possibly moving to Edinburgh, looking for advice

(52 Posts)
seattleite1 Wed 11-Mar-15 21:09:46


I apologize that this is mainly another school and neighborhood question. I've read back thru many of the posts and found them really helpful but still want to confirm that I'm understanding it all!

My DH is looking at a job in Edinburgh that would see us move there at the end of June. His job would be in, what I think, is the city center (it's "the old Scotsman in Holyrood" is all I know right now). He's going to be travelling there on the 30th so I will know more after he actually gets to visit the city!

We have 3 boys who will be ages 13, 11 & 11 when we move. If I've understood the schools correctly they will be going into S2 & P7. (we are American and here they would be going into 8th and 6th grade). We want to live in the city so that we can either have no car or 1 car.

My main concern is, it seems that even if we rent in the catchment area that we will not automatically get a place in the area school. Especially since we won't be there until very late and after all assignments are completed.

There seem to be many good choices and the main areas we are looking at are: Craigmount, James Gillespie, Boroughmuir. I realize these are some of the top schools and just wondering if we have a prayer of getting a spot at such a late date? It seems like Currie, Balerno and Firrhill are also good but these are farther from DH work. He's desperate for an easy and short commute after many years of spending 2 hours a day in the car!

I'm not as concerned for my younger 2 (twins) because they only have 1 year of primary left and I figure we can deal with anything for a year (although, if they got assigned to separate schools that might be really hard!) And, it seems that if older DS got a spot in our area catchment (or, at least an out of catchment school that we like) that the sibling rule would help get spots for the younger 2 when they enter S1?

Edinburgh looks like such a beautiful city and we would love the opportunity to live there but I'm freaking out a little at the possibility that my kids will end up at 3 different schools in completely different neighborhoods from where we live.

Thanks for any advice!

3nationedinburgh Wed 11-Mar-15 23:07:14

Hi there. School term starts here for state schools in mid August - this year it will be Monday 17 August. For private schools it usually is at least a week or two later.
The council will not usually allocate places until you have got a permanent address, but it might be worth doing some preliminary email with them to see if certain schools are completely full already for next year. www.edinburgh.gov.uk/info/20074/schools/388/school_places

If you are living in catchment at the time of the placings then it's pretty rare not to get a place in your catchment school - I certainly haven't heard of much of it at high school level. So if your twins are in p7 for a year then they should get a place at your catchment secondary schools - even if you can't get in to the catchment primary. You also get a fair few children moving to private school between primary 6 and 7 so that might create some spaces too at the primaries.

High school wise, Gillespie, boroughmuir, craigmount, royal high, currie. firhill, balerno are all good and there are a fair few which sit mid table like Broughton, Trinity etc which also, as far as I can tell, are fairly decent. The old scotsman building is city-centre ish, but the thing to remember is thatt Edinburgh is fairly compact. I can walk from my home at the west end of Edinburgh to the Scotsman building (which I would say is the opposite side of the city centre) in 30 minutes.

Do you know what sort of area you want to live in? What are you expecting in terms of a home? what sort of rental budget do you have? Most of central Edinburgh is flats (lots of grand old tenements) although there are some houses but they tend to be pricey.

seattleite1 Thu 12-Mar-15 00:40:17

Aug 17! Oh my, we'll barely be unpacked! I will begin emailing around to the schools to see what the situation might be.

Yes, I think it's hard for me, just looking at Edinburgh on the map to get a real feel for the size. I'm picturing everything as very far apart! Hopefully after DH spends a few days there we'll be able to have a better idea.

We'd like an area that is family friendly with a decent amount of kids around the same age. And, as our kids are in that pre-teen/teenager group... someplace reasonable safe where they could be out and about on their own. We currently live in the city of Seattle, in an area that's a little less urban... but still in the city and within walking distance to lots of stuff (restaurants, shops, bars, movies etc...)

