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Edinburgh, UK


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#1 Diotima

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Posted 13 March 2008 - 06:38 PM

Thoughts on the city? What residential areas are too far to walk/bike from George Square? I read that it can be a bit difficult to rent a private flat coming from North America because one doesn't have British credit...anyone have experience with this? Also, I'm married and would likely be there for 4-5 years, so, what have others done in terms of bringing possessions or furniture overseas?
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#2 artsytartsy

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 06:20 PM

Hi there,
I realize you've probably already started your program given the date of your post but I thought this might help future students. I did my Master's at Edinburgh and it's a fantastic city. I lived on the edge of Stockbridge and New Town. It's a very nice area but kind of a long walk to the uni (40 minutes give or take) but there are a few different buses that drop you off right at the university. It was about a 15 minute walk to Princes Street, which is the central road that divides New Town from Old Town. I never had a car and never had much use for one as the bus system is very good. The University is in Old Town and it's generally cheaper rent-wise, but there are some parts that aren't very nice. If it's financially viable, I would avoid the Leith area. There are some nicer parts (The Shore is up-and-coming and Ocean Terminal is a brand new mall out there) but there are some very bad neighborhoods and it's quite far from the uni.

I wouldn't bring any furniture or big ticket items with you unless you just can't live without them. There are lots of fully furnished flats available (that includes everything from beds, a sofa and a washing machine to cutlery, plates and glasses) and shipping is insanely expensive. In my opinion it's not worth it even if you will be living there for a number of years.

I'm not really sure about Americans renting flats there because I'm married to a Brit who sorted it all out, but I imagine paying a few months up front would quell any landlord's fears. Most of the international students lived in grad housing but I don't know what's available for couples. Just to give you an idea of expenses, three years ago, our extremely old but spacious two-bedroom flat in a very nice neighborhood cost 600 pounds a month, fully furnished. That was a pretty good deal at the time, and most of the flats in Stockbridge were about that for one bedroom. We were pretty careful with money and spent about 50 pounds per week on food/household goods for the two of us. The phone/internet bill was paid every three months and came to about 100 pounds.

I hope that helps :)
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#3 antecedent

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 04:22 PM

Hello! I figure it's about time to revive this thread. I'm wondering if anyone has suggestions for self-catering accommodations in Edinburgh? I'd love to live in an older part of town with a bit of character, and I don't mind roommates. I will be spending most of my time in the Duglad Stewart building it would appear, which is off George Square by a few blocks. Price is definitely a concern for me, but I'd be willing to compromise price/location for a really cool/funky place in a similar neighborhood. I don't want to be in a party neighborhood (if those exist in Edinburgh the way they do in North America) and it would be nice to be close to grocery stores/a yoga studio or gym but that's all negotiable. So, now that you've heard my laundry list of hopes, any neighborhood suggestions?

Also, does anyone have opinions about the postgraduate housing at the University?

Finally, I do have one kind of impossible-to-placate-entirely fear of bedbugs after someone I love had them last year. Anyone know if there are areas of the city known to have infestations or just have a reputation of being less clean in general?

Thanks for any thoughts/suggestions!
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#4 Spriteling

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 09:41 PM

Hi!

I'm currently a student at Edinburgh, so I'll try to answer your questions.

I haven't heard of bedbugs anywhere in Edinburgh, so that shouldn't be a problem.

The Tollcross/Bruntsfield/Sciennes/Newington areas are all good to live in. They'll put you within a 20 minute walk of George Square. Edinburgh is a fairly expensive city to live in; you almost certainly won't find a one-bedroom flat for less than £600 a month, and you're probably looking at close to £800, not including bills. All of the areas that I mentioned are student areas, so you do get the occasional drunken lout shouting outside at 3am, but there's no where that's specifically party areas.

There's also the option of living in New Town, which is across Princes Street. You'd still be within 20 minutes walk of Geore Square, and that area is really nice, especially Stockbridge. There are Tesco's and Sainsbury's and Co-Ops all over the city, so being near a grocery store is never a problem.

If you want to get an idea of locations/prices, citylets.co.uk shows flats for let in Edinburgh.

