As the fourth largest city in Scotland, Dundee is an obvious choice for many people looking to settle north of the border. A city steeped in history and culture, Dundee has a lot to offer. Whether you’re looking to move or start a business in the area, are starting a new job or simply searching for a change of scene, it’s very likely that you will find what you’re looking for in Dundee.
Is Dundee a good place to live? Yes, Dundee is an excellent choice for several reasons. It has a good employment rate, diverse and affordable properties for sale and a great deal of history, culture and art to enjoy. Public services are excellent and educational opportunities are very good.
Why choose Dundee? If you’ve found yourself on this page, you probably have a number of questions. Maybe you’re considering a job offer from one of the many firms based in Dundee or are thinking of studying at the city’s university. Which neighbourhoods are the most desirable? What is the school system like? How much does it cost to rent or buy a home? In this article, you’ll learn what makes Dundee special and why you should live there.
Is Dundee a good place to live?
Dundee is one of the greatest cities in Scotland and is very well-loved by Dundonians. Fans of the city will point to its impressive history as a centre of industry for many sectors over the centuries, its fine architecture and impressive cultural character. In 2014, Dundee was in the running to be voted European City of Culture. In 2016, Dundee was voted as offering the best quality of life in the UK. Dundee’s low pollution, moderate cost of living, high purchasing power and high safety index all contribute to its being an excellent place to live.
Many of the supposedly undesirable neighbourhoods are simply home to lower-income families or have higher numbers of immigrant residents, rather than offering any real hazards. The most notorious areas are Craigie and Hilltown, although even there you can find some quieter spots. In general, the more affluent areas lie in the west of the city, while the areas to the north and east tend to be less desirable. The most affluent neighbourhoods include Ninewells, Blackness, Balgay and the West End. Some of the outlying suburbs are highly desirable (and thus rather expensive).
As you’d expect from any big city, there are some neighbourhoods that enjoy a better reputation for low crime rates than others. Although Dundee is a fairly high crime council on paper, much of this consists of minor offences that won’t really impact on the average resident. Overall, Dundee is fairly safe, with no real “no-go” areas.
Dundee’s school system is single-tier, with no selective schools. There are almost 40 state primary schools and eight state secondary schools, with various private schools available in the city too. There are two universities, the University of Dundee and Abertay University. Dundee is noted for its engineering programmes.
Transportation is good, although navigating the city centre’s roads can be a little tricky (Dundee is yet to acquire a park-and-ride service). There are major motorways connecting the city to the rest of the UK. Inside the city, an extensive local bus network makes it easy to get around. Dundee has two main rail stations. As a major port there are of course ferry services to various destinations around the UK coast and overseas.
As you’d expect from a city with a 20,000-strong student population, Dundee’s nightlife is fairly lively. There are numerous pubs and clubs attracting a mixed clientele. Dundee is very proud of its art and culture; there are plenty of theatrical performances, classical concerts and other cultural experiences to enjoy.
Is Dundee a good place to work?
Dundee was once nicknamed “The city of three J’s”: Jute, Jam and Journalism. Today, Dundonians prefer to call Dundee “The City of Discovery”, referring not just to the various historic expeditions that once set out from the port but to Dundee’s transformation into a centre for research and development.
The majority of jobs are in government, education and healthcare, with NHS Tayside, Dundee City Council and the University of Dundee offering the lion’s share of jobs. Other major employers include Tayside Contracts (a local authority contracting organisation), supermarket chain Tesco, TV and publishing company D. C. Thomson & Co, and BT. The tech industry has found a ready home here, along with various service sector employers.
The average salary is fairly low when compared to the national average (around £23,000). This reflects a large number of entry-level and lower-paid jobs in the public sector rather than any lack of highly compensated careers, however. There are plenty of better-paid positions, particularly in the software industry. It’s also worth noting that the modest cost of living offsets any shortfall in wages.
Unemployment in Dundee is still a problem but has decreased in recent years. There has also been a general shift away from part-time and zero-hour contracts and towards full-time employment.
Is Dundee a good place to buy a house?
Property in Dundee is plentiful, reasonably priced and quite attractive. It’s fairly easy to find everything from a comfortable city flat to a large family home. The low property prices in some neighbourhoods and a high number of students in the area has made buy-to-rent an increasingly attractive proposition.
The average asking price for a house in Dundee is around £149,000. Much depends on the location — there’s a very big gap between property in the east of the city and in the more affluent suburbs.
In general, you can find a one-bedroom house for around £114,000, a three-bedroom house for £198,000 or a five-bedroom house for £265,000. Dundee is also a good place to find well-appointed and attractively priced flats and studio apartments.
Rents are similarly reasonable, although not as cheap as some other cities. The high number of students renting property in Dundee tends to drive the price up, although you can still find bargains if you’re prepared to look around. The difference between a single-bed house and larger properties is particularly marked in Dundee, with a big jump between smaller homes and larger ones in terms of price. The average monthly rent in the city is about £670. A single-bedroom house is around £360 pcm. A three-bedroomed house averages £850 and a five-bedroomed house rents for around £1620.
Is Dundee a good place to retire?
Retiring to Dundee is definitely an attractive proposition. The high quality of living and the variety of properties and possible lifestyles that the city offers make it a good choice. One possible option for an active retiree looking for a new career would be to buy up one of the larger properties in the area and let it as a guest house or as student accommodation. For those who want a quieter life or who need more support, there are several appealing retirement villages and communities in and around the city.
Areas that you might not want to settle as a retiree include Craigie and Hilltown, which have higher crime rates than the rest of the city. Retirees might be better off looking at the west of the city and outlying suburbs. If you’re looking for a compromise between a desirable area and lower property prices, the Broughty Ferry neighbourhood has some very nice flats.
Single bedroom retirement properties generally go for under £100,000, with many flats costing less than £50,000.
Larger properties may cost significantly more. As far as dedicated retirement homes go, there are very few larger properties available. Most have one or two bedrooms. Of course, you can always buy a standard property for £198,000 (three bedrooms) or a standard five-bedroom house for around £265,000.
Rents for retirement properties are very similar to rents for standard homes: £360 pcm for a one-bed property and around £500 for a two-bedroomed property. Again, larger retirement properties are almost unheard of. Standard properties rent for £850 for a three-bedroom house or £1620 for a five-bedroom property. Single rooms in retirement homes are much cheaper.
Is Dundee a good place to visit?
Dundee is a great destination for a day trip to tour the city or for a short break. There’s plenty to see and do for all ages, whether you’re looking for cultural experiences or somewhere fun to bring your kids.
Accommodation ranges from comfortable but affordable travel lodges to up-market city centre hotels. You can also find romantic waterfront lodgings and picturesque seaside cottages. Dundee offers world-class eating and drinking as well as art and culture. If you time your visit carefully, you can enjoy one of Dundee’s annual events.
Dundee’s industrial and maritime heritage is celebrated in various museums around the city.
For those interested in art and design, there are a variety of galleries showcasing both classical and modern art, including the V&A Dundee.
There are far too many landmarks to list here but no visit to Dundee would be complete without a stop at Broughty Castle. As well as the castle itself, Broughty Castle Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the city’s history. Other notable landmarks include St. Mary’s Tower (the city’s oldest building) and Cox’s Stack, a tall brick chimney stack left over from Dundee’s history as a producer of jute. The waterfront area has undergone, and is undergoing, significant development and repays a visit. If you’re looking for a traditional seaside walk, you’ll definitely enjoy the Broughty Ferry area.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.