The combination of a beautiful location, job opportunities, outdoor leisure pursuits, and attractive house prices may inspire you to set your sights on the Scottish borders.
West Lothian lies in eastern Scotland on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth, midway between Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The overall average property price here over the last year was £208,410, up 9% since 2019 according to Rightmove.
While a mainly rural area, West Lothian is also an important economic hub; it’s centrally located, has good road and rail links and the M8 connects it to Edinburgh and Glasgow.
There are five traditional town centres, Armadale, Bathgate, Broxburn/Uphall, Linlithgow, and Whitburn while Livingston is the largest main shopping area.
We take a look at the area’s history, economy, and development plans before offering a selection of properties for sale in West Lothian.
West Lothian’s history
There’s evidence of prehistoric settlements here; ancient burial sites and the remains of hillforts have been found. By 83AD southern Scotland had been conquered by the Romans who left two centuries later when the Britons took over, followed by the Anglo-Saxons in the fifth and sixth centuries. In the 11th century, West Lothian became part of the Kingdom of Scotland. In pre-industrial times it was an agricultural area, along with silver and coal mines, cotton, and paper mills. The industrial revolution led to deep-pit iron and coal mining, foundries, and shale oil mines – shale oil extraction was a major industry in Victorian times.
The population grew rapidly in the 19th and 20th centuries as deep mining, foundries, brickworks, and railways provided mass employment and brought investment to the area. However, by the late 20th-century coal mining and heavy industry had virtually died out: the last shale mine close in 1962 leaving behind red shale bings, or spoil heaps, notably the Five Sisters which is a scheduled monument.
The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889 established a county council system and changed many county boundaries. West Lothian County Council was created in 1890 and was based in Linlithgow. It contained six burghs and outside these were six districts. The Forth Rail Bridge, completed in 1890, created an alternative to the ferry across the Firth of Forth: the ferry service ended with the opening of the 1.1-mile Forth Road Bridge in 1964.
Following the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 West Lothian’s boundaries were altered again, and a system of regions and districts was introduced. West Lothian became a district of Lothian region. There was an industrial resurgence following Livingston’s designation as a fourth Scottish New Town to accommodate an overspill of the Glasgow population and attract new industry.
The economy in West Lothian
Today, West Lothian towns are home to major employers with industries including electronics, software manufacturing, food and drink, healthcare, construction, engineering, and business administration. Livingston especially is home to several high-tech firms and there are whisky distilleries and large-scale wind farms in the southwest of the county. 60% of Scotland’s population lives within an hour of West Lothian, and it has one of the fastest-growing and youngest populations in Scotland – the population in 2021 was recorded at 185,580.
Unemployment is at lower than national average levels and the county council is working to help this dynamic area to continue to thrive. Agriculturally, the best of the land is in the lower areas in the north and west where wheat, barley, and potatoes are grown, while sheep are reared on higher land in the south. The main business centres are Livingston, Linlithgow, and Bathgate.
West Lothian’s attractions and cultural life
Proximity to Edinburgh and Glasgow means that cultural life is not too far away. For outdoor enthusiasts, there are golf courses, sailing, and walking, along with many places of historical interest such as the ruins of Linlithgow Palace, the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and James V of Scotland, and Blackness Castle near South Queensferry.
According to Mov8real estate, the best places to live in West Lothian are:
Situated on the Glasgow to Edinburgh motorway, this is the area’s largest town where you can find independent shops, restaurants, and parks. It’s a base for the computer hardware and software industry. There’s a range of property type here and prices over the last year averaged £224,443 according to Rightmove.
Since losing major employers in the 1980s, Bathgate has benefited from inward investment associated in the 1990s with Silicon Glen – the high-tech sector in Scotland’s central belt. The town has medieval origins and a range of property types from stone cottages to new-build houses. Located at the foot of the Bathgate hills, it’s surrounded by beautiful countryside and the average house price is £184,299.
This could suit if your search criteria involve being close to the M8 as there’s easy access from here to Edinburgh. House prices averaged £187,997 over the last year.
This charming village is some distance away from the cities yet has plenty of amenities. The average house price is £250,058.
This is a popular commuter town for Grangemouth and Bathgate, resulting in higher average house prices at £312,927.
The West Lothian Local Development Plan (LDP)
Priorities are for a growing economy, more house building, and provision of employment land, along with promoting the area as a tourist destination.