I'm hoping to find something for around 1700-1800 GBP (apologies I don't know how to make the pound sign!). 3 bedroom would work, but 4 would be great. I figured we'd either end up in a flat or a semi-detached house. Not sure of the exact term for this there... I'd call it a row house or a town house... something that's more than one floor but not a stand alone house. I'd rather not live above someone else mainly because with 3 boys... well, they're loud and I don't want our neighbors to hate us when they hear them stomping around :-P

I've been getting a lot of student listings when I search online. I don't mind being near some students (we've lived in University towns before) but don't want to necessarily be in party central with tons of noise.

I wondered about Broughton. Have seen some really great looking flats in that area, the school seemed like it could be ok but a little less ideal and the neighborhood may not have as many kids. I'd love to hear any first hand experience.

Thanks so much!

There's Broughton primary, and broughton high school - and the two don't share a catchment at all (confusing I know!)

Broughton high school serves Stockbridge and Comely Bank (both nice areas) and a fair chunk of the West end/new town area and Inverleith (via Stockbridge and Flora Stevenson Primary Schools) which are also lovely, but also serves a large chunk of Granton which isn't so lovely!

Student population in Edinburgh can be an issue, and tends to congregate heavily around Marchmont, Newington, Sciennes, Bruntsfield, Tollcross, etc which are also areas you'd be looking in as they cover large swathes of the Gillespie's and Boroughmuir catchments. If you want a house rather than a flat in those catchments I'd look at Blackford, the Grange, Morningside or Buckstone - your DH would have a wee bit of a trip from Buckstone type way but nothing outrageous. I would say you don't tend to get nearly as many in the New Town, Stockbridge, West End areas.

Here's a few things which are houses in budget:
Mews house in stockbridge, think this would be Flora Stevensons then Broughton

murrayfield house, would be Roseburn then Craigmount I think...only problem is stadium noise from matches and concerts sometimes but nice area otherwise

Juniper Green, further out, feeds to Currie

big place in Balerno, further out again but Edinburgh really isn't that big, commute under an hour. Dean Park primary and Balerno high school[[http://www.citylets.co.uk/property-rent/fairmilehead-buckstone-road-eh10-377876/ Buckstone house Buckstone Primary then Boroughmuir

and some flats - tried to look for non noisy areas! Ground floors aren't that easy to come by though as a lot have shops at ground level

Howe Street Stockbridge, Stockbridge primary then Broughton

Newington but main door with garden, good are for your husband, Not 100% sure which primary but think Gillespie's high

Rothesay Mews, super quiet little street, Floras then Broughton]]

Cumberland street Stockbridge combo again]]

Brunstfield but not your typical studenty bit. Boroughmuir catchment I think

That's just a random selection but maybe gives you an idea. If you are looking at staying in Edinburgh then 2 hour commutes aren't a reality - you can check the lothian buses website to get an idea of how long public transport would take to get you around for example. Having a very short commute for your husband will probably mean being a bit more central but I think you'll find urban Edinburgh a very different prospect to urban Seattle. Your husband's possible office is just at the foot of Arthur's Seat for example - a big old extinct/dormant volcano in Edinburgh which is lovely to wander up.

seattleite1 Thu 12-Mar-15 17:06:54

Thanks so much SC!

I'd seen a couple of these in my search. I particularly like the Murrayfield one and wish I could move straight away as I'm sure it'll be gone by the time we are there.

That area seems very nice and pretty similar to the area we live in here, so the change wouldn't be too drastic for my boys. I know it will be a huge adjustment (new country and all!) and while DH and I would love to go straight for the city center lifestyle... something a little farther out like Murrayfield might be better for the kids. I'd seen a few in the Grange area which looked nice also, esp that Newington garden level one!

I grew up on the east coast (Boston) and DH and I lived for a while in Chicago (very urban!) before we moved to Seattle. I used to joke with him that we just kept moving west and our next stop would be Hawaii ;-) Never pictured making a huge leap east over to the UK. But very excited at the prospect! I hope, if it works out, it will be a great opportunity for my boys to experience living in a different country and for us to travel.

