Retire in Scotland!



Retire in Scotland?   The pipes, the pipes are calling!    There are only 5.5 million people in Scotland today, making this one of the least populated countries on our possible retirement list.   Think about it…there are far more people with Scots ancestry in the U.S. than there are actually living in Scotland today.  But for many of us, Scotland is the motherland and retiring there or even moving for a year sounds wonderful. 

The Scots, who do not consider themselves English in any way,  have as their unofficial national song  “The Flower of Scotland” written about the loss of Bonny Prince Charlie in 1746 -“When will we see your like again?”   This has replaced “Scotland the Brave” at most sporting events and national programs.   While many people in Scotland still want independence from England (Braveheart still exists!) the logistics of separate currency, debt, banking, schools would be a nightmare. 

If you wish to permanently relocate to Scotland, it’s easy if you are from the EU. If you are from Canada or the US, it becomes a little tricky. You will need to show you have recent ancestry in the UK.

Healthcare is free to all citizens, but visitors must carry travel insurance with medical coverage from their own country.  If you have a job, you may be eligible for the free healthcare system but may want supplemental coverage.  (Sounds familiar?)    If you require medication, a local pharmacist may require that you see a local physician for a prescription. 

When you reach the State Pension Age (60 years) you only pay income tax if your taxable income – including private pension – is more than about $30,000 US.  After that, it is on a tiered system. 

Scotland is a wild and rugged country with most of the population living in several major cities including the capital of Edinburgh and its largest city of Glasgow.   The major cities have excellent public transportation and if you chose to live in a metropolitan area you may not need a car.  Unlike the U.S., most every village and town has a train station with regular service that is fast, safe and mostly on time.  London is only 4 hours away by train.  There is also a popular bus system.

Scotland enjoys 4 seasons of weather.  It can snow in the winter and in the far north it can be very very cold.  Summers can be very hot.  This is a northern climate.  If you want to lay on the beach in retirement, Scotland may not be for you!

The Scots are friendly to visitors – tourism is one of their major income sources.   But if you think you are moving to a country that speaks the same language – and you haven’t been there before – think again.   The Glasgow accent is much thicker and harder to get used to if you are not from around the area.   

The Scots will tell you they invented everything from the steam engine, to sheep cloning, penicillin, radar, bicycles and let’s not forget the game of golf!   Scotland is not a third world country.   The Scots are educated, proud, fiscally responsible, innovative, and fiercely independent. 

Scotland is a magical place full of history, legends, a pretty healthy economy, a robust arts center, and the pipes, the pipes are calling.

Photo By Peter Mulligan via


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