If you are considering retirement in Edinburgh, Scotland, first of all you need to learn how to pronounce it. Locals call it Ed-in-bur-a. The gh is silent. This is the second largest city, second only to Glasgow, and the capital of Scotland. Home to 487,000 people, this is a big place where modern buildings contrast with the old in the heart of town. At the core of the downtown (tourist) area is Edinburgh Castle, the Scottish National Gallery, the National Museum and Holyrood Palace – where the Queen stays when in town. Edinburgh is a major railroad hub with the main terminal right downtown (underground) next to the big park and below the castle which sits on a hill.
One of our favorite parts of downtown is the Royal Mile, a thoroughfare of streets running through old town connecting the castle to Holyrood Palace. This is the one of the busiest tourist streets in Edinburgh with shopping, Parliament House, sites of old taverns and brothels, restaurants and pubs. You can get fitted for your new kilt and explore the many “closes” along the way. A “close” is an alleyway or courtyard off the main road with shops. They used to be the private entrances to local buildings – hence closed to the public. We found them to be a treasure trove of off the beaten path pubs and shops that don’t get as much traffic as the main streets. For a fun afternoon, stop by a neighborhood pub and visit with the locals. The Scots are friendly and the beer is warm. They love American Coors and Budweiser Beer and they drink it at room temperature. Go figure.
Edinburgh is famous for its “festival” held for 3 weeks every August where all things Scot come out to play. There is a film festival, an art venue, music of all kinds and from all over the world, and a huge military tattoo – a spectacular display of the massed pipes and drums with military bands from all over the world. The tattoo is held at the palace and thousands of people attend.
This big city is composed of dozens of neighborhoods in the area that surround the city. Living in the city itself is very expensive. We found 1 bedroom flats within 1 -2 miles of the city center on a bus line for $700-$1000 a month. Most flats (apartments) in the UK are quite small by US standards. Parking on the street is a problem, so if you rent a flat, you might want to make sure that parking is included. Furnished flats are also available and cost a little more. You can expect to pay utilities.
Edinburgh has everything you’d expect to find in a city – theatre, cultural events, sporting venues, galleries and plenty of things to do. When you tire of the city, catch a train to the countryside. We caught the train at the main terminal for a daytrip to Berwick (pronounced bear-ick) to enjoy the seashore and it was a great ride. The public transportation in Scotland is really good, so you may not even need a car. Consider a retirement in Edinburgh, Scotland if only for a summer!