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Moving to Glasgow

Expats moving to Glasgow will find Scotland's largest city nestled snug along the River Clyde in the country's central lowlands. About an hour west of the capital city of Edinburgh, Glasgow grew from its shipping and trade origins to embrace its role in the engineering and manufacturing post-industrial period. Subsequently, Glasgow also became a major player in the Scottish Enlightenment movement, producing impressive art, music and architecture. This evolution has produced a city of contrasts, carefully combining beauty and rugged functionality.

Once settled in, expats will encounter honest enthusiasm and a generous spirit among Glaswegians, finding many residents eager to chat. A word of caution though – the Scottish people are vehemently proud of their country and do not take kindly to any aspersion cast on their native land, so expats should flavour any criticisms they may have with a large amount of praise.

Glasgow's financial and business services sector is large, rivalling Edinburgh's, and many expats arrive already having secured a job in this field. However, to the newly arrived expat with no such arrangement, finding work is an extremely competitive process. Employers will have a great many applicants for each position and expect the highest of standards in their candidates. Networking is key and many will find that going through an employment agency will yield the best results.

That being said, even the best networker is no match for some witty banter at the pub on a Friday evening. To some extent Scottish culture and lifestyle still revolves around the consumption of alcohol in social settings. Many will find new friends on an evening out in the city centre, which is alive with pubs, bars and clubs.

Football is also a serious pastime in Glasgow, where the declaration of support for one club over another can mean far more than simply backing a home team. The two 'old firm' teams in Glasgow – Celtic and Rangers – have rival Catholic and Protestant roots going back over 100 years.

Getting around in Glasgow is a fairly uncomplicated matter. Trains run out of two major stations in the city centre and provide affordable travel options both within the city, as well as to the rest of Scotland and as far south as London. The bus system is equally as efficient with a reliable and comprehensive timetable servicing the entire city.

Arriving in Glasgow may seem overwhelming at first, but expats who give it a little time will feel just as proud to live amongst the city's Victorian architecture as the born-and-bred Glaswegians.

Working in Glasgow

Those intending to work in Glasgow will find themselves in Scotland's largest economy. As in much of the UK, the job market in Glasgow is competitive. If considering working in Glasgow and arriving without a secured position, expats should be prepared to go through a rigorous hiring process for any job opportunity.


Job market in Glasgow

In the past, the city's economy relied heavily on manufacturing, particularly the shipbuilding industry. Today, Glasgow's economy has successfully diversified with services, communications, healthcare, higher education and creative industries being strong sectors.

Common sources of employment in the services sector include call centre workers, retail and secretarial staff, as well as more senior professional and managerial positions.

The financial industry has a large presence in Glasgow and employs a high percentage of the working population; however, it is very difficult to gain a position without previous experience. The outlying areas of the city support a large industrial sector with skilled workers being in demand on a regular basis.


Finding a job in Glasgow

A visa and work permit is required in most cases for any non-EU expat working in the United Kingdom. Non-British citizens will be required to prove a right to work in the UK for all positions. Highly skilled workers can apply for a work permit, but in most cases the employer will need to apply for this on behalf of the expat employee.

For expats arriving with no employment secured, the best source for job leads continues to be networking and word of mouth. Employment agencies are also a valuable tool and are eager to place qualified individuals in temporary and permanent positions. As there are so many applicants for each position, work standards are high and are expected to be maintained by any successful candidate.

Accommodation in Glasgow

Expats will find that accommodation in Glasgow is marked by a wide variety of housing options available for both renting and purchasing. As is the case with many similarly sized cities afflicted with urban sprawl, there are certain types of property associated with particular districts and neighbourhoods.


Types of accommodation in Glasgow

Many areas close to the city centre contain a large amount of tenements, most of which have been updated and modernised. More modern apartments are interspersed throughout the city, and often make for an affordable option for newly arriving expats.

Outside of the city centre, the suburbs tend to be more family-oriented and are also often populated by commuters who travel in to work every day. These areas have more traditional housing options. Many of these housing estates have a cookie-cutter design serving a more functional role, while the older areas have character homes either custom-built or of an older design. These are often larger, and thus more expensive.