As for postgraduate housing with the uni, it's somewhat expensive, but I think it's often a good idea for your first year because it is quite difficult to find a flat on your own without being in the country. The uni housing is standard; not great but not horrible either.

If you have any other questions, let me know. :)
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#5 fredbaron

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 06:20 PM

Hello,

I'm an ex-Edinburgh student (graduated 2010) also based out of the Dugald Stewart, and I thought I'd add my thoughts to those of Spriteling.

For self-catered accomodation you have university owned or privately rented shared flats. I lived in the former for my first year and then moved into the later. The former is good if you want to meet people, but that is about it. The flats are generally pretty sterile and not particularly nice. They are also not cheaper than average private room rent in the city.

You can probably find a room in a shared flat with other students for somewhere between £350 to £450 a month. I paid £350 in my last year and that was pretty average then. The flats very but some can be very nice; often they have large rooms, high ceilings and big bay windows, althought since you won't really have time to shop around your equally likely to get stuck in the box room of a not particularly great flat (but generally no smaller than the university owned places). Have a look on gumtree (the uk eqiv of craigs list) for advertised flat shares, and I think the students union has a list of other good resources.

Areas wise, if you want old character and close to George Sq all that Spriteling mentioned (Tollcross/Bruntsfield/Sciennes/Newington) work, with Tollcross and Newington having more in them but Bruntsfild being a bit nicer. You could also add Marchmont (where, along with Sciennes and Newington, most of the undergrads live meaning possibly a bit noisey at times) and Old Town to the list. Marchmont is a little less nice than Bruntsfield but closer to GS and Old Town is right next to the uni and in the heart of the city but you are probably more likely to get a crappier flat. If you don't mind a 20 min walk Morningside is also nice. On the other side of town is New Town, I don't have much to say about New Town as I never lived there, but it tends to be a little posher (and therefore less funky, although not much of Edinburgh is really that funky) and more expensive both shops and people wise. Some of the areas in New Town are very nice (particularly Stockbridge) and the flats tend to be nicer, but as I said they are more expensive and it is on the whole a little further away from GS.

As far as the gym goes search for the CSE (the Universities Center for Sports and Exercise) on goolge maps, it's the best gym you will find int he city for the price and it is quite close to both GS and Newington. A bit far from most of the other areas, but not to far for a warm up jog or (what I used to do) a break from the library. The gym has Yoga although there is a nicer studio in Old Town right next to GS so it'll be the same distance as that.

Never heard of bed bugs in the city, although I'm sure they do happen.

Good luck
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#6 superbygk

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 03:19 PM

Hiya,

I did a Master's program in Edinburgh, finished in 2011. I lived down south in near a place called Blackford (I didn't live in Blackford, but wasn't sure what to call my neighborhood). As you get further south it becomes a bit more suburby looking, but I dunno if you're into that. Prices in some of these places aren't bad. I shared a flat with two others and the rent was about 900pounds a month without utilities (flat was a bit small, but we made do). The fountainbridge area is a bit cheaper and not as 'nice'; it is on the opposite side of the city of the gym that fredbaron mentioned. If you want a quiet neighborhood, Bruntsfield is nice, but the rent may be a bit more expensive (at least 400pounds per month per person).

Good thing about Edinburgh is that it's a relatively small city so lots of things are within walking distances of each other (15, maybe 20 minutes). You can also purchase a bike to get around; the city is a relatively bike friendly place. It terms of grocery stores, you aren't really far from one any place you live, though you'll have to go down south to Cameron Toll maybe to get to a big Target-like version of Sainsburys.

One warning that I will offer is that, at some point in time, you or someone you know may encounter mice in the flat. This apparently is more common than in the US and not as big a deal (my flatmate, who was a petite Scottish girl, was completely nonchalant about a mice in our flat). Apparently, if you see a mouse, it doesn't necessarily mean that you have a pest problem. Many buildings in Edinburgh are old so they move from one place to the next, and as long as you don't leave food out they'll just be passing through... again, apparently not such a big deal there, so fair warning =)
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#7 antecedent

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 09:54 PM

Oh man, you guys are so rad! Thanks so much for your thoughts and suggestions. The CSE sounds perfect for my needs, and your neighborhood suggestions have been super helpful.

