Walking as a form of transportation around Aberdeen is very acceptable and encouraged! Many families use their legs to get around as their primary mode of transportation. While you may be sore the first few days from all the walking, your body will quickly adjust and you might even start to enjoy it.
Another car-free option is cycling. Several students use this mode of transportation. The University offers some cycle racks for locking your bike while on campus (though make sure it is locked appropriately to deter theft). An excellent resource on cycling in Aberdeen can be found here. Also make sure you know the cycling rules for the UK to ensure safety while on the road (you are not allowed to cycle on the sidewalks [pavements, as they are called here]).
Buying a Car
Before buying a car, you might want to see this website to understand what is involved in owning a car in Scotland.
MOT– This is the equivalent to the yearly inspection on a car in the US. It involves taking your car to a local garage where they perform the necessary tests. They tell you what needs to be done for your car to be road worthy. Go here to learn more. The cost is around £55 for a car. However, many students have found this to be a strict test that often requires them to make expensive repairs.
Road tax – This is charged annually or biannually (depending on your preference, though it is slightly cheaper to pay annually) to have your car on the road. Small discs on the lower left side of the dashboard display that the road tax and its expiration. Read more here. Tax amounts vary according to type of vehicle, engine size ,and type of fuel used.
Insurance (Motor Insurance) – This explains about insurance for your car. The terms are slightly different than in the US, so when you begin calling insurance companies to get quotes, if you don’t understand the terms they are using, don’t hesitate to ask for them to be explained. For example, “Third Party” is equivalent to “Liability” in the US and is required when insuring your car. Third Party insurance is not always cheaper than Third Party, Fire & Theft (even though the latter offers more). Be sure to get quotes in each category. If both husband and wife will be driving, get quotes for both as the primary holder of the insurance since this will also change the prices and the results may not be what you expect. You can either get insurance through a UK company or a US company, such as Geico, which cover US citizens overseas. Get quotes from both types of companies as prices will vary since they have different parameters for their premiums. Many UK insurance companies have a “no claim discount/bonus” (a reduction in your premium for not making claims with your previous insurance companies). When giving you a quote, they will ask how many years you have been claim free (usually 1-5, sometimes up to 9 years). If you have had a claim free, or low-claim past, it is advisable to present a letter from your previous auto insurance provider verifying your clean record.
Where to Look
Newmachar Motors – The owner, Brian Foreman, has helped numerous students purchase a car. He is knowledgeable, honest, and fair. He has a lot with around 100 used cars, so be sure to call and ask if you want something you do not see specifically listed on the website.
This is Aberdeen – Local newspaper on-line.
Renting a Car
Enterprise Rent-a-Car offers good weekend deals as well as free collection from your home and occasional complimentary upgrades. Remember to request an automatic if you are not comfortable driving a manual. Otherwise, the car will normally be a manual.
Buses are a great way to get around the city if you don’t have a car. They are clean, safe, and for the most part quite reliable (weekends, evenings, and holidays can be hit or miss). First buses do not give change. The local Stagecoach buses will.
First – This is the main bus line within the city of Aberdeen. Click on links for routes and schedules. Bus journeys are charged per stage (1-2, 3-5 and 6+). Purchasing a Day Pass enables you to hop on and off all buses all day for no additional charge. They also offer family day passes.
Stagecoach – Great rates for trips into communities surrounding Aberdeen, including several castle and tourist sites.
National Express – UK’s largest coach network.
Megabus – Inexpensive inter-city travel. They only accept UK credit/debit cards to make online reservations.
Train travel is an excellent way to see the beauty of Scotland. They are clean and punctual. It is by far the fastest way to travel and offers spectacular views of the countryside.
First Scot Rail – Prices typically are cheapest 2-4 weeks prior to your journey, so don’t wait until the last minute. Tickets can be purchased online as well as at the train station even the morning of your trip. Plan to be at the station at least 15 minutes prior to departure.
It’s wise to purchase a student railcard if you plan to do quite a bit of traveling. You pay £28 a year. To be eligible you must be between 16-25 or over the age of 26 and a full-time student.
Rainbow Cab – 01224 725500
Dons Cabs – 01224 828828
Comcab – 01224 353535
City Taxis – 01224 49494