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Old Town vs. New Town

Whilst being in the midst of a student housing crisis, the question of accommodation next year is looming on the horizon. The first thing we all think about is where we want to live. 

Edinburgh’s housing crisis perhaps lends itself to the city not having an obvious student area, and with everyone spread around, it can be hard to decide where to live. This is not helped by the mass Old Town vs New Town divide. With students passionately defending both corners, and rarely swapping sides, it’s perhaps somewhat overwhelming for freshers deciding where to go.

This short guide will weigh up the pros and cons of both, and make the big decisions perhaps a little bit easier.

Old Town

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Marchmont, Marchmont, Marchmont. It is the obvious student area, and just a ten minute walk to George Square. Alongside being so close to uni, it also boasts being near Arthur’s seat. From my days of student halls, I really appreciated having Arthur’s seat a stone’s throw away. The walk along the bottom of Arthur’s boasts two ponds brimming with swans. If ascending up the crags is more your thing, there is a pond at the top that is said to be home to two otters (their most recent sighting being last year).

Arthur’s seat for me is a definite pro, it proves as an escape from the bustle of uni life and feels like you’re in the highlands. Alongside this, Marchmont is home to the Meadows, which, in the warmer months, is a definite novelty. Summer days spent outside with a makeshift barbeque with friends soaking in the sunshine, what’s not to like?

If parks and walks aren’t your thing, Marchmont is also significantly closer to Cowgate, the home of Edinburgh’s nightlife.  This makes for a much easier journey home in the early hours, which isn’t only safer, but also betters the chances of you attending your 9am the next day. (Marchmont is also much closer to uni – did I mention that yet?). You can roll out of bed and be in your lecture within twenty minutes (if you give yourself as little time as I do).

New Town

New town, the home of the Edi “rahs”. Whilst this stereotype is undoubtedly true, (a trip to the Wally Dug will testify to this), there’s no denying that New Town isn’t an idyllic place to live. And whilst people might be put off by the seemingly higher rents, if you look extensively, there are some steals that are cheaper than their Marchmont counterparts.

Although further from George square, New Town is characterised by long Georgian streets, with thriving independent shops and cafes. Perhaps this area might be more fitted to third and fourth year students (with it being somewhat quieter). In saying that, New Town has a thriving pub scene and decent selection of clubs (buttt it’s up to you whether or not you want to succumb to a night at Garis). Inverleith Park, whilst not resembling the Highlands, is a lovely form of escape. It has a swan pond as well as the Botanical Gardens! And at the foot of New Town is Stockbridge, also home to many cafes, if you don’t want to trek to the library day in and day out.

Whilst this guide has given you both sides to the New Town vs Old Town debate, I, by no means, want to give you the impression one is better than the other. They both have their own pros and cons, and hopefully this guide can make your decision making that little bit easier!

Photo Credit: image provided to The Student by Eden Kersse, used with permission.