My Love-Hate Relationship with Edinburgh

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This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a looong time – but I’ve kept postponing it because I guess it’s been a difficult one to write and share. On the other hand it seems quite natural to do it now when we’ve left Edinburgh and it’s somehow easier to look back on my 5 years there. Yes, if you’ve missed it; we have moved to Finland! Read more about our decision to do so HERE.

On my blog and Instagram I’ve pretty much always shared positive things about Edinburgh – which is not difficult considering what a stunning city it is. But, there have been times during my time there when I’ve resented the city and it has felt like a prison. I’m sure many people living in foreign countries can relate, and know how tough it can be. So let me start from the beginning, from when we first moved to Edinburgh…

Matthew and I left the vibrant London town behind us and moved to Edinburgh back in May 2013. We both loved the city, but wanted to move in together and get a nice place for ourselves without paying the jaw-dropping rents in London. So we decided to move up north and stay with Matthew’s parents until we found our own house. It was all exciting – both moving to a new city (and country) as well as moving in with a boyfriend for the first time.

The move also inspired me to finally start my own blog (this blog!) and I started documenting my life in the “Athens of the North” online. We explored Edinburgh together and tried to find the perfect pad whilst being comfortable at Matthew’s mum and dad’s place. Matthew soon found a job, which was a huge relief. Shortly after I also landed a job at a new web agency and not much later we came across a main door flat on Gumtree we really liked the look of – only a 5-minute walk from my new job as well! We got the flat and couldn’t believe how much space we got for our money. Everything was going well and we both started our jobs and enjoyed coming home to our own house in the evening. I didn’t know anybody in Edinburgh, but hoped I would get some friends of my own when I started my job. Matthew obviously had lots of friends, Edinburgh being the city he grew up in, and we often saw them in the weekends.


However, my office was tiny and there were only guys – and although they were nice it was pretty clear from the beginning they weren’t going to become my new friends. Not having my own social network made me rely on Matthew and I think it put a lot of unnecessary pressure on our relationship. He was my everything, but he, on the other hand, had his own life with his family and friends.

As I mentioned, our flat was in a residential area only a short walk from my job in Edinburgh’s Southside – and although at first I thought it was great I soon found myself existing in a little bubble between our home and my office during the week. Even my gym was inside this bubble and I felt like I wasn’t getting the most out of the city. And I didn’t have any friends to meet up with in the evenings or the weekends either, so I was always with Matthew.

I felt alone and I think I lost myself a little bit. I felt ashamed to not have made any new friends and my self esteem took a beating – and the longer I went without meeting new friends the bigger the threshold to go out and meet people became. We did go out with Matthew’s friends and I did meet people, but no one I would’ve hit it off with properly.

I became increasingly unhappy and I took it out on Matthew, which obviously caused a lot of arguments and stress. It wasn’t a happy time in my life even though it should’ve been just that considering the circumstances. It was a turbulent period looking back now, and I don’t think I even realised how miserable I was at the time. And how much it affected our relationship. Had our bond not been so strong I honestly think the situation could’ve escalated to a break-up.

I wasn’t happy, which made me want to leave Edinburgh and miss my friends and family even more. The city started to feel like a prison and I didn’t enjoy living there. This caused more arguments between Matthew and I. I almost feel like I blamed Edinburgh for, and associated Edinburgh with, feeling miserable – and I wonder now how I would feel about the city had this first year or so been less of a struggle.

But the title of my post says LOVE-hate relationship and so my five years here have also taught me to love this incredibly beautiful city. I’ve always been amazed by how gorgeous Edinburgh is – one of the prettiest cities I’ve ever seen. And the character, the atmosphere and the history is so unique.

I think the turning point came when I got pregnant, and then things got even better when we moved to the lovely and bustling Stockbridge area and I left my job to go on maternity leave. Slowly I started making friends and feeling like I was a part of the city. There was less pressure on our relationship and I felt a lot happier.

When Lana was a year and two months I got a part time job at the lovely Dickins Edinburgh – and this turned out to be another turning point for the better. Being back at work helped me find myself again and made me feel more confident. My job was creative and flexible and opened my eyes to all that Edinburgh had to offer. I also gained some new friends and met some great people through my job – and I felt valued.

My desire to leave Edinburgh faded and I barely thought about moving for a while – but it was always at the back of my mind and whenever I flew back home I felt sad when coming back. This feeling stayed with me for a couple of weeks each time and Matthew didn’t have it easy during these periods…So when he announced that he was ready to move I obviously didn’t hesitate. Still can’t believe it’s happening!

I’ve never been able to claim ownership of Edinburgh, to call it “my city” in the way I’ve always been able to claim Helsinki as mine. Do you know what I mean or do I sound crazy? But Edinburgh is the city I became a mother in, where I got married and where I bought my first home. Edinburgh will always have a very special place in my heart – but it’ll never be mine.

The following quote is so true, and I think most people who have visited Edinburgh would agree with me!

There’s no leaving Edinburgh, no shifting it around: it stays with you, always.

Alan Bold