I noticed that pretty much everyone described the city in terms of how long it takes to walk places. Is it more common in Edinburgh to walk than bike or take transit? I'm guessing a transit pass isn't included in the student fees. Also, I've heard it rains a lot in Edinburgh, and while I'm used to the Pacific Coast Rainforest and damp weather generally, I'm curious about how rainy and wet it ends up being. Biking and walking to school in the rain kind of suck, but if it's raining ALL THE TIME maybe people just get used to it?

I will be looking for private housing I think, because that looks to be much more reasonable financially than university housing. I have always had roommates/flatmates, so that's the kind of situation I would be looking for - either a multi person tenement flat or renting out a house with a bunch of students. At the top of this thread in 2009 someone mentioned that fully furnished flats are pretty common in Edinburgh - does any one have any experience with those? It's very uncommon here, so I'm a bit wary of the idea. It would be super convenient, as I'm coming from Canada, I just have to get used to the idea. Finally, are flats normally rented out the month before (lease signed August 1st for September 1st type thing) or is it wise to start looking two to three months before (like, June 1st for September 1st)?

Also, I've heard good things about postgraduate student culture in British unis - does Edinburgh fit this bill? Is there much camaraderie within departments, and between students and professors?

I'm also so very relieved to hear Edinburgh doesn't have a bad reputation for bugs - Vancouver is one of the worst cities in Canada for them, and even though I've never had them personally, I've been scarred for life.

Thanks once again everyone :)

Edited by antecedant, 27 February 2012 - 10:26 PM.

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#8 superbygk

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 03:51 PM

It is more common to walk than to bike, though there are bikers. And no, transit pass isn't included in the student fees, but there is a special transit pass you can purchase at a student discount/rate. In the year that I lived there, it rained a lot less than I had expected; I walked to Uni everyday and it took about 30 minutes, and there was only one day that I was completely soaked on arrival. Other times when it rains it's usually mild. It is definitely very cloudy all the time, and pretty windy.

I lived in a furnished flat, and it is very common. Landlords and landladies know that Edinburgh is an international city and there are lots of international students, so many of the flats come furnished with furniture like beds, tables, couches, and even kitchen utensils. It was very convenient, though of course the downside is the possibility that you get some rubbish furniture (my bed had some weird stain on it), but it's not like it's out of the ordinary; lots of people rent out furnished flats.

Like any other city, if you can start looking for housing early you should. I personally lived in Univeristy housing and didn't like it so decided to move out; took me about 3 or 4 days to find a flat, so it's definitely doable last minute.

I actually pretty much only hung out with fellow students from my program, my flatmates, and some folks I met while playing intramural basketball. But there are tons of clubs you can get into: I was part of the international student society and the Edinburgh Hillwalking Club.

Hope that helps!
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#9 antecedent

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 06:21 AM

I just wanted to say thanks again for the hugely detailed posts everyone has been leaving here. You all are so helpful and encouraging.

I'm going to the international student orientation next week and expect to be swept off my feet with university propaganda (it happened with my undergrad too :P )

How did you all like the university? For those of you that did a one year masters, was it worth it for you?

Oh also, I have a really weird diet for health reasons, are there plenty of health food stores in the city or is it more like Tescos and Sainsburys everywhere?

If I could I would bake cookies for you all :)
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#10 ekim12

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 09:12 PM

Just to chime in--

am so jealous you know you're going to Edinburgh, antecedent.

I lived in the student flats off of Cowgate in Old Town, which was really centrally located and about a 10-15 minute walk max. to Georges Square or Buccleauch (sp?). Most people get around the city by foot although there are a few cyclers. There are also buses and taxis. As for weather, there were a few days when I arrived at the student center completely drenched but usually the rain's more of an oozy mist. It can get very windy. Like Wizard of Oz windy.

I can only speak from 5-months experience as an American undergrad, but I loved the city and the uni. Edinburgh reminds me how America is a wee little tyke nation especially with all the history everywhere and cobbles in Old Town. Much more affordable and friendly than London, just based off of hearsay from other study-abroad friends. The International Student Centre's a great resource since you can meet fellow internationals, and they subsidize lots of weekend trips to go to a castle, loch, or brewery. I love the city so much.

