Where to live in Edinburgh

Where to Live in Edinburgh: Finding a Flat or Renting a Room

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A cobble stone road surrounded by ivy lined homes on Circus Lane Edinburgh
The prettiest residential area in Edinburgh – Circus Lane

Have you recently moved to Edinburgh Scotland for a working holiday? Or are you thinking about moving to Edinburgh and want to know what to expect when looking for a place to live? Where to live in Edinburgh? Or Finding a flat or renting a room in Edinburgh?

There are many different factors to consider when it comes to finding a flat in Edinburgh. You’ll have a multitude of choices in front of you, whether you’re looking for a short-term room to rent, a flatshare for professionals or student accommodation.

If you’re researching where to live in Edinburgh and how to find a flat in Edinburgh, follow my advice below to make the process of finding a flat in Edinburgh easy and stress-free!

A city with a strong historical foundation, Edinburgh is an incredible place to live, brimming with amazing things to do. The capital of Scotland attracts 100,000s tourists each year, making it a great place for living in Edinburgh as a foreigner.

Short Term Rentals (Before finding a flat in Edinburgh)

If you don’t already have a place to stay or have a flat or room lined up before you arrive in Edinburgh, there are plenty of short-term rentals where you can stay while you hunt for a more long-term flat or room to rent in the city.

Hostel

Staying in one of Edinburgh’s many hostels is a great choice for anyone searching for a short-term rental in Edinburgh. It’s ideal for people who haven’t yet found work and have a limited budget since many hostels offer free accommodation in exchange for working a few hours each day at the hostel.

Staying in a hostel is also a good way to make friends. Especially if you’re new and don’t know anyone in the city since you’ll bump into a lot of people in the same situation. Expect to connect with locals and visitors who want to explore the city — they could be great travel buddies for you. You’ll probably even come across other people on a working holiday looking for somewhere to live on a long-term basis.

Check out HELPX as an alternative way to find accommodation in exchange for working.

Book here: Hostels in Edinburgh

Airbnb

If you’re searching for something a bit more private, consider renting a room or an entire flat with Airbnb. This option gives you the comfort of a real home while you look for a place to live. A lot of Airbnb places are open to renting on a long-term basis if you think you’ll need a few weeks or months to find the right place.

Book here: Airbnb in Edinburgh

Bed and Breakfast

Similar to an Airbnb, staying at a bed and breakfast is another option for a short-term rental while you’re looking for a flat to live in Edinburgh. One of my flatmates stayed at a bed and breakfast for a month when she first moved to Edinburgh from Beijing.

Book here: Bed and Breakfasts in Edinburgh

Hotel

The most expensive of the short-term rental options, staying in a hotel is an amazing idea — if you have the money to spare. As Edinburgh is a popular tourist destination, there’s an abundance of hotels scattered throughout the city. Some might offer discounted rates for long-term guests if you’re planning on staying there for a few weeks.

Book here: Hotels in Edinburgh

Booking.com

Finding a Flat in Edinburgh

If you’re moving to Edinburgh for the first time, shared accommodation is your best bet.

Edinburgh is a fantastic place to live, but it’s also one of the most expensive cities in Scotland. Renting a flat with others reduces your living costs and there are always plenty of flatshares advertised in the city, so you’ll never struggle to find a place.

Alternatively, if you want to rent a flat on your own or with your friends, you’ll have a better chance of renting through a private landlord rather than a letting agent.

The above are just some of the ways of finding in a flat in Edinburgh. There are plenty of other ways I haven’t yet covered. For example, if you’re walking along the street and you see a place you like, contact the letting agent immediately because finding a great flat in Edinburgh isn’t always the easiest task.

There’s some fierce competition out there. Especially when the new university year begins. So be sure to start looking for a place as early as possible!

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find your perfect place straight away. I jumped between different accommodations when I lived in Edinburgh and I loved it.

Real Estate Agent

Contact a real estate agent who can help you find a flat in the part of the city you want to live in the most. You can give them your budget they’ll work with you to find the most suitable flat. But if this is the first time you’re renting in Edinburgh and you don’t have references, be prepared to provide 6 weeks to 6 months of rent upfront.

Private Landlords

Renting from a private landlord is easier for newcomers than going with a letting agency. In a similar way to a letting agency, when you rent from a private landlord, you’ve still got to sign a contract and discuss tenancy agreements.

It’s important you know that all landlords in Edinburgh must have a registration number. Check out this website to make sure your landlord is legally renting the flat before you sign any contracts.

Walking around Edinburgh

If you walk through Edinburgh, you’ll notice “To Let” signs over different buildings. If you see a place in an area in which you want to live, call the number and set up a time to view the flat!

