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Transition to civilian life

If you in are settling in Scotland after life in the armed forces, these links will provide you with access to the organisations and information that can assist you to find a home, gain employment and settle into civil society, as well as links to sources of help and support that might be needed.

Transition to civilian lifeThe information in this section is grouped into the five major areas that you will need to consider in order to make a successful transition:

  • Employment – Finding the right job and making best use of your skills. 
  • Education – For you and your children 
  • Health – Establishing yourself with a GP, Dentist and other Health issues 
  • Housing – Finding your new home, 
  • Welfare – The additional support you may need.

Scotland - the background

As a place to live and work, Scotland has a huge range of attractions, from the peace and tranquillity of mountain wilderness to the vibrant urban life of cities such as Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. Opportunities for employment are plentiful and range from traditional crafts, through logistics, construction and retail to cutting edge technology and world class engineering. For families, the Scottish education system is world renowned and the National Health Service first class.

For background information on the economic situation, housing and employment the sites below may help with your decision making:

For a general brief on life in Scotland

For a brief on the housing market

For a detailed and up to date view of the economy, employment figures and more

For a direct link to a site specifically for ex service personnel in Scotland


Deciding where to live is one of the most important choices you and your family will need to make on leaving the armed forces. Whether you are due to leave in a few years time, a couple of months or have already left, there is support available to help you. A good start is the Scottish Government guide for ex service personnel, at the first link below. Another good source of information is the Veterans Assist website also linked below.

Your options depend on where you want to live and work, your needs and personal situation. These options could include an outright purchase with a Mortgage or renting a property, either privately or from a Housing Association, Local Authority or an Ex Services Charity.

Note that the housing market may have changed a lot since you joined up, with Housing Associations now providing many of the homes that would previously have been “Council Houses”. Application procedures can appear complicated and take time to complete, so plan ahead and seek help if required. You will also find that there are a number of shared-ownership schemes available that allow you to take part-ownership of a property at a lower cost than a full Mortgage.

All 32 Local Authorities in Scotland have signed a Community Covenant stating that ex forces personnel will not be disadvantaged by their service but this is not a guarantee of immediate access to a house. As part of your discharge procedure you will be provided with a notice confirming that you will lose your entitlement to service housing. This letter is key to gaining formal access to Local Authority housing. Details of contacts in each Local Authority (Council) in Scotland are at available through the Veterans Assist website.

There are a number of ex-service charities which provide support nationally or specific to Scotland, notably the Haig Housing Trust, Scottish Veterans Residences and the Scottish Veterans Garden City Association.

Housing is a complex issue with prices and availability very different across the country. Research and planning early will make the move a lot easier. There are a number of commercial websites which provide details on house prices and local conditions, while local estate agents often provide extensive information on their websites or via newspaper listings.

Further advice on housing matters can be obtained through the MOD Joint Services Housing Advice Office (JSHAO) on 01980 618925 or from the local branch of SSAFA. The Poppy Scotland and Citizens Advice Bureaux-run Armed Forces Advice Project ASAP also has local branches which can provide support with applications and useful local contacts.