Finding accommodation in Glasgow

There are a number of resources available to expats looking for accommodation in Glasgow, including online property portals and local newspapers. Expats may also want to make use of the services of a real estate agent, as these professionals have extensive knowledge of the various areas and types of housing available in Glasgow and can offer advice and guidance throughout the process of finding a home.


Renting accommodation in Glasgow

Glasgow tends to be a good choice for young renters or those looking to make the most out of a relatively tight budget. Much of Glasgow's rental accommodation is offered fully furnished, which is a great option for those who may be waiting for overseas shipments or those starting over in their new location with no household belongings. However, if expats prefer to bring or buy their own furniture, it's usually fairly easy to arrange that one's chosen accommodation comes unfurnished.

The standard lease is for 12 months, with the typical deposit being the equivalent of one or two months' rent. Council tax and utilities are usually not included in the rental price and are an additional cost to the tenant.

Healthcare in Glasgow

Expats who find themselves in need of medical attention are sure to be well-served by healthcare in Glasgow. The UK's healthcare system, the National Health Service (NHS), is generally considered a success, and all expats legally resident in the UK are eligible for subsidised or free treatment.

Technically there are two types of hospitals in the UK: public hospitals run by the NHS, and private hospitals run by other entities. However, in practice there is little difference between the two. Both public and private hospitals have excellent facilities and care. For this reason, very few people in Scotland specifically use private facilities. Still, some expats may nevertheless prefer to use private facilities in order to skip over the public sector's waiting times. If they plan to use private healthcare, expats should invest in a private health insurance policy to cover costs.

To make use of the NHS, expats must make an appointment with an NHS-approved GP, a list of which can be found on the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde website. Patients requiring specialist treatment will need to consult with a GP first before being referred to a specialist.

In the case of a medical emergency (where someone is seriously ill or injured) an ambulance should be called on 999. If medical attention or advice is needed in a non-life-threatening instance, NHS 111 should be dialled instead. 

Ambulances called on the national number will take the patient to the nearest NHS hospital. Once the patient has been examined, they may be sent to another hospital with a specialisation in the patient's particular ailment. This may be a public or private hospital, but as long as the initial hospital was an NHS hospital, the NHS will pay for the treatment regardless.


Public hospitals in Glasgow

 

Glasgow Royal Infirmary

www.nhsggc.org.uk

84 Castle Street, Glasgow G4 0SF

 

New Victoria Hospital

www.nhsggc.org.uk

52 Grange Road, Glasgow G42 9LF

 

Princess Royal Maternity Hospital

www.nhsggc.org.uk

16 Alexandra Parade, Glasgow G31 2ER

 

Queen Elizabeth University Hospital

www.nhsggc.org.uk

1345 Govan Rd, Glasgow G51 4TF

 

Stobhill Hospital

www.nhsggc.org.uk

133 Balornock Road, Glasgow G21 3UW
 


Private hospitals in Glasgow

 

Nuffield Health Glasgow

www.nuffieldhealth.com

25 Beaconsfield Rd, Glasgow G12 0PJ

 

BMI Ross Hall Hospital

www.bmihealthcare.co.uk

221 Crookston Road, Glasgow G52 3NQ

Education and Schools in Glasgow

In Glasgow, as in the rest of Scotland, parents have a range of public and private choices with regards to the school their child attends. Though there are no international schools which serve the needs of children from particular countries in Glasgow, some private schools do offer students the option to study for the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, which is more widely recognised at the global level. 

Whichever option expats choose to go for, it is best to apply as far ahead of time as possible.


Government-funded schools in Glasgow

Glasgow’s primary and secondary schools follow the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence, which is divided into two broad stages. The general education phase begins with the first year of primary school and continues into the first two years of secondary school, known as S1 and S2. The senior phase is from S3 (third year) to S7 (seventh year), at which point the curriculum is concluded.

Education at public schools is funded by the government for all pupils aged 5 to 19.


