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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 August 2005, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
I've been priced out of returning home
Neil Bishop
We have invited readers to submit opinion articles to the BBC Scotland news website. Liverpool-based Neil Bishop asked if there was a will to attract people like him - who want to return to their place of birth - back to the country. We asked for your views on the subject.


As a Scot living away from home, the current run of visitscotland adverts in cinemas and on TV has an almost magnetic appeal, showing how much fun and attractive Scotland is.

Every time I see these I consider what my options are and I'm sure that I am not the only one.

Continuing house price rises and the current state of the economy for employers means that I am priced out of returning home.

With this and the very much-noted decline in the population I worry about what is going to happen in the future as Scotland becomes an even more expensive place to live, with jobs that seem to pay less and less.

Is there political will to create the houses that ordinary people, the single, married and small families can afford?

Or are we going to see, as devolution progresses, pressure to pay higher wages, like in London, in Edinburgh and Glasgow?

A look through the job sections on the internet seems to reveal that we all may be doomed to work in the service industry that seems to be gripping the country.

Work prospects

Will Scotland accept the 'New Scots' from abroad needed to increase the population? Where are we all going to live?

Talking to a friend who lives in the Borders area, all I could hear from him was how terrible the work prospects are for him there and he has the worry of a young family to feed, clothe and look after.

So now they are looking to move to the central belt area, somewhere that is so different and so far from where they are now as I am from where I last lived in Scotland.

Linlithgow is one of the nicest towns in Scotland and it has the luck of being fairly central to Edinburgh and Glasgow, so getting to work would not be terrible.

However, a quick look in the estate agents' windows shows just what I feared. The current market for homes being built is big, expensive and exclusive.

The Irish Republic has its Tiger economy that has increased not just the value of property but there seems to have been a wage hike to go with it.

Silicon Glen has not been so fortunate from where I am looking.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and are not endorsed by the BBC.

We asked for your thoughts on Neil Bishop's article. The following represents the balance of opinions we received.

I left Scotland 18 months ago after graduating with an honours degree from the University of Glasgow and a hefty student loan to pay off. The stimulating customer service call centre job I had managed to acquire with my expensive education paid barely enough to cover the basics such as rent, food and high council tax. I wondered how my co-workers with families coped when I was struggling to buy toothpaste! I'd had enough so moved to Japan to teach English where the salary is a lot higher than many graduate trainee positions currently available in Glasgow or Edinburgh. Tokyo is the most expensive city in the world, yet I find my salary here covers the basics and some. Why isn't the Scottish jobs market providing the same opportunities for people who gained their skills and training in Scotland? Despite this I'm happily returning to Scotland next month because I love the place. I miss Glasgow, the people and the banter. What worries me though, and should worry Jack McConnell, is how long will it be until the bad weather, uninspiring jobs market and high prices cause me and other graduates to get itchy feet again.
Kathryn Adamson, Tokyo

As a Scot who now lives and works in France, I now find Scotland a very expensive country. Everything seems so expensive, the prices in shops, restaurants and as for hotels ... I don't know how people on ordinary salaries manage. Considering the size of Scottish houses, particularly modern ones, the prices are ridiculous but that holds true for most places in the UK. It must be very difficult for first-time buyers. However, Scotland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and with so much space, a great place for outdoor activities. It's a pity about the climate, particularly the short days in winter, but in the months of May and September Scotland is at its most beautiful.
Janet O'Brien, Cherrueix

The media goes a long way to paint a dark picture of the Scottish property market. I have moved back into the centre of Edinburgh from West Lothian, and although I certainly could have bought a larger property out of town, there was no shortage of affordable properties in good parts of Edinburgh. I also work in property and see a good range of what is available in the town. The 100 per month I used to spend on train fares, can be spent on the mortgage!
Karen Clark, Edinburgh

I wholly back the comments of William Wallace. I can't abide people who "bailed" in the first place taking their skills gained in our fine country and then "whining" when they can't come back. "For every action there is a reaction".
Steve B, Troon

