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LIFE IN EDINBURGH: GLOBAL TALENT’S PERSPECTIVE

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The Global Talent Visa is an immigration route that grants talented tech specialists a fast track to working and living in the UK. Tech Nation – the official Home Office endorsing body – is trusted
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Mike Neverov, a Global Talent Visa holder, moved to Edinburgh in July of 2022. Mike shares his fresh perspective and experience living and working in Edinburgh — from apartment prices and an average receipt at a grocery store to Edi’s architecture and mild summer temperatures.

LIFE IN EDINBURGH: GLOBAL TALENT’S PERSPECTIVE

13/07/2022
Mike Neverov, a Global Talent Visa holder, moved to Edinburgh in July of 2022. Mike shares his fresh perspective and experience living and working in Edinburgh — from apartment prices and an average receipt at a grocery store to Edi’s architecture and mild summer temperatures.
CONTENT
1. Side-occupation evidence
2. Evidence about innovation
3. Amount of supporting documents
4. High level of achievements
5. Letters of recommendation
6. Correlation between ‘Talent’
and ‘Promise’

COST OF LIVING IN EDINBURGH

Rent

Edinburgh is one of the most expensive UK cities, according to the cost of living index. The current economic crisis and high demand for living in the capital of Scotland led to accommodation prices going through the roof.


Hotels, Airbnbs and even spare rooms can be more expensive now than a whole month's rent for a separate apartment. If we didn't find a flat in July, we'd have to pay approximately £1,000 per week to live in decency and comfort, which is bizarre. So it's not a bad idea to rent an apartment even for a couple of months if you aren’t lucky enough to get your dream accommodation within a few weeks of arrival. Another option — a place outside Edinburgh.


However, starting in October 2022, short-term lets will have to go through licensing in Edinburgh. It might free up some real estate for the long-term market but will make the permanent stay and holiday trips to Edi even more expensive.


Based on our flat search, a good place to live, like a 2-bedroom apartment close to the centre would be between £1,200 and £1,800 per month, mainly varying by floor area, location, level and quality of furnishing. On top of that, you can expect to pay ~£200 in Council Tax and ~£200 in energy bills. Energy bills are expected to be twice as much after the October price hikes.


Read more about the specifics of renting an apartment in the UK here.


Groceries

You can buy groceries in various stores — from affordable Aldi and Lidl to Marks & Spencer Food and Waitrose & Partners for high-end needs. According to Numbeo, a family of four estimated monthly costs are around £2,400 without rent, 25% of which (£600) is spent on groceries. It’s hard to say how close it is to reality. From personal experience, for a family of two adults, you would need £500-£1,500 for groceries, considering you plan to cook at home and rely less on takeouts and dining out. Granted, for your money, you’re getting some of the world’s best foods and groceries.


If you’re on a budget, try meal deals. You can get a main, snack and a drink for £3-£5. You might think it's bad quality, but quite the opposite — meal deal items are often fresh and tasty.


Also, do taste the berries here. Sainsbury’s has great deals on them when they’re in season.


Restaurants

Prices vary widely and are entirely up to you. You can get a £15 full two-person meal in IKEA or grab some fish & chips for two for the same amount. £40 will get you a great evening sushi takeout meal with £8 for a bottle of good white wine. Spending £80-100 for a night out with wine, a two-course dinner with aperitif, and dessert is customary if you’re aiming for the middle to upper-middle segment. The higher you go, the more you spend.


Plentiful bars and pubs can cater to any taste, cafes have their quirks, and fish & chips places are really good, thanks to Edinburgh being a coastal city.


Read more about the standard and cost of living in the United Kingdom here.

COST OF LIVING IN EDINBURGH

Rent

Edinburgh is one of the most expensive UK cities, according to the cost of living index. The current economic crisis and high demand for living in the capital of Scotland led to accommodation prices going through the roof.


Hotels, Airbnbs and even spare rooms can be more expensive now than a whole month's rent for a separate apartment. If we didn't find a flat in July, we'd have to pay approximately £1,000 per week to live in decency and comfort, which is bizarre. So it's not a bad idea to rent an apartment even for a couple of months if you aren’t lucky enough to get your dream accommodation within a few weeks of arrival. Another option — a place outside Edinburgh.


