Discouraged to move after latest visit...

Hi All!

I hope those living in and around Edinburgh can help clarify some recent observations.
First, I am a Toronto born Canadian living in a vibrant and mostly affluent part of Toronto (The Beaches). I have been married to a Scot for 21 years and visited Scotland over 18 times in the past 24 years (a month at a time, various times of the year).  Our home base is in Peebles, Borders, when we come.
We have been planning to move over for several years now when we retire early.  Timeframe being that when our daughters are heading to University, we will all come over (note: not looking for free University tuition, we intend to pay our own way).

Here in lies our issues...we are just back 3 days ago from another month long visit.

Please note, this is not intended to offend anyone...
There appeared to be a substantial amount of daytime and evening staggering drunks around.  More than twice in two weeks, in the early night, we witnessed shouting drunks in the streets; one young woman sprawled across the road while the other shouted all sorts. Several early afternoon or very young as well.
The younger populations (14-40)  appeared to be very low class, tons of poorly applied make up and hair dye jobs, excessive drinking, smoking, not working during working hours, dressed like street walkers despite a large percentage being overweight.

The Scottish and all in the UK have a very sophisticated reputation in Canada however it appeared a substantial number of them are actually a huge disappointment.

We fear immigrating our children into this type of declining society will be difficult for them.  That said, we also have cousins in a tiny pocket of Glasgow, whom are fine upstanding and educated people (solicitors and such).

Our daughters aspire to become, one a surgeon and the other either a lawyer or psychologist.  I am an Accountant and husband is an Officer.

Can those living there help us understand if our observations are representative of a small portion of the population or the masses.  We had our hearts set on moving over in about 5 years time.

Appreciate any feedback and again, apologies if I have offended anyone in anyway.

Hi and welcome to the Forum.

You've just about summed up many parts of the UK, probably Europe in general and  the results of an over-liberalised generation that have been convinced that they have the right to do anything they want to, when they want to and not really care what others think of them, or their impact on others or even their families.

To answer your question, I share your husband's background, my wife is a Dutch nurse; our opinion from having lived where we do in an old mining village in North Yorkshire is that life here is good; people, in general, do care.  Yes, we have our local anti-social idiots, but they are on the whole mostly harmless and like most, will change their ways given the chance.

It depends what you want; Scotland is no utopia, it has never been; if that was your opinion, then you've been very lucky not to have been exposed to the reality of some parts of Scots life.  In general, the further north you go past the central belt, the better.  Fife is a nice area.

Hope this helps.

Expat Team

Thank you for your response and your honest assessment. Loved York. Hear it too is a place best appreciate during the day. 😊

Hi Toronto,

You have hit the nail right on the head.  I moved to Aberdeen (well a village outside of Aberdeen) from Norway.  My husband works in the Oil Industry (now semi retired) and I worked for The Law Society.

I have to agree totally with one of your replies.  What you experienced when visiting is happening all over the UK.  Young girls having babies and expecting everybody else to pay for them while spending their dole money on burgers, piercings and tattoos (and yes the girls are usually fat).  The boys are just the same but skinny  Violence and drunkeness is everywhere albeit minor or major.

Hopefully there is nothing wrong with you and yout husband healthwise as you'd never get to see an NHS bed this side of landing of Mars.  Luckily (and probably like you) we can afford to go private.

The UK as a whole is turning into one big SH**HOLE.

kind regards

p.s......Scotland is ALWAYS cold even in Summer....I need to move.  I believe Jersey is nice.

Hello Toronto Smith,

You certainly have NOT offended me as your comments and observations are spot on.  The whole of the UK is the same.

Young girls pushing prams, smoking, swearing, tattoos, being drunk and bad hair jobs are the norm now.  They believe if they get pregnant then the council will give them a place to live and also money for the child (which is usually the way it is) then they have more children by different fathers and so on.
This is the way of Britain nowadays I'm sorry to say.  The boys are the same. 

Let me just add most of these people have never paid any tax, National Insurance or contributed in any way, they believe it is their god given right to be on handouts/benefits and why should they work as it benefits them more to be out of work than in work.  Which is quite true, a stupid system really.

If I were in your shoes I would seriously consider whether to move or not.  Maybe come over for a longer period of time........or maybe not as that would really be an eye opener.

