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to ask how to relocate (to Belfast)?

(201 Posts)
AdultierAdult Sat 16-May-20 18:46:13

My husband has been telecommuting and commuting to Belfast from a very expensive area in the South East and we are fed up of missing him during the week (obviously he is remote working now!). Both our parents live in ROI anyway so we feel like we are on the wrong island and paying a premium for London bubble living, without any real need.

We’ve decided to relocate to Belfast but feel completely out of our depth. We have a baby and a daughter who would be going into NI year 9 (she’s in y7 here), and husband needs to commute to city centre by bike or public transport. Schools and an area with a bustling community with access to the city are the priorities.

Feel so overwhelmed - how do I go about narrowing down schools to apply for, or areas to rent/buy, and how to find somewhere when the world has stopped!? Should we become accidental landlords and keep a place in the SE in case it doesn’t work out or sell up and go for it to avoid all that headache? How do we find somewhere to rent with two cats, or should we just go for it and buy (we dont need to sell here to do this)? I don’t feel like enough of a grownup to do this and I can’t sleep at the moment for stressing about it.

For anyone who knows Belfast and could suggest some postcodes - we’d prefer not to spend more than £1000 a month renting. Budget to buy would be max £300k if we keep our house here or probably about £650k if we sold up here completely.

I know this isn’t AIBU but other appropriate areas are dead! Any nuggets of wisdom greatly appreciated.

wellhellohi Sat 16-May-20 18:54:49

That is a very healthy budget for Belfast. I would be looking at south Belfast. There are excellent schools and a lovely areas for family life

SprinklesMcDoodles Sat 16-May-20 19:10:03

Definitely a very good budget for Belfast. I’d say buy if you can. I also agree with South Belfast, it’s a lovely area.

Bananadobana Sat 16-May-20 19:16:40

I’d go south Belfast, or ballyhackamore or cherry valley in the East

StatisticalSense Sat 16-May-20 19:19:04

If I was wanting to relocate at the current time the first thing I'd be considering is making sure that the commute was doable on foot or by bike as there is a good chance that public transport won't be operating normally for many months if not years.

wildflowersandweeds Sat 16-May-20 19:20:43

Agree with everyone. South Belfast, close to the tow path will give him a gorgeous off road cycle almost to the centre of Belfast. Look around Malone Road. Alternatively Holywood has great schools, great beaches and train line into city centre.

wildflowersandweeds Sat 16-May-20 19:21:54

Edit: I've said Holywood, but what you'd want to search for is Cultra.

AdultierAdult Sat 16-May-20 19:23:44

Yes DH’s colleagues have suggested Ballyhackamore, also been suggested Holywood and Castlereagh (sp?). If we can stay under £400k that would allow us a fab quality of life compared to here. I’ve also heard schooling in NI is generally brilliant but as we can’t look round schools we will just have to apply after looking at websites and speaking on the phone. Eek. We are quite excited at the move but also a bit terrified!

I hope I don’t sound terribly ignorant but if there anything I need to be aware of re: tensions? I know largely these have gone but I’m of an Irish Catholic background (and DD has a Catholic name) but we’re non-religious with English accents. I’m assuming we will be ok in south Belfast with DD in an integrated or secular school?

And will someone please explain what the deal with traybakes is!? Come across them on Mumsnet and googling reveals nothing 🤣

MadeinBelfast Sat 16-May-20 19:23:55

Have a look on the property pal website. It covers buying and renting and will give you an idea of what you'd get for your money.

AdultierAdult Sat 16-May-20 19:26:59

Thanks @StatisticalSense hadn’t thought of that! My husband will never drive so that’s a big consideration. I drive but prefer not to!

If you were me would you try and find a short term rental and just jump in viewing to buy? Do you think within, for example, Malone Rd there are good sides and less good sides or is it not that nuanced? What makes me nervous is because where I live there are roads where youd definitely never want to live right next to very desirable ones. I have no idea how to get a sense of all that without being local, and we’re not posh enough to pay a search agent!

belfasteast Sat 16-May-20 19:27:03

East Belfast here, it's lovely and £1000 or £300k would get you a really nice place. Bloomfield Collegiate is a girl's grammar, and not a very over subscribed one either, but your dd would have to sit an entrance test. Ashfield Girls High is a high school and also very good, waiting lists are long though (I have personal experience of this)

BT9 (South Belfast) is also lovely but the two grammars Victoria College (girls) and Methodist College (mixed) are much more likely to have a waiting list, assuming that she passes the entrance test. AFAIK applications for September are usually made around Feb time and tests around March and you will hear back in June whether a place is available or not. Whilst supposedly a fair and transparent system, I know of newcomers who miraculously bypassed the waiting list because of their jobs, so if your husband is a doctor or uni lecturer be sure to mention that when you phone to enquire. The high school in South is Malone College and I haven't heard great things about it, to be honest.

BlackberryCane Sat 16-May-20 19:27:47

400k is loads for Belfast!

