Living in Northern Ireland

Located on the east coast of the island of Ireland, on the banks of the River Lagan, Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland and the largest city in the country. It has a population of 300,000, with 600,000 living in the greater Belfast Metropolitan area. It forms part of the United Kingdom and comprises a mixture of both British and Irish cultures.

While Belfast suffered during the Troubles, much has changed in more recent years, and today the city is a dynamic and modern metropolitan centre with a growing economy, a diverse population, state-of-the-art buildings and a world-class arts and culture scene.

Q. What is Belfast's history?

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Belfast was a major port city and a key commercial and industrial centre. It became one of the world’s greatest shipbuilding centres and the RMS Titanic was built here between 1908 and 1912. The famous ‘Titanic Belfast’ is one of the country’s most famous tourist destinations and visitor experiences – a celebration of the city’s maritime history.

Q, What is the cost of living like?

Belfast ranks 34th on the most affordable UK cities in which to live: its ratio of prices vs wages is 3.67.

Q. What about education in Belfast?

The level of education in Northern Ireland is of a very high standard: 77% of young people progress from secondary to further education. Belfast has two world-famous universities, Queen’s University and Ulster University. Queen’s University ranks in the 1% of global universities.

Q. What are house prices like in Belfast?

The cost of living in Belfast is generally lower than the UK mainland although housing prices are increasing. The average price of properties for sale in Belfast is £201,642. The monthly rental price of a one-bedroom house in Belfast is £672 per month.

Q. Where should I consider living in Belfast?

The centre of the city’s art scene – The Cathedral Quarter – is a great place to call home, with its many cafés, famous street murals and night life. The Queen’s Quarter in the city is a popular area for students, with the university located nearby – while areas such as Newtownbreda, located to the south of Belfast city centre, are more family-friendly neighbourhoods.

Other popular places within Belfast include Ballyhackmore, Holywood, Belmont, Stranmillis and Malone.

The Titanic Quarter and the waterfront development continues to grow as trendy, up and coming areas, while one of the most expensive areas to live in is Castlereagh – in east Belfast. There is also an Irish-speaking area – the Gaeltacht Quarter.

Q. What is public transport like?

Run by Translink, there is an extensive train and bus network across Belfast and throughout Northern Ireland. However, since the city itself is small compared to UK cities, driving is still the best mode of transport for city commutes. Belfast also has a popular public bike initiative, to help minimise congestion and environmental impact.

Q. What kind of lifestyle does Belfast and Northern Ireland offer?

Belfast is a vibrant city with many restaurants, cinemas, leisure centres, theatres, galleries, arts and entertainment centres. There are also plenty of traditional pubs, clubs and night spots. Foodies will love the famous St George’s Market – an indoor gourmet food haven offering the finest of local produce – and there is excellent shopping to be enjoyed at Victoria Square.

While Belfast is an exciting urban space, it has over forty beautiful public parks – the most popular being the Botanic Gardens, which spans 28 acres. The Dome of Belfast is the ideal spot to get a 360-degree view of the city.

Belfast is proud of its range of festivals and events throughout the year – from the Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival to the Sounds of Belfast and the Belfast Pride Parade.

Beyond the city, you can go from one side of Northern Ireland to the other in about 2 hours – and there is a wealth of scenery, activities, cultural attractions and so much more to enjoy. This is a land rich in dramatic coastline, mountains and lakes – which made it a favourite location for the filming of Game of Thrones. You’ll also find some of the best walking trails, scenic drives and golf courses in the world. The Giant’s Causeway is an experience not to be missed – while some popular daytrips include visits to one of the country’s many beaches, an ancient castle experience and a trip to Bushmills’s Distillery – the world’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery. 

Q. What about travel abroad?

Based in Belfast, Europe is a hop away. Belfast Airport is situated just 5 minutes from the city centre and from there you can fly to over 70 destinations.

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