I understand perfectly how Steffiegirl may have had a few bad experiences but to make such sweeping statements is irresponsible and for someone who claims to work for The Law Society it is doubly so given the accuracy with which we expect our legal profession to work. Clearly, having visited EVERY place in the UK you may feel qualified to comment but your characterisation of young girls as dole scrounging, layabout food junkies might be considered just a tad OTT.

I have the good fortune to have travelled in most parts of the world and fin society in the UK little different in its complexity and changing norms to any other. Heavens, women are now allowed to drive even in Saudi Arabia.

This is a great country in which to live with services which are the envy of most places in the world. We are innovative, self motivated and increasingly well educated and generally we see the good in people before the bad.

Get out a bit more and experience the diversity of Britain before writing of our youth as you have.

Shure some areas of the UK are worse than other places, but you can not say the whole of the UK (England, Scotland, Wales & NI) are the same because they are not.

I have lived all over the country so I pretty well know what the crack is. Single mothers were a problem back in the 90's but they there has been a crackdown on it with caps on benefits.

I live in a small Scottish town which includes some of the areas of greatest multiple deprivation in Scotland. My wife and I chose to move here because it has some of the friendliest people and more open society than anywhere we have travelled in the world. Yes there are problems and they do include examples of what you describe. I'll not get into the causes since they are well known. Peebles is a town I have known most of my life and what is not to like about the High Street and riverside. Indeed it is known locally as Edinburgh's retirement village because so many Edinburgh people end their life in it and have done so for a very long time.

Comparing affluent parts of Toronto with less affluent parts of Scotland is hardly a reasonable comparison. There are problems such as those you describe in Canada but perhaps you don't see them where you live, neither will you see them in Edinburgh's Ravelston Dykes or Grange Districts. The Scots are a welcoming people but tend to react negatively to criticism based on minimal evidence.

We do have some of the finest universities in the world for which we all pay so it is entirely reasonable that you should too. The idea that we enjoy free eduction or indeed any freee service is misinformed. As a society we choose to share the high cost of services across the whole of society according to people's ability to pay. We welcome students from across the world and have done for centuries because we value the cosmopolitan nature of our academia and the benefits that brings. Yu will not hear Scots objecting to foreign students regardless of the fact that they take up places which might otherwise go to Scots, that's not our way.

I am sure you did not intend to insult anyone even although you observations were misinformed and based on limited experience. We forgibve you for that and welcome your choise of Scotland as a place to live and educate your children. Get out and about and engage with Scots. Yuou chouce of dress or make-up may not be theirs but see them as people and treat them as equals, which is how they will deal with you and you will have a great time here. Close your mind and see them as inferiors and you would be well advised to choose somewhere else since Scots, like most people react badly to narrow-mindedness.


I am Brazilian and was awfully impressed (same reasons) last year when I was in Brussels. I believe this kind of behaviour is the sum of a drinking culture + lost of perspective of younger generations+ increasing rate of unemployment everywhere. There's a part of society that has no access ( or sometimes) choose not to access) good education and a steady professional career. Even though in Brazil you won't see many drunk people on a weekday afternoon (not in our cultural background), many youngsters will choose not to study believing they might dedicate their life to soccer playing or funk dancing/singing, dreaming about easy money and fame and many times supported by their uninformed parents and friends. I believe it's generational. On the other hand, though, there will always be the privileged as me or your daughter's that will have the opportunity to be inserted in "better" (for the lack of a most descriptive word at the moment) circle amongst equals to us: people who had the chance to meet the word with broader eyes and understand better its complexities, and how can we actively participate in society. I've been to Canada once for a short time and I noticed it certainly is a country much above average. All this game considered, I wouldn't give up on moving to Scotland. Please, don't be offended, but I'd  rather raise my kids in Europe  than in Canada, for I believe they would be more prepared "world citizens". Scotland has much more to offer in terms of culture, diversity and so on. I believe your kids will just develop a better sense of differences and still thrive in their areas of choice.

worldlywanderer :

The idea that we enjoy free eduction or indeed any freee service is misinformed......
............. We forgibve you for that and welcome your choise of Scotland as a place to live and educate your children. Get out and about and engage with Scots. Yuou chouce of dress.............

