Apartment Hunting in Edinburgh

Real estate policies in Edinburgh kept us from securing an apartment before we arrived (they insist you see a property first - understandable, but not convenient in our case). So we've ended up having to apartment hunt after our arrival in the middle of Fringe Festival - not ideal.
     1.5 million visitors land on Edinburgh during the month of August for the plethora of festivals and events that occur every summer and nearly every inch of rental space is taken by either tourists or performers as a result. And while it's been wonderful to hear live music on every corner and see incredible street performers everywhere we walk, it's made apartment hunting especially challenging.
     That said, my amazing hubby was able to find us a hotel room in the development we thought we wanted to live in - Simpson Loan. And while I still adore the park it faces...

we've learned some important lessons by staying here.
10 Things we've learned to look for:
1. It's good to have a grocery store nearby. It's bad to be right next to or on top of a grocery store. Between the shopping carts, delivery trucks, and automatic announcements, they are LOUD and they open early and close late.
2. Beautiful seagulls from the sea (nearby Leith is a port town) are like pigeons here. They flock and enjoy large grassy areas. And while they are fun to watch and hear while awake, it's better to live somewhere where they don't tend to gather, because it turns out, they don't sleep. No respect I tell you:
I believe this is the Royal Scots Greys Monument overlooking the Princes Street Gardens - with a seagull on his head.
3. Being in the city center is fabulous, everything is within walking distance - truly. Living on a busy street, however, is not fabulous. Gorgeous cobbled streets make for noisy tires. Restaurants and pubs are open late, which tourists take advantage of. There is no A/C here (they truly don't need it), but with open windows to allow fresh air in, things can get LOUD.
4. Finding a neighborhood pub is a must - preferably one with old wood, a great bar, a sense of community, and a fireplace for winter. Living too near said pub is not desirable. LOUD drunken revelers in the wee hours are best avoided. (Noticing a trend here?)
5. The bus system here is fantastic, so if you can't be in walking distance to where you need to be every day (the College of Art), be sure to be near a bus station which can get you there in speedy fashion. This is not hard, but definitely a consideration.
6. Light is a big deal here. Edinburgh is so far north, days are short in the winter. The last thing you want is an apartment that is so low to the ground, it falls into shadow early.
7. Fishbowls are not my thing. Living in a city is tight and it's easy to end up with a view of windows looking back at you. I like my privacy, so that's a tricky one.
This was our hotel room view:
8. Traditional architecture in the UK has the kitchen separate from the living room. Communal living space is a more modern idea and is found in newer buildings rather than the charming old ones.
9. Old building can be beautiful but they can also have drafty old windows, no elevators, and large quirky spaces that are expensive to fill up and make look cozy. Since we're still about not buying a whole lot of stuff and being more mobile we're looking for a furnished apartment, so a too large space was a big consideration. On the flip side, newer construction can sometimes have too-worn furniture, or be shoddy and low quality. Who wants to hear a toilet flush two floors away in the middle of the night?
10. And here's an interesting one... Edinburgh is a vibrant and young city, especially near the University. It's inspiring to be around it, but it can also make you feel old. Okay, it can make me feel old. There are plenty of places around town where Stan and I fit in and there are some where we don't so much. I'm going to be the oldest students in my program (I am the same age as the professors), it will be nice to go home to a neighborhood where I feel like I fit in. In fact, one of the Uni professors lives in our new building!
     So! With all that said, we walked nearly the entire city in two days:
And we ended up choosing an apartment that I don't think we would have considered before we arrived. It's in the Broughton area (a known artsy/writers district), between two busy streets with lots of fun and convenient stuff going on, but it's in a quiet back way (you'd never know it was there if somebody didn't tell you) with wide views of old buildings surrounding it and chimneys (gotta love old chimneys), so it gets plenty of light, has privacy, and is quiet for the big city. It is a two bedroom, one bath - that's the big compromise, we're really going to have to love our guests. But it is cozy and comfortable and felt like a hug the moment we walked into it. There's also a convenient bus stop nearby. Here are some pics of the living room, kitchen, and guest room:

     If all goes well, we'll move in on Thursday - woohoo!


Unknown said...

So glad to hear your roots are starting to develop. Congratulations on your new digs.

Anonymous said...

I adore the apartment. I can so see me in the guest room. And I take very short showers and do no bathroom primping at all!

Carolyn Watson Dubisch said...

Nice apartment. Congrats! Good that you found an upper floor. Heating a ground floor apt in a place that gets cold like Scotland can be very expensive-on the upper floors you benefit from your neighbor's heat. Staying warm costs less. :)

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

Thanks Lynne! Very good, Claudia! Carolyn, I never thought of that, but you're probably right! Actually, the very efficient, new radiators were a big selling point! :) e

melinda beavers said...

Elizabeth, I'm SO jealous… but this doesn't sound unlike my experience in college, when I up and left the US and went to live and study in England for a year. I LOVED it. I only got to spend a day or two in Edinburgh while traveling that year, but I loved what I did get to see. This sounds like such an incredible experience! Your new apartment looks AMAZING, congratulations. I'm really looking forward to your newsletters each week now—not that I wasn't before, but this story is one particularly close to my heart and I love reading about your adventures. :)

SusanEaddy said...

What a great place to land! The light is LOVELY and it sounds like you managed to connect the best of both worlds. GREAT to hear that you have already found the SCBWI community too!! so exciting....!

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

Melinda, How cool! I was an exchange student in Paris in college and it's taken me 30 years to make this dream come true, so I can relate to you too! :)

The light tonight was especially stunning and magical, Susan. Can't wait for you to see it! :) e

Jen Swanson said...

Fabulous! Thanks so much for sharing your journey with all of us, Elizabeth. Edinburgh is near and dear to my heart. Some day my husband and I would like to live there - even if just for a little while. For now, it's lovely to see all this through your eyes. All the best! Jen Swanson

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

Thanks Jen! And so far, I have to say Edinburgh is WONDERFUL!!! :)