Expat family possibly relocating to Scotland. Help! Have questions!

My family is considering relocating to Aberdeen, Scotland for my husband's job. He is in the oil industry. We have an 8 year old son and a 4 year old daughter. What is life like as an American family with young children living in Aberdeen, Scotland?

Welcome to Expat.com kwmsrm !

I moved your message to the Scotland forum

all the best,


Cold and wet. Aberdeen has some of the worst weather in Britain. Plenty of ex-pats though. I don't think you would be lonely.

hi there
I lived in Inverurie as an expat from NZ (15 miles from Aberdeen). I will warn you now it gets extremely cold in Winter for example at one point we couldnt leave out house for 2 weeks because of the amount of snow. However this did not put me off. Aberdeenshire is the perfect place for families, there are many activities, and plenty of castles to visit. The areas around Aberdeen are amazing, and you just need to make the most of each sunny day and force yourself to go outside even in the cold! I love Scotland and Aberdeen is a great place but only if you utilize all it has to offer. Hope this helped and if you have questions im happy  to answer.

A comment about our snow. It's a long time since I spent any time in The States, but one thing I recall is that, even when there was snow (and a lot more than we get here), Americans carried on as normal. They did things like put snow tyres on their cars, shovelled snow from their footpaths, kept their schools open.

Be warned - that's not what happens in Britain. Last winter even scored it's own page on Wikipedia! We leave people stranded on major motorways, sometimes for the whole night. (for example, the M8, Glasgow to Edinburgh motorway, closed for two days last winter, full of stranded motorists). No one shovels their footpaths. Not even the council. Instead, we slide around on the ice and get a fair few broken bones along the way. Schools close, and even when they reopen, a significant number of parents keep their children home, because the playgrounds are not cleared of ice and are quite hazardous for children. As for flood controls, well, recently Perth streets ran with water, as in like a river, because our drain systems aren't designed for heavy rainfall.

So I would advise you to be wary about living above the snowline. What usually happens is that eventually main roads get cleared but side roads are not. So residents can be stranded for days (e.g. Balerno, in Edinburgh, the winter before last, Altnaharra in the Highlands last winter).

I think the quality of maintenance depends on which local council you come under, and where you live in terms of people clearing their paths of snow.

And yes, I used snow chains when necessary, but I admit snow chain users are in the minority. 

Just remember one thing.....there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.


kwmsrm :

My family is considering relocating to Aberdeen, Scotland for my husband's job. He is in the oil industry. We have an 8 year old son and a 4 year old daughter. What is life like as an American family with young children living in Aberdeen, Scotland?

Hi there,

I live in Inverness, 2 hours west from Aberdeen, but I think the basics to coming to these areas of Scotland are quite similar.

I have a 5 year-old daughter and my second princess is on the way, I'm 37 weeks pregnant so we are expecting her any time :)

Both your children are in school age, and that's never a problem. Schools tend to be quite accomodating, at least that's my experience. We just moved back to the city and had to transfer my daughter to a new school in our new area, just a month before the summer break, and they gave her placement at nursery, and enrolled her for Primary 1 after the summer.
Don't know when your girl's bday is, but mine turns 5 in October, so she'll be starting Primary 1, which is a sort of advanced kindergarten that is anexed to Elementary school. They go there full time (generally from 9 to 15). So if she turns 5 sometime before January and you move here, she'll go straight to school. Otherwise, she'll stay in nursery till next school year and I think somebody mentioned, state-funded nursery sessions are only 2,5 hours a day. If you need private day care for longer hours in case you have full time employment, you might be looking at at least £400 per month. At least those are the average prices in Inverness, and Aberdeen tends to be a notch more expensive.

As usual, it depends on your approach to the new enviroment. I came here withouth knowing anybody, and I now have some new friends I really enjoy spending time with. People are friendly, and having children is a plus, because you get to meet mothers at school to socialize with at some point. In the Highlands, people are very friendly, but they don't always show initiative. But if you do, they welcome the gesture.

Wheather wise, it is true, Aberdeen has a reputation for it. My husband's office is in Aberdeenshire, and he commutes quite often, and during fall and winter, they always have worse climate conditions than us here. But then again, Scotland's best feature will never be its climate, wherever in the country you are.
However, if a Southamerican like myself got used to it, managed to surf through the tough winter DRIVING ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD on ice and snow with a chatty viking-latino girl in the back seat, anybody can do it! It's a matter of ajusting. I fully agree with the statement given above, that there are no bad winter, but bad gear.

We lived in North Carolina almost 2 years before, and loved it, especially the warmth of its people. I find Scotland similar to it in that aspect.
Aberdeen, besides, has a lot of activities for children, and a great international community, so it won't be difficult for you to start getting to know people.

May be your case is similar to mine. My husband's the one with the job, and I, for now, am a stay-home mum who has to get life going for the family in the rest of the fields, such as getting the house organized, getting the children out there, find schools, find doctors and all they need.

I hope you find the info useful and don't hesitate to ask should you have any other question.



My wife has been offered a job in Scotland with her company but she has reservations.  She is worried about the house in the states, what to move over to Scotland, pets, school for a 13 year old boy, where to live (Stirling?) and she is worried about me finding a job there.  So many questions.....  We were married there and love it.

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