Reader, I have lived in a few places in my life so far and was lucky enough with a former employer, to be based in two of the UK’s best cities, London and Edinburgh. I lived in London for 18 months between 2013 and 2014, moving to Edinburgh which I left in March 2017. This is my personal experience and thoughts of living in both these incredible places and which is the best city to live in overall.
London- The sacred Oyster Card. Who is a Londoner without it? It doesn’t matter where you’re going in the city or at what time, you will most certainly get there without needing a taxi. The well connected Underground have trains getting you to your desired destination every 2-5 minutes. Let’s not even start talking about 24hour buses! Your 3am flight from Stanstead will be a walk in the park.
Edinburgh – Now with the Trams, Edinburgh transport has gotten considerably better however there are still problems with Edinburgh’s transport system. Trains are always late and buses are nowhere near as frequent as London. If you’re enjoying a night out, bus timetables need to be watched or a taxi might need to be called.
WINNER – LONDON
London – London can give you the ultimate night out. Be it partying on the roof tops of Shoreditch or be tucked away at a cocktail bar near Holborn, London has the surprise of secret bars galore, so party until dawn with the confidence a night bus can get you to your door! The only downside is due to London’s size, it can take some time to bar hop from your favourite spots. (I used to sometimes travel between Angel and Liverpool Street and I found it quite tiresome). Also prepare to have very deep pockets as drinks do not come cheap!
Edinburgh – Edinburgh nights out are definitely filled with fun. You are within easy walking distance from the chic George Street to the bouncing hot spot of the Grassmarket. From personal experience, I have found Edinburgh has everything to offer and a much safer place to party without clock watching for last orders like in other towns of this size. Let’s not even start to talk about the spectacle of the Fringe Festival in the evenings! It just had to be experienced!!!
WINNER – EDINBURGH
London – New foodie phase? London will have it 3 months before you knew it even existed. Breast milk ice cream, Rainbow Bagels and Cereal Cafés, You name it! You are always within an arms reach of the latest flavours. My time eating through the capital had me picking off menus of countries my Dundonian mind could only dream of. You want Filipino fusion food at 3am? London is your city!
Edinburgh – Edinburgh has an array of bespoke bakeries to satisfy any sweet tooth (Stockbridge Market is a must), but sitting down to a meal requires some research if you want to go the extra mile. There are a handful of Michelin star restaurants but be prepared to have deep pockets! For you average grub, George Street is littered with flavours but somewhat lacking versus Glasgow.
WINNER – LONDON
Work Life Balance
London – London is the city that never sleeps and from my personal experience, working your standard 40hour weeks is non-existent. Expect late nights and heavily socialising with work colleagues vs friends. To London’s credit, I found it did give me a multitude of skills in a shorter space of time versus other cities but came at a hefty price of 11pm finishes and 6/7 day working weeks.
Edinburgh – Edinburgh’s work life balance for me was much more relaxed. Your shift finishes at 6pm? You’re walking out of the door at 6.01pm. Even when I was promoted to a more senior position, my work life balance only altered by a few grains of rice. I wish I could say it was due to better time management versus my career in London but it is definitely not the case!
WINNER – EDINBURGH
Things to do
London – London is full of sites to see. The centre itself is a hub of history and culture where you can happily stay a full day in just one museum. However most of these I have found come with a hefty price tag attached to it. I was shocked to pay £25 to visit Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum. As well as this cost, you are battling your way through the hoards of tourists which can be very frustrating. I saw a lot of shows in London and was more impressed at the work on the off-Theatreland circuit rather than the tackiness of the larger theatres, once again just catering to the tourists.
Edinburgh – Edinburgh is oozing with culture at every time of year. There are several castles within either walking distance or a short bus ride away. As well as this, the amount and quality of the free museums is phenomenal. Start up at the top of the Royal Mile at the Writer’s Museum and snake your way down the cobbled side streets to the bottom of Greyfriars and you will be overwhelmed at the knowledge you can accrue. The live music scene is Edinburgh is also buzzing, from the talented buskers in the streets to sell out shows at the Playhouse and The Usher Hall, the opportunities are endless. Did someone mention the Fringe Festival…..?
WINNER – EDINBURGH
So the overall winner goes to Edinburgh!
I love both cities and you never know, I might move back to them one day. It was such an experience to immerse myself in the ‘big city’ life for just over 4 years of my life and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Have you visited or lived in London or Edinburgh? Do you agree with my thoughts? Let me know.