If you want to know which rules landlords are required to follow in Scotland, be sure to read about it here.

Related Post: The Pros and Cons of Living in Scotland

Contracts, Viewing the Flat and All the Rest

Letting agent in Edinburgh handing over they keys after signing a contract

When you’re renting a room, flat or house in Edinburgh, be sure to set up a viewing with the landlord, letting agent or your future flatmates.

During the viewing, it’s important you find out how long the lease is, how much the security deposit is and if the utilities and council tax included in the rent. If the utilities aren’t included, get an estimate on how much extra you can expect to pay for them each month.

Once you’ve decided to rent somewhere, make sure the contract you sign has all the agreements included in it. Even if you’re just renting an individual room in a flat. This contract will protect you and the landlord if any issues arise.

I also recommend taking photos of everything before you move in. So if there are any problems when you move out, you can use the photos as proof that any damage was there prior to your rental.

Furnished or Unfurnished Flats

Chances are, the flats you’ll be looking at will already be fully furnished — dishes and all! This is perfect for the foreigner living in Edinburgh on a temporary visa.

You’ll probably see partially furnished places which might be very appealing because of their lower price tags. However, you need to take into consideration the time and the money you’ll have to spend buying the things you need which aren’t included. 

I only recommend renting an unfurnished flat in Edinburgh if you’re planning on moving to the city permanently. You don’t want to make large purchases only to have to sell them a few years later.

The Best Websites to Help You Find a Flat to Rent in Edinburgh

There are many websites that can help you find a room or a flat to rent in Edinburgh. During your search, be aware that some rooms and flats are marked with a monthly rental price (PCM – per calendar month) and others with a weekly rental price (per week/PW).

This really throws things when you’re comparing prices and can make you believe some rentals are much cheaper than they actually are.

It’s commonplace to advertise rentals by their per-month rate. The reason landlords sometimes advertise them by their per-week rate is to catch your attention. Remember to multiply the weekly price by 4 to get the true monthly rate and see if you can afford it.

Depending on if you’re renting a room or a flat, there may be additional costs which I’ll cover later on in this post.

Gumtree

Gumtree is the easiest and fastest way to find a room to rent in Edinburgh. I found my first flat via Gumtree, so it’s definitely one website I can personally recommend. It’s used mostly by private landlords and people looking for a room to rent in a shared flat with professionals or students.

Roomgo

Formally Easyroommate, Roomgo gives people the opportunity to find flats and flatmates to share a place with. You can also post about yourself, so others looking for flatmates can contact you and see if you’d like to share.

Spareroom

Spareroom is just like Gumtree, but where Gumtree is free to use, Spareroom charges you a fee. You can use the site to find rooms, flatshares and flatmates throughout Edinburgh. You’ll find a lot less competition here than on Gumtree since you have to pay to use it.

Craigslist

Craigslist is another great free source to find rooms to rent, flats with letting agents or flatmates. It’s also very similar to Gumtree.

Citylets

Citylets offers tons of properties to rent through a variety of letting agencies and private landlords. You’ll easily find a place in the part of the city you want to live in on this site. When you find somewhere you like the look of, be sure to contact the letting agent quickly so you can view the apartment right away and snap it up.

Rightmove, Lettingweb and ESPC

On these sites, you’ll find entire flats and houses up for rent from letting agents. Sites like Rightmove, Lettingweb and ESPC provide you with everything you need to go through a professional agent and find the flat of your dreams.

Facebook

There are several different Facebook groups offering room rentals, flatshares and houses to rent throughout Edinburgh.

Types of Flats and Rooms to Rent in Edinburgh

Group of people enjoying food while sitting in the living room

Flatshare

I highly recommend a flatshare when you first move to Edinburgh. It’s much easier to move into a place that you don’t need to set up the monthly utilities and council tax.

Many flatshare rentals have a set weekly or monthly rate that includes all extra costs. This makes planning your monthly budget a lot easier since there’ll be no hidden costs and you’ll know exactly how much money you’ll need. It’s so much less stressful! Especially if you’re still looking for a job.

You have two main options with a flatshare. You can either just rent the room without having any input on the people you live with. This will be left down to the rental agency or private landlord. Or you can meet a few new friends you’d like to live with and all rent a place together.

Private Landlord Picks your Flatmates

In this case, you’ll live with strangers, share communal areas and not have any say about who you live with. There are pros and cons to this type of rental situation. The downside is you could end up with noisy, dirty and disrespectful flatmates.

The positive side is you’re only responsible for paying your rent to the landlord. You don’t have to worry about footing the bill if one of your roommates leaves you high and dry like you would if you organized a flatshare as a group.