As for health food, http://www.yelp.co.u...=edinburgh&ns=1
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#11 antecedent

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 06:51 PM

I lived in a furnished flat, and it is very common. Landlords and landladies know that Edinburgh is an international city and there are lots of international students, so many of the flats come furnished with furniture like beds, tables, couches, and even kitchen utensils. It was very convenient, though of course the downside is the possibility that you get some rubbish furniture (my bed had some weird stain on it), but it's not like it's out of the ordinary; lots of people rent out furnished flats.

Like any other city, if you can start looking for housing early you should. I personally lived in Univeristy housing and didn't like it so decided to move out; took me about 3 or 4 days to find a flat, so it's definitely doable last minute.

I actually pretty much only hung out with fellow students from my program, my flatmates, and some folks I met while playing intramural basketball. But there are tons of clubs you can get into: I was part of the international student society and the Edinburgh Hillwalking Club.

Hope that helps!


Great, cause I'm trying to bring as little as possible with me. Even books!

I'm planning on showing up on or around the 15th of August and looking online as well as in local classifieds/EUSA/pavement pounding until I find a place, with the hopes that I can secure housing AND visit some family in England before school starts on the 10th. Should be doable, right?

Do you guys know of any local forums where student apartments looking for another student can advertise? The craigslist for Edinburgh looks pretty sparse, and it looks like gumtree and citylets are mainly for landlords. Maybe that's just how it's done in Scotland, but in Canada it's more common for tenants to advertise for a flatmate than for the landlord to do it.
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#12 Spriteling

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 07:24 PM

You'll probably be fine to find a flat last minute like that, though potentially not in some of the most popular areas. I recommend citylets.co.uk for looking for flats; much better than gumtree.

As for health food stuff, there are a couple of branches of Real Foods which do vegetarian/health stuff, and there's a shop on Nicolson street called Jordan Valley (or something of that nature) that also do healthy-ish stuff. Plus, Tesco and Sainsbury's do gluten free lines and things like that, especially if you go to the big Sainsbury's in Cameron Toll.
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#13 antecedent

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 07:39 PM

You'll probably be fine to find a flat last minute like that, though potentially not in some of the most popular areas. I recommend citylets.co.uk for looking for flats; much better than gumtree.


I would prefer to find a place in advance, but I've never rented from abroad before so I don't know if it's safe to just like...send someone the first month's rent, which is what they seem to normally want. I'm just afraid of getting scammed :P It would be really nice to just show up to Edinburgh with a place already rented though...

Yeah citylets seems to have a lot on it, which I've been using to gauge prices for rent and figure out what kinds of places are out there. Did you go straight to private housing or did you spent a years in school housing first?
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#14 ekim12

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 03:29 AM

not sure how helpful this'll be esp. compared to citylets or gumtree, but for what it's worth, some international students post notices on the isc fb group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/isced/
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#15 antecedent

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 01:51 PM

You stayed in Cowgate eh, ekim? I'm taking another look at university housing (on the recommendation of a few friends who are doing one year MAs in the UK right now) and having trouble sussing out if the convenience is worth it. I'm looking at postgraduate self-catered halls, and I'm wondering if anyone here has any experience with this type of accommodation? I had a look at the student room, but it seemed to be mostly undergrads jockying to get as close to their subject buildings as possible. Any thoughts on postgraduate uni housing?
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#16 superbygk

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 04:15 PM

i was in uni housing for two weeks but left. the reason was that i had a roommate (as in a person who slept in the same room as me). when signing up for uni self catered i mistakenly thought that a twin room was in reference to the size of the room rather than the number of people (miscommunication across the pond). if i had had my own room, i probably would've stayed, because it was very clean (richmond place), quiet, the people were friendly, and it was close to the city centre. cleaning folk come to clean your room once a week. they have a few kitchens (fridge space was kind of scant) and leisure rooms per floor at richmond (dunno how it is other places).

the downside is that it is pretty expensive. it was a lot cheaper for me to share a private flat than to stay in uni. oh, also, you're probably not likely to get mice in uni accommodation. i suppose the other downside is you can't have people over to your place, unless you all want to hang out in the common areas.
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#17 antecedent