Born and educated in Scotland, but when the time came to start a career, nothing doing! The wages are a pittance, the accommodation extortionate and the quality of life.....not as rosy as all and sundry make out. Switzerland, great quality of life, great salaries, great accommodation for the price you have to pay, great life!
Max Baker, Geneva, Switzerland

When are the government going to realise, that the reason people emigrate is because of the climate, taxes, and quality of life. I would rather drink a gin and tonic on some sun-drenched veranda than in a rain sodden Glasgow pub
Walter, Inverness

I consider myself to be very fortunate. I work for a company with offices in both Glasgow and London, two places that I love to live in. Monday to Thursday are spent in London and Friday to Monday morning in Glasgow. Easyjet and broadband are making this an easier option for most people who want the best of worlds, as long as you don't mind a 4.40am alarm call after a heavy weekend.
Martin, London and Glasgow

Wouldn't it be nice if we could do citzenship exchanges? I'm an American who is desperate to stay in Scotland, and will fight to do that with all the resources that I have. I have been here three years on a student visa (my husband went back to school so we could have a chance to live here), and when that ends, hope for the chance of many decades more. I find so much opportunity here, so much potential for my own personal happiness. I also hope to have the opportunity to raise children in Scotland's excellent school system and a system of government that far surpasses that of the United States. Struggles with housing and jobs seem to be something that is a global issue, not just Scottish.
Toni Freitas, Edinburgh

I am a Scottish ex-pat living on a Caribbean island. Sounds idyllic? It is - but what you realise after a while is that everywhere comes with its own set of problems. Our cost of living is very high - on an island everything has to be shipped in and that's not cheap to do. After a while you feel like you're living in a goldfish bowl. If a major disaster occurs, it will probably affect the whole island - for example, we had a major hurricane last year. Much of the island's housing and infrastructure was severely damaged (think: two months without electricity in 90+ temperatures!). Much of the year we face the risk of extreme and unpredictable weather (hurricane season runs from June to November).

However, even with the weather my family won't be rushing back to Scotland. We were glad to get away from the problems which are Scotland's scourge - the sectarianism, the violence and the overriding obsession with alcohol consumption. We are now bringing our child up in a place where there is a high level of 'moral consciousness' which is reflected in the way people treat each other. Despite having a huge mix of races, there is little or no racial crime. Alcohol is consumed but it is not the be all and end all as it is in Scotland.

Scotland has so much to offer - beautiful scenery, good housing at a range of prices and a broad spectrum of employment opportunities. One has only to look over at e.g. Ireland's success in reinventing itself to see that Scotland could easily be so much more than what it presently is - ........if it weren't for us Scots.
Elaine, Grand Cayman

I'm from Northern Ireland and I love Scotland and Edinburgh in particular but it's just too expensive to live here. I have friends who live in Wimbledon who pay less council tax than me. I recently got married and want to get a decent-sized house in a good area and be able to send any kids we have to a good school. Unless we move to somewhere like Fife and spend several hours a day commuting that's just not going to happen. My wife and I are keen to move back to Belfast, because we can get a decent house in a good area and spend less than 20 minutes getting into the city centre each morning. I definitely agree with the previous comments about salaries not rising to match the cost of living. We could get the same salaries in Belfast where the cost of living is a lot less.
B, Edinburgh

As a Scot living in the US, I would be back in a heartbeat if it weren't for my American job and my American wife. We just returned from visiting my family and old haunts in the north east and on comparing house prices with those of my sisters living in Oxford, I'd say Scotland is still an attractive location. House prices in Cruden Bay are a third of Oxford and instead of a view of houses, have views across the windswept sand dunes and open North Sea. If that isn't quality of life, I don't know what is.
Daniel Keating, Texas

I agree with Neil. As a British expatriate living in the States and married to an American who loves Scotland, we would love to live in Scotland. We keep seeking ways to enable us to do this. However, the cost of housing and the low salaries deter us. We do not know how people manage to buy homes on the salaries we have seen listed. It is unfortunate because we would move tomorrow if we felt we could.
Penelope Klein, Pennsylvania, USA

