I lived in Edinburgh for 3 months as a graduate student and here are some tips on how to deal with the essential aspects of moving to this historic city.
If you are a student and on a tight budget, living in a shared flat is a better option than staying in a university residence. A room in a shared flat is much cheaper and has less restrictions. Finding an economical flat in Edinburgh however is quite a challenge primarily because good places get booked really fast. Booking early (ideally as early as 2 months before your arrival) should do the trick. A room in a shared flat on average costs about £350-£500 per month all bills included. Here are some online platforms where you can search for a room in a shared flat:
EdinRoom: This is one of several Facebook groups with one of the largest members offering flat sharing in Edinburgh. While it is inevitable to find scammers in a platform such as Facebook, most of the rental listings are legit. Just always make sure that you don’t pay anything until you have physically seen the flat and have the keys in your hands.
Check out EdinRoom here.
Gumtree: This is probably the most well-known classifieds site in the UK and your best bet to finding that perfect place to live. While there can also be people offering fraudulent rentals in Gumtree, this platform is more likely to be more secure than EdinRoom or any other Facebook group out there since Gumtree has stricter listing rules and is well regulated.
Check out Gumtree here.
Walking: If you live in the city center and your university/workplace is a mere walking distance from your flat, walking is definitely the way to get around. Edinburgh’s city center is rather small and you can just walk to practically any place (shops, restaurants, supermarkets, historical sites, etc). Edinburgh has the most charming streets and you’d rather explore the city on foot and burn some calories 😉
Bus and Tram: If you live outside of the city center then definitely taking the bus or the tram is your best choice. The awesome thing is that free WiFi (the internet connection actually works!) is offered inside Edinburgh’s buses. You have different ticket options based on how frequent you travel:
Mobile Tickets: This is a convenient way to purchase individual tickets. Just download the official app (IOS | Android ), buy your choice of ticket, and show it to the driver upon boarding the bus or scan the QR code at the entrance when taking the tram. Here are some of the ticket options:
Adult Single: £1.6
Adult Day: £4
Adult Day & Night: £8.5
Ridacard: This is a travel card that offers 1-week or 4-week validity which gives you unlimited rides on buses and trams around Edinburgh. You can conveniently top-up this card in just about any store or supermarket around the city.
For more information on Edinburgh’s buses and trams see here.
You can live comfortably with a budget of about £150-175 per month for your groceries (food and toiletries included). Here are some of my recommended supermarkets to make the most out of your budget.
Aldi: If you are on a tight student budget, this German supermarket is the place to go. Among all the supermarkets I tried in Edinburgh (trust me I checked out almost all of them), this by far offers the cheapest prices, and the quality is not bad either.
Lidl: This is another German budget supermarket in Edinburgh that also offers a good selection of items at very cheap prices.
Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Tesco: The items sold in these local UK supermarkets are generally more expensive than Aldi and Lidl but the prices are still affordable and definitely reasonable. Plus, they all offer online shopping and delivery which is very convenient!
CHOOSING A SIM CARD
Giffgaff: You can order a SIM card online for free on their website and at £10 per month you get a decent mobile plan which comes with a 2GB UK data, 500 UK min, and unlimited texts.