DH is also looking at some other jobs... (one is in a city called Leamington Spa in the Midlands and the other in Horsham down south of London). These places seem pretty nice from what I can gather online... but Edinburgh is my first choice!


LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Thu 12-Mar-15 17:28:36

People really do live in the city centre here though - Edinburgh is fairly unique in that sense. So you can have a city lifestyle and still have neighbours and other kids around. Princes Street and George Street are probably the only two streets that people don't actually live on, but around the West End, East End, up to the bridges (studenty) is loads of housing.

Totally agree LonnyVonny. I live very centrally too and I love it! There are lots of streets in Edinburgh which are in the heart of town but full of really quite lovely homes

seattleite1 Thu 12-Mar-15 18:33:15

Thanks, that's great to know! We'd really love to be pretty central but still have the kids be able to have friends on the street to hang out with, go to the park and kick the ball around etc. And, for us to be able to just walk and have dinner or a drink.

Eman83 Thu 12-Mar-15 19:32:46

Edinburgh is amazing and your going to love it! Good luck. The grange is a lovely area, we live in this area too.
We don't use the local schools though as we are private but it's lovely area in general

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Thu 12-Mar-15 19:50:06

Loads of places like that, especially if you're relaxed about car ownership. Most of the very central places have residents' parking - it's not particularly expensive but I think there's only one permit per house - could be wrong though.

seattleite1 Thu 12-Mar-15 20:40:35

DH is totally ready to ditch the car! I admit, I still want to have one. I hope I wouldn't drive it too much but the thought of being without one is something I'm not totally sure about yet. Although, the thought of driving on the other side of the road has me a little nervous.

We had a car when we lived in Chicago and really only drove it 2-3 times a year. This was before we had kids. I remember dealing with the on street permit parking and having to go out and move it when they plowed for snow. sigh I know, I need to embrace change. I have to drive older DS to Yakima for a soccer game this weekend... that's about 230 kilometers each way... this is a little unusual but not uncommon here. I may be re-thinking my fondness for driving after 6 hours in the car!

But, seriously, I can imagine walking for groceries and things like that (and do that often here). But if your kids are involved in sports or other extra-curricular activities (which mine are here and hope to be there) is there much travel involved for practices and games. Here it's common, even the local rec team sometimes have games that are 30 min away by car even though it's still in the city of Seattle... and I could never manage it without a car.

Also, is it fairly easy to rent a car when needed? We really want to sometimes get out of Edinburgh and see the rest of the country. Maybe this is easy to accomplish with train or bus? Breaking our American ways of hopping in the car will be one of the first things we need to do, I think. I know the cost of fuel is an issue so that will help!

We have one car in the city centre and it's fine so I wouldn't rule out having one, but you would probably find that you would use it less frequently and for different things - weekend trips, supermarket shop, maybe getting to more distant activities etc. But probably not for commuting, school run etc as Edinburgh isn't so good for that! If you want to explore the country lots then a car is useful - sure you can do it by train but there are parts of Scotland that aren't very well served by public transport but which you could easily go to for a weekend with a car.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Thu 12-Mar-15 21:34:37


Very popular with the council, my old next door neighbour converted his basement into two flats and putting a city car club space outside was one of the conditions.

You can also get your groceries delivered for £1. It's really good here!

seattleite1 Thu 12-Mar-15 22:09:13

That looks great!! We do have zipcar here but I've never used it. I think the car club would be perfect if we end up in flat with no parking. And, even if we do have access to parking I'm starting to warm up to the idea of giving up the hassle and expense of owning a car!

Grocery delivery on those days when I can't get to the store sounds perfect as well!