I see you took advantage of a cheap education but I'm unconvinced of your argument it's a good place to educate kids. I'm sure the OP can see my point.
As for Scotland in general, people tend to be very friendly but there are far too many serious social issues for my taste, drunkenness and drug abuse being just two. I won't lie, I enjoyed my visits to Scottish cities and had a good time, but there's no way I'd live there.

You quote; "Young girls pushing prams, smoking, swearing, tattoos, being drunk and bad hair jobs are the norm now.  They believe if they get pregnant then the council will give them a place to live and also money for the child (which is usually the way it is) then they have more children by different fathers and so on. This is the way of Britain nowadays I'm sorry to say.  The boys are the same". 

Astonishing! It sounds to me like you are very unhappy to be here. Please don't make wild generalisations about the whole country, as its simply not true! I can't believe how bigoted and nasty you are being. 

Having lived mainly in the South, I must say I don't recognise that description of how Britain is these days. I have never witnessed those scenes here. Living in the old capital of Winchester, everyone's happy, respectful, educated, etc, etc. On the whole, I'm very happy here. If where you live is as bad as you say, why don't you move back to Holland? I don't mean it as an insult but it just sounds terrible where you are!

To the Canuck couple; don't put your plans off to come over. Scotland is wonderful - just find the right area. If not, please come South. (Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire, Sussex) We are not much different from you! Whatever your decision, just don't allow your latest experience put you off.

I just checked; an interesting statistic is that 1 in 4 (25%) of births in the UK are to single-parent families (this does not include unmarried couples).  There are circa 2,000 births p/day, so it means that every day, 500 children are born for whom the Social Services (so, the taxpayer) will have some responsibility.  It is a fact that people in that situation will be given priority for social housing and they will receive social money from the Government if their circumstances mean they need the help.

Food for thought.

Yes, it most certainly is! I'm not sure of these stats, could you please provide links? Also the divorce rates are high in the UK, somewhere around 42% which obviously contributes to the breakdown of society.

Swedishblue :

Yes, it most certainly is! I'm not sure of these stats, could you please provide links? Also the divorce rates are high in the UK, somewhere around 42% which obviously contributes to the breakdown of society.

Divorce rate is down in fact. I'm not sure that 42% is correct.

Swedishblue :

.... I'm not sure of these stats, could you please provide links? ....

For the stats, I just ran a quick Google search and then used the UK Gov websites thrown up by that search.  As for the rest of my post, they are facts about social welfare provision and entitlement in the UK.

Hope that helps.

Whatever has the divorce rate to do with the quality of life in Edinburgh? There must be a very low birth rate in Vatican City and a very high percentage of single people; parking must be horrendous and the crowds... We tolerate t bff at odd society.

The organisation of and entitlement to social welfare benefits is a matter for the community to decide. It is possibly difficult for nationals of counties with other systems to understand - it's hard enough for us comprehend!  Why should it even matter to people who don't pay for it or have entitlement to it?

So far as I can see the only direct effect which the antisocial behaviour of a tiny minority in Scotland might have on those from other societies is to expose them to behaviour patterns which are unfamiliar. That's what travel does. If you have a few days to listen I'll tell you a tale or twenty of unfamiliar behaviour patterns. Of near arrest for refusal to be ripped off, of  loud singing by a couple of thousand people at midnight,  those guys who song - well that's what they call it - over loudspeakers at five in the morning; the arrests in one small Australian town on one night which exceeded the number on the same night in the whole of Scotland.

Life's rich pattern astonishes, enthralls, horrifies and disgusts but never bored the enquiring mind. We Scots tolerate behaviour, criticism and intolerance better than most, we've had lots of practice. We also openly welcome tolerant and enquiring minds from anywhere.

I am Scottish, from east Kilbride, just south of Glasgow....I retired after 35 years in architecture two months ago and have relocated to Czech Republic.
I reluctantly concur with your observations re Scotland, you never got around to mentioning our dreadful climate.
Scotland is a beautiful place for vacation, but I would caution against living there....sorry to my fellow Scots, but it's how I see it!!

Yes Britain is like that.  All the high streets filled with these sorts of people and it's becoming worse.  If you've never experienced it you need to get out more.

Wordly - I have not had any bad experiences but I do have my eyes open.  Having worked the for legal profession has nothing to do with my own personal views.

