We’ve been getting a lot of messages from students looking for accommodation recently, so I thought it might be helpful to give you all a run down of the areas of Edinburgh which tend to be most popular with students. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and due to the excellent bus service that Edinburgh has, you can get to most places without too much bother for £1.50 a trip (regardless of how long the journey is). All the areas listed are within comfortable walking distance of the George Square campus where you’ll be based, and are safe, student-friendly and full of amenities.
Top Tip: if you are flat hunting at the moment and everything is INSANELY expensive, double check if it’s a “Festival Let”. A lot of people rent out their flats to tourists during the Edinburgh Festival in August for about 4 times what they would usually charge for a month, so make sure you’re reading the full description of any ads if it seems a bit too pricey.
Renting a room usually starts at just under £300 per month and can go up as far as you’re willing to pay. If you’re looking for a one person flat, prices usually start at around £500 a month, and go up from there. Certain areas will be more expensive than others for sure, so make sure to keep your eye out for a good deal. It’s definitely cheaper to share a flat, so I would recommend either looking for a room in a flatshare, or asking your fellow classmates on your programme’s Facebook group if they would like to team up to look for somewhere.
Marchmont is a fairly residential area full of old Victorian tenement flats. There are shops within about 2 minutes of most of the flats and it has a nice quiet feel to it without being too remote. George Square is only a brief walk across the Meadows (a lovely public park situated next to the uni), and depending on which end of Marchmont you’re on, it should take you between 5 and 15 mintues to walk in to uni of a morning. Because it is so popular with students (especially undergraduates), some of the prices can get ridiculous, but you can find some good bargins amongst it all. The flats are usually very traditional and very Edinburgh (wooden floors, high ceilings and big bay windows). It can be seen as a little bit twee and can feel like a bit of a bubble, but having lived there in the past, I would recommend it as an area, as long as you make sure you’re not paying too much.
Tollcross is a lively area near Lothian Road. There are loads of shops, cinemas, theatres, clubs, bars and restaurants on your doorstep, but it’s not so frantically busy that there’s constant noise. It tends to be a little bit cheaper than some of the other central areas too, while still being close to the Meadows. It’s not far from Princes Street either, so very handy for shops. There’s also a nice mixture of old tenement style flats, and more modern appartment buildings (which tend to be smaller and more expensive, but warmer in the winter). In terms of commuting time, you’re looking at about a 10-15 minute walk to get to George Square. Having also lived near Tollcross, I really liked it, and it’s really convenient to be so close to everything.
A very popular area with students, and pretty reasonably priced too. Newington is located in the southside of Edinburgh, and has loads of shops, supermarkets, cafes and bars. Newington is where the undergraduate catered uni accommodation is located (in a little village-esque complex called Pollock Halls), so it is definitely well suited to students and to student budgets. It’s close to the uni (from just under 10 minutes to 25 minutes depending on which end you’re at), and full of traditional Edinburgh tenement flats, as well as some very fancy houses as you go further down Dalkeith Road.
The New Town is one of the most luxurious areas of Edinburgh with some townhouses costing over £1 million. However, there are many much more affordable flats amongst it all! There is a very substantial student population in the New Town, even though it is definitely not the cheapest option. The architecture of the area is absolutely stunning, and is a perfect example of 18th century Georgian architecture (there’s actually a house in Charlotte Square which has been kept as a museum to show how people in Edinburgh lived at the time the house was built – definitely worth a visit). For all of this splendor and beauty, you do have a longer walk into uni – somewhere around 25-30 minutes.
A famously quaint part of Edinburgh, and definitely very nice, but rather expensive. I do know of students living in some of the cheaper flats though, so definitely not one to ignore. Lots of little independent shops, cafes and bars, but still quite residential. Expect a little bit of a longer walk into uni (between 25-40 minutes) but a nice quiet area with plenty going on. If you’re a fan of nightlife, or like the be surrounded by city buzz, then it might not be for you, but it is certainly a very desirable part of Edinburgh on the whole.
Bruntsfield has a nice balance of being residential, but have loads of nice shops, supermarkets and things to do (it’s basically sandwiched in between Tollcross and Morningside, so kind of has elements of both going on). Prices aren’t too steep either. Walking to George Square will take you about 10-20 minutes depending which end you’re at, and you can walk across Bruntsfield Links (a little stretch of parkland where people also play golf…honestly, I’m not making this up) and the Meadows to get to and from uni if you like to fit some green spaces into your day.
Haymarket is often ignored by students, who tend to stay in the south of Edinburgh rather than venturing west. Haymarket is on the cheaper side on the whole, but not far from shops and bars. There’s quite a lot of construction going on in Haymarket at the moment (Haymarket train station is currently part of the way through a huge renovation project, and the Edinburgh tram system is currently being constructed), but there are lots of flats in Haymarket which aren’t on the main road where the building is going on. Haymarket is on the periphery of Tollcross, so you’re still very near to everything there, but not amongst it all.
If you’re having problems looking for accommodation, or would like further advice and information about finding a place to live in Edinburgh, you can get in touch with The Advice Place (an organisation run by the Edinburgh University Students Association, who offer free and impartial help to students year-round) who should be able to help you out. I would definitely also recommend checking out their website for advice from students on flat-hunting and your tenancy rights in Scotland. And if you’ve got any questions, then please feel free to ask anything in the comments below! 🙂