• Eddie & Megan

Actual Expenses for a Month in Scotland

Updated: Jan 13

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Month three of our year adventuring through Europe was spent in Glasgow, Scotland and included a day trip to the Highlands and an overnight trip to Edinburgh.


Note: If you're interested in some of our other destinations, check them out at the links below:

We were in Scotland from 15 Sept 2019 through 16 Oct 2019.


Our previous destination had been Austria where they use the euro, but in Scotland of course they use pound sterling.


Currently, $1 USD gets you 0.91 euro but only 0.78 pound sterling so we had a ~13% headwind from the outset.

The numbers never lie though so let’s see how we actually did….


Teaser: we came in under budget by 14%!!!!!


In order from highest spending to lowest...


Food & Dining


After spending a month in Vienna and getting used to it being a cash dominant city, we were back to normal with every business in Scotland accepting credit cards. (Again, we use them for budgeting and rewards purposes...we don’t ever pay interest!)


Our largest food and dining transaction was at WEST On the Green, which is a brewery and restaurant near Glasgow Green. We spent $86.62 USD for dinner for two and a brewery tour. Not bad for a fun night out.



We did most of our grocery shopping at Sainsbury (the largest local grocery chain) and Tesco (a convenience shop / small food market). Between the two, we visited 21 times in 30 days! I guess we’re really starting to get the hang of small, frequent grocery trips.


Our monthly budget: $2,000 USD

Actual spending: $2,181 USD


Housing


At Home

Our tenants paid rent on time for the third straight month, making us think this landlord thing has been waaaaaaay too easy thus far (*knock on wood*). This month we also owed quarterly homeowner’s association dues. And finally, there were three weeks out of the four in which our lawn needed to be mowed (hello, fall) so we paid our landscaping company for that. After paying our mortgage, we had a surplus of $100 USD from our home in the states.


Abroad

We stayed in another Airbnb during our stay in Glasgow (are you noticing a theme yet?). It was a 1 bedroom / 1 bath apartment on the 6th floor right in the city center. We paid ~$65 USD per night which reflected the 25% discount the host was offering for long-term stays.


Overall, the apartment we chose turned out to be nothing special. It was clean, plenty comfortable, and had most of what we needed in terms of kitchen supplies, etc. but it felt more like a hotel room with a kitchen. It did come in just under budget, though, so it scored points in that regard.


Our monthly budget: $2,000 USD

Actual spending: $1,872 USD


Travel


Our flight options from Vienna to Glasgow were limited so we opted to fly into Edinburgh (after a layover in Brussels) and then take a ~1 hour bus ride to downtown Glasgow. Our flights for two cost $245 USD.


Since Edinburgh is so close to Glasgow and we had Megan’s mom visiting for one week, we took an overnight trip back to Edinburgh to see some of the sights. We rented another Airbnb for the night and bought round trip train tickets. It honestly couldn’t have been easier.


Another excursion we went on was a bus day tour of the Highlands. In order to maximize the amount we would get to see in one day, we booked a tour where 9 of the 11 hours would be spent on the bus with a few short breaks for lunch, refreshments, and restroom breaks along the way. That may sound like a long time on a bus (and it was) but we felt like it was worth it to drive practically the entire north-south distance of the entire country! The tickets set us back $60 USD per person.


Our monthly budget: $900 USD

Actual spending: $680 USD


Shopping and Gifts


Shopping purchases this month included a pair of new shoes each, earrings for Megan, a couple of random thank you gifts for Megan’s brother who has been helping out with some house stuff, a contribution towards a family member’s baby shower, and some stamps and envelopes to write letters to our nephews.



We really overspent in this category this month but we did it willingly. Going over budget in a category every so often isn’t a huge problem as long as...


1) you’re both on the same page

2) you were fully aware of how much you had already spent up to that point

3) you don’t make it a habit


Our monthly budget: $350 USD

Actual Spending: $554 USD


Health & Fitness


There’s nothing super exciting to talk about here. Just our monthly healthcare premium through Cigna Global. It may sound expensive, but it gives us peace of mind so we decided it was worth it.


We’d really like to get back into the habit of working out whether that be yoga, running, lifting, or tennis. It’s a goal we’ve set for the coming month.


Our monthly budget: $503

Actual spending: $413


Entertainment


This month we went to a Scotland national team football match against San Marino. Two good seats cost us $80 USD.


We also bought tickets to see Edinburgh Castle on our overnight trip there (cost: $20 USD per person).


Many locals in Glasgow had recommended King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut (funny name, isn't it?) as a great music venue so we scouted the lineup and selected a performance by Ingrid Andress. At only $14 per ticket, it was a great deal! And the venue nor the artist disappointed. We had a great time!



Throw in a couple of movies at the theatre on rainy days (hello, Scotland) and that rounds out our entertainment for the month. We did several more things than in a typical month but still stayed under budget!


Our monthly budget: $300 USD

Actual Spending: $267 USD


The above 5 categories make up almost 80% of our spending in month 3.


We also spent relatively little in the following categories (highest spending to lowest):

  • Education - student loan payment

  • Auto & Transport - public transportation

  • Pets - expenses for our dog, Miles, who is staying with family at home

  • Fun Money - because, of course

  • Moving Expenses - cost of our storage unit

  • Bills & Utilities - personal property insurance and monthly cell service

  • WeBeTrippin - gotta keep the lights on

  • Personal Care - grooming and other body products we occasionally need to restock


A Final Note About Cost of Living


We know that we have a unique situation and have additional expenses that a lot of people might not have.


Not paying for a storage unit back in the states?

Don’t have tuition or student loan payments?

No pet back home you’re still financially responsible for?


Have no fear! Below is what we consider to be our “cost of living in Glasgow, Scotland” which only includes the following categories:

  • Accommodations - you need a roof over your head

  • Food/Dining - you’re gonna have to eat (out or cook at home)

  • Entertainment - if you live (or travel) somewhere, you will do entertaining things

  • Transportation - gotta get around

  • Personal Care - you know...for good hygiene and stuff

Our monthly budget for these categories: $4,750 USD

Our actual spending for these categories: $4,588 USD


Conclusion


Here’s a summary of our year abroad thus far:

Year to date we are under budget by 5% which we consider to be a huge success! We were right to budget conservatively (i.e. we aimed high) and are finding ways to save where we can but also splurge when we agree we should. It’s all about balance.


Budget vs Actual - Month 3


Budget vs. Actual - Year to date



Next month we’ll review the cost of living in Zagreb, Croatia so stay tuned!


Cheers!


Eddie & Megan


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