Expats moving to Edinburgh may discover that their lifestyle, and perhaps even their moods, will quickly become weather-dependent. 

As a city intertwined with the surrounding landscape and its residents fond of outdoor space, Edinburgh is active and inspiring during the summer months. Whether absorbing the creative energy that flourishes during the city's internationally-recognised festivals or simply enjoying a classic picnic in the Princes Street Gardens, there is plenty of opportunity to be active and engaged.

On the other hand, once the winter winds blow in, expats will find their lifestyle in Edinburgh may change tremendously. During this time, rather than burying themselves in their cosy homes, expats should make an effort to seek out the many recreational facilities and indoor cultural opportunities that abound in the city.

Shopping in Edinburgh

Victoria Street in Edinburgh by Jonathan Ricci

Edinburgh has some fantastic shopping options, mostly along Princes Street and George Street, where newcomers will find all their favourite UK chain stores.

Boutiques and independent stores offering a slightly quirkier selection can be found around the West End, while Victoria Street and Grassmarket are full of bookshops, arts and crafts stores, and specialist food retailers.

The Royal Mile is perfect for scouting souvenirs and gifts. The luxury shopper can head to Multrees Walk in New Town.

Eating out in Edinburgh

Edinburgh has become one of the UK's top foodie destinations, boasting a large and diverse selection of restaurants. The options are endless; be it traditional Scottish fare in a cosy pub, seafood along the docks, or international cuisine at one of the many unique neighbourhood cafés and bistros.

With a handful of Michelin-starred establishments and numerous celebrity chefs in residence, the Scottish capital also offers expats some truly innovative and imaginative fine dining options.

Nightlife and entertainment in Edinburgh

Pub in Edinburgh by Greg Wilson

In a city of countless watering holes, expats will soon discover how intoxicating the Edinburgh nightlife can be. Pubs are at the heart of the city’s social culture. From a wild night of pub crawls and clubbing, to a mellow evening at the theatre or comedy club, Edinburgh has something for everyone.

The cobbled streets of Old Town offer a huge selection of lively bars and pubs, with a wealth of options around Grassmarket and Victoria Street, and some cheerful choices surrounding the university. Several dedicated live music venues can be found in Cowgate, and the area around the George IV Bridge is a great place to go for cocktails.

New Town is home to some of the city’s best bars and nightclubs, particularly along the upmarket George Street, and Leith has become a trendy hangout boasting numerous restaurants and bars.

Where to meet people and make friends

Making friends can be difficult for newly arrived expats. Parents usually have the advantage of meeting other parents through their children's school, or during other family activities, but other expats may have to seek other avenues for meeting new people.

Below are a few clubs that may present the opportunity for expats in Edinburgh to meet people.

Sunday Brunch Club

The Sunday Brunch Club started as a small dining group in Edinburgh that would meet up on Sundays for a meal and some easy conversation. Since then, the club has morphed into a fully-fledged community that hosts social gatherings and events, including sports, outdoor activities and everything in between.

The Scottish Arts Club

Arty expats looking to meet up with like-minded people should look no further than The Scottish Arts Club. The club has a full calendar of exhibitions in various galleries around the city, musical events, as well as a selection of workshops and art classes.

Jog Scotland

Expats looking to stay active will find a great community in Jog Scotland. With outdoor trails and city loops, Edinburgh is a runner's dream. Seasoned runners and beginners alike are welcome and can sign up for a jogging session whenever they like. The club hosts many events besides running, and expats are sure to robust build relationships with locals and perhaps even other expats.

The National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh

Bookworms needn't fret, they'll have a haven in Edinburgh too. Literary-loving expats can link up with other bibliophiles at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, which regularly hosts book fairs, reading sessions and workshops – all great opportunities to meet people. Expats can also learn about other book clubs in the city via the library.

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