With beautiful Victorian architecture and lush natural surrounds, the city of Glasgow sits beside the River Clyde in Scotland's central lowlands, about an hour west of the capital city of Edinburgh.
Glasgow grew from its shipping and trade origins to embrace its post-industrial role as the engineering and manufacturing stronghold of Scotland. Subsequently, Glasgow also became a major player in the Scottish Enlightenment movement, producing impressive art, music and architecture. This evolution has produced a city of contrasts, carefully combining beauty and rugged functionality, resulting in an influx of newcomers keen to make the city their new home.
Living in Glasgow as an expat
Many expats come to Glasgow to work in the city's large financial and business services sector. Those who come over without a job already secured will soon discover that finding work in Glasgow can be an extremely competitive process. Networking is key, and many will find that going through an employment agency will yield the best results.
Getting around in Glasgow is fairly easy with a number of options to choose from. Trains run out of two major stations in the city centre and provide affordable travel options both within the city as well as to the rest of Scotland. The bus system is just as efficient with a reliable and comprehensive timetable servicing the entire city.
Cost of living in Glasgow
Like many UK cities, Glasgow is far from cheap, particularly considering the cost of accommodation which takes up a substantial portion of an expat's salary. As per Mercer’s 2023 Cost of Living Survey, Glasgow ranks 109th out of 227 cities around the globe, indicating a moderate cost of living compared to other cities worldwide. Those weighing up the prospect of moving to Glasgow over Edinburgh might be swayed by the fact that Glasgow has a slightly lower cost of living than the capital, particularly when it comes to rental prices. Edinburgh is positioned higher up in the cost scale, at rank 86, making Glasgow a slightly more affordable choice within the UK.
Expat families and children
While there are no international schools in Glasgow, most expat parents are happy with the quality of education offered by government schools. In fact, Glasgow is home to some of Scotland's top-performing state schools. Catchment areas do apply though, so expat parents looking to nab a seat for their children at one of the more competitive schools should keep this in mind when deciding what area to live in.
Climate in Glasgow
Glasgow's typically chilly and windy climate isn't one of its main selling points. Still, the bright flowers that pop up all over the city in springtime do make for a pretty sight, and some summer days can be fairly warm.
Once settled, expats will encounter honest enthusiasm and a generous spirit among Glaswegians, finding many residents eager to chat. Come Friday evenings, expats heading down to the pub will find there's plenty of witty banter to be had, and this is a great way to make friends with locals.
A move to Glasgow may seem intimidating at first, but given a little time, expats will feel just as proud to live among the city's stunning Victorian architecture as born-and-bred Glaswegians.
►Learn more about the lifestyle in Glasgow
"Scotland turns from enormous industrial cityscape to the deepest peaty forest in the blink of an eye. There are some of the most deeply beautiful landscapes in the world just around the corner. You can catch a train to a small town and be out in the wilderness in no time. One advantage of travel in Scotland that I always tell everyone is the great camping and bothy culture. You’re allowed to set up camp pretty much anywhere, even on private land in most cases, as long as you’re respectful and tidy up, of course." Read more of Scottish repatriate Daniel's interview.
Are you an expat living in Glasgow?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Glasgow. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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