Top 6 Areas to Live Edinburgh

Cover image of 'Top 6 Areas to Live in Edinburgh' showing Dean Village, The Meadows, Stockbridge, Leith, Old Town and New Town

Introducing the crème de la crème of places within Edinburgh' to live. Based on standard of living, recreational activities and social life with recommendations for students, professionals and families.

So you’ve decided to move to Edinburgh!? Fabulous choice! Edinburgh remains to be my favourite city in the world as it just has EVERYTHING , except dreamy warm weather. That is the one downfall unfortunately. However if you can go without the long hot Summers of  other popular European cities then this is the place for you.

Now I guess you’re trying to figure out which area of Edinburgh to move to? Well first you need to understand that the city is split into an Old Town and New Town. As you can imagine the Old Town has most of Edinburgh’s famous historical buildings and streets dating back to the 12th century with the castle as the central focal point. On the other hand, the New Town was developed between the 18th and 19th century (BBC History, 2011) and has a grid pattern street layout.

With so many areas and sub-areas within both the Old and New Town it ultimately comes down to what kind of person you are and your lifestyle choices.

That’s why I’ve divided the best places to live into categories based on the kind of person you are or what stage in life you’re at.

Every place mentioned in this post is somewhere I personally recommend and would live myself as they all rank high in terms of:

  • Recreation
  • Standard of living
  • Community
  • Access to central district
  • Amenities
  • Social Life

And for the record, my own experience and life in Edinburgh spans over the course of my life, as my family home was not far from the city and I studied there after moving out as well. I actually plan to move back this Summer (2021) and I am SO EXCITED about it!

Housing Style & Architecture

18th Century Georgian Architecture

18th Century Georgian building exterior, Edinburgh

15th Century Medieval Architecture

15th Century Architecture Building in Edinburgh Old Town.
"File:Edinburgh - Edinburgh, Lawnmarket, Lady Stair's Close, Lady Stair's House - 20140421142449.jpg" by Enric is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

As far as homes and apartments go the New Town may actually seem more old fashioned due to the Georgian buildings still holding their classic charm inside and out. Whereas apartments in the Old Town have been renovated and restyled several times over, resulting in more modern interiors. With the exception of an exposed beam or two I guess!?

STUDENTS: the Meadows

Students hanging out in The Meadows in the Spring in Edinburgh
"Spring at the Meadows, Edinburgh" by somekindofrob is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Imagine summer hangouts at the park with friends.  < see on Map 

The Meadows is actually a giant grass park intertwined with walking/cycling paths and noticeable from its beautiful cherry blossoms. And it is the place to BE if you are moving to Edinburgh to study as it is the biggest and most popular social spot for students in the Spring and Summer. Super close to the main University and reasonable distance to Napier with a nice community-oriented vibe. Anywhere around here will be so dreamy for you, however if you really want the crème de la crème, an apartment in Bruntsfield is second to none.


  • Student halls = £700+
  • Shared apartment = £400 +


Buildings along the Albert Dock Basin in Leith Docks
"Edinburgh Leith" by Pauky is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Ranked as Best Place to live in Scotland (The Times, 2020)  < see on map

Originally the old port area of Edinburgh, this suburb has raving reviews for quality of life at slightly lower prices than other equally awesome areas in Edinburgh. This is due to its slightly further location from the central district (a mere 2 miles), however with the abundance of things to do you will hardly bother about going uptown at all. Lots of modern new builds and if you’re a balcony person, then this is one of the few places you can have one in Edinburgh at a reasonable price!



More work, Less Play...

George Street in Summer in Edinburgh with Statue of King George IV
"Edinburgh, Leith and The Fringe Festival adventure" by Perry B McLeod is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

 Imagine elegance with everything on your doorstep. < see on map

Let’s call it the golden rectangle (from Queen Street to Princes Street extending to West End). This is the super centre for shopping and nightlife with the central Waverly Train Station in the area. Many businesses and offices are located here and towards the West End which gets cheaper the further you go from Princes Street. The only thing to consider is noise levels as traffic will be quite heavy, so ideally you’ll want somewhere on a ‘lane’ , ‘circle’, ‘crescent’ or ‘row’.


Less work, More Play...

Old Town Buildings on Grassmarket, Edinburgh

 Imagine Diagon Alley vibes with buzzing social life on your doorstep. < see on map

Living on one of these famous, historical streets is property GOLD in Edinburgh. That’s because it’s where all the famous sites are, all the biggest events take place and overall beautiful architecture. Also well connected to the station and offices, however less suitable for the ‘workaholic’ types as it’s a noisy area with parties and festivals all year round and you’ll find yourself stuck behind wandering tourists whenever you’re in a rush which can be frustrating. It is the most expensive and sought after on this list, so also a prime spot to set up an AirBnB.

FAMILIES: Stockbridge

Circus Lane in Autumn in Stockbridge, Edinburgh

 Imagine village community plus fantastic recreational opportunities. < see on map

Further into the New Town, you have the delightful neighbourhood of Stockbridge which also ranks high on Scotland’s best places to live. With lots of nice small businesses and shops it doesn’t have the feeling of being in the city at all. Fantastic schools nearby as well as sports clubs, nice riverside walks and all the recreational activities a big city can offer. As a long established neighbourhood, it also can seem pretty posh or upper class to live here.

THE ELDERLY: dean Village

View of Dean Village over the Water of Leith

Imagine the cutest, serene village life. < see on map

One of Edinburgh’s most charming surprises is the neighbourhood of Dean Village. You will feel like you’ve just been transported from a bustling city into the countryside when you cross the Dean Bridge and find this small, quaint area. With delightful riverside walks and gardens, as well as cute independent shops and cafes it’s perfect for a more slow-paced quiet life.

Where I woudn't Live...

Like every city there are poorer and less developed areas as well. Or there’ll be a random dodgy street in one usually nice neighbourhood so that’s why it is always best to ideally view the place before you sign any contracts and such, otherwise google the place. Ask on quora for quick and specific answers to any of your concerns. Use google and street view on maps to do the basic research and you will be fine.

Graffiti in less-developed area of Edinburgh
"Confused Bull" by Strevo is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Important Questions to Ask!

What are the neighbours like? How are noise levels from outside and in general. Because there’s nothing worse than having neighbours who call the police on your flat parties, or contrastingly neighbours who YOU want to call the police on for noise!

How warm is it in Winter? The New Town Georgian homes are infamously expensive to heat in Winter , so make sure to ask about this, in particular if the windows are double glazed!?

“Edinburgh Fringe Festival” by eltpics is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER are the most hectic months for getting your hands on an apartment as Edinburgh hosts, the largest Arts & Comedy Festival in the world, ‘The Fringe’. The population of Edinburgh literally DOUBLES during this month so you can imagine the prices and difficulty of securing your flat at this time.

Additionally the new student year begins in September/October so competition is HIGH during this whole period from July – September when students are running round like headless chickens trying to get the best place as soon as possible. For a private flat you really ought to be super organised about the whole process, otherwise student accommodation is usually pretty forgiving in their last minute deals.

I hope that steers you in the right direction for finding your ideal new place in ye’ Old Edinburgh. Feel free to drop questions in the comments if you’re unsure about some areas and I’d be happy to help.

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Hi! I'm Robyn, a Scottish girl who has been embracing and enjoying life abroad since 2014 through work, study and volunteering opportunities!

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