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Old 03-13-2012, 10:37 PM
14 posts, read 25,056 times
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I am wondering about Northern Ireland as a place to live. I was thinking it might be the best of both worlds, that of Ireland and the UK. I also wonder if there are still Catholic vs Protestant issues. Also, what about housing costs there vs the Republic of Ireland and England and the general quality of life? What are the best areas?.

Thanks in advance for any responses.
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Old 03-14-2012, 06:04 AM
Location: England.
1,287 posts, read 3,323,006 times
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What is your nationality?
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Old 03-14-2012, 12:16 PM
Location: Paris, France
326 posts, read 1,040,798 times
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Also see my reply to this thread:

I can't say I am an expert – my experience of Northern Ireland comes from a bit of time spent there on business trips/week-end breaks last year, plus Northern Irish friends or relatives.

I don't think of Northern Ireland as a "half-way house" between the UK and the Republic. It is a distinct region/province in its own right, and has characteristics that are lacking from both of the above, as well as lacking attributes that are present in both the UK and the Irish Republic.

Northern Ireland has beautiful and totally unspoilt countryside, wonderfully friendly and loquacious locals (if you can get used to the melodic local dialect), and (contrary to popular belief) one of the lowest rates of petty crime/anti-social behaviour in the UK. It is also one of the cheapest parts of the western Europe – prices are much lower than in the Republic of Ireland or mainland UK. Housing used to be expensive before the financial crash but prices have tumbled since then. You'll also find Northern Ireland is far less touristy than the Republic. The unemployment rate is also lower than in the rest of the UK (7.2% vs 8.4%) and much lower than in the Republic: BBC News - Northern Ireland unemployment down but number on benefits up. The nightlife is pretty raucous in Belfast at least – if you like binge drinking. If you have more sophisticated tastes (theatre, fine dining) your options may be fairly limited.

On the other hand, the climate's pretty terrible, even by the standards of the rest of the British Isles. Summers are typically just 11-18 C, while in the dead of winter it will be around 1-7 C. Constant rainfall all year round – far more than in most of Britain or the south east of Ireland. Most days are cloudy and changeable – blue skies are rare. However maybe this is your thing!

Also bear in mind Northern Ireland – even Belfast – can be a fairly traditional place. Communities are tight knit, religious observance is higher than in the rest of the UK (though probably still less than in the US). There is very little ethnic diversity beyond the two native communities: this is still a land of emigration rather than immigration. I'm always surprised at how small Belfast feels – it is a bit of backwater to be honest, and very much plays second fiddle to Dublin on the island of Ireland. It is often left off a list of major UK cities – partly for political, partly for geographical reasons. You'll find the job market is fairly limited and the wages are quite low. The low unemployment is also partly explained by the fact that NI has some of the highest levels of government employment/state spending in Europe - something like 60% of the workforce are employed by the state (though don't quote me on this figure). This was a deliberate policy to "pacify" the province in the early 2000s.

Regarding the "Troubles", things have improved enormously since the 1990s – when the province was on the brink of civil war and was frankly a dangerous and unpleasant place to be, by all accounts. All areas of Northern Ireland are now totally safe to visit and be in – even infamous trouble spots in west Belfast or the "Bandit country" in rural south Armagh. As an outsider, you'll be totally free of the sectarian divide that affects locals – as long as you avoid wading into arguments with strong opinions either way. However, be under no illusion that this is still a society largely divided on ethno-sectarian lines between the majority Protestant/Unionist community and the minority Catholics/Nationalists. Huge steel separation barriers still divide Belfast's inner city districts, which can only be crossed via police checkpoints during daylight hours. In the countryside, each village makes its allegiances perfectly clear with flags and painted kerbstones. You'll still see murals glorifying gun-toting paramilitaries – particularly in unionist areas of Belfast. Occasionally trouble, such as riots or car bombs, still flare up – particularly during summer marching season in July. All this lends the province a not quite normalised atmosphere that is unparalleled, at least in the rest of western Europe or North America.

In summary, I'd say it depends on what you're looking for. Very few people randomly move to Northern Ireland – most go for family reasons or with their jobs (particularly military). I think it totally depends on what you're looking for with regards to that elusive thing: quality of life. If you like dramatic countryside, the feeling of being off the beaten track, and a sense of adventure – then yes. If you want to be somewhere hip and cosmopolitan, and have a fulfilling career in advertising while eating out constantly at Japanese restaurants, then no.

With regards to your question about the best areas – will probably have to concur to somewhere that has better local knowledge than I. Apparently east Belfast (near the coast) is the nearest NI gets to "posh", and is the most removed from the sectarian issues. South Belfast is young and where the uni is, and feels quite leafy. North and west Belfast are working-class and were very much where the troubles were worst.
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Old 03-14-2012, 03:21 PM
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Housing costs are very low now in the Republic of Ireland. Housing costs have fallen massively in Northern Ireland too, but thanks to both labour and tory govts acting to keep housing unaffordable, are still high (although at one point the average N.Ireland house price was actually higher than London!)

Ireland still has a very low corporate tax. If they gave their creditors the two fingered salute (namely the EU) like the Icelandic did and removed themselves from the EU and their austerity budgets, they could be doing very nicely indeed.

Northern Ireland is basically dependent on UK public sector spending, far more so than Scotland or Wales.
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Old 11-25-2022, 09:35 PM
Location: Cold Spring Harbor
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Has anyone had experience going to university in Belfast? What documents do I need from high school? Is the tuition free like in Germany?
My primary reason for wanting to move there has nothing to do with education though. Just need to find an excuse to move there since I like Europeans better than Americans.

What if you wanted to be a Presbyterian clergyman in the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster?
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Old 11-26-2022, 06:32 AM
Location: Great Britain
27,154 posts, read 13,444,010 times
Reputation: 19448
Originally Posted by WagMore View Post
I am wondering about Northern Ireland as a place to live. I was thinking it might be the best of both worlds, that of Ireland and the UK. I also wonder if there are still Catholic vs Protestant issues. Also, what about housing costs there vs the Republic of Ireland and England and the general quality of life? What are the best areas?.

Thanks in advance for any responses.
There are still so called peace walls in some parts of Belfast, however Ulster is generally a lot different to the height of the troubles.

Belfast is a busy thriving city, with a lot of beautiful countryside surrounding it, whilst Queens University, Belfast is a highly respected major research university, and part of the Russell Group of top UK Universities.

Russell Group - Our Universities

Belfast has seen massive change over the years, with the demolition of terrace row houses in favour of more modern housing, and a lot of the stereotypical pictures relating to new coverage during the troubles are now no longer relevant.

Northern Ireland also has a lot of beautiful rura; towns and villages, and a number of very wealthy enclaves.


Discover NI - Youtube Channel

Visit Belfast


8 of the most beautiful places in… Northern Ireland - Group Leisure & Travel

Three villages in Northern Ireland named among UK's best to live in - Belfast Live

Move to Northern Ireland: for the happiest place to live and work - NI Connections

Property Northern Ireland: These 20 streets are home to some of the most expensive properties in NI - News Letter (2022)

Last edited by Brave New World; 11-26-2022 at 07:14 AM..
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