I too would love to return home. I moved to Tunbridge Wells just over six months ago..and although the scenery is nice...it is not a patch on the stunning scenery of the area I left - Loch Lomond. I moved south to find work after a long period of unemployment. I detest the long commute to London every day and don't find London a very welcoming city...unlike my experience of Glasgow. I even miss the 'Big Issue' sellers of Buchanan Street! Regardless of house prices or lack of work...I for one will not give up on my dream to return to the land of my birth! And I'm sure that the there are many of us Scots out there who feel this strange pull of home...that won't give up either.
Alannah Stewart, Tunbridge Wells

I was born and raised in Scotland. I went to school and university in Edinburgh but then to secure employment I had to move away. I am amazed at how many other Scots I have met in a similar situation. Scotland offers a quality of life that places like London can only dream about. I still consider myself lucky as I can work from Edinburgh at times, but I also regulary commute to and stay in London. I would love to find a job in Scotland and give back something to Scotland. The reality is that there are just not the appropriate jobs nor financial packages on offer compared to London. I don't believe house prices are a barrier to return - compare Edinburgh prices with most of the South East.
Furhan Majid, Edinbugh & London

Before moving 'down south' I lived in the outskirts of Glasgow for 23 years. Before I graduated, I was always determined to stay in Glasgow. When I graduated, as one of the top graduates of my university, however, I had no choice but to pack up my bags and leave. This was due to the fact that although a limited number of jobs were there, Scottish employers simply did not offer attractive enough salaries or variety for the posts they offered for someone of my market value. Something needs to be done if Scotland wants to keep its best and brightest.
Paul Johnston, South Oxfordshire

I moved back up here last summer,and I love it! I wish I had done it sooner, yes Edinbugh is expensive, however for renting properties it's pretty competitive, I lived in Bristol and I have so many more opportunties up here workwise and contrary to popular belief I am earning a damn sight more than in Bristol. There is no way I could afford to live in my flat in Bristol, what I pay now for a flat people pay for a small, cramped bedsit in Clifton (posher part of the city). Of course its not perfect, just take a look at the roads, etc, however I'm home and I'm staying put.
Jennifer, Edinburgh

I moved back to Glasgow last year from London, and the house prices are not even comparable. I don't believe for a second that the salaries in Liverpool are so much higher than here and the housing cheaper. When people make big life changes such as relocation, they often have to make changes in lifestyle and expectations - sounds like he is isn't prepared to do that!
Jude, Glasgow

I moved down south 11 years ago - job prospects in my chosen field being non-existent north of the border. I would love to move back - I hate city life - but I'd be looking at a 50% pay cut and a job that's just not as good as the one I'm in now. I don't agree with Neil's views on house prices. They still seem much lower than down here (as long as you don't want to live in Glasgow or Edinburgh), but with the cut in wages it would be hard to maintain the quality of life I have now. It's a real shame. I'd love my children to experience the clean air, leisurely pace of life and rugged beauty of the west coast of Scotland.
Lynne, Southampton

I can definitely see where Neil is coming from. I had to move from Glasgow to get myself a job with good pay. I now earn more than double for doing the same job in England. I can't understand where these people get there figures from with regards to the average wage in Scotland as I don't know anyone who earns the supposed average wage.
Ryan Haney, Chippenham England

I cannot comment on other areas but recent information indicates that the population is increasing in the Western Isles. Something which, as I understand it, is a reversal of a long time trend. My partner and I being two such individuals, however we are not Scottish so I am not sure if that counts within the remit of this article? But I can state that my home will be Skye until they put me in a hole in the ground!
R Charlesworth, Isle of Skye

Rubbish, I came back to Scotland after five years working away from home. I'm a lot happier I didn't sell my house when I was away. I would agree with the lower salaries in some fields, though.
Steven , Glasgow

