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Where to Live in Scotland as a US Expat

Scotland is quietly a cultural landmark in Europe, with a rich history extending back in time to the paleolithic. Scotland is also a hugely desirable country to move to, on account of its rich and diverse economy as well as its winning infrastructure. Indeed, Scotland makes a strong appearance in Mercer’s Quality of Living Ranking, with three major cities within the top 50: Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

Naturally, this makes Scotland a magnet for expatriates, particularly from the US. Its cultural links are as strong as its golf links. If you’re thinking of making the move, whether for family, work or simply a change of pace, what should you think about – and where should you live?

The Logistics of Making a Home

Scotland is a country that contains multitudes; the pace of life can change dramatically between its cities, islands and countryside. Half of the battle in figuring out your move to Scotland is choosing your pace, finding the right environment to suit you – and finding your people in the process.

Of course, cost is a major factor in the logistics of your move. Alongside the initial costs of moving, from flights and travel to shipping your belongings to the UK, the long-term cost of living in your chosen destination is important to consider. Rural areas have much cheaper living costs, but they introduce new costs in the form of transport; the major cities, meanwhile, are much more expensive, with Edinburgh akin to London in inflated living costs.

The UK in general is experiencing unique economic difficulty at the moment, owing to a high rate of inflation and a falling pound. But this can work to your advantage, with your dollars buying more pounds when exchanged. As such, if you are paying for your move via substantial savings, your savings will be effectively worth more in the UK. This could allow you to expand your search when it comes to budget.

Of course, choosing a place to live is about so much more than budgets and logistics. There are so many factors at play, but what’s most important is that you find somewhere you fall in love with. Here are some of the best places an expat can move to in Scotland, and why you might love them. 

The Best Places to Live in Scotland


Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital, and a multicultural hub that rivals London for culture and nightlife. It is here that you will find the most vibrant US expat community – and the friendliest locals for a proper introduction to Scottish living. Compared to other places in Scotland, costs can get a little high, but the trade-off is a city like no other. 

Isle of Bute

For a slower pace, the Isle of Bute is an excellent taste of a more rural Scotland. The island boasts a strong local community, with good transport links for exploring the mainland at your leisure.


Aberdeen is a gateway to Scotland’s northernmost reaches – a progressive city with relatively low costs. This is a great place to find a balance between the rural and urban pace.