Blairmore, Scotland Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Blairmore, Scotland

Blairmore, Scotland 01/07/07

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Yes and it's permanent.

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2. How long have you lived here?

6 years.

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3. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

About 8 hours to Chicago from Glasgow nonstop. Otherwise transfer through London or Amsterdam.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Married to a Scot.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Detached. 25 minutes from nearest town.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Compared to the U.S., it's a bit higher overall. Fruits, vegetables, and milk are cheaper though.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Fold out screens for the windows.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

No fast food. You have to go across the water via ferry to the larger towns for that. Fine with me. Hate fast food. Plenty of good food in cafes and pubs.

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Daily Life:

1. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

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2. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

No problems.

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3. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Of course. Most.

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4. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Of course, this is, after all, where English originated! Sky TV for us is about £50/month plus £120 for a TV license.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You need to pay attention to slang or lowlands Scots phrases and words so you can understand what people are saying to you.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

A few. Not all sidewalks or buildings are ramped.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Left.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Very.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

I wouldn't bring an American car as it's too difficult to use a left hand drive car. Also they aren't fuel efficient enough.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Broadband is now just about everywhere. About £25/month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

For rural areas use Vodafone or Orange.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

We have BT and phone via the internet for free, or by our landline for about 1p per minute. I prefer using the webcam.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Good.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes, if you're willing to commute to Glasgow.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Depends.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Excellent.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

None.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Not too bad, but the larger hospitals are quite a distance and across the water. Everyone is entitled to care, but could do more on prevention.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It generally stays between 40-75F, although it can feel bitter cold with the winter wind. Yes, lots of rain, but often for a short time.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Not huge, but quite a few ex-navy still here from when the US navy base was here.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Pubs, music, sometimes plays. But great entertainment requires going into Glasgow - about 1.5 hours away.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes for all.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

As far as I know, yes.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

None.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Hike, bicycle, canoe/kayak, go to ceilidhs, local pubs for dinner, lots of ancient sites to see, gorgeous scenery.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Dunoon ceramics, kilts, bagpipes.

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9. Can you save money?

That depends.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

You bet!!

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Tank tops, shorts, sunscreen....OK, you do need them sometimes.

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3. But don't forget your:

Raincoat.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

A few of the movies filmed in Argyll: Highlander; Restless Natives; My Life So Far; The Crow Road; Complicity [Region 2]; I Know Where I'm Going

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7. Do you have any other comments?

It's a gorgeous country with friendly people, a history you can see, lots of character, a great language, and the accents are pretty cool as well!

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