I came back to Scotland having been born here and raised in America. As much as I love this country I find it so hard to immagine myself buying a house here. How can people pay so much for so little I wonder? I guess that's why less and less people are, they are using the exchange rate and EU to their advantage and getting more for their money, which they should. Money is hard to make here no matter how you put it, and it seems like the pound is worth more anywhere else in the world.
Paul, Edinburgh

My thoughts are the same as Neil, but in reverse. I moved to Scotland from England almost three years ago with my job. Since then all I hear about is the Scottish economy and job market is declining and will continue to do so. I may have a good career for now but I have 25 years left to work, what about my six-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter. Will there be anything left for them? Will England still hold all the golden opportunities. I like living in Scotland, pity the weather wasn't better!
Robert, Blackwood

I moved from Glasgow in 2001 for two reasons. There were more and better job opportunities with better salaries than in Glasgow. Also, I got fed up with the constant sectarianism and violence in the area of Glasgow I was from, and the city centre to boot. Life here, south England, isn't perfect but it's far safer to go out at night. Some of the areas of Glasgow I knew were like war zones. Four men my age and younger have been shot in the last year within one mile of my parents' house. It's not so much the economy as the violence that stops me returning.
John, Farnborough

It is sometimes hard to think of returning to where you came from. When I left Livingston around 10 years ago there was not much prospect. People never seemed to travel far and at that time had a shopping centre which you could walk around in four minutes, no cinema, one night club and a dozen pubs. Now when I return to visit, it's thriving. I see this all over central Scotland. However, I feel that I am priced out of the house market with the continuing house price rises and the current state of the economy. M. Luton
Michael, Luton

Sorry Neil, but I disagree with your comment about the Irish Republic and it's so-called Tiger Economy. I left my home country and moved to Scotland. Since being here I can afford a home, car, holidays, etc, a lot more than what I could living in Dublin. Best country in the world "Scotland".
Michael, Glasgow via Dublin

I work as a middle manager for a multinational and moved down with my family from Edinburgh as our activity retrenched from Scotland to the South East. I found moving South is much more of a cost issue. House prices are still 2.5 times more expensive and the cost of living, particularly labour rates for local tradesmen are at least twice that of Scotland; never mind the culture shock of living in part of the country where it is "every man for himself". My wife and family lasted 8 months before returning. I too would love to return but the number of similarly challenging roles available in Scotland appears very limited outside of the financial sectors. Am I wrong?
John, Outer London

I moved back to Scotland after 20 years in London to care for my father, who is now in a nursing home. I have been struggling to find work since December 2003 and am living on savings as the period I spent as a carer means I cannot claim Jobseekers' Allowance. I have found that whilst my level of qualification is highly desirable for the Senior Administration market in London, I am very over-qualified for the standard of employment on offer up here.

I have also been insulted and harangued by employment agencies and interviewers because of the period of time I lived and worked in London - one interviewer lost it and asked me who did I think I was and did I think that I could just come back here from London and take over! The same thing happened to my sister when she returned here, we both felt we were viewed as some sort of threat on account of having had very diverse experience in London.She has ended up going to Saudi Arabia as, like me, she could not find a job.

I don't want to return to London as aside of having no job I am happier living here, but I may have no option. I am not asking much, just enough salary to pay the bills and allow one or two extras. In my opinion, Scotland is far too reliant on the pubilc sector for employment and there are too many non-jobs advertised. A recruiter recently told my husband that over 30% of jobs advertised in Scotland have already been filled, makes it feel that you are wasting your time applying, especially as employers are rude enough not to bother acknowledging you in any way.
Linda, Kirkcaldy

I too would love to move back to Scotland, but as an academic it's very difficult. The more specialist the job, the fewer positions exist, and how often is it that one of the 10 (or so) jobs in the whole of Scotland in that field becomes available? The brain drain continues. As far as house prices are concerned, though, I can't agree with the article - one of the reasons I want to move back north is that I could afford property here whereas I can't in England.
Mary, Glasgow

If Neil thinks it's so great in Liverpool, let him try London - one hour 15 minutes to travel nine miles, feral youths marauding the streets looking to nick your laptop and... house prices? 400,000 for a two-bed flat in a decent area. That'll get you a five-bed house 10 miles from Edinburgh. Do wake up, Neil!
William Wallace, Edinburgh

I miss Scotland and return regularly throughout the year. My family and I would love to live on Skye as it is the most amazing place I have ever visited and quality of life for our daughter would be amazing. The main block is the lack of career opportunities in our relative professions which will give us the lifestyle we require.