Hairwizard Sat 16-May-20 19:29:32

Yep def be aware of diff areas in belfast. Certain areas its immediately clear which side of the fence you are in others not so. Do your homework for sure. I would never live in belfast again tbh. Def not with kids either but thats me.

isabellerossignol Sat 16-May-20 19:34:15

There are no bad sides to the Malone Road. The lower end of it is next to Queens university so very studenty.

But further out where the family homes are it is prime middle class territory, with nice restaurants, coffee bars, convenient for good schools etc.

For an easy commute, Ballyhackamore might be easier though, as it has the Glider buses. But it's a lovely area too. I have a few colleagues who live in East Belfast but are originally from Dublin and none of them have ever mentioned feeling uncomfortable. Their kids go to Our Lady of St Patrick and Knock grammar school and it is very well thought of.

Merryhobnobs Sat 16-May-20 19:41:54

My husband is from Northern Ireland but we live in Scotland. We have good friends who live in the Holywood area with two lovely girls and they have a great life. The deal with tray bakes is just that they are really prevalent in Northern Ireland and there is an unwritten rule that every cup of tea is offered with a nibble of some sort. I love my visits over there and find it a bit more traditional and old fashioned in some aspects but not in a negative way. I would be happy to relocate there with my children. My only concern would be the exam to choose which secondary school as we don't have that system in Scotland and it seems quite a lot of pressure for kids to me. However our system has flaws too. I don't know Belfast well enough as we only visit friends or go for a day out but the Northern coastal area is terrific and our kids just have a wonderful time with walks on the beaches etc when we are over.

AdultierAdult Sat 16-May-20 19:43:47

Hair, if you’d like to share more I’d be interested. Our minds are made up but it’s still likely to be helpful!

Thanks all this has been so very helpful and is giving me some confidence.

Does anyone know if private schools are just as oversubscribed? My DD missed 11+ by a few marks - so she isn’t wildly academic - but is also highest scorer in her current school year for maths and physics so not bottom of the pile either. We’d prefer to avoid private school but will mercilessly sell out if it avoids somewhere really poor performing, if that became our only option.

isabellerossignol Sat 16-May-20 19:55:03

There aren't really private schools in the same way as there are in England. The only one I've heard of, aside from the religious ones, is Rockport. And I've never heard anything about it at all, good or bad.

The non grammars are usually very good though. There are a few that aren't, but, in general you don't really have to fear ending up at a terrible school. I work in Belfast but don't live there. In my area, it's relatively easy to get a place at grammar school if you want it, but the non grammars are well thought of and loads of parents don't bother with the transfer test and just send their kids to the non grammar.

Strawberryshortcake28 Sat 16-May-20 19:56:01

Definitely not over subscribed I really wouldn't waste my money the schools are excellent and even if you don't get your 11 plus they still might accept you in second year of secondary school especially with a bobbie ie playing an instrument

isabellerossignol Sat 16-May-20 19:57:00

this is the list of private schools. I think all those 'global' schools are religious schools too.

AdultierAdult Sat 16-May-20 20:08:09

Thanks again this has been great. We’ve started a spreadsheet of possible schools and are going to hit the phones on Monday.

She plays piano but isn’t great if I’m honest - she’s dyspraxic which probably doesn’t help!

PrivateD00r Sat 16-May-20 20:16:25

I love East Belfast - eg Holywood Road area - especially the Circular Road off it. Ballyhackamore, Belmont, Sydenham areas are all lovely. Ballyhackamore is particularly good for public transport but also has good cycle access to the city centre. As mentioned by a pp, Our lady and St Pats might be a good school option for you, or Lagan College. I personally don't have a positive view of Bloomfield Collegiate but Strathearn school nearby is excellent. Primary schools in this area are a bit unusual in that they normally accommodate P1-P3 then the children move to a huge school called Strandtown to complete primary, it is important to be aware of that for when your baby is older.

There is a greenway that provides a safe cycle path that runs all the way from Comber to the Titanic area so finding a home on that path might suit your DH too, An example would be the Sandown Road, nice area and access to the Greenway. Eg

A few examples from the areas I suggested just to give you an idea, they are BT4 -

Focalpoint Sat 16-May-20 20:19:21

I would definitely rent first and see if you settle, I would imagine it would be quite hard to build up a network of friends if you aren't from there.

Focalpoint Sat 16-May-20 20:23:20¤cy=GBP&term=BT15&pt=residential¤cy=GBP&term=BT15&pt=residential

These are in a nice area of north Belfast to rent in your budget.

Waveysnail Sat 16-May-20 20:32:28

We dont have private schools really. Perhaps look at Lagan College - it's an integrated high school but also has a grammar stream. Very popular. Nearly all kids get buses to it. I am a fan of integrated education so I'd want to live near an integrated primary school

Where is he commuting to in Belfast? Most places off the upper lisburn road and malone road are lovely.

Waveysnail Sat 16-May-20 20:33:39

Castlereagh is nice but you would want the area nearest the ring road

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