Moving to Belfast - is it a good idea?

(34 Posts)
maryberryeatyourheartout Wed 19-Sep-12 10:04:20


My family are planning to move to Belfast in the Sping with two DC. We are planning to live in the area around Holywood. We want to live that side of Belfast to be near the airport/coast/work. I know nothing about how the education system works but DD is due to start primary in September 2013 so we will need to apply before we have moved but I don't know how that works although we may have a rental agreement in place. My friends all think we are mad and think things will be bleak...the weather too, but we see the upsides of living out there by the coast with the kids.

I will also need to find a nursery for DS as I will be working.

Can anyone out there tell me something good about living out there - education, shopping smile, healthcare and recommend any estate agents. Likely we will be going state route for schools. Hoping to do a rekkie before the year is out. Ideally I would like to live somewhere where there is a community feel so I can make some friends.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

OP’s posts: |
maryberryeatyourheartout Thu 20-Sep-12 10:22:02

Anyone....? I am getting cold feet about becoming an expat again. I always look ahead so much I want to try and enjoy it this time.

OP’s posts: |
mathanxiety Fri 21-Sep-12 07:04:49

A lot about schooling in NI still depends on what foot you dig with.

maryberryeatyourheartout Fri 21-Sep-12 08:40:28

I am a non-practicing Christian, my husband is an atheist so Iwe are pretty relaxed as long as we like the school. I did note the integrated schools but I haven't done anymore research than that.

Not sure about living in Holywood now as it looks a bit out of our budget, but definitely around that area and in County Down. I don't think we want to live in the city although I am hoping to get some work in Belfast.

OP’s posts: |
Kazriina Fri 21-Sep-12 08:45:00

I'd move there in a heartbeat myself! I love it, unfortunately my dp is sure it's like Iraq or somewhere because of what he sees on the telly, honestly I've been there during major upset and not even known! Do it, it's fantastic &im very jealous

SquirtedPerfumeUpNoseInBoots Fri 21-Sep-12 09:04:41

Hi, I live in County Down.
Theres a wide range of property prices. Holywood is more expensive than, say, Bangor or Newtownards, but not as pricey as Helens Bay or Cultra (youd need to be a lottery winner to live there!) All are easily within commuting distance of Belfast. Trains and buses into "town" are frequent, and ok. Most towns have a good sense of community, we are very friendly people generally. Obviously as is the case elsewhere there are some areas to avoid in all towns. As for estate agents, is probably your best bet, but local estate agents would be

Ulster Property Sales
Peter Rogers
Reeds Rains
Templeton Robinson

School standards are pretty high here. Primary school starts at age 4 in P1.
Nursery is at age 3, so a year ahead of England i think. Is that where you are moving from? State schools are either catholic and linked to the church, or not, or specifically integrated. We are not at all religious and the non-catholic school suited us fine. There are a few fee paying preps if you want to go that route. We still have the equivalent of the 11+ (now called the AQE) to get into grammar school at age 11, as seconday education is either grammar or secondary. Theres no academies or comprehensives. The primary school you attend has a bearing on the secondary or grammar you will get into.

Shopping is good. Belfast has obviously the most shops being the city and all, but the local towns tend to have boutiques that arent chains. In terms of food shopping the only big supermarket we dont have is Waitrose. All others are well represented. Theres not much difference in terms of shops or availability of things.

We have our own bank notes, but English or Scottish are readily accepted with no fuss.

The weather. Its true it rains a lot. But its really not that much different from scotland or north england. much wetter than south east england.
The county down coast is beautiful. Plenty of clean beaches. Strangford Lough is an area of outstanding beauty.

Everything here is quickly accessible. If you want a day trip to the lakes of County Fermanagh its an hour and a half in the car. About the same up to the North coast. Dublin in two hours.

PM if you want.


wannabedomesticgoddess Fri 21-Sep-12 09:14:55

I live in County Down also. I am way out in the middle of nowhere but I have family in Holywood and used to work in Bangor so know the area well.

It is absolutely nothing like Iraq FGS and most people I know are getting really fed up if the opinion the outside world still has of us. There has been peace here for many many years and yes there are still a small pocket of people with an axe to grind but there is violence/gangs anywhere in the UK.

People are really friendly. Shopping is good. You will find most of the same high street shops here as you would on the mainland.

SquirtedPerfume has it pretty much covered but if you have any more questions I would be happy to help. PM if you like smile


SquirtedPerfumeUpNoseInBoots Fri 21-Sep-12 09:23:55

One other thing I've thought of.
We dont pay council tax, we pay rates based on the value of your house and the area you live in. This includes water charges, so no bill for that. So youd need to check what sort of bill for rates for your new house, unless you rent obv.

Car insurance is more expensive than the uk.

wannabedomesticgoddess Fri 21-Sep-12 09:36:33

YY. To add to that, most rentals here will state whether rates are included or not in the monthly price. If it doesnt say just ask if it includes rates.

Oh and the deadline for school applications is in January sometime. So if you can, apply soon!

YoullLaughAboutItOneDay Fri 21-Sep-12 09:40:03

I don't and haven't lived in Northern Ireland, but do have family there.

Personally I couldn't live there because of the weather. I am a southern girl and the temperature and rain depress me. It would be must less of an adjustment if you are currently north of England/Scotland, or indeed if that type of thing doesn't bother you. The upside of the weather is that everywhere is beautiful. And it is less densely populated than much of the rest of the UK, so there is lots of green space generally.

