Expat Tales: Living in Edinburgh
What inspired your move, and how long have you been there?
I moved to the United Kingdom for a number of different reasons, including a broader range of career opportunities in my area, my interest in European history and wanting to travel around Europe. My decision to live in Edinburgh is purely because I like the city so much and have done so since I first arrived.
What do you do there?
I currently work as an IT consultant, and before that I was an auditor in the pharmaceutical industry.
What are the greatest advantages to living there?
I like Edinburgh for so many reasons. Firstly, it is a really beautiful city. It's nice living somewhere with so much history and beautiful architecture. There are also a lot of green spaces such as Princes Street Gardens, Holyrood Park and the Meadows - all very accessible within the central city area.
How expensive is it compared to New Zealand?
When I first moved here it seemed expensive until I started earning pounds, and then everything seemed relative and comparable.
What do you do in your spare time?
I like many different things so my weekends can be quite varied. The one thing about being in Edinburgh is that I'm never bored, as there is always plenty to see and do. For example, the Science Festival is the latest of many festivals in Edinburgh, and I attended a number of different events as part of that. I also enjoy walking at the weekends. There are heaps of places to walk in Edinburgh and in the surrounding area.
What's the local delicacy and would you recommend eating it?
Food is not dissimilar to the food in New Zealand although in Edinburgh I'm certainly very spoilt for choice. There are many restaurants here and a wide variety of cuisines to try.
Easiest way to get around?
Edinburgh is a very walkable city which is one of the reasons I like it so much. I live about a 10-minute walk from the city centre and tend to walk a lot. There are good public transport options, too - buses and we will soon have trams running here.
What's the shopping like?
Shopping in Edinburgh is good. The main shopping street is called Princes St in the New Town part of Edinburgh. I'm told that the shopping is better in Glasgow (about a one-hour train journey away) so that may be a good place for any shopaholics to visit.
Best after-dark activity?
There are plenty of bars and pubs to visit, and many restaurants.
What are the top three things you recommend for visitors?
My favourite part of Edinburgh would have to be Stockbridge. It's about a 10-minute walk from Princes St and yet feels like a village - it is hard to believe it's so close to the city centre. In Stockbridge there are interesting shops to visit, bars and a regular market (Thursdays and Sundays). The Botanical Gardens are also very close to Stockbridge and are well worth a visit in any season. From Stockbridge you can take a pleasant 15-minute stroll along the Water of Leith to the Dean Village.
The Mary King's Close tour (accessed from the Royal Mile) is really fascinating - this is an underground tour of streets beneath the Royal Mile where people lived in the 17th century. I recommend this to anyone visiting Edinburgh.
Get a copy of List magazine on arrival (or see list.co.uk). This magazine details current events and attractions in Edinburgh and is a good way to find out what's on. Plus there are also restaurant reviews.
Take a walking tour - this is a great way to visit key areas and learn about the history. The Thistle Knights tours are excellent.
Take advantage of the free museums such as the National Museum of Scotland.
Best time of year to visit?
This depends on what you want to do. May and June are good as the weather is warming up and it's not too busy. August is a very busy month because of different festivals that take place then, including the Edinburgh International Festival, Fringe Festival, Edinburgh Military Tattoo and Edinburgh Book Festival. The atmosphere is great; however, it can be overwhelming.
How easy is it for you to get back to New Zealand?
Edinburgh airport is well serviced with flights and it is not difficult to travel between Edinburgh and New Zealand. It is always at least two stops, though. There are a lot of options, for example; a flight to London Heathrow from Edinburgh is about one hour 15 minutes and from Heathrow there are a number of long haul flights to New Zealand. The last time I flew with Emirates and travelled Edinburgh-Birmingham-Dubai-Auckland.
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Sunday Star Times