Datec Thu 12-Mar-15 23:29:32

We live in Murrayfield and don't have a car 10 min walk to princes St, it really isn't far out, lovely community and schools

seattleite1 Fri 13-Mar-15 00:53:13

Wow, I wouldn't have thought Murrayfield was that close. It looks far away on the map but I bet DH could walk to work from there! It does seem like a great area and def one of my top choices. So many good areas to choose from!

The house the OP was looking at is roughly 1.6 miles to House of Fraser (the first shop on Princes Street from the west) so it's more than 10 minutes away but is walkable. It's 2.8 miles to the old Scotsman building at Holyrood.

Datec Fri 13-Mar-15 09:44:26

Maybe I'm super speedy at walking then, but i can usually make it to princes street in 10 min.. Maybe 15min, the point is it really isn't far. Nowhere in edinburgh is really, its a village city. My OH works close to the old Scotsman offices and gets a bus half way walks the rest. If you were to walk I'd say 40min depending on your route. Cycling would be even speedier. Oh and what everyone said about city car club is spot on. We don't use it but my friend swears by it. She lives in the grange and has a city car close by and finds it so much cheaper and easier than owning one. Good luck with all of your exciting plans.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Fri 13-Mar-15 09:44:55

We also have these things called buses... See also trams and trains grin

Datec Fri 13-Mar-15 09:53:43

Shhh don't mention the trams! wink

SconeandJam Fri 13-Mar-15 10:05:14

Don't bother with wearing heels or riding bicycles in the vicinity of tram tracks. And get ready for the longest ever wait to cross as a pedestrian!

Shinytangerine Fri 13-Mar-15 10:05:25

I think my husband might work at the company yours is going for an interview with! We live in Corstorphine, which is further out of the city (3.5 miles) and he has a little car & drives in each day. Takes about 20-25 minutes depending on the time of day. He used to get the bus which took about longer.

We're in the catchment for craigmount, although our kids are still at primary. I heard (from the head at our school) that they tend to expect one or two people moving into the area over summer, so I would think you'll probably be ok with a place. The head teachers seem to be approachable, so I'm sure they'll help if you call them. We really like it here, previously lived a bit closer to town in trinity, but there is more of a community in Corstorphine I think, and it has its own little little high street etc.

It's another option I guess, depending on whether you want to be right I the centre or have a bit more space. You'd be likely to get a bit more for your money here, and have a garden etc...

Sametime Fri 13-Mar-15 10:10:06

We moved to Murrayfield from London and love it. The local primary is roseburn and secondary is craigmount (a bus ride away). Lots of families round here, but a lot do go to the mary erskine/Stewart melville private school. Concerts (1 per year) and international rugby (max 6 per year) are not a major issue as no-one moves their cars. Great access to the city centre, supermarkets, good coffee available in the local cafe, museum of modern art on your doorstep. Local church is very family orientated and more than happy to welcome all (I'm not particularly religious and have found it great way to meet people).

seattleite1 Fri 13-Mar-15 19:21:36

Ah trams... we got one of those here in Seattle a few years ago. It sucked up a bunch of transportation money which resulted in limiting bus service to other neighborhoods. It's called the South Lake Union Trolley...(after the area it's in which is completely owned by Paul Allen of Microsoft fame) It has a tiny route which is almost faster to walk because of it sharing the street with cars and forever being stuck at lights and in traffic, that is, when it's not actually hitting cars. It's now commonly known by it's acronym... the SLUT, lol, as much as they try to claim it's a 'streetcar' and not a trolley. I take it your tram is working out just as well?

Looks like a combo of bus and walking will work from almost any of the neighborhoods we've been looking at.

Games, Shinytangerine? Yup, that would be the one ;-) They told him they're moving offices around the time he would be starting (if they offer him a job!) I couldn't find this Scotsman building on google map (well, I found a hotel with that name but I don't think that's right) so I've been assuming it's somewhere near Holyrood Palace.

This has all been so helpful! I'm less stressed about the school situation and more confident that we can find a spot in either our catchment or a good alternative. I was just picturing us arriving only a month before the start of school and getting sent all over the place!

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