting, performance measurement, trustee administration, shareholder services, compliance, client management and retail fund administration.
This wide range of activities also creates a vast range of career opportunities for those looking to work in this area in Edinburgh.
Scotland has a large community of professionals providing a broad range of services to the financial services industry.
These include many prominent accountancy and legal firms as well as some of the oldest professional bodies in the world all located in Edinburgh.
The UK has a high quality market of professional and support services; it has the largest and most developed market in Europe for legal services, management consulting and accounting.
The Scottish legal sector is consistently strong, with over 6000 people working in legal services in Edinburgh.  Corporate and commercial areas of law firms will continue to be busy, and in-house functions of financial sector companies will continue to grow.
Accounting and finance is also a strong area of expertise in Edinburgh. Many leading companies have a presence in Edinburgh or neighbouring city Glasgow. The great bio-diversity of businesses ensures a steady flow of opportunity in this sector.
Scotland’s financial services industry benefits from an extensive chain of providers that deliver the wide spectrum of business services required by businesses operating the Edinburgh financial sector.
This includes companies offering services such as outsourcing, human resources, business consultancy, and technology.
There are plentiful opportunities with a variety of companies supporting the financial sector, both within Edinburgh and globally.
Combining the strengths of the city’s financial services and rapidly growing technology sectors, Edinburgh is poised to become one of the world’s top fintech hubs.
Edinburgh’s financial sector has been quick to adapt to the times and has become a driving force in the fintech sector, with new companies and established financial services companies using Edinburgh as a base for their fintech activities.
Over the past decade there has been over £37 million worth of investment in Scottish fintech and significant further investment is anticipated. 
Edinburgh was ranked 4th in the ranking of EMEA Tech Hotspots in the normal cluster, with the thriving fintech scene a key reason behind this. 
There has also been significant early stage funding in key areas such as data science, blockchain, digital security, cyber identity and open data compliance for companies in Edinburgh and these areas are set to grow in the coming years.
A recent jointly backed government and industry initiative to define and drive a fintech strategy for Scotland is already gathering huge momentum. The next 12 months will see the emergence of a more broadly connected fintech ecosystem across Edinburgh and Scotland. 
Scotland is famous for its first-class education system. It is one of the most highly educated countries in Europe and among the most well-educated in the world, with over 55% of the workforce educated to at least degree level. 
In Edinburgh, 80,700 students were enrolled in further or higher education in 2016, one of the UK's highest student concentrations. 
Compared to other UK cities, Edinburgh has the highest proportion of non-UK students and the highest proportion of EU students.
Edinburgh’s universities attract high-calibre students from around the world.
There are four universities in and around the city: The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University, Heriot-Watt University, and Queen Margaret University.
There are over 60,000 students enrolled in Edinburgh’s universities, which collectively produce over 15,000 graduates each year. 
The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1582, is the sixth oldest university in the English-speaking world. The University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University are famed for their global 5* research institutions, particularly in the areas of informatics, robotics and health. A high standard and range of teaching can be found at all Edinburgh universities.
Edinburgh is the third most popular city in the UK amongst international students, with 11,000 international students choosing to study in Edinburgh each year. 
After finishing their studies, 42% of graduates from Edinburgh’s universities choose to stay and work in the city, contributing to the city’s highly knowledgeable and skilled workforce. 
Further and Higher Education Colleges
There are six further and higher education colleges across the Edinburgh city region offering a wide range of courses and diplomas.
These include the newly formed Edinburgh College (Scotland's largest college, with four main campuses in Edinburgh and the Lothians), Fife College, Forth Valley College, Leith School of Art, Newbattle Abbey College and Scotland's Rural College.
Independent and State Schools
Edinburgh has a rich variety of renowned schools catering for a full range of educational needs, spanning the state and independent sectors.
Edinburgh has a high proportion of prestigious independent schools, with 23% of Scotland’s privately-run schools located within the city and one out of every thirteen pupils attending an independent school in Edinburgh. 
Pre-school Early Learning and Childcare
Pre-school early learning and childcare aims to encourage children aged between two and five years old to learn and develop in a caring and nurturing setting.