However, starting in October 2022, short-term lets will have to go through licensing in Edinburgh. It might free up some real estate for the long-term market but will make the permanent stay and holiday trips to Edi even more expensive.


Based on our flat search, a good place to live, like a 2-bedroom apartment close to the centre would be between £1,200 and £1,800 per month, mainly varying by floor area, location, level and quality of furnishing. On top of that, you can expect to pay ~£200 in Council Tax and ~£200 in energy bills. Energy bills are expected to be twice as much after the October price hikes.


Read more about the specifics of renting an apartment in the UK here.


Groceries

You can buy groceries in various stores — from affordable Aldi and Lidl to Marks & Spencer Food and Waitrose & Partners for high-end needs. According to Numbeo, a family of four estimated monthly costs are around £2,400 without rent, 25% of which (£600) is spent on groceries. It’s hard to say how close it is to reality. From personal experience, for a family of two adults, you would need £500-£1,500 for groceries, considering you plan to cook at home and rely less on takeouts and dining out. Granted, for your money, you’re getting some of the world’s best foods and groceries.


If you’re on a budget, try meal deals. You can get a main, snack and a drink for £3-£5. You might think it's bad quality, but quite the opposite — meal deal items are often fresh and tasty.


Also, do taste the berries here. Sainsbury’s has great deals on them when they’re in season.


Restaurants

Prices vary widely and are entirely up to you. You can get a £15 full two-person meal in IKEA or grab some fish & chips for two for the same amount. £40 will get you a great evening sushi takeout meal with £8 for a bottle of good white wine. Spending £80-100 for a night out with wine, a two-course dinner with aperitif, and dessert is customary if you’re aiming for the middle to upper-middle segment. The higher you go, the more you spend.


Plentiful bars and pubs can cater to any taste, cafes have their quirks, and fish & chips places are really good, thanks to Edinburgh being a coastal city.


Read more about the standard and cost of living in the United Kingdom here.

FINDING WORK OR SETTING UP A BUSINESS

The UK, at least in the digital sector, is a thriving country with many available positions and a general lack of high-skilled labour that local businesses are interested in preserving. Salary levels are amongst the highest in Europe.

Check out the list of most in-demand jobs in the UK here and find out where tech talents can look for a job here.

Setting up a limited company or becoming self-employed is easy. Everything can be set up within just a few days. Virtual address services are available if you don’t have your address figured out yet or don’t want it on the public record. Doing business with clients all over the globe is also quite simple from the UK, but that has no relevance to Edinburgh in particular.


Scotland is pending to have its second Independence Referendum (Indyref2) held in October 2023. If Indyref2 happens, it can significantly impact your situation as well as other businesses and services in Scotland.

INFRASTRUCTURE

INFRASTRUCTURE

1. Airport
Edinburgh is a town with public transportation figured out, but the airport where you’d most likely arrive is not the best piece of Edinburgh’s infrastructure. It’s still quite decent and has a broad route map for an airport serving a north-of-500 thousand city — ranging from as west as Chicago, USA and as east as Doha, Qatar — not to mention all of the direct European connections.

When I arrived, Edinburgh Airport's WiFi wouldn't allow me to register, so plan accordingly. Also, the currency exchange place rates were terrible.

If you're arriving with many bags, you have two options:
1) take the registered cab as they accept cards, and you won't need cash;
2) get roaming data on your SIM card, and order a cab via FreeNow.

If you're packing light, take a tram to the city. Get the ticket at the ticket machine at the airport, as you won’t be able to pay on the tram.

