Edinburgh is one of the most liveable and beautiful cities in the UK. The disadvantage of this is that living in the city can be a little expensive. The ‘cost of living’ (accommodation, bills, food) is lower than cities like London, but higher than some other UK cities. However, even for those on average or below average earnings, it is possible to find affordable areas to live in Edinburgh.
Suggestions of where to live in Edinburgh will probably lead you to charming pictures of elegant streets in Stockbridge, the New Town, the West End, Bruntsfield and Marchmont. These areas are lovely but they are particularly expensive.
This article looks at some areas of the city you should consider when looking for accommodation. The areas recommended here are quite central, within fairly easy walking distance of the city centre. These are great areas to live that are both central and not too expensive.
Leith is one of the most affordable areas to live in Edinburgh. It’s been a desirable area for some time . Previously a separate town, Leith became part of Edinburgh in 1920- but still retains a separate identity which a unique character. Leithers are proud of their area. Definitely one of the most lively and interesting areas of Edinburgh to live in. It’s certainly one of the best areas for food and for nightlife. There is a sense of constant change in Leith, with new businesses and housing developments all the time.
Leith Walk is one of the main streets in Edinburgh and it’s packed full of interesting shops and places to eat, with food from many different parts of the world. For example, Gaia is an excellent Italian Deli, while Simply Greek serves great gyros and a souvlaki. The Shore area has some of the best fine dining restaurants in the city. Leith Links is one of the best parks in Edinburgh, with a range of sporting facilities – including tennis courts. The Out the Blue Drill Hall is a great arts venue with regular cultural events. Leith is often on of the first places that newcomers to the city live in so has a cosmopolitan feel -with a wide variety of accents and languages heard on the street.
In the past Gorgie was a heavily industrial area, but is now changing with a lot of redevelopment in the area. It also has a large number of traditional Scottish tenements – which are generally one of the best types of properties to live in in Edinburgh. Prices are starting to rise but Gorgie still remains more affordable than the areas mentioned above.
It’s only a 15 or 20 minute walk from Gorgie into the very heart of the city and the area also has good bus connections. You’re also only a short walk from the excellent restaurants in Dalry, next to Haymarket. For food shopping, Gorgie has a large Sainsbury’s store plus an Aldi. For those into sport, Hearts football ground is in the centre of Gorgie, while the national rugby stadium (Murrayfield), is within easy reach. In terms of public parks, Saughton Public Park is the closest while Harrison Park and Roseburn Park are also nearby. A lovely place to relax are the recently renovated gardens in Saughton Park. For these reasons, we think Gorgie is among the best affordable areas to live in Edinburgh.
Despite being very central and close to Calton Hill and the Old Town, Abbeyhill remains affordable. But be quick! – its quickly becoming a fashionable area with trendy cafes (such as Century General Store & Cafe) and interesting independent shops growing in number.
Like other areas suggested here, it’s full of Victorian tenements. One of the great advantages of being in Abbeyhill is the easy access to Holyrood Park and Arthur Seat- fantastic areas to relax in and exercise. This is why its a popular area for families. It’s also close to the top end of Easter Road- a busy shopping street with a good range of cafes, eateries and specialist shops. For supermarket shopping, Abbeyhill is also near the Meadowbank Shopping Centre. Meadowbank Sports Centre is currently being rebuilt- when it reopens it will add further to this area. For daily exercise, Calton Hill is a beautiful place to go for a walk or run.
Tollcross is very central – less than 10 minutes’ walk from Princes Street. Though close to expensive areas such as Bruntsfield and the Grassmarket, this busy area remains affordable. Tollcross is a major road junction and the area is a lively and diverse one.
Tollcross has many good independent shops, pubs and cafes. Brougham Street is full of interesting places to shop and eat – including Machina Espresso which is one of the best coffee bars in Edinburgh.
As well as the King’s Theatre, Tollcross has three cinemas within easy reach. The Cameo which is actually in Tollcross, plus the Odeon and the Filmhouse further down Lothian Road. The fabulous Meadows and Bruntsfield Links are on your doorstep, while the Union Canal (a great place to walk and cycle) starts in Tollcross. Tollcross is one of the best affordable areas to live in Edinburgh if you want to be in the heart of the city but also find affordable accommodation.
Newington, Southside and Causewayside
These are popular areas with students as they are close to George Square and other central parts of the university. Right next to the east end of the Meadows – a fantastic park to have on your doorstep. These areas also have easy to access to Holyrood Park and Arthur Seat – and the Innocent Railway path. The recently renovated Commonwealth Swimming Pool is a great place to keep fit (there is also a gym inside the centre). The main street in Newington (Nicholson Street/Clerk Street/ South Clerk Street) is a particularly busy shopping area. The area has a lot of charity shops where you may find useful items and bargains. There are also a large number of cafes and affordable places to eat (Tanjore for authentic South Indian food, Palmyra for Mediterranean-style wraps. and The Mosque Kitchen for inexpensive curries). For cultural events, Summerhall is a great destination – they also have a cafe and pub. Newington, Southside and Causewayside are areas which are very central, interesting but also affordable.
Dalry is very central with great transport links-bus, train & tram. Haymarket Station provides a good transport link to Glasgow and other Scottish cities. Dalry is close to the expensive West End area but is much cheaper. The tall chimney stack on Distillery Lane behind Haymarket Station indicates the industrial heritage of the area. The area is now mainly residential. The area is now popular with with foodies with a range of good restaurants. These include Locanda de Gusti and Pizzeria 1926, considered to be the best place for pizza in Edinburgh. For night-time entertainment, Fountain Park is close. There is no park in Dalry but Dalry Cemetery is also an interesting place to walk round. Dalry Swim Centre is a good place for keeping fit. If being in the city centre and having good transport links are important to you, then Dalry may be perfect for you.
By Charlie Ellis