The Cost of Living in Scotland
The cost of living in Scotland is an important consideration for anybody wishing to move here.
It would take an encyclopedia to detail every kind of expense and so much depends on
personal circumstances, but hopefully this general Scottish overview, as of November, 2011,
will be of help:-
Average Salaries Scotland (Payscale Index 20 Nov 2011 www.payscale.com)
Sr. Software Engineer / Developer / Programmer £37,465
Office Administrator £16,060
Software Developer £25,196
Software Engineer £26,679
Information Technology (IT) Project Manager £43,985
Office Manager £21,953
Retail Store Manager £19,085
Mechanical Engineer £27,566
Quantity Surveyor £25,317
Sr. Software Engineer / Developer / Programmer £32,657
Software Developer £24,850
Operations Manager £31,429
Office Administrator £16,344
Graphic Artist / Designer £19,427
The Skills Development Scotland Website is well worth a look to find out more about working in Scotland.
National Minimum Wage
Everyone in Scotland (and UK) is legally entitled to a minimum rate of pay: £3.68 per hour for ages 16-17; £4.98 per hour for ages 18-20 and £6.08 for workers aged 21 and over. (As of 1st Oct 2011).
The UK has a national health service (NHS) run by the government which is free for those living permanently in Scotland or who (I believe) have a visa which allows you to stay for at least a year (please confirm this). However, not everything is free on the NHS and generally you must pay for medicinal prescriptions, dentists, opticians & chiropody, although there are some exemptions e.g. children, expectant mothers, the elderly & low income families (dependent on circumstances, please check). Eye tests in Scotland are currently free.
You can choose to opt into private health care services like BUPA, but these can be expensive for those on lower salaries. Visit the NHS Scotland website to find out more about the NHS in Scotland & overseas visitors.
If you are working for an employer in Scotland you must pay "Income Tax" and "National Insurance" on your salary which will be automatically deducted from your weekly or monthly salary by your employer. If you are new to Scotland you must apply to Her Majestys Revenues & Customs (HMRC) for a National Insurance number right away and give this to your new employer.
During the 2010-11 tax year, for earnings between £0 - £37,400 you pay 20% Basic Rate Income Tax; earnings between £37,401 to £150,000 you pay 40% Higher Rate and for earnings over £150,000 it's 50%.
In respect of National Insurance, if you're employed you pay Class 1 National Insurance contributions. The rates are:
* if you earn more than £139 a week and up to £817 a week, you pay 12 per cent of the amount you earn between £139 and £817.
* if you earn more than £817 a week, you also pay an extra 2 per cent of all your earnings over £817.
You pay a lower rate if you're a member of your employer's contracted-out pension scheme. NI Contributions are automatically deducted from your wages by your employer.
Accommodation & Housing
In Edinburgh, the cost of a basic 1 bedroom flat in a traditional Edinburgh tenement varies from around £450 to £550 a month, depending on the quality of the accommodation and the location. Flats are cheapest in Gorgie and Leith and more expensive in more upmarket locations such as Morningside, Bruntsfield, Stockbridge, Comely Bank and the City Centre.
Aberdeen is the most expensive city to rent in and Dundee is the cheapest. Glasgow is a little cheaper than Edinburgh. Landlords will ask for a deposit and the 1st months rent in advance, so you will generally need around £1000 plus to secure a decent 1 bedroom rented property. Leases are generally "Short Assured Tenancies" which usually give you security of tenure for 6 months and most roll over, after the initial 6 month period, on a month to month basis thereafter. (Although a short assured tenancy can be for longer). Under a Short Assured Tenancy, you will be responsible for paying "council tax" which is around £110 a month for an average 1 bedroom flat, depending on area. You will also have to pay for gas and electricity which will be around £60 a month for a 1 bedroom flat, but could be less or more, depending on how many there are of you and how frugal you are!
Landlords in Scotland are generally responsible for all repairs to a property - so you will be saved that cost (except for any 'unreasonable' damage you've caused). To find out more about renting in Scotland visit the property letting website Citylets.
Sharing a flat or house is very popular in Scotland and generally costs in the region of £300 to £400, but can be more. Anything cheaper is not going to be great. Sharing does allow you to share the payment of council tax and the utility bills. To find a flat share visit Easy Roommate.
Buying a property in Scotland is fairly straightforward, although it is more difficult to qualify for a mortgage at the moment and you will need a fairly hefty deposit although better deals are creeping back into the market. Best advice if you're thinking of buying is to visit the Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre (ESPC) in George Street, Edinburgh, who provide free solicitor and mortgage advisor drop in sessions.
The average cost of a decent 1 bedroom flat in Edinburgh is around £100,000 to £150,000 dependent on the area. Really good family homes tend to be sought after and can command good prices. At the moment, the property market in Scotland is very sluggish, so it's very much a buyers market.
This is hard to quantify as it really depends on the individual, but here's a few prices of basic food items:
Sliced White Sandwich Loaf £1.10
6 Pack Golden Delicious Apples £1.50
1 pint Whole Milk £0.45
Box of 6 Medium Free Range Eggs £1.46
500g Fresh British Beef Mince £1.64
500g Fresh Beef Fillet Steak £11.49
1.5kg Fresh Whole Chicken £4.00
Obviously the list is endless, but if you want to check out Scottish food prices further visit My Supermarket.co.uk.
Transport in Scotland
Scotland has excellent public transport, which is generally very affordable, especially if you book in advance. The cost of buying a new car is relatively comparable to the rest of Europe, although maybe a little more expensive. Second hand cars are abundant and by shopping around there are some bargains to be had.
The cost of petrol in the UK is around the £1.40 per litre mark as of 9 May 2012. Check out www.petrolprices.com for more info.
THIS ARTICLE WAS LAST UPDATED: 20 NOVEMBER 2011.
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