Worldly traveler-
I found a video today highlighting a ‘humanism’ movement in UK.  I took the impression that it was derived from England, but the line of thinking is consistent with the utter kindness that I experienced when I visited, as well as what I observe in online conversation.
Have you heard of this, or would you simply consider it the ‘norm’?
Thank you for your honest and positive perspective: )

Hi and welcome to the Forum.

Humanism certainly derived from the UK (in the 18th century).

Just to remind everybody, the Forum is not a place for current political or religious debate.

Expat Team

I apologize— I was interested in the social climate.  I was raised to have manners and ‘treat people in the manner that you wish to be regarded’.  I had a wise and feisty grandmother: ).
Sadly, concern for the well-being of other human beings seems to be a ‘dated’ cultural norm.  I have a high concern for the tact and consideration of any cultural environment that I expose my child to.  Politics are not my forte as I am educated in Science & education.  I remain befuddled by all that I see...
I appreciate you reply & the notice that my inquiry may be understood as ‘political’.
I do remember reading the first wave of humanism....  I believe that the Scot people have the reputation of not only having the most beautiful country in Europe, but the most congenial constituency, making any concern for in climate weather obsolete, as there will nearly always be someone smiling sunshine, someplace (think that was what I read, or gathered from what I read...).
Thank you for the welcome-
Enjoy taps off!

Hi again.

Humanism began in London; in a chapel of all places.  I reminded all of our stance on politics and religion because it's better to warn off those who are less humanistic than others.

As for the Scots and the beauty of the land, I'm indifferent; I've travelled and worked in many countries (25 at last count) there is beauty everywhere and good and bad people inhabit the earth. C'est la vie.

Hi All, 
I am thoroughly thankful for all your comments and insights. 

We agree that the Scottish people in general are the 'salt of the earth' kind of people, filled with kindness and friendliness.  We hope that the younger generation will look to their older family members for guidance. We know quite a few that appear to be doing just fine. 

As we sit in the blistering cold, with 4 ft banks of grey slushy snow and dangerous icy conditions, (for months at a time, with no reprieve) the grey rain would be a blessing :) So we are continuing to consider our move and have broadened our sights to south England. We will tour around on our next family trip this summer.

I will possibly add a new post regarding thoughts on moving over while one of our daughters is 16 years old.  Middle of Canadian high school, highers in Scotland.  We wonder if the teen girls of today, would most likely welcome her or bully her.  She is a petite and quiet girl...with a Canadian accent, who would likely shy away from crop tops, lol. Our family teens living in a Glasgow pocket, are all very polite (to us), boy crazy, crop top and phone obsessed (typical) girls that are great with their Canadian cousins, but I can see them being the popular and aggressive girls at school.

Canadians, can of course be bully's but they don't have the physical fight aspect.  My husband growing up in Glasgow, said there is lots of fist fights during high school and even younger.

My fear of her acceptance could keep us from coming over until she is done high school, but that also interferes with our oldest's first two years of University as she is 2 years older.
Any advice would be helpful.  Thanks again to all for your opinion and help.

Hi again,

Have you asked your daughter what she thinks about this?   People tend to pick on or bully others when the recipient is different from the rest as if that difference is enough to warrant and justify such attention.  When I first went to school in the UK, I had an American accent, OK that was many years ago now, but I don't recall having any issues, I've always been big and ugly enough to look after myself.   Some kids can take it, others can't, only you know your daughter well enough to make that judgement.  My own advice is that if you had any doubt of your daughters ability to cope with being different, that you would not expose her to such behaviour.

When our twins moved with us to the UK, none of them spoke English, one kid tried it on with our daughter, but my son did not take kindly to anyone bullying either of his sisters, so the potential bully went home with a sore nose.

As she will be alone. perhaps look for a school with a multicultural background?

Thank you for your thoughts and experience.  Appears there was bullying and bloody noses involved which supports my fear.

Toronto is a vibrant multicultural city indeed and we are welcoming and friendly with all cultures. Our daughter would fit in to (traditional) UK from her colouring as we are white with green/blue eyes so I'm not sure a multicultural school would help, but worth some thought as other cultures may be more humble in their interactions based on our friends in TO.

Appreciate all feedback.  Thank you!

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