2. Tram
Edinburgh is reviving its tram network, which emerged in 1871 and was dismantled in 1956. The tram system now covers the entire stretch from the Edinburgh Airport to the city centre and will reach Leith (port region opposite the airport) in the spring of 2023. Trams are good quality but are just one line that wouldn’t cover your day-to-day needs. You can find more detailed information on tram routes and ticket prices here.
3. Bus
Buses in Edinburgh cover the whole city and have GPS tracking on Google Maps and the Bus&Tram app from Lothian Buses (the operator that serves most of Edi’s buses). You can get tickets by card and even use TapTapCap — an automatic service that optimises your contactless payments by providing you with the best tariff by the end of the day/week. So, if you had a few daily rides for £1.40 each, it would automatically switch to the daily rate. That’s up to a week cap of £20.

Bonus: half of the routes are served by double-decker buses, which are a good option for observing the city. You can get to most places without changing the buses.
4. Cabs
Cabs are reasonably priced, especially if you’ve got a chance to experience London prices. They are comfortable, safe, cover most of the city and are a good option for your occasional big grocery shopping day.

If you’re going to IKEA or somewhere slightly out of the city, you might have to resort to local cab services, which don’t have apps and require you to give a call.
5. Walking
The best part of Edinburgh is its pedestrian-first infrastructure. The pavements are wide; the city is full of beautiful parks and greenery. Despite the notable elevation changes throughout, you don’t end up climbing stairs all the time.

The only complaint I have about walking in Edinburgh is the time it takes for pedestrian traffic lights to turn green. You’ll likely be waiting for over a minute at certain crossings. Every local I know just uses their judgement, looks around and crosses when it seems safe.

Reminder — look to the right and then to the left sides, not the other way around, as the UK is a left-hand traffic country!
6. Car
To own a car in Edinburgh is rather difficult. The entire city centre parking is expensive; where it's free — it's often permit-only or private. Gas prices are high too — £1.80 per litre of petrol, £1.90 per litre of diesel. You can get a Costco membership to save £5-£10 per tank.
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ARCHITECTURE AND CULTURE

The Edinburgh architecture is a mix of historic buildings and Victorian houses built up en masse during a period of the city’s rapid growth. So it’s common to see rows and rows of similar facades only broken up by an occasional cathedral or a cosy little house. Newer buildings are built according to the UK code and are comfortable, well insulated and often beautiful.


Culturally, Scotland in general and Edinburgh, in particular, are big on events, especially during summer — 150th Golf Open here in July and several festivals in August (from the Edinburgh Fringe and Edinburgh International Festival to Military Tattoo Festival and many more). It's better to enjoy most concerts in Glasgow, as it has bigger stadiums and concert halls.

WEATHER

During our summer so far, the weather has been divine. We had rain maybe once every ten days; the sun was abundant but not too hot. The temperature in the summer varies between 14 °C at night and 22 °C during the day, making it ideal for people who can’t stand the heat, much like me. When it rains — it rains. It’s also often cloudy, but it doesn’t get too depressing, and it’s still lovely to be out even without the sun.

Granted, I have been repeatedly told that the weather in winter is much less pleasant, so take it with a grain of salt.

PERSONAL NOTES

You'll encounter many things that are likely different from your previous country of residence, for example:


  • proof of address is needed for almost all bureaucratic purposes
  • stores' working hours are much longer than in continental Europe and, in general, are very accessible from a customer’s perspective
  • people are incredibly friendly and helpful
  • English here is different from the one you were taught in school and has many dialects and accents
  • water is considered a basic human right and is provided as a part of your Council Tax payments with no connection to its consumption

My partner and I find Edinburgh, at least so far, quite pleasant — the weather, the people, the food, accessibility of services, architecture and culture, jaw-dropping nature, public transport and many other things you have to experience yourself to understand. That's why we're glad that we moved to Edinburgh.

EDINBURGH VS LONDON (AND OTHER CITIES)

I encourage you to consider Edinburgh alongside London and other UK cities. Nearly every city, town and village in the UK is a beautiful place to live. Infrastructure in most places is set up in such a way that you would be able to live without struggles.


Check out this blogpost to find out more about other UK tech hubs.

Would you like to experience life in Edinburgh or other UK cities? Calculate your chances for the Global Talent Visa that allows you to live and work freely in the United Kingdom and acquire ILR as early as in three years.

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