Living in Edinburgh as a Digital Nomad — Andy Sto

Andy Sto
8 min readJan 28, 2023

Being a historical, commercial, and educational center in Scotland, Edinburgh seems to have it all.

No matter your interests or hobbies, remote workers can find themselves accommodated easily in this big city, where opportunities and excellent infrastructure abound.

Let’s explore Edinburgh and discover what exactly makes it so ideal for digital nomads.

This is a guide to living in Edinburgh, UK as a digital nomad.

The cost of living in Edinburgh

Despite being the capital city of Scotland, it’s still around 30% cheaper to live in Edinburgh than in London: so, if you want an urban lifestyle, this is a reasonable option for digital nomads.

Because it’s such a big city with so much to offer, Edinburgh can be on the more expensive side in some areas, however.

Let’s break down where exactly this expense comes from, and how digital nomads can make the best out of Edinburgh’s cost of living.

Accommodation Costs

Edinburgh’s city center has a wide range of accommodation options, so you’ll find somewhere that suits you no matter what your budget is.

The average price of a hotel for one night in the center is 40 USD, with your cheapest options being a Premier Inn or a Travelodge hotel.

Whilst these options are particularly cheap, they are by no means detrimental to your experience of working in Edinburgh, as they often have amenities such as desks and a downstairs working space.

Their locations are also designed to be the most efficient for business people staying in the city, so that’s something to consider if you want easy access to the city center.

Airbnbs are another option and are more common in the suburbs of the city.

You can rent an entire property in Edinburgh for approximately 130 USD per night, or a private room for around 50 USD.

You can also rent a shared room for a cheap price of around 30 USD per night, though this may not work for the more private digital nomads.

In comparison with hotel prices, Airbnbs in this city does not appear to be worth the money, as hotel rates are so reasonable due to the business nature of Edinburgh.

A final option is private renting, which allows for many options.

The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is around 950 USD, becoming as cheap as 700 USD when you reach the suburbs.

The largest apartments available on average can cost up to 2,000 USD per month in the center, falling to around 1,200 USD in the suburbs.

It comes down to how much access you want to the main hub of Edinburgh.

Food Expenses

Like with any big city, your options are endless.

However, if you like dining out, you’re looking at around 30 USD for a three-course meal in an average restaurant, going up to 100 USD in the more prestigious locations. Or, you can grab a single-course lunch meal at a restaurant for as low as 12 USD.

As far as fast food is concerned, the area around Queen Street in Edinburgh’s city center has many to choose from, and you can grab a meal at McDonalds for 6 USD.

When buying groceries, Tesco is your best option for deals, and you’ll find these stores dotted around the city.

Drink Expenses

If you like beer, you’ll love Edinburgh.

The average price of a pint is just less than 5 USD — which is very reasonable for a city as populous as this one — and a bottle of beer can be bought at a bar for as cheap as 4 USD.

Buying wine in the supermarket is also recommended, as you can find a decent bottle in Tesco for as cheap as 4 USD.

Edinburgh’s New Town area is by far the best place to drink, but if you like a historical pub, the Old Town has many options — admittedly for a slightly higher price due to a cozier ambiance.

Transport Expenses

Edinburgh is a famously walkable city, but there are plenty of transport options for when you need them.

Buses run 24 hours a day in this city, and you can bet a one-way ticket in the area for less than 2 USD. There is also a tram system using the same ticket prices.

A monthly pass is also available for the tram and bus, currently for 60 USD.

Taxi costs are also pretty average for a city of this size, with a starting tariff of 3 USD, and then 1.50 USD for every kilometer.

Benefits of being a digital nomad in Edinburgh

Historic views

With the castle as the centerpiece of the city, the historical architecture in Edinburgh is truly breathtaking — and it can be found all over the city, from Victorian townhouses to medieval monuments.

No matter where you stay, you’ll always wake up to some stunning architecture.

Excellent infrastructure

As the NHS operates in Scotland, you’ll always have access to free healthcare in Edinburgh.

The public transport is also cheap, fast, and reliable — with straight routes to other big cities such as Glasgow, it’s super convenient.

Lots of space

Although many tourists visit Scotland in the summer, it becomes pretty peaceful for the rest of the year, so don’t let the city’s tourist economy concern you.