- Housing: the number of households is projected to increase by 17% between now and 2037; the LDP aims to direct growth to places where it will support development aims, regeneration and town identity. A range of house types is required.
- Improve travel infrastructure: public transport and rail links.
- Support major development in designated places.
- Prioritise brownfield sites for development.
- Create employment and address inequalities.
- Provide a greater choice of housing, education, recreation and leisure facilities.
- Development must be sustainable, have no adverse impact on the local community and include measures to enhance the environment.
- Natural heritage assets must be protected.
- Regenerate towns and village centres.
- Enhance Livingstone as a commercial centre.
Sold house prices in West Lothian
Overall, sold house prices last year were 9% up on the previous year according to Rightmove figures, and 17% up on the 2020 peak of £177,476.
This table shows house price changes over recent years.
|Property type||Area of West Lothian||Sold price||Date|
|1 bedroom||Bo’ness||£140,000 |
|July 2022 |
|3 bedrooms||Kirkliston||£230,000 |
7 properties for sale in West Lothian
There are great views from Elsrickle, Balerno, Midlothian, a 1920s six-bedroom detached house set in around 1.49 acres of grounds. The lavish accommodation includes a hallway, two reception rooms, dining space, a garden room, a sitting room, a kitchen, and two bathrooms. It has double glazing throughout, a tennis court, a private driveway, two detached garages, off-road parking for several cars, and a 0.36-acre paddock. Balerno is a growing town, eight miles from Edinburgh. Savills estate agents are looking for offers over £1,200,000 for this dream home.
If you’re looking for a versatile family home with scope for multi-generational living, 11 West Mains Crofts, West Calder might appeal as it has a spacious annex with its own entrance. This six bedroom detached house set on a one-acre plot is on the market for offers over £895,000 with Savills estate agents. The spacious accommodation includes an open-plan kitchen/dining room, two ground-floor bedrooms, a home office, a sitting room, three first-floor bedrooms, a workshop and a double garage. There are far-reaching views to the countryside to the north, and its location close to the M8 makes Edinburgh and Glasgow commutable.
Panoramic views over the iconic three bridges over the Firth of Forth can be enjoyed from this stunning detached villa. There’s plenty of space at 1 Linn Mill, South Queensferry but the house is in need of modernising. This 4 bedroom family home has two bathrooms, a cellar, a sitting room, kitchen, extensive mature gardens, and a double garage. Estate agents Deans Properties of Newington are asking for offers over £625,000.
This stunning detached house in Bathgate has gorgeous interiors, luxury contemporary fittings and features, along with breathtaking views. Garnock House, Kirkton Avenue, is in a prime location in the heart of the town and stands on a substantial plot with a large, landscaped front garden and a generous rear garden that takes in the views. The exterior is striking and finished in natural stone. It’s a great family home, having a sitting room, dining room, a fantastic kitchen, two double bedrooms on the ground floor, three bathrooms, and the main bedroom is on the first floor. Estate agents Bridges Properties of Whitburn are asking for offers over £420,000.
There’s plenty of charm at this traditional three-bedroom, two-bathroom semi-detached house in the Mid Calder Conservation Area, overlooking the River Almond. It’s rare for this type of property to come to the market and it’s convenient for easy commuting with Livingston nearby. It has generous proportions for a house in this price range, with high ceilings, large windows, and traditional features such as an open fire. 2 Mill Lane, Mid Calder, West Lothian is for sale with estate agents Sturrock, Armstrong and Thomson, Edinburgh who are looking for offers over £350,000.
This great family home has a flexible layout and is close to Bathgate town centre. The Green is a three-bedroom detached house with two bathrooms, a sitting room, two further reception rooms, a sunroom, and an integral garage. It stands in a mature and private plot with views over the town, where there’s a range of shops and facilities. It’s for sale with Property Connections estate agents in Bathgate, priced at offers over £195,000.
Perfect for an investor or first-time buyer, this one-bedroom terraced house on Bathgate Road, Armadale, Bathgate, has an open plan sitting room and kitchen, one double bedroom, a utility room, and a shower room. It’s double-glazed and has a large rear garden and an allocated parking space. The price is £97,000 and the estate agents are Slater Hogg & Howison, Livingston.
Over to you
If you live in this part of Scotland, we would love to know what you like best about it.
Which West Lothian towns do you think are good places to buy a house? Let us know by leaving a comment in the box below.