All children can get a free part-time place at a council nursery, or funding towards a place at a private one.
You can find local nurseries and read about alternative childcare options for two to five-year olds on the City of Edinburgh Council's website.
Edinburgh is recognised throughout the world as a fantastic and desirable place to live.
Clean, compact and safe, Edinburgh regularly tops the list of European cities where people would most like to live. Edinburgh provides its residents with an impressive quality of life.
Deutsche Bank also named Edinburgh the top city for Millennials in the world in 2018 and Property Week named Edinburgh the best place to live in the UK in 2017. 
Moreover, Edinburgh is the 2nd happiest place to live in Scotland. According to a study by Ipsos Mori, 96% of Edinburgh residents are satisfied the city as a place to live and over half say they are 'very satisfied'. 
The level of satisfaction with life in Edinburgh is equally high across all ages, levels of income and areas of the city.
When trying to attract experienced staff to move, Edinburgh’s range of great schools, easy access to the outdoors and high standard of living is an attractive proposition to many.
Edinburgh is a very compact city, and it is no surprise that 30% of people choose walking as their main mode of transportation and that Edinburgh was voted the UK’s most walkable city in 2017. 
The city is compact enough to see the sights, take in the city centre and experience the nightlife all without catching a bus!
However, Edinburgh has excellent transport links both within the city and to the rest of the UK and world.
The vast majority of Edinburgh residents were satisfied with the public transport network available in Edinburgh.
The city boasts an excellent bus network, serving all parts of the city and surrounding areas such as the Scottish Borders and East Lothian. Lothian Buses run all bus services in the city centre, as well as services to North Berwick, and First runs services to Livingston and Bathgate. National buses routes serve other Scottish and UK cities.
The Edinburgh tram line regularly runs services between City Centre and Edinburgh Airport, with stops at Haymarket, Murrayfield and Edinburgh Park - home to many major finance and technology companies.
The rest of Scotland and the UK can be easily reached by train. Edinburgh has rail links to most major UK cities and there is an excellent rail network connecting Scotland.
Commuting to Edinburgh by train is also a popular option, with people commuting from Glasgow, and others travelling from Stirling, the Scottish Borders, Falkirk and Livingston.
While the cost of living in Edinburgh may be higher than other parts of Scotland, it is considerably cheaper than that of London and other major cities.
With a wide range of services available in the city, there are plenty of options to suit all lifestyle budgets in Edinburgh.
The average household spends £54.80 per week on food, which is lower than most other parts of the UK. 
There are a wide variety of supermarkets from major chains and discount stores to speciality supermarkets.
Leisure activities come in a range of prices, with gym memberships ranging from £20-50 per month and the average cinema ticket costs between £8-11.  There are also many free facilities in Edinburgh.
To receive healthcare from the National Health Service (NHS), you must be registered with a GP (you can find your nearest GP here).
The following NHS services are currently free in Scotland for people with a visa allowing them to live the UK for at least one year:
- Medical advice from a doctor - General Practitioner (GP) and most other GP services
- Medical treatment in a hospital, both emergency and non-emergency
- Medicines prescribed by your GP
There also numerous companies offer private healthcare and health insurance, which is more expensive but may lead to quicker, more comprehensive treatment and aftercare.
Dental care can also be provided by the NHS, however it is not entirely covered for those over 18.
Check-up appointments are covered but additional treatment is not fully NHS funded and prices vary depending on the service and treatment required.
Private dental care is also available, with many dental practices offering both private and NHS services.
Searching for a new home can often be difficult when you don’t know the area.
Luckily, Edinburgh provides a wide spectrum of housing options, from character period properties to modern new developments, city centre apartments to country homes.
Edinburgh offers a variety of residential accommodation to buy or rent, including traditional tenement styles and new build developments.
There are plenty of green spaces around the city, with Holyrood Park, Inverleith Park and the Meadows popular options for Edinburgh residents.
As with every city, Edinburgh has several areas that are popular to live in with each offering their own characteristics.
Popular areas include:
City Centre – The busiest area of the city with a mix of residential property, businesses, retail and tourist hotspots. There is an architectural contrast with Georgian splendour of the New Town next to the historic charms of the Old Town. Newer buildings are harder to find, as are detached houses.
