It will come as no surprise that schools are often a deciding factor for families in search of their next home. What makes Edinburgh so unusual is that alongside a number of exceptional state schools, the city also gives us several independent primaries and secondaries.  While around 4%* of children in Scotland attend an independent school, that figure rises to around 30% in Edinburgh.

There is always a strong demand for properties in the catchment area of good schools. Properties in those areas often sell at a premium, and some families find they have to compromise on the type of house they would like in order to move into the area. Those going down the independent route have more freedom to look outwith the school’s immediate area, although it’s worth investigating travel times and school bus routes to make that morning scramble as easy as possible.

School catchments

Highly desirable primaries include Bonaly, Wardie, Blackhall, Towerbank, James Gillespie’s and South Morningside whilst the top performing secondary schools include Boroughmuir, James Gillespie’s and St Thomas of Aquin’s RC. Therefore expect to see strong competition in Morningside, Marchmont, Trinity, Blackhall, the Grange, Portobello and Colinton.

If you’re unsure what streets are in and out of catchment, you can now search by school catchment area on

For couples thinking of starting a family, or for those with a baby in a box room nursery looking for more space, the jump from tenement to family home with garden can be the hardest. It can mean a big hike in price to stay in the same area, or a rethink on neighbourhoods to get the space you really want. It’s best to draw up a list of what you each want and decide what the priorities are. 

Here are some of the other features that are popular with families looking for a home in Edinburgh: 

Ground floor main door access

Ground floor main door access becomes important when you’re wrangling a buggy. Somewhere to store the buggy is useful too, whether it’s a wide hall, a garage or a cellar close to the front door. If you have a large pram, take it along to a viewing and check you can turn it easily in the hall. 

Remember, main door tenement flats are generally smaller than those above as some space is lost to the communal stair passageway. However, don’t expect the price to be any smaller, you will pay more for a main door flat, particularly if it has direct garden access. 

Off street parking

Whether you’re loaded with the family shop, need space with the car door open to get a baby seat out, or are simply trying to corral toddlers safely to the front door, the advantages of having a driveway come into their own when you have a young family. The options are obviously numerous outside the city centre, but if your heart is set on staying in the heart of Edinburgh it’s worth considering properties with front gardens. There may be the option to create a driveway (subject to Highway Consent).

Garden space 

An enclosed garden is the most desirable with no direct access onto the main road. In the New Town it’s likely you’re looking at basement flats. Again, you will pay a premium for direct access to outside space. If you find a main door with shared garden space there may be an option to add patio doors from the kitchen to make getting into the garden easier.

One last thing to remember, moving gets harder the more people and possessions there are in your household. If you have a baby or a young family it’s worth factoring in your future needs as well as those you have now. A little bit of homework on school catchments now can allow you to put down roots you won’t need to lift for a considerable period of time.


Further information:

School league table information 

Independent schools


Posted by
Louisa Raistrick

Associate Director, Property Sales

0131 525 8610

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