Cost of living in Scotland

How does the cost of living in Scotland compare with the rest of Europe, and cities like London, New York and San Francisco?

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

Cost of living comparison with New York

Cost of living expenses (excluding accommodation) in Scotland’s cities relative to New York City are 30% less expensive in Aberdeen, 32% less expensive in the capital, Edinburgh, 35% less expensive in Dundee, and 37% less expensive in Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow.

If you compare rents, Dundee is 80% less expensive, Glasgow is 77% less expensive, Aberdeen is 76% less expensive, and Edinburgh 69% less expensive than New York City.

Table 1: Cost of living and rent comparison

City

Cost of Living Index

Rent Index

Zurich

131

64

New York

100

100

San Francisco

92

109

Paris

88

45

London

78

65

Dublin

81

60

Amsterdam

82

55

Aberdeen (Scotland)

70

24

Edinburgh (Scotland

68

31

Dundee (Scotland)

65

20

Glasgow (Scotland)

63

23

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).

Source: Numbeo Cost of Living Index – Mid-Year 2020

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 30% lower than London. 

Source: Expatistan Cost of Living Calculator – July 2020 

Out of 209 city locations worldwide, the 2019 Mercer Cost of Living City Ranking placed two Scottish cities among the least expensive locations for working.  (See Table 2 below)

Source: Mercer – Cost of Living City Ranking 2020 

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

Table 2: Most expensive cities ranked

City

Ranking

Hong Kong

1st

Zurich

5th

San Francisco

16th

London 

19th

Dublin

46th

Amsterdam

64th

Berlin

82nd

Toronto

98th

Aberdeen (Scotland)

134th

Glasgow (Scotland)

141st

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

Band

Taxable income

Scottish tax rate

Personal allowance

Up to £12,500

0%

Starter rate

£12,501 to £14,549

19%

Basic rate

£14,550 to £24,944

20%

Intermediate rate

£24,945 to £43,430

21%

Higher rate

£43,431 to £150,000

41%

Top rate

over £150,000

46%

 

A better quality of life

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.

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. It’s time to connect with Scotland.

Your guide to setting up in Scotland (PDF, 1.35MB)

Get the best value for your money

If you’re thinking of setting up a business in Scotland we can offer competitive costs and a welcoming business environment to help deliver a return on your investment.

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

Moving your business here means you’ll have the chance to enjoy our fantastic quality of life – and a cheaper cost of living than many other regions in the UK and Europe.

Living in Scotland

Got questions about healthcare, housing, education or culture in Scotland? Our friends at TalentScotland can help answer your questions.

Find out more

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.

Locations to live and work

City? Countryside? You don't choose, you get both. Coast to coast, learn about Scotland's vibrant cities and regions.

Find out more

 

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You might 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.