Gosh, it’s been a while since I had been anywhere new where I could look around and sigh and ask myself, “Could I live here?” I suppose it was fitting that Glasgow was my first new city in more than a year, since my wife(!) and I briefly considered moving there at some point at the height of the pandemic. Those tenement apartments with bay windows are super attractive, but thank God we didn’t make that mistake. Because Glasgow kind of sucks.
Glasgow is always billed as Edinburgh’s cooler more livable brother. And maybe that’s the perception of people in their 20s, who don’t mind being in the kind of place that wakes up on a Sunday morning covered in beer bottles. There are several areas of town that are buzzing with shops and pubs, but the vibe is always kind of frantic. Like it’s too packed and people are a little too desperate to be out. It’s like London on crack (literally, because Glasgow has a massive drug problem).
We brunched and happy hour-ed at some of the city’s prime neighborhoods like the West End and the Southside. And while there are a few blocks of nice bookshops and secondhand stores in Strathbungo that are kind of cute, the pockets of great neighborhoods are surrounded by semi-desolate wastelands so you can only comfortably reach them by bus even though it’s walkable.
The people of Glasgow are almost the only redeeming thing about the city. Like all people in Scotland (except for one hilariously out-of-place cunt in Fort William), everyone in Glasgow is an absolute joy. Coming from the US, where everyone is friendly but not kind, and living in the Czech Republic where everyone is kind but not friendly, Glasgow and Scotland at large are amazing because people are genuinely both. It’s kind of nice to be surrounded by chatty people who want to give you good tips and advice. Advice like: “Watch out for the drug addicts when you walk by the train station.”
Public transport (in)convenience
I knew Glasgow was going to be a pain in the ass the second we landed on one of the last flights into the airport and we were 20 minutes short of missing the last bus into town, the taxi line was about 60 people long, and Uber had no cars available. I might as well live in Mobile, Alabama. I can’t live in a place where the airport is so disconnected and inconvenient to access even though it’s about 15 minutes from city center. Overall, transport in Glasgow is divided up between the subway, trains, and buses. You can pretty much access anywhere on some form of public transport. The problem is none of the systems are connected. Who wants to buy a ticket every time they get on a bus? Ghetto.
Glasgow has a pretty good food scene, but unless you have reservations, it’ll probably be hard to find out. The only place in town where we didn’t need a reservation to sit down was the chicken chain Nando’s, and we still had a short wait. I don’t think I could live anywhere that requires advance planning just to grab a drink or dinner. Nonetheless, we did have some good food around town at places like The Bothy and Cafe Strange Brew. And when you can find a place to sit at the Pot Still or the Wee Pub at the Chip, the vibe is warm and jovial. I just don’t want to only have a good time when I’m lucky enough to get in.
I’ve been to Scotland twice now and spent time all over the country. Scotland is a rainy place to be sure, but nowhere did we get the kind of non-stop downpours we did in Glasgow. I’m no stranger to torrential rains being from Miami, but a torrential downpour when it’s 40 degrees out is unacceptable. I know weather is not exactly Glasgow’s fault, but having to stand in it while we wait for a table at a restaurant is definitely adding insult to injury.
Total livability score 3/10
Not only would I not like to live in Glasgow, I wouldn’t even care to visit again. I do love those friendly people though, so three points for Gryffindor.