Picking Flatmates and Interviewing Them

When I was looking for somewhere to live in Edinburgh, some of the places I was looking at held an interview with all the flatmates present. It was kind of an intimidating experience since it was important that I impressed everyone. But it was a great opportunity to see if my lifestyle would fit in well with the people I’d be sharing a house with.

Finding a Place with Friends (From a Letting Agency)

Once you find a job or are in school, you might want to move out of your current flat situation with friends. This could be for good or bad reasons.

You might want to move because you’ve had a falling out with a friend and want to get as far away from them as possible. Or you may want to move out because you’ve grown closer to a friend and want to spend more time with them in private! I had both of these experiences and I definitely still recommend moving in when friends if you get the chance.

Related Post: How to deal with homesickness and loneliness while living abroad

Where to live in Edinburgh

 When you’re searching for a room to rent in Edinburgh or finding a flat to rent in Edinburgh, there are many different factors to take into consideration.

If you’re working or trying to find a job in a specific location, you’ll probably want to live close to work. But regardless of where you choose to live, there are a lot of things to do in Edinburgh and each area is full of great shops, parks, amenities and attractions you’ll have an amazing time exploring.

Something else worth considering before you choose where to live in Edinburgh is public transport. You need to think about how much of your monthly budget it will take up, plus how long it will take you to get from your base to the areas you like spending a lot of time in.

The closer to the city centre you go, the more expensive the flat prices are. Luckily, there are several neighbourhoods that offer the perfect balance. They’re far enough away from the city centre to be affordable, but they’re close enough for you to reach the city centre on foot.

Related Post: 23 Reasons you should move to Edinburgh

Neighbourhoods in Edinburgh

A row of attached town houses in New Town

There are several neighbourhoods in Edinburgh. These include City Centre – Old Town or New Town, Leith, Bruntsfield and Morningside, Haymarket and more!

City Centre

If you want to live in the city centre, you’ll struggle to find an affordable flat. It can be quite noisy and busy living right on the Royal Mile – especially during the annual Fringe Festival — which is why I recommend living on the outskirts of the city.

Haymarket

This is my personal favourite and I lived between Haymarket and Corstorphine near Murrayfield Stadium! It was the best place for me to live, as it was close to work (I worked at the Edinburgh Zoo) and close to the city centre, with just a 20-minute walk to the Royal Mile. The rent wasn’t too high and it was a great part of the city to live in!

Leith

Leith is quite a bit farther away from the city centre than the rest of the places on this list. But it’s known as a hip place where a lot of younger people live. There are a ton of restaurants, shops and bars in Leith that make it feel like its own little city.

Bruntsfield and Morningside

Located close to the Meadows, Bruntsfield and Morningside is a quieter neighbourhood quite close to the city centre. Prices aren’t outrageous and the area is popular with expats. I had a few friends who lived in the Bruntsfield area and I loved their flats.

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Hidden Fees

When you’re thinking about renting a flat in Edinburgh, be aware of hidden fees. Every person in Scotland is required to pay council tax, which is based on the value of the property they live in.

If you’re living in a shared house, the council tax bill should be divided between you and your flatmates. If you live alone, you can take advantage of a discounted rate, but you might still end up paying more than if you lived with others.

Council tax prices are usually listed in the room or flat advertisement. But if they’re not, you can check how much council tax you should be paying here.

Council tax includes water and sewage. But you’re responsible for the rest of the utilities, such as gas and electricity.

Another fee you’ll need to pay is TV tax. If you have a TV in your flat, you’re required to pay a monthly fee so that the BBC can be free of adverts. If you don’t want to pay for it, you can always choose not to have a TV in your flat.

Scammers

If a place seems too good to be true – it is! Always be sure to make an appointment to view a flat before agreeing to anything.

If you’re searching for a place through a private owner on a site like Gumtree, a common scam you might come up against is having the owner mail you the key because they’re “out of town” or live elsewhere. Don’t send them any money as this is a scam!

There are probably plenty of other scams out there, too. So always be 100% certain of what you’re getting, always visit the flat before you hand over any cash and always ask for references from past tenants if you want to be really thorough.

More Information About Moving to Scotland:

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Comments 4

  1. Great post! Moving to Edinburgh is always a plan at the back of our minds. Who knows if it will ever happen, but we’ll definitely be referring back to this if so!

    The hidden fees one, though… Seriously hate council tax and TV licensing fees. I know there are extra costs EVERYWHERE, but these things ONLY seem to exist in the UK and they are insanely expensive. My council bill cost more than my entire rent in Cambodia. WHY?!

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      Author

      I know, council tax took away some really great places I was looking at moving into due to the insane costs of some of these bands. It makes looking for a flat to rent in Edinburgh a little more daunting. It would be great if they just include council tax costs in the rent.

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      Author

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