View from Calton Hill

Moving to Edinburgh with your family – 5 ways to prepare

Bringing your family to Edinburgh with you while you study? Our post provides some useful information about schools, accommodation and living in Edinburgh with children, as well as valuable insights from our alumni.

We have a number of students who join our programmes and bring their young families with them, or who start a family while they are here. Edinburgh is a great place for kids. It is known for being friendly and safe and is a great city for children to explore.  There are, of course, a few practicalities that you will want to consider before you arrive.

Image of Princes Street Gardens in Summer
Princes Street Gardens

“We came from Australia with our 6 month old daughter. It was a great experience as we not only met people through the MBA, we met people through our daughter.”

Tony Aykroyd (MBA 1994)

1. Edinburgh – family days out

A quick search online will reveal the numerous activities that Edinburgh has on offer for families, from castles and museums, to leisure centres, parks and clubs. The Edinburgh Festivals run throughout the year with the majority taking place in the summer months and include family shows and entertainment.  You’ll also find many free ways to keep your children entertained in Edinburgh with access to country parks, nearby beaches and walking trails.

“One key factor for choosing to stay in Edinburgh to study was that it’s a great place to have a young family (my wife and I have three young boys) – the amenities of the city and its environs are very difficult to replicate elsewhere.”

Stephen Porter (MSc 2013)

“Edinburgh is incredibly family / kid friendly – there are so many events / activities (often free) and in such close proximity. As a cultural capital parents are never bored either.”   

Cameron Yukio Kuwahara (MBA 2014)

 2. Accommodation

“Be clear on what your priorities for accommodation are – if having a back garden is high on the list, then it may be-hove you to focus the search outside of “town”, in the more residential areas. There are many distinct neighbourhoods in Edinburgh – there should be something that fits the bill! But securing private rental accommodation can require lightning decisions – properties don’t stay empty for long.”

Stephen Porter (MSc 2013)

This will be an important consideration for you. Think about what your family will need and give yourself plenty of time to search. If your children need day care or schools you might want to investigate these first as it may influence where you choose to stay. Will you need a garden; do you want to live centrally or do you prefer the suburbs; what will your budget allow? Also, take heed of our alumni insights about how quickly good accommodation can disappear.

With regards to your options, you may be able to apply for University family accommodation or you may decide to rent privately. The University accommodation website has useful information about what they have on offer, where it is located and how and when to apply.  If you plan to rent privately you’ll also find useful information on the accommodation site, including a list of websites where you can search for accommodation and useful resources to help with signing your lease etc.

“I moved to Edinburgh with my husband and two boys to study my MBA. We absolutely loved our time there, as it is just great for families. We stayed at Blacket Avenue, the University Accommodation for families, and was the best decision we made. Highly recommend it to anyone with kids.”

Maria Costa (MBA 2013)

“The festival in the summer is a massive money pot for landlords (4x rental income) which means advertised houses in May/June suddenly disappear mid/end July. Big risk, I can’t over emphasize this given our own oversight and all the natural family requirements from budget, garden to location. Good luck future business ‘burghers!”

Cameron Yukio Kuwahara (MBA 2014)

Find out more about University accommodation for families

Find out more about renting privately

 3. School and childcare

“For young families with school-age children, the key tip would be to contact the Council and preferred schools as soon as possible.” 

Stephen Porter (MSc 2013)

If you have children who will be attending school you can research the schools in Edinburgh online.  Many will have a website and each school will have an Inspection report (HMIe report) that is carried out by the Scottish Government education department. Schools in Scotland are allocated a catchment area, which defines which addresses attend which school – these can be viewed online.

School system

Primary School – Children in Scotland complete 7 years of primary school education, from P1 (starting around 4/5 years old) to P7 (where children will be around 11/12 years old)

Secondary School – After P7 children move to a secondary school, known as high schools, grammar schools or academies. Children can complete six years of secondary school (S1–S6)

Children who are pre-school age can attend private nurseries (many accept babies from 3 months) or may secure a place in a school nursery (from around 3 years old). There are many nurseries to choose from in Edinburgh, the more popular of which may operate a waiting list. The University of Edinburgh will also be opening a new nursery in August 2014, Arcadia Nursery.

Find out more about Edinburgh schools and enrolment is available on the Edinburgh council website

Find out more about Arcadia Nursery at the University of Edinburgh

4. Learning English and meeting other partners

The University Women’s Club brings together the wives / partners and children of postgraduate students and offers Basic English lessons by qualified teachers.  The club also arranges regular coffee mornings for partners to meet other people and can provide information about living in Edinburgh, such as transport, doctors etc for newcomers.

 Find out more about the University Women’s Club

 5. Healthcare – A and E

All students on a full-time course of studies in Scotland are eligible for National Health Service (NHS) treatment. This includes international students and any dependants with you in the UK.  NHS treatment is provided for free however, you may have to pay for dentistry and some more specialised services. Registering for a doctor as soon as you arrive is recommended so that you can receive treatment quickly and easily if required. You may need certain documents such as your unconditional offer letter, passports and proof of address; however the GP you register with will be able to provide further information.

Find your closest GP on the NHS 24 website

Emergency Departments in Edinburgh and Lothians 

The University of Edinburgh Advice Place guide to registering with a doctor and dentist

If you are an offer holder at the Business School and have queries about bringing your family with you then do get in touch. We can put you in contact with one of our students or alumni who are happy to share their experiences and insights with you.

You may find the UK Council for International Student Affairs website a useful resource for finding our more about bringing your family to Edinburgh




Published by

Elizabeth Gorrilla, Student Recruitment

Elizabeth Gorrilla is the Student Recruitment Manager at the Business School, recruiting students from around the globe for our postgraduate programmes. Follow Elizabeth on twitter @uebsrecruitment or email