5 tips for moving to Edinburgh with family

Studying in a new country with a distance of 7,600 miles from your home can be quite challenging, especially if you are taking your family along. Here are several tips and tricks that might help you settle into Edinburgh quickly, and adapt to the differences in culture, weather and regulations.

In September 2017 I moved to Edinburgh from Indonesia with my family, to study a Masters in Finance at the University of Edinburgh Business School. I had a very short time to prepare for the move, but luckily I got some help from the University itself and the Indonesian Students’ Association in Edinburgh (PPI).

Here are several things that I have learned from my experience so far!

  1. Getting around Edinburgh with kids

Family at Calton Hill, Edinburgh

Travelling in Edinburgh is actually quite convenient, since the bus service is frequent and covers most of the city area.  The University website was useful and helped me to work out the transport system in Edinburgh. Navigation applications like Google Maps can also help you work out when you will need to take a bus to your destinations.

For me, I looked for a used bike on Gumtree and this became my main mode of transportation. The University encourages students to use a bicycle by organising Dr Bike sessions where you can get a free bike inspection and help to fix minor problems. They also provide a bike toolkit that you can borrow from several locations on campus, like the University Central Library for example.

2. Renting a flat

Getting a flat in Edinburgh can be quite difficult, especially during September – October when the new semester starts. Single postgraduates taught students from outside the EU, who applied for University Accommodation before 31 July, are guaranteed a place (more details on this are available on the University accommodation website.

As I didn’t qualify for the guaranteed place, I had to look for accommodation myself. I spent my first week in an AirBnB flat, and the next month staying with friends (the Indonesian students’ communities helped me with this), before I finally found a permanent flat. To let a property in Edinburgh usually you will need to attend a viewing before applying for a let. I found online property websites like Zoopla, Rightmove, or Citylets are good places to search for an available long-term flat.

3. Registering with a General Practitioner (GP)

This is another important thing to do, but usually the medical centre will only let you register after you have a permanent residence, proved by either a letting agreement or a billing statement with your name on it. For urgent cases, of course, there may be an exception. If your child is registered with a General Practitioner, they will get a free flu vaccination (they will most probably need this for the winter!)

4. Sending kids to School

For your children, having the opportunity to study at school in Edinburgh is great for their future, since they will develop proficient English language skills. When applying for a school you need to make sure that your home address is in the school catchment area for the school that you want in order to be prioritised for a place. The city council website provides detailed information regarding schools and other important things to consider.

5. Allocating time between studies and family life

Kids ins a park in Edinburgh

Managing your time is also an important part to be considered. Having a “To Do” list of study related activities and family related activities, along with their priority, helped me to balance and manage both.

So, these are the things that I wanted to share with you guys in return for all the help that I got when adapting to life in Edinburgh. Hopefully this might help you get off to a good start.

BTW, Edinburgh is a very nice city to live and study!

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Deddy Irfandy

Deddy is an MSc Finance student who likes travelling and studying (besides football). Deddy is originally from Indonesia and has been working in Thailand for almost a year, spending several months in Malaysia, and currently working in PT Semen Indonesia (Persero) Tbk. He enjoys visiting lots of different interesting places, documenting, photographing and sharing it with others.