Edinburgh's fine homes and fringe benefits

Edinburgh's famous arts festival opened this week, but visitors should also check out the fine homes and cultural lifestyle that give the city its year-round appeal
Street artists perform on the Royal Mile during the city's festival
© Getty
Street artists perform on the Royal Mile during the city's festival
Edinburgh's annual summer party began in early August, and Scotland's elegant capital is once again enjoying three weeks of opera, theatre and jazz, along with the world's largest arts festival - the Edinburgh Fringe.

Culture might dominate in August but year-round Edinburgh is a sharp-suited professional city, home to a financial services industry which once helped propel property prices sky high.

'The quality of life in Edinburgh, along with the choice of job offers, still ranks among Britain's best'



"Edinburgh property increased by 17 per cent each year from 2001 to 2003 and by 10 per cent for the next four years," says Matthew Munro of Knight Frank. "Demand was driven mainly by the growth of RBS and HBOS and by families relocating to Scotland who wanted quality properties."

Those days are long gone. Prices have taken a hit, especially in the new-build sector along the Leith Waterfront where construction got out of control and where a glut of unsold property remains. Prices lag up to 40 per cent below their 2007 peak.

'Edinburgh is home to the highest number of British property millionaires outside of London and the South-East'



Yet the quality of life that enticed families, along with choice job offers, still rank among Britain's best. Excellent schools, easy access to exceptional countryside and historic architecture make Edinburgh vibrant.

Houses and flats for sale in Edinburgh
Houses and flats to rent in Edinburgh

A YouGov poll last year voted it the most desirable UK city to live in, while research last month from Santander showed Edinburgh is home to the highest number of British property millionaires outside of London and the South-East.

Where to house hunt


Munro's top tip for value is to buy as close to the city centre as your budget allows. "Edinburgh property hasn't seen anything like the recovery of the London market but the value of the best houses under £1 million has increased by an average of three per cent this year," says Munro. "There's real value to be found from £300,000 for traditional city centre property." That means characterful Georgian and Victorian homes.

In the Georgian New Town, Knight Frank has a two-bedroom lower-ground floor apartment with a small south-facing garden for offers over £245,000. It is owned as a buy-to-let by a Londoner and has rented well thanks to its central location. Nearby a two-bedroom flat on two floors in Heriot Row is the same price, though low basement ceilings may deter statuesque buyers.

Most city-centre property features well-proportioned rooms and high ceilings. A light-filled, four-bedroom apartment over the top two floors of a substantial Victorian house in sweeping Belgrave Crescent has views over the Castle one way and the Firth of Forth the other.

This property, in the quiet West End, is priced at offers over £745,000 through Knight Frank. It is opposite seven acres of perfectly kept private gardens available to residents for £200 a year.

Village feel


Strutt & Parker has a two-bedroom, top-floor apartment in popular India Street for offers over £395,000 and a four-bedroom West End apartment for £350,000, both properties with a strong rental history.

"Prices are flatlining but there are deals to be done," says the agent's Blair Stewart, who tips New Town apartments between £350,000 and £700,000 for value. "These appeal to parents looking for accommodation for university students and to city professionals, and rent extremely well."

Stockbridge on the edge of New Town and the West End has a village feel with boutique shops and plenty of cafés. After 24 years in London, artist Claire Kavadas moved here five years ago, renovating a listed four-storey house.

"Stockbridge has a similar feel to South Kensington," says Claire. "It's an easy stroll into the centre yet far enough to feel residential. In 30 minutes I can be in countryside, but I am surrounded by museums and art galleries."

With a new project beckoning in Italy, Claire is downsizing and selling her five-bedroom house for offers over £1,195,000 through Knight Frank.

Houses and flats for sale in Edinburgh
Houses and flats to rent in Edinburgh

Contacts


* Knight Frank: 0131 222 9600
* Strutt & Parker: 0131 226 2500
* Edinburgh Festivals: visit edinburgh festivals.co.uk.

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