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 04:37 PM

i was in uni housing for two weeks but left. the reason was that i had a roommate (as in a person who slept in the same room as me). when signing up for uni self catered i mistakenly thought that a twin room was in reference to the size of the room rather than the number of people (miscommunication across the pond). if i had had my own room, i probably would've stayed, because it was very clean (richmond place), quiet, the people were friendly, and it was close to the city centre. cleaning folk come to clean your room once a week. they have a few kitchens (fridge space was kind of scant) and leisure rooms per floor at richmond (dunno how it is other places).

the downside is that it is pretty expensive. it was a lot cheaper for me to share a private flat than to stay in uni. oh, also, you're probably not likely to get mice in uni accommodation. i suppose the other downside is you can't have people over to your place, unless you all want to hang out in the common areas.


That's interesting that you were able to find housing that was so much cheaper. The halls I'm looking at are between 90-107 pounds per week, and most housing I've seen around town was around 375-415 per month, which is another reason why I'm considering uni housing. At that difference, I don't mind paying an extra 15 pounds a month to be right in the middle of everything, particularly if I will only be in Edinburgh for a year.

Yeah, I'm not entirely convinced by the prospect of sharing a kitchen with 5-8 people who don't know me and my dietary proclivities, or the fact that the rooms are TINY and the common spaces are TINY. I'm just weighing that against being equidistant (in a very small distance) from the university, the CSE, and the downtown area.

I'm thinking about Mylnes Court, Morgan Court, or Blackwood Cresc/Causwayside, but I'll take another look at Richmond Place. Thanks for the information! :)
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#18 superbygk

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 05:12 PM

i lived down south close to cameron toll, and my rent was 303 per month, with utilities i think maybe at about 340ish. i can't remember exactly how much richmond place was, but i remember i was saving money by living in a private flat. fountainbridge is also a cheaper area to live. the disadvantagesof those places is that they are farther from the city centre (i walked 30 minutes to campus everyday). yeah, you can get a very nice place for closer to 400 pounds per month, but my flat wasn't all that bad.

i think uni accommodations do alot of social events; i hung out mostly with students from my own program and some clubs i joined, but that could be an incentive to go with the uni accommodation
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#19 antecedent

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 05:29 PM

Yeah, it's really a question of money vs. convenience I think. I really wish I would know if I got any of the Edinburgh scholarships before June, but they won't notify until the summer. That will make a significant difference for my financials.
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#20 Kirobaito

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 05:09 PM

I lived in Edinburgh during the fall of 2008 as an international student. It is my favorite city in the entire world and I can't wait to go back (and I will be this summer before heading off to my own MA program).

I lived on the Pleasance (which is a big street that runs north-south a few blocks east of the main campus) up near the Royal Mile in university self-catered housing (Darroch Court). Obviously, this was as an undergrad, but I paid about 500 quid a month for a medium-sized room. My flatmates were all younger than me, but they all became good friends. Edinburgh is a very friendly and low-key city. It's got the splendor of London without the hustle. Old Town is magnificent, and I loved living amid all the medieval history, and everything was close. Tesco was just around the block on the Road of Many Names (South Bridge, North Bridge, Nicholson, Clerk, etc.), which is where commerce happens in Old Town. The Pleasance Bar (and Edinburgh Folk Club) was literally a block away. I don't know the outlying neighborhoods as well, besides that New Town is a lot newer (comparatively speaking; it's still older than anything I knew in the US). The bus system works great, for whenever I wanted to quickly get anywhere. And Waverley is a great train station.

I did every International Student thing I could, and made some good acquaintances, though most of my friends came from joining clubs. They're not all from North America, so you have both the shared experience of being new while also having all the differences of where you're actually from. An Australian girl asked me if high school in the States was like The OC. And it's a very cheap way of seeing some of the rest of Scotland.

One of the big shocks for me was the latitude difference. By the time I left, it was dark at 4 PM. It's something you should be more used to living in Vancouver, but I'm from Texas and it was a big change.

Thinking about Edinburgh again is getting me all emotional. I do so love that city.
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