Stockbridge - Very popular residential area, particularly for families. The Water of Leith runs through this lovely part of town, which very much has its own relaxed ‘village’ atmosphere and abundance of boutiques and cafes.
West End and Murrayfield – A quieter residential area, easily accessible to the city centre. Close to the famous Murrayfield Rugby stadium.
Leith - Historic port town to the east of the city centre that is known for its waterfront views, smart apartment blocks, and award-winning restaurants and bars. Leith is particularly popular with young people, though many families also live in the area.
Morningside and Bruntsfield - Adjacent districts that retain their own unique ‘village’ feel. Just a short bus ride from the city centre, they are quieter and very popular with families. The primary and secondary schools are particularly sought after. The area is known for its independent shops and cafes.
There is a greater concentration of detached houses outwith the city centre, in areas such as the Pentland Hills and Portobello, while flats are more readily available in the city centre.
More than 1.6 million people live within of 90-minute travel to Edinburgh. Popular areas outside of the city include the Scottish Borders, Falkirk, Livingston and Linlithgow. 
If you are unsure of the various options available to you, the ESPC property map provides an overview of the whole of the South East of Scotland.
Although prices in rural Britain have been falling in the last years, the cost of living in the Scottish countryside is still up to 40% higher than in many British cities.  The reason for this is that living in remote areas of Scotland is more expensive when it comes to the costs of commuting, clothing, food, or household goods.
The Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre (ESPC) lists properties from a network of around 200 Solicitor Estate Agents and markets them through its website.
While most properties are sold through estate agents or solicitors, you can also buy privately from the owner – though you will still need the help of a solicitor to do the legal work.
Prices vary but the average in Edinburgh for different types of property is as follows:
- Detached - £465,780
- Semi-detached - £293,450
- Terraced - £236,020
- Flat - £178,030 
Edinburgh also offers competitive rental costs compared to other UK cities, particularly in comparison to London.
27% of Edinburgh households live in private rented accommodation, a higher rate than recorded across Scotland as a whole.  Most rental properties are furnished flats, though houses and unfurnished properties can be found.
Many letting agencies and private landlords will usually require a deposit, which is returned at the end of the tenancy.
It is also worth noting that most rental properties in Edinburgh usually do not include utility bills, Wi-Fi or council tax within the monthly rent. These are additional costs.
All residential properties in Scotland are subject to Council Tax. Council Tax is a local tax, with annual receipts contributing directly to the funding of local services.
In Scotland, all residential properties are assigned to one of eight bands (from A to H), based upon the value of that property. Edinburgh council also a range of discounts and exemptions for those who qualify.
More information on Council can be found at the City of Edinburgh Council.
Edinburgh is an attractive location for people from all over the world and is known for being a welcoming city to move to.
With excellent national and international transport links, Edinburgh is well connected to the rest of the globe. North America can be reached in as little as five hours and mainland Europe in over an hour.
This is how rents in Edinburgh compare with other major cities :
- New York - 226.76% more expensive
- Los Angeles - 115.55% more expensive
- Toronto - 30.80% more expensive
- Sydney - 117.20% more expensive
- Paris - 37.06% more expensive
- Dubai - 140.43% more expensive 
Visa and Immigration Requirements
Scotland is governed by the same visa rules and legislation as the rest of the United Kingdom, though there are several special business visa categories to ensure Scotland remains a competitive destination for investment. If you are from a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA), you will need a visa to live and work in Scotland.
The UK Government website allows you to work out which visa you require based on your nationality and reason for coming to the UK.
There are a number of options open to people who require a UK visa. The two most common categories are Tier 1 and Tier 2. "Skilled worker visas" (Tier 2) are the most frequently issued and there are a variety of sub-categories. There is also a separate sub-category for intra-company transfers.
The process will need to be started at least 3 months prior to your move to Edinburgh and it is worth noting that there can be substantial fees.
More information on the different UK visa classifications and how to apply can be found on the UK Government website.
