Cost of Living in Scotland

The cost of living for foreign nationals in Scotland is considered to be high. This is mainly attributed to Scotland being a progressive nation and having a flourishing economy. However, for general cost of living, Scotland is known to be cheaper than most places in the UK. The Scottish economy has been mostly stable despite market disturbances brought by the recent Brexit. The latest GDP reports of the Government of Scotland in June 2020 reports that the Scottish GDP has grown 5.7%.

"Edinburgh is almost double the cost of living in Canada, it's also one of the more expensive cities in the world to live, but don't let that stop you from living there." - Miranda Carruthers, Expat in Scotland

Rental: Average globally

Compared to London: Cheaper

Compared to New York: Cheaper

Compared to Singapore: Cheaper

Expats who are looking for a rental accommodation in Scotland will not have a difficult time searching for one, as properties open up year round and there are a wealth of choices when it comes to flats and apartments – furnished, unfurnished or partially furnished. Available flats are usually let by agencies or by private landlords directly. Once a flat or apartment becomes available, it will be listed – with moving dates set to next day or up to six weeks in advance. For first-time expat renters in Scotland, it is advised to contact a letting agency to help with the process of finding accommodation, as they can give good advice about apartments that are suited to an expat’s needs.

Rental rates in Scotland largely vary, depending on the size, level of furnishing and location of the accommodation. 

Average rental prices per calendar month (pcm):

  • One-bedroom apartment city centre - USD$850 - 1,300 pcm
  • One-bedroom apartment Outside city centre - USD$650 - 1,050 pcm
  • Three-bedroom apartment city centre - USD$1,700 - 2,600 pcm
  • Three-bedroom apartment Outside city centre - USD$1,200 - 2,100 pcm

Utilities: Above average globally

Compared to London: Cheaper

Compared to New York: More expensive

Compared to Singapore: More expensive

Prices for basic utilities in Scotland are cheaper than some places in the United Kingdom, but depending on the city, can still be pricier than other cities in the United Kingdom. Utility prices are also slightly more expensive than in other major cities in the world. The average prices below are based on current prices in Edinburgh. 

Average utility prices:

  • Basic utilities (Water, Gas, Electricity, Heating, Garbage) - USD$200
  • Internet (10Mbps DSL) - USD$41
  • 1 minute prepaid mobile local call - USD$0.14

Food: Average globally

Compared to London: Cheaper

Compared to New York: Cheaper

Compared to Singapore: More expensive for restaurants, Cheaper for groceries

The food you can purchase for groceries can be inexpensive in Scotland, which is why most people living on a budget choose to cook instead of eat out. Restaurants, as it is with the rest of the UK can be pricey in Scotland.

Average food prices:

  • Meal for two in an inexpensive restaurant - USD$20
  • Three-course meal for two in a mid-range restaurant - USD$78
  • McDonalds combo meal (fast-food chain prices) - USD$7.50
  • One litre of milk - USD$1.20
  • One dozen eggs - USD$2.60
  • One kilogramme of chicken breasts - USD$8.74
  • One bottle of domestic beer - USD$2.30
  • One bottle of imported beer - USD$2.55
  • One bottle of mid-range wine - USD$10.50

Transportation: Average globally

Compared to London: Cheaper

Compared to New York: More expensive for taxis, Cheaper for public transport

Compared to Singapore: More expensive

Transport costs can be expensive in Scotland as it can be in other places in the UK. Most residents usually choose to ride a bike or walk instead of using public transport or driving.

Average transport costs:

  • Taxi flag-down rate - USD$3.95
  • Taxi rate every 1km - USD$1.87
  • One litre of gasoline - USD$1.66
  • Monthly public transport ticket - USD$74
  • One-way local transport ticket - USD$2.40

Taxation: Below average globally

Compared to London: Equivalent

Compared to New York: Lower

Compared to Singapore: More expensive

At present, all workers in Scotland are liable to pay income tax on a progressive scale, starting from 10% up to 45%. The rate of income tax that employees pay depends on their wage bracket. Other forms of taxation in Scotland are governed by the United Kingdom Parliament, such as the inheritance tax levied at 40%, value-added tax (VAT) levied at 20%, stamp duty charged at a rate of 0.5% up to 4%, and National Insurance contributions, which is levied based on income bracket and employment type.


Continue reading:

Cost of Living Abroad

Expat Services in Scotland