Private schools in Glasgow

Glasgow has a number of independent schools where funding is from fees and charitable donations. There may be scholarship or bursary schemes to assist with costs. 

It is always worth organising tours of the schools, ideally during a school day, so that one gets a feel for the school’s approach and ethos. Some topics worth addressing include the length of the school day, extracurricular activities, class sizes, assessments and possible summer school activities. 

Many schools offer taster days where the prospective pupil can experience time in class with the other children. This is a worthwhile exercise, as the child can get an idea of where they feel most comfortable.

Independent schools tend to run entrance tests and these can be at various times of the year. Whatever school one chooses for their child, it is important that it meets their needs and works well logistically for the whole family.


International schools in Glasgow

Unfortunately, there are no full-time international schools in Glasgow which follow curriculums from other countries. However, expats may find that their children can follow the IB curriculum at a private school. As the expat community of Glasgow grows, there may be a rise in the number of international schools but at present, the options are limited in this area. 


Homeschooling in Glasgow

Parents can submit a request to their local council if they wish to withdraw their child from public school and educate them at home. If a child is attending a private school, they can simply withdraw the child from the school without the need to contact the local council.

Parents do not have to follow the school curriculum but they do need to comply with checks from council investigation officers, which usually take place once a year.

See and Do in Glasgow

Expats looking to explore Scotland's largest city will find plenty to see and do in Glasgow.

Founded nearly 1,000 years ago, Glasgow is filled with historic sites and buildings, not to mention art galleries and museums galore – plenty to keep any culture-hungry expat busy.

Expats need not worry if they're exploring the city on a shoestring budget as most of Glasgow's attractions have no entrance fees (though there is often an option to donate at the entrance for those who wish to do so).

Here are some of Glasgow's must-see attractions.


Recommended attractions in Glasgow

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

One of Glasgow's most popular attractions, Kelvingrove offers visitors the chance to see unique temporary exhibitions alongside the museum's mainstays. The variety that Kelvingrove offers ensures that every visitor is bound to find something that interests them. Highlights include an authentic WWII-era Spitfire plane, a huge collection of historical arms and armour, and an active hive of bees. There is also an incredible art collection which includes works by some of the most renowned artists of all time, such as Salvador Dalí, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Vincent van Gogh.

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Although sunny days are something of a rarity in Glasgow, the Botanic Gardens is the perfect place to spend them when they do come around. In spring, daffodils pop up all through the gardens, and there are flowerbeds of colourful tulips to enjoy. Squirrels scamper through the grounds and are quite friendly to visitors, especially those who come prepared with a few nuts. There is also a fascinating greenhouse which houses exotic plants from all over the world.

Gallery of Modern Art

A visit to the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) is always sure to be an interesting and enlightening experience. Although modern art has a reputation of being difficult to understand, it's still worthwhile going inside and spending some time contemplating the artworks on display. Work by both local and international artists can be seen in the museum, and the gallery frequently runs special projects to address social issues.

Duke of Wellington Statue

In front of GoMA, visitors will be greeted by a sight beloved among locals and foreigners alike: the statue of the Duke of Wellington. This statue's unusual claim to fame is the ever-present traffic cone perched jauntily on its head. This is one of Glasgow's most iconic images and is considered by many to be a monument to the city's cheeky sense of humour. Unsurprisingly, government officials disagree, and the cone has been removed by officials numerous times, much to the chagrin of locals. The cone is never gone for long, though, and there is always a sneaky local willing to clamber up the statue to replace it.

People's Palace

Those wanting to learn about the history of Glasgow's people will find the People's Palace well worth a visit. The People's Palace is home to a museum documenting the city's unique social history from the mid-18th century to the present day, giving a glimpse of everyday life in Glasgow throughout the ages. Visitors to the People's Palace can also enjoy a walk in the adjacent Winter Gardens.

The Lighthouse

This six-storey tall building in the heart of Glasgow offers a beautiful 360-degree view of the city from its top floor. Designed by famous Glasgow architect Charles Mackintosh, the Lighthouse also offers art and design exhibitions, including a permanent Mackintosh exhibition for those keen to learn more about the man himself.

