Immigrating to Scotland? Read Our Guide

A family packing boxes to move to Scotland

Are you dreaming of rolling green hills, ancient castles, and world-class whisky? If moving to Scotland is on your mind, you've come to the right place. In this guide, we'll cover everything you need to know about making the move to the gorgeous land of bagpipes, haggis and shy loch-dwelling denizens.

Why Move to Scotland?

A loch in Scotland

Apart from the lush landscapes and rich cultural heritage, Scotland has a lot to offer newcomers. The quality of life is excellent, with access to free healthcare and tertiary education. And let's not forget the friendly locals and lively social scene in cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow.


Visas and Immigration Requirements

For UK/Irish Citizens 

If you're a UK or Irish citizen, you have it easy — no visa is required to live and work in Scotland. All you need is a valid passport or national ID.

For EU/EEA/Swiss Citizens 

Thanks to the current immigration rules, EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens can live, study, and work in Scotland without a visa. However, if your stay exceeds three months, you'll need to apply for a residence permit.

For Everyone Else 

Non-EU citizens will need to obtain an appropriate visa before moving to Scotland. The most common routes are:

  • Skilled Worker Visa: For those with a job offer from an approved UK employer
  • Family Visa: For partners/spouses and dependent children of UK residents
  • Student Visa: For those undertaking a course of study in Scotland

The visa application process can be complex, so it's wise to start well in advance and ensure you meet all the criteria.


Finding a Job

An employee shaking hands at their new job in Scotland

Having a solid job offer can make your visa application smoother. Popular sectors to explore include:

  • Oil and gas
  • Renewable energy
  • Technology/IT
  • Finance
  • Tourism/Hospitality
  • Education

Update your CV to UK standards and start your job hunt on websites like:

  1. My World of Work
  2. My Job Scotland
  3. S1 Jobs
  4. Scotland Jobs

Networking, whether online or in person, can also open up opportunities. But this option only works if you're established and already living in Scotland, and you're not looking to get a work visa.


Where To Live

Scotland offers a diverse array of living options — from the buzz of cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh to the tranquillity of the Highlands. Here are some popular destinations and factors to consider when deciding on where to stay:

City Living

  • Glasgow: Affordable, culturally vibrant, great job market
  • Edinburgh: Historic, expensive but stunning architecture
  • Aberdeen: Hub for the oil/gas industry

Smaller Towns

  • Inverness: Gateway to the Highlands, more affordable
  • Dundee: Up-and-coming city on the east coast
  • Stirling: Centrally located in a historic old town

Rural Areas

The rural areas are ideal for anyone to live surrounded by peace, quiet and beautiful natural surroundings. However, amenities and job opportunities may be limited.

Renting vs Buying

Most newcomers start by renting a property through letting agencies or sites like Rightmove and Zoopla. This allows you to get a feel for different areas before committing to buying.

If you do decide to purchase a home, be prepared for a lengthy process and high property prices, especially in cities. Get pre-approved for a mortgage and enlist the services of a solicitor.

Cost of Living

While not as expensive as London, the cost of living in Scotland's major cities can still put a dent in your finances. Here are some average monthly costs to factor in:

  • Rent (one-bed flat in city centre): £600–£1,000
  • Utilities: £100–£200
  • Groceries: £200–£300 per person
  • Transportation: £70 (including bus/rail passes)

Costs tend to be lower in smaller towns and rural areas. Budgeting carefully is key, at least initially.


Healthcare and Education

A class of students at a Scottish University

As a legal resident of Scotland, you'll be entitled to free healthcare under NHS Scotland. Similarly, university education is heavily subsidised for Scottish/EU students.

For children, Scotland has an excellent public school system across primary and secondary levels. Private/international schools are also an option in major cities.

Culture Shock

While Scotland shares many cultural similarities with its UK cousins, there are some unique aspects to be aware of:

  • The distinct Scottish accent, dialect and slang 
  • Celebration of traditions like Burns Night, Highland Games, etc.
  • Obsession with deep-fried food items like Mars Bars (indelibly unhealthy but delicious) and "out there" dishes like haggis

The best way to overcome culture shock is to embrace the local way of life with an open mind and a good sense of humour!

We hope this guide has given you a decent overview of what to expect when immigrating to Scotland.


Self Storage Solutions for Your Move to Scotland

A Len’s Self Storage Facility

One factor you may not have considered is self storage. Whether you need a temporary solution during the relocation process or long-term storage, our secure self storage will help you immensely during this process!

With facilities across Glasgow and Edinburgh, we offer flexible rental terms and a range of unit sizes to accommodate everything you need to keep safe. We also have a box shop and can help with moving

Our friendly staff is always on hand to guide you, but you can get your quick and free quote today!