Finding accommodation in Edinburgh will naturally be a top priority for newly arrived expats. Those fresh off the plane need not lose much sleep over the issue, though, as there's a wide variety of housing available, with something to suit everyone's lifestyle and pocket.

Edinburgh is rather compact and has a reliable and easy-to-use transportation system, so proximity to work need not be a major concern when choosing where to live. That said, an expat family with children who will be attending a state-sponsored school will be bound by catchment areas and should find out which areas are associated with the best educational institutions.

Areas and suburbs in Edinburgh

Houses in Edinburgh by Nikola Pavlačková

With 13 distinct neighbourhoods, Edinburgh has a lot to offer newly arrived expats. One of the city's trendiest areas is Leith. Many young professionals and single expats base themselves here to access the many wonderful restaurants, bars, and cafés. Not far from Leith is Dean Village, a sought-after suburb located a few minutes from the city centre and perched along the Water of Leith.

Expat families moving to Edinburgh will love Portobello's gorgeous sandy beaches and recreational activities to entertain the children. Corstorphine is a former village that boasts a strong sense of community and exceptional schools, which makes it attractive to families. The neighbourhood is located a little further out from the city centre but has excellent transport, with access to the airport bus.

Newington is a popular neighbourhood among students, young professionals and families alike. The suburb is home to the University of Edinburgh and is chock-full of recreational amenities that suit all preferences. To top it off, Newington is a short walk from the Meadows children's play park and tennis courts.

Types of accommodation in Edinburgh

Expats will quickly find that Edinburgh is a relatively small city, made up of various unique areas and suburbs.

New arrivals should consider whether they'd like to live in an old or modern flat (apartment), and whether they would prefer to be surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the city centre or the more relaxed atmosphere of the surrounding suburbs.

Most of the accommodation found in the city centre of Edinburgh is in traditional tenements, some dating as far back as the 1700s. Though some are rather densely packed and somewhat small, they can be extremely charming with perks like Victorian-era architecture, wooden shutters and high ceilings.

In Edinburgh, expats can find furnished, unfurnished or partially furnished flats, depending on their needs. Do be aware, though, that 'furnished' properties vary significantly, so be sure to confirm what furniture, appliances and utensils are included in the property beforehand.

Finding accommodation in Edinburgh

We'd recommend that expats arrange short-term accommodation for their arrival in Edinburgh, to give themselves a place to stay while house hunting.

For first-time Edinburgh renters, contacting a letting agency will likely be the best way to start; agents can advise regarding districts that would be most suitable, and can provide a more in-depth look at the renting options in Edinburgh. Expats should keep in mind that letting agencies will only show properties they have listed in their portfolio, so be sure to visit several. 

Alternatively, available properties can also be found by browsing online property sites and reading the property sections of the online local media.

Useful links

  • Visit RightMove for a list of rental properties in Edinburgh
  • Edinburgh News hosts a variety of properties for sale across the city. 

Renting accommodation in Edinburgh 


Flats available for rent are let by agencies or directly by private landlords. The typical long-term lease is for six months or a year. Rental rates vary according to the size of the property, the location and the level of furnishing.


Once a potential tenant has found a property they like, they'll need to make a rental application. Applicants are typically asked to submit references and information about their credit history.


In most cases, tenants will need to pay a deposit equivalent to one or two months rent, but if expats lack a local credit history or references they may be asked to provide up to six months' rent upfront. 

This is most commonly the case with letting agencies but not always private landlords, so expats without the funds for this kind of expense may do well to opt for private leasing.  


Moving checklist

Utilities and council tax aren't typically included in the cost of rent and are an extra expense for the tenant. Expats should keep this in mind when budgeting for housing expenses. Before moving in, expats are encouraged to ensure that their utilities, such as water and electricity, are turned on and ready to be used. 

Typically, the landlord or letting agent will give the final meter readings to the utility companies, but expats should still remain vigilant and take their own readings when moving in. This helps them avoid being charged for the previous tenant's consumption. 

For more detail, see Setting up Household Utilities in the UK

Bins and recycling

Waste in Edinburgh is collected weekly, and The City of Edinburgh Council offers a directory that expats can use to determine their specific waste collection day. The city has also introduced a range of different bin sizes to enable recycling in large communal buildings, and has also increased the collection service of non-recyclable waste to two times a week. 

For garden waste, expats can register to have their garden waste collected in a brown bin regularly at an additional fee. There are also three household waste recycling centres in Edinburgh. These are only accessible to the city's residents and by appointment only. 


Scotland has introduced new parking laws that were enacted in December 2023, and these involve banning parking on pavements, crossing points, and at verges lying between roads and pavements. Double-parking is also illegal, and these rule violations are punishable through hefty parking tickets. There are currently no exemptions to these rules, so expats moving to Edinburgh are encouraged to adhere to these regulations. 

Useful links

Expat Health Insurance

Cigna Health Insurance

Cigna Global Health Insurance.

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