Getting Around in Glasgow

Thanks to a well-developed public transport system, expats should find that getting around in Glasgow is relatively easy and stress-free.

It's quite possible to get by on public transport alone, although those who aren't keen to face Glasgow's typically chilly, windy and rainy weather may prefer to drive around in the comfort of their own car.


Public transport in Glasgow

Glasgow's public transport system is comprehensive, convenient and cost-effective. Different forms of public transport are well-linked and although there isn't a centralised ticketing system, some forms of public transport offer special tickets that allow travel on more than one form of transport for a set amount of time.

Subway

The bright orange exterior of the subway trains and the circular route they follow has led to the Glasgow subway being dubbed 'the clockwork orange'. Admittedly, this nickname is perpetuated more by guidebooks and tour guides than locals, who tend to just call it 'the subway'.

More importantly, the underground train system is a quick and easy way to get around the city, though its route is limited to the central and West End areas of Glasgow. On most days the subway trains run from the early morning to just before midnight with a train arriving every four to eight minutes. The circular route has one inner track and one outer track with trains running in opposite directions, so that passengers can choose either track depending on which train will reach to their desired destination first. One drawback of the subway system is that it's quite compact in both size and scope. There are 15 stops in total, and it only takes about 20 minutes to complete a full circuit of the route.

Trains

Glasgow's network of above-ground trains traverses a much wider network than the subway, with ScotRail covering local and regional routes and other providers like Virgin Trains connecting Glasgow with England and Wales.

The local train route covers much of suburban Glasgow and provides it with a connection to the inner-city areas. Once in the city, it is easy to connect to the subway. The frequency of trains depends on the route and time of day, and trains may suffer from delays, especially in bad weather. Travellers should be sure to stay up to date using ScotRail's website or mobile app, which both offer information on timetables, routes and any delays. 

Buses

Glasgow has an extensive bus system, with the main provider of bus services being First Glasgow. There are over 100 bus routes in Glasgow so travellers are sure to be able to get to wherever they need to if they follow the right route. However, some buses offer only limited services, especially at night, so it's best to check with the driver when boarding the bus.

Tickets are bought onboard the bus, but travellers will need to ensure they have the exact amount of money needed to buy the ticket as in most cases, the bus driver will not have access to change.


Taxis in Glasgow

Ride-hailing applications such as Uber and Lyft are operational in Glasgow, and travellers can easily hail a cab using the relevant application on their phone. There are also classic black cabs, run by Glasgow Taxis. They can be hailed on the street or booked online, over the phone, or by using the official Glasgow Taxis app.


Driving in Glasgow

Most expats will find that owning a car in Glasgow is unnecessary, but a car can come in handy in the case of rainy weather.

Expats from within the EU can drive in Scotland for as long as their licence is valid, and those from outside the EU can drive in Scotland on their licence from back home for up to 12 months after their arrival.

Expats who are used to chaotic and aggressive driving may find that Glasgow roads are much calmer, and some may even find the somewhat slower pace of Glaswegian drivers frustrating. Glaswegian drivers are also noticeably more polite and patient than drivers in many other countries – it's uncommon for anyone to honk their horn, even if someone else on the road drives carelessly or inconveniences them.


Cycling in Glasgow

Glasgow has over 186 miles (300 km) of cycle lanes and sidewalks are also usually safe to cycle on. Although Glasgow is not quite as cycle-friendly as nearby Edinburgh, there is still plenty of support for cyclists in terms of cycling infrastructure and bicycle-hire schemes, including a comprehensive scheme run by the city council.


Walking in Glasgow

If using public transport, walking is an almost inescapable part of travelling in Glasgow. Glasgow is quite a large city, and despite numerous public transport options, a bit of walking is usually necessary to get to where one wants to go. Travellers should always be prepared for a bit of rain, though, so it's advisable to carry around a small umbrella or rain jacket in case of sudden showers.