Reasons to Move to Scotland
Why You Should Move to Scotland
Why move to Scotland? Well, we've got fresh air, lots of space, and a lower cost of living than many parts of the UK. And that's just for starters!
If you are thinking of moving to Scotland here are some good reasons to make the move. There are also some things to watch out for if you don't want to be hit too hard by culture shock.
All the photography on this page features Scottish places and wildlife to give you a preview of a little of what awaits should you decide to move to Scotland... alongside a warm welcome, naturally!
Move to Scotland for the Famous Scottish Scenery
Scotland has beautiful unspoiled countryside
Scotland has a population of a little over 5 million. This is a smaller population than that of either London or New York City. Add to this the fact that most of the population is concentrated in the 4 major cities of Scotland (in order of size: Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee) and in the 'Central Belt' region surrounding Edinburgh and Glasgow, and it becomes clear that there is a lot of open space!
The ancient mountains that form the Highland region cover a large part of the country and while the hillsides are dotted with sheep the landscape here is little changed by human interference. National Parks protect the most vulnerable and beautiful areas: the Cairngorms National Park covers 4528 square kilometres (around 2814 square miles) and Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park covers a further 18565 square kilometres (270 square miles).
If you move to Scotland, these parks will almost certainly be somewhere you will take the time to visit. The National Parks welcome nature lovers and are keen to encourage activities such as cycling, boating, and horse riding. At the same time they protect the rare and unique wildlife of the region including the Scottish Wildcat, Red Squirrel (endangered in Britain), Osprey, Golden Eagle, Capercaille, Scottish Crossbill and Ptarmigan.
Beyond the National Parks you can still find vast areas of rural land. Even in the cities and more populated areas you are never far from green spaces. Scotland's capital city, Edinburgh, is bordered by the Pentland Hills which are a favorite of hikers. In fact the city itself is very hilly! Small and large lochs (lakes) are found just about everywhere.
Scotland also has an extensive coastline, being surrounded by water on 3 sides, and has numerous inhabited and uninhabited islands with their own unique communities and landscapes.
If you are an outdoors-loving person and happy to enjoy nature in fair weather and foul, a move to Scotland will be one you will not regret.
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Move to Scotland for the Leisure Opportunities
Scotland offers many leisure activities
Scotland has long been known as a walker's paradise with its hills and mountains and still attracts many hikers and climbers. Reaching the peak of all 283 Munros (a Munro is a Scottish mountain over 3000 ft) is a popular goal.
Scotland's mountains also offer the only significant snow sports in Britain with 5 Scottish snow resorts offering managed pistes for skiers and snowboarders. Winter sports in Scotland is not, however, for the faint-hearted! Being active will keep you warm but the Scottish weather can be unpredictable and good weather means the slopes soon get crowded. All the same, it can be simply beautiful up Cairngorm Mountain on a clear winter's day.
If you are fond of water sports you will also be spoiled for choice if you move to Scotland. Surfing and kayaking are popular activities along the Scottish coastline. There are some beautiful beaches on the East Coast, and the West has some spectacular coastal scenery.
If you get the urge to take to the air, you can go paragliding in Scotland or can enjoy more traditional gliding lessons. You might even take a flight in a microlight to enjoy the Scottish scenery from above!
You don't have to be an all-action type of person to have a good time in Scotland though. Many artists and photographers have been inspired by the landscapes and architecture, and pottery has also thrived. Scottish knitting too is world famous in the Arran and Fair Isle styles of knitting that were created in Scottish island communities.
Move to Scotland for the History and Culture
Echoes of centuries past
If you move to Scotland you will find reminders of the past all around you. This will be especially interesting if you have Scottish ancestors.
Dream of seeing a Scottish castle? They are everywhere! Scotland has been the home of kings and queens for centuries. From the ruins of Dunfermline Palace where monarchs including King Malcolm III and his wife Queen Margaret (later Saint Margaret) lived in the 11th century, to Falkland Palace where Mary Queen of Scots was a visitor in the 1500s, to Balmoral Castle which was the retreat of Queen Victoria and is now the summer hideaway of Queen Elizabeth and her family, you don't have to look far to find a royal residence.
If you are more interested in how ordinary people lived you can again find history all around you. Visit St Andrews for the medieval university buildings and little cobbled streets, and see where Patrick Hamilton's initials mark the spot of his gruesome death at the stake. In Edinburgh you can still see the shady closes and wynds (narrow streets) where Burke and Hare once carried out their murders, or visit the underground vaults. New Lanark World Heritage Site in the south of Scotland has a beautifully preserved cotton mill and social housing dating from 1786.
Orkney's Italian Chapel
Read the incredible true story of the Italian prisoners of war sent to Orkney to work on building roads between the islands, and of the beautiful chapel that they created during their spare time.
To travel back much further in time, go to the islands of Orkney in the far north where you can find standing stones and henges and the remains of a Neolithic village. Orkney was also colonized by the Vikings and once formed part of Norway!
If your love of Scotland has been fostered by Scottish movies, you may be interested in visiting the grave of Rob Roy MacGregor in Balquhidder Kirkyard. Many locations in the Highlands have appeared in films and the castle of Eilean Donan is particularly famous. You might recognize it from Highlander.
Be Prepared When Moving to Scotland
Depending where you move to Scotland from, you might not expect to experience culture shock. However, any change of country can bring with it a challenge of adjusting to a new way of life.
Scotland has some wonderful local produce and it's definitely not all haggis and whisky, though if you are fond of those you have come to the right place! On the other hand, it is true that the Scottish have one of the unhealthiest diets in Europe. This is the land of the deep-fried Mars Bar (known as a Milky Way in America) and square sausages.
Of course, not everyone in Scotland is a heavy drinker or has a diet of pies and chips (fries). It's as possible to eat a healthy diet in Scotland as it is anywhere, if you can avoid temptation. Personally, I blame all the comfort eating on the cold weather!
How much impact the Scottish weather has on you probably depends on where you are moving to Scotland from. One thing to note is that Scotland is situated in the north of Europe and although it is in the UK its temperatures can be significantly lower than London, for example. The weather is also very changeable. There's a good reason why you'll hear Scotland being said to have '4 seasons in 1 day'!
Although the skies are frequently overcast, you can get the occasional beautiful day with a high blue sky at any time of year, and then it seems there can be nowhere lovelier than Scotland.
Two or three years ago the winter weather was very cold with deep snow, but this is unusual and had been happening across northern Europe.
On the other hand, something that should be expected is the short winter days and long nights. Some days it feels like the sun forgot to come up at all. The long days in summer are of course a treat, though you will need good curtains if you need a dark room to sleep!
Learn the Language
The Language(s) of Scotland
You do not need to learn Scottish Gaelic to come here. Unlike Irish or Welsh, the language is not in common use and other than the odd sign in the northern parts of Scotland you may rarely encounter it.
However, you will almost certainly need to pick up some Scots to understand the local dialect. This is not the same thing as Gaelic but is the Scottish dialect and may have local variations. Words you might recognize in Scots are 'bairn' for child, 'wee' for small, 'canny' for shrewd, and also the poetry of Robert Burns.
I'm from England and it took me a while to understand everything said in broad Scots! For example, when someone is going for the 'messages' they are not checking the mail, they are going to get the groceries!
© 2011 Indigo Janson
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