Also, the price of property has increased dramatically recently so makes it more important to work in the sort of salary band we are in at the moment so we don't compromise on quality of lifestyle. I miss Scotland terribly and would love to return, but a lot has to be overcome before we can make the move home. It won't stop us trying though!!
Richard Mackay, England

To be honest, I never had any of these problems. I moved to Glasgow in 2000 due to a lack of employment in my home town. I found a job in Glasgow within a fornight - and it was in IT, my chosen career path. I also bought my first home here without any pricing problems at all. Ans all this at age 18. I think the real problem is that people just expect too much and are ultimatley dissapointed. Maybe i was just lucky ?
Chris, Glasgow

I have to say I agree with Trish Sutherland and Duncan Thorp. I moved back to Scotland from a fairly average part of the South East of England three years ago. I traded my one-bedroom garden flat for a three-bedroom semi-detached house with en-suite bathroom and large garden in a bright, attractive modern area with excellent links to the central belt.

I sold my flat down south and bought my house at exactly the same price. It did take me about two months to find a job when I arrived back as I had problems doing so from England, and found my applications were better received with a Scottish contact address. I have moved jobs once and am just bashing the CV back into shape as I certainly feel there is a bubble in the (IT) jobs market right here, right now. The housing market is stable and affordable. Quit whinging Neil and Haste ye back!
Val, Dunfermline

I moved back to Scotland last summer and it took me three months to get a temporary contract. When that ended I got another temporary contract. While it is interesting to try new jobs it is frustrating to have to apply for 15+ jobs every six months in the hope of getting one. I lived in Leeds for four years and got interviews for every job I applied for. The job market up here and particularly in Edinburgh where I want to stay seems very tough.
Christin Lang, Edinburgh

I work in the civil service. The cost of living in Edinburgh is rising fast. It sounds great that my house is worth four times what I paid for it 10 years ago, but I can't afford to move up the property ladder unless I move out of town. This is because despite the large profit, my salary has not grown to the same extent meaning I can't mortgage for much more than I have now. Add this together and I'd be lucky if I could afford to buy the house I am currently in let alone a larger one! So if I move out of town, not only am I relocating children settled in schools, I am adding travelling time to an already stretched day and if Edinburgh Council have their way, my travelling costs would be huge - not to mention the environmental impact. Scotland may have a lot to offer, but we seem to be offering it to the wrong people. Even mobile phone companies seem to have realised you look after your existing customers first!
Pam, Edinburgh

I am a Glaswegian who works in London and have done for the past six years. I often look at the jobs pages of my professional newsletters, etc, to check for positions in Glasgow or Edinburgh when I feel a bit homesick and look in dismay at the low salary and few interesting equivalent positions in Scotland. Even given the supposed lower cost of living and attractions of mountain scenery, the salary drop would simply not be worth moving for. Especially considering exhorbitant council tax and recent rampant house price inflation in Scotland (and I speak as a home owner in central London!).

Interestingly, for those of you who argue that Scotland is cheaper, I noticed that a glass of wine is the same price in All Bar One on St Vincent Street, Glasgow as it is at All Bar One on Threadneedle Street, London - but you'd have over a third less salary to pay for it if you worked in my job in Scotland. Ditto with most things in the supermarkets. I'll stay put thanks
GG, London

After returning from living in California two months ago, I am already plotting my escape again. Above all else what has struck me is how anti-immigrant this country has become. The levels of racial hatred I have heard being openly expressed towards foriegners has left me staggered. As an immigrant myself in the US, I experience nothing but goodwill and encouragement. Given the views and the frequency with which they are expressed by so many of my countrymen and women, I would never recomend that anyone move to Scotland.
Alan Kelly, Glasgow