EU Nationals Working in Scotland & Brexit
The Scottish Government continues to welcome EEA nationals in Scotland as the status of Europeans living and working in Scotland has not changed.
However, if you want to stay in the UK beyond 31 December 2020, you need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.
The scheme will be fully open by the end of March 2019 and you will have until 30 June 2021 to apply. If you have been a resident in the UK for more than 5 years you will be eligible for settled status. If you have been a resident for less than 5 years you will be eligible for pre-settled status.
In the meantime, it remains open to EEA nationals and their family members living in Scotland to apply for documentation from the UK Home Office that certifies their right to live and work in the UK. This can be done by applying for an EEA Registration Certificate (known as an EEA Residence Card), a Permanent Residence Card, or even British nationality depending upon your circumstances.
It is recommended that you sign up for email alerts from the Home Office regarding EU Nationals working in Britain for the most up to date information.
With cobbled streets steeped in history and a thriving cultural scene, you will never be short of things to do in Edinburgh!
Being a popular tourist city there are countless attractions to keep everyone entertained. Top attractions include Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, the National Museum of Scotland, the National Monument of Scotland, Edinburgh Zoo, HMS Britannia, St Giles’ Cathedral and the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Edinburgh was rated top ‘cultural and creative city 2017’ alongside Paris and Copenhagen in the European Commission’s Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor. 
Edinburgh also has a vibrant food and drink scene, with plenty of options when it comes to restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars. Edinburgh the highest number of Michelin starred restaurants in any UK city other than London. 
Sports and Events
Hosting twelve international festivals and a host of other major events throughout the year, Edinburgh's festival programme is a unique cultural phenomenon that attracts over 4 million people. 
Only the Olympics and the World Cup exceed the number of tickets sold at Edinburgh’s festival events.
Scotland's capital city is perhaps best known for the Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which has grown into the biggest annual international arts festival in the world. Every August, the city welcomes thousands of tourists and performers from every corner of the globe.
There is a good range of music and events in Edinburgh and Scotland is a frequent stop on the international tours of major musical acts.
Sports fans will not be disappointed as there are a wide range of sporting events across Edinburgh and Scotland.
If you're a keen golfer, there is a choice of courses in and around Edinburgh, including championship greens Muirfield and Gullane.
2019 will see Europe and America’s best female golfers go head to head in the prestigious Solheim Cup at the famous Gleneagles course - easily reached by train from Edinburgh.
There are frequent rugby and football matches in Edinburgh. Edinburgh regularly hosts local and international rugby and football matches and in 2020 neighbouring city Glasgow will be one of the host cities of the UEFA Euro 2020 football tournament.
History and Culture in Abundance
The city's historical and cultural attractions, together with its annual calendar of events and festivals have made Edinburgh one of the most desirable places to live in the UK and one of Europe's most popular tourist destinations, attracting over one million overseas visitors each year. 
In 2004 Edinburgh became the world's first UNESCO City of Literature, awarded in recognition of its literary heritage.
The city is also home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites - Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns and the magnificent Forth Rail Bridge are both recognised as sites
of significant international importance.
Outside of Edinburgh Scotland’s capital provides an excellent base to explore the rest of Scotland too. Some of the world’s most beautiful scenery, including the highlands and lochs, can be reached in a few hours.
Scotland’s other cities, such as Glasgow, Dundee and Stirling can be easily reached by train, bus or car and each offer a range of things to do and see, including the newly opened V&A museum in Dundee.
Edinburgh is a beautiful and compact city with a rich history and thriving cultural scene. These qualities are helping to attract, and retain, a highly skilled workforce that is driving the city’s growth.
Offering the perfect mix of traditional and modern, Edinburgh uniquely blends a thriving economy and strong business sector with a pleasant living environment and plenty of culture.
Offering a highly skilled workforce, strong links with the City of London, and a very high quality of life, Edinburgh has developed the necessary infrastructure to become a leading financial hub.
Employing thousands of people and generating billions for the economy, Edinburgh’s financial services sector provides the opportunity to work for globally renowned companies.
If you are contemplating moving to Edinburgh, this guide should hopefully give you all the information required to make your choice and to make your transition as smooth as possible.
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