There’s also lots of nature and green space around, such as the river walks by Dean Village and the hiking available around Arthur’s seat.

Best areas in Edinburgh

The Old Town

With its cobbled streets in the heart of the city, this area is ideal for long-term tourists.

The Old Town is the busiest part of Edinburgh, so finding accommodation can be challenging unless you opt for a hotel. However, this area harbors the most attractive streets of the city, such as the Royal Mile which leads up to Edinburgh Castle.

The New Town

It’s not as medieval as the Old Town, but it is packed with Georgian townhouses, sprawling squares, and beautiful spaces.

There are lots of galleries and museums in this neighborhood, including the Scottish Gallery, the Ingleby Gallery, and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Dean Gardens, Queen Street Gardens, and Calton Hill are some of the stunning green spaces you’ll find in this area.

The West End

The West End of Edinburgh is, of course, to the west of the city center. Among its most famous cultural attractions are the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Usher Hall, and Edinburgh Farmers’ Market, which is held every Saturday).

A crafty funfest featuring makers, artists, and designers is also hosted in the neighborhood, which takes place each August.

Negatives

Apartment restrictions

The housing market in Edinburgh is highly competitive. Therefore, a good apartment listing will likely sell quickly.

As apartment prices rise due to the high demand, they tend to become more expensive. Due to this, digital nomads may have to settle for less spacious apartments when they move to Edinburgh, especially since they probably won’t be renting long-term.

NHS problems

Although it’s excellent that healthcare is free in Edinburgh, it certainly comes with its problems.

Getting an appointment with a health professional may take hours once you arrive at the hospital and A&E is often very busy.

Although private treatments are sometimes expensive, they can reduce the number of times you will have to wait. It would be wise to invest in health insurance if you decide to pursue this option, especially if you have a long-term health condition.

High cost of living

Although living in Edinburgh is better than living in London, it is by no means a cheap place to live, particularly in the city center.

If you live in the suburbs, you can significantly reduce your accommodation expenses.

Visa Requirements

With a standard visitor visa, most nationalities are allowed to stay in the UK for six months. Several long-term versions of this visa are available, but the requirements are extensive.

Using a regular visitor visa is the best option for digital nomads. You may need to apply for another visa after six months or leave the country.

These visas do not allow you to work in the UK. To avoid harsh fines or even deportation, you must earn all your money exclusively online.

Due to the UK’s exit from the European Union, digital nomads have faced increasingly complicated visa situations. For detailed information, check official government websites as regulations are still changing.

How to find accommodation

Unless you opt for a more expensive option, such as renting an Airbnb, using reliable sites is the best way to find a place to rent in Edinburgh — especially as properties get snapped up very quickly.

For a wide range of options and prices, using Rightmove is essential to get quick and easy viewings of rental properties. You can also find flats to rent for as low as 900 USD PCM in the city center on this site.

A cheaper option is using Spareroom, where you can find rooms to rent for as low as 500 USD PCM. This is also a vetted site, so you can be assured of a safe and clean location to stay in. These rooms for rent do tend to be located in the suburbs of Edinburgh, so bear that in mind if staying in the center of the city is a priority for you.

Coworking Spaces

Custom Lane

Located next to the River Leith, this bustling location has lots to offer:

  • A variety of membership options to accommodate every budget
  • Open until 8 pm every day of the week
  • Private studios for creative practices

The Melting Pot

With a central location, right next to Edinburgh’s main train station, this coworking space is highly rated for several reasons:

  • Flexible memberships
  • Unlimited beverages such as coffee and tea
  • A creative and successful community of support

Regus Princes Street

Situated on Edinburgh’s busiest high street, this location feels primed for business ventures:

  • Six floors with panoramic views up to the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle
  • Easy to access via public transport
  • On-site showers

The verdict

This is a busy, exciting Scottish city, with plenty to explore as a digital nomad.

If London appears too expensive right now, Edinburgh is a more economical and more historical option, with endless cultural venues and architecture to appreciate.

Enjoy working remotely in Edinburgh!

Originally published at https://andysto.com on January 28, 2023.

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Andy Sto

Digital Nomad focused in #remotework and #digitalnomadism