Having lived in the Midlands for a couple of years I wouldn't mind moving back to Scotland. There are opportunities if you look for them but nowhere near the number of jobs that are available in England. The one thing I don't miss are the cold, dark never-ending winters!
Al, Midlands

I think Neil has a point about house prices which in some places are outwith the affordability of first time buyers - but is that not the case in much of the UK, including Liverpool? It just sounds like he doesn't want to come 'home' - home is where the heart is and perhaps his is in Liverpool - nothing wrong with that.

Why does he need to live in Linlithgow, there must be more affordable alternatives in the general area. I moved back to Scotland with my then toddler son almost 20 years ago and have never regretted a minute.
Eva McDiarmid, Glasgow

You need to come up here and smell the roses! I returned home to Scotland after living down aouth. There are plenty of houses at affordable prices. This sounds like the kind of moan you get from people who would love a hip flat/house in a hip place but don't have the money for it. You'll just have to be like most of the population and live in a normal neighbourhood and visit the hip places when you want to go out.

I can't afford a house in the middle of good towns like Linlithgow either but it's hardly a hike to visit there for a night out. There are still many beautiful places in Scotland within an hour of the central belt with very affordable house prices like West Lothian and Stirling. Transport is generally good and although the economy is treading water a little I hold more hope about Scotland than some other parts of the UK. I can't see me ever wanting to live anywhere else in the UK again!
Bill H, Edinburgh

I moved from Glasgow to near London following redundancy in 2000. At that time, and in my line of work, there simply weren't the opportunities that there are "down south". In fact there were hardly any jobs suitable for me in the central belt. That still seems to be the case. Six months ago I looked for work back in Scotland, and again my search was fairly fruitless. Yes, there are jobs, but right now my priority is my career and the better opportunities are where I am now.
G, Bedfordshire

Perth is packed full of English people (like me) who have all moved up here and love it!
Gavin, Perth

I think this article is merely expressing underlying guilt about not living in Scotland any more. House prices may be fairly high but they are hardly like London or other similar cities. If you want to live and work in Scotland there are plenty of varied opportunities. I don't think that Neil Bishop wants to "come home" at all, house prices are just an excuse.
Duncan Thorp, Edinburgh

I can understand Neil's comments. Looking at local house prices, the 'locals' are being priced out by people buying second/holiday homes. These houses lie empty 90% of the year. With local housing such a scarce resource, some sort of punitive legislation is urgently needed to discourage this waste of resources.
Tom, Isle of Skye

I fully agree with the topic of being priced out. A look in the estate agents and then the recruitment window shows the ever-widening gap between house prices and income. I now cannot afford to buy the house I live in after just over 18 months in it! Little wonder we have 30-somethings still living at home! Put house price rises into inflation forecasting and see where we are. I'll bet it doesn't paint a rosy picture for our politicians.
Steve, Inverurie

I moved here from New Zealand and I wouldn't live anywhere else. The Scottish economy is stable, I can afford to own a home here which I never could before, no-one here treats me worse for being a single parent, the countryside is open and clean and stunning. I think Scotland's a fantastic, positive, vibrant, cool place to live. I feel sorry for Neil Bishop.
Rebecca, Glasgow

Dearie me, what a typical dour Scot. I'm sure we're happy to replace selfish people like that with hard working immigrants. It's a shame he thinks he has to live in a big house in the Borders. West Lothian is a great place and there's plenty of work. I don't see the attraction of Liverpool at all.
Craig, Edinburgh

This is rubbish Neil. I moved to Scotland nine months ago. My partner is Scottish and I decided to move here rather than him move to me, because my job prospects were good and the housing is far cheaper than where I was living in East Anglia. We've just bought our first house - 60,000, a three-bed. I work in Edinburgh, he works in Glasgow, we live in the middle. And, oh yes, my job pays more than the one I left in England.
Trish Sutherland, Lanark

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