Housing FAQs

Just a warning before you dive headfirst into this post only to find it lacking in the entertainment department: this will be a Useful Post more than a Fun Post. If you are looking into studying here though, then hopefully it will come in handy.

When first filling out my plethora of application forms to come to Edinburgh, one topic I could not seem to find ample information on was the subject of housing. I knew I wanted a self-catered flat, but no where did it seem to detail the pros and cons of each or what life in one of these flats was actually like. Thus, I am going to focus this post on housing, so that perhaps some perplexed applicants out there might have a bit of a clearer idea what you are doing. To start, this is my bedroom:

It is pretty small, but it is large enough to live in. I inhabit East Newington Place, which is a ten to fifteen minute walk from George Square and the nearby Bristo Square (which houses Teviot, our seven-pub student center), a fifteen to twenty minute walk from Bedlam Theatre, and twenty to 25 minutes to the Royal Mile. I have never been down to the Kings Buildings, but I think it takes about half an hour. It all depends on how fast you stroll. It is just off of South Clerk Street, which is a southern part of the main road that runs through Edinburgh. The flats are up a short alleyway road, neighboring a graveyard and a hearse-garage/coffin warehouse. I know, a bit weird. But not to worry, none of these are particularly imposing. Locationally, it is pretty good.

My flat is on the top floor of the building, which means we have to run up and down six flights of stairs every day (there is no elevator), but it’s not a big deal. My room looks out onto an amazing view of the city. However, my flat mates across the hall, whose rooms face the other direction, just have a view of apartments next door and the cemetery.

I knew that I wanted to be able to cook for myself, so I steered clear of Pollock Halls, which involve lots of first year students and endless cafeteria food. If you are leaving home for the first time and don’t want to cook, Pollock might be the right choice for you. For me, though, this was my third year living on my own, and I wanted to be around older students and have control over my meals. As for which self-catered flats I recommend, I have only been in my own (all my other friends live in non-uni housing), so I don’t have the authority to say how this compares to the others.

I can, however, speak to the differences between my flat and non-uni owned flats. There are definitely pros and cons to both:

Self-catered uni housing benefits: 

-If something breaks, just call the office downstairs and someone will be up right away to fix it.

-There is cleaning staff that takes out the trash and cleans common spaces.

-You only have to pay one bill, as opposed to in a regular apartment where there would be electric bills, water bills, internet, rent, etc. Here, all of those things are set up for you and ready to go when you arrive.

-You don’t have to track down flat mates or find a living space on your own– just sign up and they place you some where.

-There are lots of other students living near you, if you want to form a community within your living space.

-Comes with all your furniture, as well as some pots, pans and cleaning supplies.

Cons: We have had a lot of problems with appliances, heaters, etc., everything feels very “dorm-y,” there is a shower but no bath, the flat is pretty darn unattractive, and it is too small to entertain more than a couple guests or for multiple people to be cooking at a time. Also, our basil plant keeps dying, but I don’t think I can blame the flat for that one.

My lovely flatmates in our kitchen

Benefits of living in a real flat:

-They are so much nicer and so much bigger. I have friends who live out on Warrender Park Road and Sciennes Road, for example, and they have massive common spaces, huge, high ceilinged bedrooms, big beautiful windows, and are just generally more enjoyable to be in.

-You get to choose your own housemates.

-You have control over where you want to live, what room you want, etc.

Cons: Possibly more expensive, though I’m not sure, doesn’t come with internet, some furniture, etc– you have to set that stuff up on your own.

Anyway, that is just a brief comparison, but I guess the main difference is that living in a uni flat is easier and perhaps less stressful because you have less responsibility, but at the price of losing quite a bit of luxury. If I were staying here for a second year, I would absolutely round up a group of friends and move into a real flat. That said, though, the housing people did a great job of allocating flat mates, and getting to know the awesome girls I live with has been great.

If anyone reading this has any questions about anything whatsoever, feel free to post your queries in the comment section, and I will answer to the best of my ability in my next blog post.





  1. Allen says:

    Hey Genna,
    This post was very helpful. Im from Canada and this is my second year in scotland (uni of dundee), and im loving every friggin’ thing about scotland. Im planning on staying in scotland after graduation. Can you please tell me if i can stay after the 2 years of post-study work thing? 2 years seems a very short period and i’m even considering immigrating here :p

    1. ggennarose says:

      I’m not sure about that, not really my area of expertise. I recommend checking with the British Consulate, and see what kind of visa and such would be required.

