Cost of living for businesses locating in Scotland

Thinking of a cost-effective location to grow your business? Compared to the rest of Europe, and cities like London, New York and San Francisco, Scotland is a less expensive location to live and work.

Your money goes further

Scotland is a great place to locate your business - and latest reports show it’s less expensive to live and work in Scotland than cities like London, Zurich, Paris and Dublin.

The money you spend on staff will go much further in Scotland, because the cost of living is so much lower here than in many other parts of the UK.

And you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how attractive your labour costs will be.

Maria Gutierrez - VP Engineering at FreeAgent, Edinburgh - Photo credit: VisitScotland/Kenny Lam

Lower set-up and living costs for higher return on investment

As well as being more cost effective than other leading locations for locating businesses, Scotland has plenty of other impressive numbers that can support your decision-making.

One of the lowest tax rates in Europe

At 19%, Scotland (and the rest of the UK) has the lowest business tax rate of any G7 country - and joint lowest in the G20.

Property and salary costs up to 40% less than London

*Scotland is an extremely cost-effective location for property, staff and cost of living compared to London.

Low risk location

Scotland is a stable, safe and secure location with strong, transparent government and robust legal institutions with coherent regulatory practices.

*Source: Cushman & Wakefield Global Occupier Metrics, May 2020

Property and sites to suit your business

Scotland offers a diverse range of property solutions to suit your needs. From city centre locations and business parks that are within an easy commute of a working community of 2.8 million people, to rural sites, industrial units, large-scale manufacturing plants, port-side hardstanding facilities and development land for new build options, we can help you find the perfect location.

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A family enjoy some of the Edinburgh sight - Photo credit: VisitScotland / Peter Dibdin

Cost of living comparison by city 

Table 1: Cost of living and rent comparison


Cost of Living Index

Rent Index




New York



San Francisco















Aberdeen (Scotland)



Edinburgh (Scotland



Dundee (Scotland)



Glasgow (Scotland)



These indices are relative to New York City. Which means that for New York City, each index should be 100(%). If another city has, for example, rent index of 120, it means that on an average in that city rents are 20% more expensive than in New York City. If a city has rent index of 70, that means on an average in that city rents are 30% less expensive than in New York City. If a city has a Cost of Living Index of 120, it means Numbeo estimates it is 20% more expensive than New York (excluding rent).

Scottish cities vs New York

Cost of living expenses (excluding accommodation) in Scotland’s cities relative to New York City are 31% less expensive in Dundee, 30% less expensive in Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, 26% less expensive in Aberdeen, and 24% less expensive in the capital, Edinburgh. 

If you compare rents, Dundee is 77% less expensive, Glasgow is 72% less expensive, Aberdeen is 72% less expensive, and Edinburgh 62% less expensive than New York City.

Source: Numbeo Cost of Living Index – March 2021

Cost of living comparison with London

Along with highly competitive salaries, Scotland’s cities offer monthly living costs that are roughly 10% lower than other UK cities such as Cambridge and Oxford and as much as 34% lower than London. 

Source: Expatistan Cost of Living Calculator – March 2021 

Table 2: Most expensive cities ranked

Out of 209 city locations worldwide, the Mercer Cost of Living City Ranking placed two Scottish cities among the least expensive locations for working.  



Hong Kong




San Francisco












Aberdeen (Scotland)


Glasgow (Scotland)


Most expensive city is Hong Kong. Least expensive cities are Aberdeen (Scotland) 134th and Glasgow (Scotland) 141st. 

Source: Mercer Cost of Living City Ranking 2020 

Cost of living by industry hubs

Tax and social security

Individual tax rates make up a fairly large proportion of take-home pay in European locations.  These taxes usually go towards the provision of public services and Scotland has a progressive approach to tax with lower earners paying less tax.

Table 4: Personal income tax rates for different income bands in Scotland


Taxable income

Scottish tax rate

Personal allowance

Up to £12,570


Starter rate

£12,570 to £14,667


Basic rate

£14,667 to £25,296


Intermediate rate

£25,296 to £43,662


Higher rate

£43,662 to £150,000


Top rate

over £150,000


Source: Scottish Income Tax: 2021-2022, Scottish Government

A place that's home

Of course, we understand that you need to consider more than just the cost of living before deciding to set up business or operations in a new country. You'll benefit from Scotland's welcoming business environment, diverse industries, vibrant cities and our stunning landscapes too. A place you can call home.

That’s why Scotland has enjoyed a strong track record of inward investment over the last ten years. Watch our inspirational video - Scotland can offer even more. 

Enjoy a fantastic quality of life

By investing in Scotland you’ll still have the connections and access to world markets you need to grow your business. And, with convenient commute times between our major cities, Scotland gives you the opportunity to find the work-life balance that suits you. Got questions about healthcare, housing, education or culture in Scotland? Our friends at TalentScotland can help answer your questions.

Find out more about living in Scotland

You might have heard of our stunning scenery, our vibrant cities and our famous golf courses – our low cost of living gives you even more chance to enjoy them all. City? Countryside? You don't choose, you get both. Coast to coast, learn about Scotland's vibrant cities and regions.

Find out more about location to live and work

Your guide to setting up business in Scotland (PDF, 1.8MB)

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You may also be interested in

Commercial property

Scotland is one of Europe's top investment locations with its smart cities, enterprising business parks and prime real estate open to you.

Financial and tax incentives

We can provide the financial support you need to make your project come alive.

Our people and skills

Companies that invest in Scotland have access to an exceptionally educated, skilled and talented workforce.

Ask our experts

Got a question about cost of living in Scotland? We’re always ready to help.