Things to do When You Move to Scotland – The Moving to Scotland Checklist

You have moved to Scotland. Now, what do you do? It can be overwhelming to figure out what you need to do when you first arrive in your new home.

From setting up your bank account to finding a place to live – where do you start? I will guide you with a smooth transition into your life in Scotland with this checklist of things to do when you move to Scotland.

If you are still thinking about moving to Scotland, you can learn how to apply for a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa, also known as a working holiday visa.

things to do when you move to Scotland

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How much Cash Should You Bring/Cost of living in Scotland?

When you first move to Scotland, you may need to get a few things sorted before thinking about applying for jobs, so you will need to have some cash to keep you afloat until everything is settled.

As of 2021, if you move to Scotland through a working holiday visa, you are required to have £1890 saved before arriving in the UK.

That should be the bare minimum you bring as you will need to have enough money for accommodation before finding a place to live, the deposit and the first month’s rent for your flat.

You will also need to think about food costs, setting up a mobile phone and any extra spending you want to do. I would also prepare to be out of a job for at least a month to be safe.

The cost of living in Scotland is dependent on where you choose to move. Picking a large and popular city like Edinburgh will be more expensive than a small town. Bring a little more than you think you need, and you will be fine.

Check out this site to get a good idea about the cost of living in the city or town you want to live in – be wary that it is an estimate.

You may need to prove how much cash you have on hand when you are at passport control. Be sure to get a stamped bank letter with your account’s balance and keep it with your visa and passport just in case.

Apply for a National Insurance Number

You are required to have a National Insurance Number to work in Scotland legally. It is used by your place of work to record your taxes, claim benefits and National Insurance contributions.

You will be able to apply for jobs without the card as long as you let your company know that you have applied for the NIN and your card is on the way. It is best to apply for your National Insurance Number as soon as possible.

If you are moving to visa on a working holiday visa or a work visa, you must first apply for your biometric residence permit. You will get your BRP when you apply for your work visa.

You can apply by calling the National Insurance Number department and filling out an application.

Getting a UK Mobile Phone

Getting a mobile phone in Scotland is incredibly easy. You can walk into any mobile phone shop and pick up a cheap mobile with a pay as you go card to get you started.

You will need your UK phone number for your CV when applying for jobs, open up a bank account, and easily reach out to landlords when looking for a place to live.

Eventually, you can sign up for a contract once you have a place to live and have built up credit. The mobile plans are very affordable and have unlimited texting and calling!

I went with Orange because they had a deal where you could visit the cinema for free, but really, any mobile phone companies are stellar!

Set up a Bank Account

Opening up a new bank account in Scotland is a bit tricky for foreigners. Generally, they like to have a reference from a trusted Scottish resident before opening up an account with you.

However, it is still possible to get a bank account if you do not have a friend who can help you.

All branches are different, even if they belong to the same bank, so if you fail to get a bank account at one location, you can still apply at the same bank down the road.

I found that applying with English banks like Natwest or Barclays is a lot easier for foreigners than applying at Scottish banks.

Alternatively, you can open up your bank account online. I cannot vouch for this service as I haven’t used it, but the banks Revolut and Monzo allow you to open up an account easily online.

All you need to set up an account is a UK mobile phone number and a UK address for your bank card to be delivered to. 

Want more information on setting up a bank account in Scotland? Be sure to check out my post on what you need to work abroad in Scotland.

Finding a Place to Live in Scotland

Finding a place to live in Edinburgh can be difficult but not impossible. Depending on the type of living situation you are looking for will really make a difference in how easy it will be to get a flat.

I advise you to start with temporary accommodation (like Airbnb, hotels, hostels or B&B’s) to figure out what will work best for you.

Finding the best location in the city may also depend on where you work or go to university. You may also want to be sure your flat is in a safe part of town, on a bus route (if needed) and is near shops and attractions that you want to visit.

Many landlords or letting agencies will require you to have proof of income and a bank account before renting a flat to anyone. It’s best to get a few things sorted out before even searching for a place to live.

Once you feel a bit more settled, you can look for a more permanent place to live. I highly recommend checking out my guide on finding a flat in Edinburgh or how to find a flat in Glasgow, to help you figure out how, where and what type of rental you want.

Finding a Job in Scotland

Depending on where you live, finding a job in Scotland will be fairly easy to do. It may seem overwhelming, but my guide on how to find a job in Scotland can help guide you in the right direction.

I recommend starting by checking online searches for jobs through sites like Gumtree and Indeed. Alternatively, you can find a job through a temporary job agency like Reed or Manpower.

My advice is to seek out the companies you want to work for and apply directly to their human resources department. Most places will have a section on their website about current job openings to make things easy for you. That is how I landed my job at Edinburgh Zoo!

Are you moving to Scotland from the US? Find out more here!

Register for the NHS

To visit a general practitioner, hospital visit or have access to drug prescriptions, you will need to register with the NHS.

You need to be living in the area for a minimum of 3 months, so register when you pick the Scotland area you choose to live in.

You can fill out an application with NSH Inform here.

Travel Insurance

Although you will use the NHS while living in Scotland, it is wise to get a year or two of travel insurance to use during your stay.

It will be good to have the extra coverage – especially if you plan on travelling around the rest of Europe.

Extra Fees

Be wary of the extra fees you will be paying while living in Scotland. Here are a few you will have to pay.

TV Tax

The BBC requires anyone who has a TV to pay for a licence. As of 2022, the annual fee is £159.00 but check the current fees here. Rumour has it that TV tax might be getting the boot soon though!

Council Tax

Council tax is essentially a rate that covers water, garbage services and so on.  The council tax bands vary from the type of flat you live in to the area of town.

Edinburgh uses the cheapest band A to the most expensive band H – for more information about council tax bands, read here.

NHS Fees

Chances are you have already paid for the NHS fees before moving to Scotland. Depending on the reason you are moving to the UK, the fees vary.

As of 2022, if you are coming to study, you will need to pay £470 per year. If you are coming to Scotland to work or moving with your spouse or family, the yearly fee is £625.

If you want to know more information check out NHS Inform.

What to Pack and be Ready for Scottish Weather

The weather in Scotland is stormy and cold with the usual “one day of summer” each year. You should always be prepared for rain, even if the day ahead looks sunny and bright.

I have put together a fantastic list of what to pack for Scotland for any time of the year. Check it out here!

I will say it is to bring warmer clothes than you think you will need – trust me. I am Canadian, and the cold in Scotland is freezing! It is super humid, and the cold air from the North Sea will work its way to your bones.

How to Make Friends in Scotland

So you have made a move to a new country, but you aren’t sure how to connect with the locals. Making new friends, especially as an adult, isn’t always the easiest thing to do.

Lucky for you, the Scots are incredibly friendly! I made most of my friends through work and friends of friends. But there are a ton of ways to meet new people.

I wrote an entire post on how to make friends in Scotland. Check it out, and get ready to meet the best people in the world!


Moving to Scotland does have its challenges. Overall it is similar to any big move you make throughout your life.

The pros definitely outweigh the cons, but you will not regret your decision to move to Scotland! It is the best country in the world.

If you follow my advice, it will make your move to Scotland a whole lot smoother and easier.

Do you have any questions or want to provide any insight to those looking at moving to Scotland? Let a comment below!

Are you ready to book your flight?

I use several different tools to find affordable airfare, but I often find myself returning to Skyscanner. It is a great tool for finding various flights around the world. It includes several airlines and shows you the cheapest flights for each day.

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More Information about Moving to Scotland

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