What it's really like living in Scotland

by 8/11/2017 0 comments

what is it like living in Scotland?

Pros and Cons of living in Scotland

Finding out the honest pros and cons of living in Scotland could be difficult. For people who've lived here their whole life, they have nothing to compare it with. I've lived in several different countries and travelled a lot, so I have some ideas of what people from other regions might find different, or unusual. I'm going to share that information in this blog post.

I was speaking to an American friend the other day who was talking about her experiences living in our small(ish) town in Scotland. I'm going to be brutally honest, her thoughts were not all positive. I often wonder if she knew what she was getting into when she decided to move here. So if you're curious about what it's like to live in Scotland, here is the truth.

The downsides to living in Scotland

I'm going to give you the less positive sides to living in Scotland, then follow them with the positive, so if you feel that the first half of this article is depressing or off-putting, please read on for the other side of the conversation. Keep on scrolling down!

The climate

It rains. A lot. Especially on the west coast. It's dark, cold, and "dreich" (Scots word for dreary) in winter. And a lot of the time in summer, too. Due to the currents from the Atlantic, we get a lot of clouds and they are full of water. When it's sunny, it's glorious, but not necessarily warm. That's just a fact you have to learn to live with. If you love sunshine and heat, Scotland is not for you.

Scotland is a rainy countryRainy season is every season.


And then there are the midges. A side effect of all that water lying about, they are tiny biting insects like mosquitoes, but smaller and they swarm all over you in the summer months, so even when it is warmer, your enjoyment can be hampered somewhat.

Scottish Midges SwarmThose little black dots in the air are midges! -- © Scottish Home Style


Sadly, in some areas of Scotland there is harsh poverty. Like, worst in Europe, lowest life expectancy, etc. There is also a high rate of teen pregnancies, violence, unemployment, poor health, drug use and all the other problems associated with poverty.

Scotland can be bleakAt least there ARE goalposts -- © Scottish Home Style

It's not a big country

It has just over five million people. To put in perspective, London has about 8.5 million and Scotland only has about 5, in a whole country. In some regions, it can feel very remote and isolated, and facilities can be lacking if you live outside one of the only four cities with over 100,000 people (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen or Dundee).

A whole lot of empty.

Scotland so white

It's also really ethnically homogenous, one of the least diverse places I have ever lived. In cultural terms, it's not exactly a bustling melting pot of excitement. Because of this lack of different ethnicities, we have Sectarianism instead. Like Northern Ireland, Catholic and Protestant tensions are higher than they are in most countries. There is violence around that with football and marches, and even some prejudice in employment.

AngerThis guy is angry about something!

Phew, that was tough. Congratulations on making it this far! As a reward, now we're going to talk about the plus side. And surprisingly, some of those negatives above, are actually also positives!

The upside to living in Scotland

Water everywhere!

If you've come from a dry country, you'll know the great thing about living in a rainy place is... water! Yes, if you've ever experienced the harshness of drought, this land is some kind of paradise. It's green, there are beautiful, misty lochs (Scots for lakes) and never a ban on watering your lawn (actually, you almost never have to water your lawn). When the sun comes out, it's like a holiday. Everyone lights their barbecue at the same time and gets a bucket of ice. Just make sure you take advantage of the sunny days when you can and get a waterproof jacket for the others.

Scottish lochs - an abundance of waterOut most windows there's some water.

Get cosy

If you're like me, and love the fashion choices with sweaters, scarves, and overcoats, there are plenty of opportunities to wear them. Cuddling up with a warm cuppa in a snuggly blanket while the rain comes down outside is a pleasure that can't be underestimated.

winter warmth with coffee and scarvesGet cosy and snuggle in!

Mix of wealth

Yes, the poverty is shocking, but it's getting better. The poorer areas aren't really "ghettoised" like in some countries. The areas where wealthy, middle-class, or poor people live often bump up right next to each other. The fact that there is such a mix of the income brackets means that there is not that much snobbery. People are just people in Scotland. It's a struggle, but one which is not as easy to ignore as some places, meaning it's common to see people talking to the homeless and offering them a bag of chips. You don't see that in London.

Glasgow Central Train Station at SunsetGlasgow Central Station -- © Scottish Home Style

The people

Thanks to the irreverence towards class and money, Scotland is a country that can speak truth to power, and is home to many feisty, funny characters. Yes there is violence, but honestly, it's probably a lot less than in places like London, and if you keep yourself to yourself, you're unlikely to meet a lot of problems. A lot of issues seem to come from the legacy of poverty, which is slowly being improved. Most people are relaxed, have a great sense of humour, and love to chat. We love to queue and love fairness. There is a tradition of hospitality and politeness underneath it all.

enjoying the sunshineEnjoy that sun while it lasts!


Historically, Scotland has always been proud of its investment in knowledge, sciences, and emphasis on free education. We reap the benefits with plenty of free museums and free university courses. There's a lot of great architecture around, an investment in public buildings. An innovative and entrepreneurial spirit is common - so much so, we have our own tech sector nicknamed "Silicon Glen".

View of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in the sunset from the side of Glasgow University -- © Scottish Home Style

So cool

There is a vibrant hipster and music scene in Scotland. Whether you are into that or not, it does provide a great variety of cool and fun stuff to do. Glasgow is the unofficial vegan capital of the UK with a ton of dedicated vegan eateries available, which are good to eat at even if you're not vegan. There are independent shops and pubs which are so much more interesting than chains, and a bunch of arty and alternative stuff to do in Scotland. Oh and bands all over the place!

Music concertHipster. Music. Scene.

Wide open spaces

The population density being so low means there is a lot of space for people to move! Scotland is famous for its outdoor activity like mountain bike trails, hiking, and kayaking on the lochs. As long as you're correctly equipped for the climate, you can have a lot of fun.

Scottish loch with kayakA peaceful loch with a kayak. Scotland is great for adventure! -- © Scottish Home Style


It really is a beautiful country. Photographers and artists love to use the natural drama on display for inspiration. We've got a lot of really talented artists (as you will see elsewhere in this blog). A short drive from just about anywhere will bring you to somewhere worth looking at, and enjoying.

We're just showing off now.

Proud to be Scottish

Strangely, for such a white country, it doesn't seem that bothered by race. If you have a Scottish accent, most people accept you're Scottish, no matter your skin colour. People are genuinely more bothered if you sound English! But even then, it's not too bad, more likely just a ribbing than anything serious. Yes, there are still problems with ignorant behaviour, but probably less than other parts of the UK. People are proud to call Scotland their home and often take positions of openness on immigration and refugees. A love of the underdog is prevalent.

Scots ThistleThe thisle is Scotland's floral symbol. Spiky but beautiful!

Scotland is its own country

Some people take Scotland as "part of England" or just a kind of region of Britain but it is a country in its own right! Yes it is part of the UK but it has its own governmental powers too. As a distinct country, it has a strong national historical flavour. There are hundreds of castles, ruins, museums and many of these places are free to visit. There is so much more to it than whisky and tartan (although these things are ace too).

Eilean Donan CastleEilean Donan Castle with a heck of a moat.

♥ Scotland

So you can see that the positives of living in Scotland far outweigh the negatives and are the reason why I am happy to call this place my home!

x Beth


Content Creator @ Jellydigio

I love writing and making beautiful blogs. I'm a huge fan of vintage home style and handcrafted items, Scandinavian chic and gorgeous, functional furniture for my Scottish home, which is why I started this blog.


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