I got an Ancestry Visa as my grandparents are British. This visa entitled me to live and work in the UK for 5 years. If you don't have British grandparents then a Working Holiday Visa is your best option. I would recommend the UK Home Office website who will be able to set out the different Visa types.
I paid a company called 1st Contact to process all of my paperwork for me and check it was correct. They helped my Visa process and also helped me set up a bank account before I got to the UK. I highly recommend them, and you should visit their website for more information about the services they offer.
In all honesty, the thought of moving overseas didn't worry me all that much. My brother already lived in London and I was taking my twin sister with me, so I wasn't going it alone. I knew I would miss my Mum and Dad, but on the other hand I knew that moving overseas was something I had to do- I just wasn't going to be happy unless I took the plunge and did it. Yes, when I waved goodbye to my parents at Brisbane Airport I felt a little sick with nerves, but moving over here was the best thing I ever did. It was just the opportunity I needed to recreate myself and forge my own path in the world.
Ummm cold? yes, Scotland isn't known for their fantastic weather and yes the winters here can get a little dreary, but Edinburgh is a really beautiful city. I'm never stuck for things to do here and the UK is a pretty small country compared to Australia so there is plenty of opportunity to travel. You can check out some of my Edinburgh recommendations here.
Was it easy to make friends?
Edinburgh can at times be a bit of a prickly pineapple. The locals aren't unfriendly, but you have to make a real effort with them before they get friendly. I didn't find it too hard to make friends when I first moved here as Edinburgh is such an international place, so most of my friends became friends as we bonded over not being local to Edinburgh. I would suggest going to events, joining a gym, or going to a class as great ways to meet people in Edinburgh.
The rental market when I first moved here was no where near as competitive as it is now. My sister and I only really had to look for about 2 weeks before we found somewhere and moved in straight away. However, I recently had to move flats and it took a good 6 weeks and numerous viewings to find somewhere within our price range. So I would recommend that you give yourself plenty of time to find somewhere to live. The website Zoopla is great for finding properties, and some nice areas include City Centre, Leith (depending on how far down into Leith you go), The Shore, Newhaven, Meadowbank, Stockbridge, Broughton, Newington, Tollcross, Polwarth and Morningside.
How long did it take you to find a job?
For me, it was 6 weeks. It's difficult to advise on how long it would take to find a job as it depends on so many things (like your skill set, whether you just want a job that allows you flexible hours to travel while you're here, whether you want a career move etc). I recommend indeed.co.uk and linkedIn for job postings, and if you are creative then go to the Creative Scotland website and search their opportunities. Gumtree is also a good one for flexible jobs and s1jobs is good for career minded people.
What is the cost of living like?
Compared to somewhere like London, Edinburgh is ok for cost of living. That being said, rent in Edinburgh is going up all the time as there is such a huge demand for properties. Things like groceries don't cost as much as somewhere like Australia, but this is reflected in the low wages compared to Australia. They say the average wage in the UK is in the region of £20, 000 a year, but don't believe that for an instant. I don't know anyone who has a salary higher then £12,000- £15, 000 a year. I definitely wouldn't recommend the UK as somewhere to come if you want to make money, but if you want the opportunity for cheap travel to Europe and the experience of living abroad and seeing the world then I highly recommend it.
In Edinburgh, it is excellent. Lothian Buses is the main provider of services in the city and I cannot fault them. I pay £50 a month via direct debit for unlimited travel on any bus route, the tram to the airport and the Airlink bus which also goes to the airport. Single tickets currently cost £1.60 and day tickets cost £4.00. The Lothian Buses website has a great journey map which shows you how to get from A to B and at what times. I travel a lot around Edinburgh for my job and use their website regularly to plan my trips.
Is Edinburgh a safe city?
Generally speaking yes. There isn't any more crime here then what you would get in any other major city. Common sense is key here and you'll know whether its a good idea to walk home by yourself in the dark at 2am across a deserted park- you wouldn't do it at home so don't do it here. Lothian Buses run several Night Bus routes and there are plenty of taxi's to get you home safe.
Well coming from someone who moved to Edinburgh in December on the very year that they had their coldest and heaviest snow nearly in living record, I would say no to moving here in the winter. Coming from sunny Queensland it was a bit of a shock to the system. That being said, summer can be a pain to find somewhere to live in Edinburgh as a lot of flats are let out for the Festivals that take place across the summer months. A flat that would normally cost £700 a month can go for more in 1 week during the festival- but this won't matter to you if you come a few months before and sign a 6 month lease, or if you come afterwards when people go back to normal. So I think April/May or September/October are the best months to get acquainted with Edinburgh.
Let's talk! Got a question about moving to Edinburgh that I haven't covered? Leave a comment :)