Expats moving to Edinburgh may discover that their lifestyle, and perhaps even their moods, will quickly become weather dependent.
As a city intimately intertwined with the surrounding landscape and its residents fond of outdoor space, life in the summer sunshine is active and inspiring. Whether residents are absorbing the creative energy that flourishes during the city's internationally-recognised festivals, or simply enjoying a classic picnic in the Princes Street Gardens or on one of the rocky outcrops of Arthur's Seat, there is plenty of opportunity to be active and engaged.
On the flipside, once the winter winds blow in, expats will find their lifestyle may change tremendously. During this time, rather than burying themselves in their cosy homes, expats should make an effort to seek out the many recreational facilities and indoor cultural opportunities that abound in the city.
Shopping in Edinburgh
For a bit of retail therapy to combat the grey winter mood, Edinburgh has some fantastic shopping, namely along Princes Street and George Street, where newcomers will find all of their favourite UK chain stores.
Boutiques and independent stores offering a slightly quirkier selection can be found around the West End, while Victoria Street and Grassmarket are full of bookshops, arts and crafts stores, and specialist food retailers.
The Royal Mile is perfect for scouting souvenirs and gifts, while the luxury shopper can head to Multrees Walk in New Town.
Eating out in Edinburgh
Edinburgh has become one of the UK's top foodie destinations, boasting a large and diverse selection of restaurants. The options are endless; be it traditional Scottish fare in a cosy pub, seafood along the docks, or international cuisine at one of the many unique neighbourhood cafes and bistros.
With a handful of Michelin-starred establishments and numerous celebrity chefs in residence, the Scottish capital also offers expats some truly innovative and imaginative fine-dining options.
Nightlife and entertainment in Edinburgh
In a city of countless watering holes, expats will soon find out how intoxicating the Edinburgh nightlife can be. Pubs, whether historic taverns or chic bars, are at the heart of the city’s social culture.
From a wild night of pub crawls and clubbing, to a mellow evening at the theatre or comedy club, Edinburgh has something for everyone.
The cobbled streets of Old Town offer a huge selection of lively bars and pubs, with a wealth of options around Grassmarket and Victoria Street, and some cheerful choices surrounding the university. A number of dedicated live music venues can be found in Cowgate, and the area around the George IV Bridge is a great place to go for cocktails.
New Town is home to some of the city’s best bars and nightclubs, particularly along the upmarket George Street, and Leith has become a trendy hangout boasting numerous restaurants and bars.
Where to meet people and make friends
Making friends can be difficult for newly arrived expats. Parents usually have the advantage of meeting other parents through their children's school, or during other family activities, but those expats without children may have to seek other avenues for meeting locals and other expats.
Below are a few clubs that may present the opportunity for expats in Edinburgh to meet people and hopefully make some friends.
Starting out as small dining group in Edinburgh that would meet up on Sundays for a meal and some easy conversation, the Sunday Brunch Club has since morphed into a fully-fledged community that hosts social gatherings and events, including sports, outdoor activities and everything in between. Expats are encouraged to join.
Arty expats looking to join up with likeminded people should look no further than The Scottish Arts Club. The club has a full calendar of exhibitions in various galleries around the city, musical events, as well as a selection of workshops and art classes.
Expats looking to stay active will find a great community in Jog Scotland. With great outdoor trails and city loops, Edinburgh is a runner's dream. Seasoned runners and beginners alike are welcome and can sign up for a jogging session whenever they like. The club hosts many events besides running, and expats are sure to meet some likeminded locals and perhaps even other expats.
Bookworms needn't fret, they'll have a haven in Edinburgh too. Literary-loving expats can join up with other bibliophiles at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, which regularly hosts book fairs, reading sessions and workshops – all great opportunities to meet people. Expats will also be able to learn about other book clubs in the city via the library.
►Read more about the city's entertainment options in See and Do in Edinburgh.
Are you an expat living in Edinburgh?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Edinburgh. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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