  2. Kait Feldmann says:

    Hi Genna,

    I’m also a student from Hampshire, and would absolutely love to study abroad in Edinburgh. This blog has been very helpful, so thanks! I was wondering if you could tell me a little about selecting classes. I’m interested in children’s book editing, so I’d be looking to take a lot of English Lit close-reading classes, but from what I’ve found so far, there are prerequisites for 3-4 college level lit courses for most of those classes. Did you run into the same problem when you applied for classes at Edinburgh?

    1. ggennarose says:

      Hi Kait,
      This is exactly the problem that I have been having all year– essentially, Edinburgh has an extremely traditional literature program. This means that in order to take honors classes (aka anything other than massive introductory courses), you have to have taken “Literature 1” and “Literature 2.” Coming from Hampshire, I had taken pretty much exclusively English classes. However, they don’t consider writing classes to count as prerequisites, and the literature classes I had taken had weird, interdisciplinary, Hampshirey names that definitely did not make them sound like Lit 101. They also did not consider my two AP English classes to be legitimate prerequisites. The Lit program here is the most popular course, so the honors classes are really competitive and they do all that they can to make those class sizes smaller. Therefore, because I didn’t have the traditional pre-requisites, they absolutely refused to let me take anything intended for third year students. Instead of being able to take more specific honors classes, I’m in Literature 2, which is a 250 person lecture. Not to say that I don’t enjoy it– I’m definitely learning and reading new material– but I wish I could be taking smaller, more focused classes. I’ve tried fighting that decision multiple times, but they are absolutely unmovable. However, there are a few more specific second year classes (for example, I’m in a class that reads exclusively European theatre scripts.) I also take classes in the Scottish ethnology department that are focused on folklore, but because that is a smaller/less competitive department, they allow me to take third year classes. So I guess in summary, the university is hardcore about their pre-reqs in the lit department, and it is extremely frustrating– there are still some choices left, but your selection is heavily limited.

      1. Kait Feldmann says:

        Thanks, that’s good to know! One more thing—of course, I want to get into the best and most interesting lit classes, but my worries now are that with such selective options, I won’t be able to convince my committee that Edinburgh is still necessary (I reeeally want to go). Was it a problem at all for you? Also, I’m not sure you’d know this, but do you have any idea if it’s possible to get rejected from a study abroad program, and what the odds are that that happens?

    2. ggennarose says:

      I had no problem with my committee (I have Elly Donkin and Aracelis Girmay), they’ve been supportive and just sort of let me do my own thing. As for getting rejected, I think it is possible but I don’t know how frequently it happens. I’d check with GEO about that and see if they have any better percentage facts.

      1. Kait Feldmann says:

        Thank you for being so helpful!

  3. sweetsound says:

    Hello! Thank you for this post. I’m currently living in New York and will be moving to Edinburgh in September for my post-graduate degree. I’m so nervous about the housing, since I know virtually nothing about the city, and don’t know any people. This was very helpful!

  4. sweetsound says:

    One question – do they have co-ed housing? Or do they keep the men & women seperated? How does that work? Thanks!!

    1. ggennarose says:

      Hey, sorry this took me so long to reply, I’ve been away from the blog for a while. But as for co-ed housing, they mainly keep it single sex in a flat, but there will occasionally be co-ed flats assigned if there happens to be an uneven number or something like that.

  5. Megan says:

    How did they allocate flatmates for you? Were they mostly first years? Is there a sense of community in the flats?

    1. ggennarose says:

      I’m not sure how they choose my flatmates, though I assume it is partially based on the questionaire you fill out when applying. There are lots of first years in my building, but I was placed with all other international students my own age. I live with three other girls– one from Sweden, one from Australia, and one from the US, and all of us are in our twenties. It’s nice to be living with older students, as being with a bunch of 18 year olds having just left home for the first time might have been a bit too high-energy for me.

      As for a sense of community, it definitely varies based on who you end up living with and how you get along. In my experience, first year students have a lot of housing-based community, and older students tend to hang out mostly with friends from societies and such. While I, personally, get along very well with my flatmates, I spend most of my time with friends from theatre, while my flatmates’ community is really based on each other. So it really depends on the group and where you spend your time.

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