Every city has its ups and downs, and Glasgow is no exception. It's all too easy to idealise this pretty city with historic buildings around every corner, but day-to-day reality can be entirely different from what new arrivals may expect once the daily grind kicks in.
Here are a few pros and cons of moving to Glasgow.
Lifestyle in Glasgow
+ PRO: Lots of green spaces
The word 'Glasgow' means 'dear green place' in Gaelic, and the city certainly lives up to its name. With public parks and gardens to be found all over, expats will never be far from a space in which to escape the hustle and bustle.
+ PRO: Friendly locals
Glaswegians are famously friendly and new arrivals can expect to be welcomed with open arms. Locals will generally be happy to help out with any information expats might need, and they enjoy getting to know others over a drink at the pub. Expats with a well-developed sense of humour will find it pretty easy to settle into life in Glasgow.
Weather in Glasgow
- CON: Grey, windy and rainy
Glasgow's weather is not one of the city's strong suits. In the winter, temperatures are in the single digits (Celsius) and sometimes below freezing. Snow doesn't occur every year and is generally light when it does, but sleet and rain make a frequent appearance.
Healthcare in Glasgow
+ PRO: Access to the NHS
The National Health Service (NHS) is considered by many to be a major advantage of moving to the UK, and Scotland’s branch of the NHS is highly rated. Expats on the NHS will be able to access fully funded healthcare including appointments, prescriptions and hospital visits.
- CON: Long waiting times
Throughout the UK, waiting times for appointments via the NHS can be long and the same is true of Glasgow. Waiting times can be sped up by choosing private treatment instead, but this is a pricey option. We recommend that expats who plan to use private healthcare invest in comprehensive health insurance.
Accommodation in Glasgow
+ PRO: Affordable housing
Accommodation in Glasgow is considered well priced, especially further out in the suburbs – though it's worth bearing in mind that public transport coverage in these areas gets correspondingly sparser. But even accommodation in the city centre is significantly cheaper than one would find in Edinburgh.
Education in Glasgow
+ PRO: Some International Baccalaureate schools
While there are no schools in Glasgow offering foreign curricula, some private schools do offer the option for children to study the globally respected International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, which culminates in the IB Diploma.
- CON: Catchment areas for public schools
With public schooling in Glasgow being based on catchment areas, children have priority admission to the school in their residential zone. It’s possible to attend a school outside one’s catchment area but anyone applying to such a school will not have priority placement and isn't guaranteed entry. For this reason, parents should research schools before the move and choose a neighbourhood that has good schools nearby.
Getting around in Glasgow
+ PRO: Multiple modes of public transport
Most areas in Glasgow are covered by some form of public transport. The city centre is especially well connected and those living nearby will be able to choose between above-ground trains, buses and Glasgow’s infamous orange subway trains.
- CON: Public transport can be inconvenient
Though it’s possible to get by without a car, most households in Scotland own at least one. Suburban areas don't have as many public transport options and it's sometimes easier to just drive.
Glasgow’s temperamental weather can also make public transport an uncomfortable option, particularly when it’s time to leave the comfort of the heated train carriage and head back out into the freezing rain.
While delays on public transport aren't necessarily frequent, they do occur on occasion and sometimes train passengers are redirected to buses if the delays are major.
Cost of living in Glasgow
+ PRO: One of the cheapest expat destinations in the UK
While Glasgow is more expensive than some of Scotland's smaller towns, it's still much cheaper to live in than many other popular expat destinations in the UK, including Edinburgh and Aberdeen.