NI has changed massively in the last 15 years. It took a while after the ceasefire, but there has been massive investment and many new shops have opened up. I seem to remember mass excitement in my family that there was finally going to be a John Lewis a couple of years back. Not sure what happened with that one. Don't listen to the opinion of anyone who hasn't been there in, say, the last five years. (And ignore the police stations. Yes, they look scary. They are a hangover).

I do still find that some things take longer to make it to NI compared to our home. However, we are London, so I don't know how much would be the same outside the biggest cities in England too (Bear in mind Belfast is well under a million people, and the whole country under two). Just as a random small example, last time I was there it was front page news (admitedly a slow news day!) in the local paper that baby swimming had opened somewhere. Lots of 'oh my goodness, no arm bands!' stuff. Whereas it is pretty run of the mill here. I am not saying it's a bad thing or anything, just a potential adjustment if you are currently somewhere like Manchester, London or Birmingham.

The culture is very much more northern/small village than the anonymity of a large city in the south of England. I find the fact that everyone wants to know my business a bit oppressive, but I am a grumpy Londoner and plenty of other people just feel that it's a lovely friendly place to live.

Overall, if you can live with the weather, I think you'll like it. And you can buy Tatyo crisps, which is a major plus!

WineOhWhy Fri 21-Sep-12 09:48:40

My in-laws are from NI, although have lived in SW England for 40 years. They still have a lot of family there and visit regularly. Every so often, they decide they would like to move back and look into properties etc, but are always put off by the weather!

I have been quite a few times. If i lived there, i would go for the area you are talking about (have been to a couple of weddings in that area - culloden and crawfordsburn inn).

Based on DH's cousins' experiences, it is (as someone said) still a grammar school system, but there seems to be more flexibility to move from secondary to grammar after 11 than I understand to be the case in the grammar school areas in england. I have heard it described as having both the best A level results and the highest number of school leavers with no qualifications, which i guess is a function of the grammar school system. This may not be wholly true though.

Kazriina Fri 21-Sep-12 15:29:19

wannabedomesticgoddess the rest of my post says how much I love Belfast, no need for the 'FGS' at my dps impression if a poorly portraid place!

wannabedomesticgoddess Fri 21-Sep-12 15:40:50

Try living in a poorly portrayed place and you would say FGS too.

And I was explaining that it wasnt like Iraq because it is a common misconception. It wasnt aimed at you. So relax.

angelinterceptor Mon 24-Sep-12 11:39:08

Hi Maryberryeatyourheartout - I also live in Co Down, although not the Holywood side you are interested in.
Living here is good, and you will find everyone very very friendly. I have friends with children in both the main primary schools in Holywood; and they both speak highly of them.

As someone else said further up - no-where is that far away in NI, so if you don't find somewhere in your budget in that area, you still won't be that far from the airport, city etc.

The worst thing is definitely the weather for me - but if you are from Scotland or north England you might be used to that!

Come back and ask any specific questions if you like

maryberryeatyourheartout Thu 27-Sep-12 20:28:01

Wow I wasn't expecting so much information. Thanks for taking the time out. It's really interesting to hear your views about NI. Squirted perfume - thanks for all those links! I think everything will click into place soon once we know where we are living and school is sorted. Hoping to do a rekkie very soon and may message again after that ;).

OP’s posts: |
Mrsg26 Wed 10-Apr-13 22:45:32

Hi there I was just wondering if you successfully made the move to Belfast? We are hoping to move over the summer from glasgow and I am just at the start of researching schools and areas to live in, our daughter will be turning 6 when we plan on moving so a good school is paramount. I was just wondering if you had made the move how you were finding it all? Thanks.

maryberryeatyourheartout Thu 18-Apr-13 20:12:21

Hi yes we are here at long last smile. We moved over in late Feb and settling in. Just need to make some friends which is a bit tricky when working part-time. There doesn't seem to be much traffic on the local boards. Hoping to meet some mums once my eldest makes some friends/starts at primary. Good luck with it all. Which area are you looking at?

OP’s posts: |
bunter21 Thu 18-Apr-13 21:35:11

Hi! So glad to find this. I'm moving to holy wood from Birmingham for a job in Belfast within next two weeks. I'm from northern Ireland originally but Co tyrone. Imoved of ni fifteen years ago so have spent my entire adult life in England and know noone in belfast. My daughter is also six. Because we are Catholic she will probably be going to St patricks though I had really wanted an integrated. I'm on my own with my daughter and will be working full time so if you would like a friendly face for a play date, or coffee, that would be great! X

bunter21 Thu 18-Apr-13 21:36:32

Sorry I realise I didn't ask what area you ended up moving to and how you like it? X

SacreBlue Thu 18-Apr-13 21:56:26

Nice bump up the boards there smile nice timing for me as I have just joined MN and asked re NI stuff and the local Ed has plan in motion for meet up soon grin

I'm in Belfast but orig Co.Down - wondered actually if the OP had heard about the Montessori school before moving, just as another option. My DS is grammar now but opts out of R.E. - possible with a bit of oomph!

I'm s/e so travel round - lots of lovely opportunities for quick coffee here and there and please, just ask my DS and I if you want restaurant reviews or good ideas for the DC in the summer.

Droflove Tue 03-Sep-13 10:48:56

Hi, sorry to jump on this thread but I am desperate for some info for my upcoming move to Belfast. I really want to live in the countryside, Hubby can commute. His family are all in South Belfast and Carryduff. I have found some interesting properties around Saintfield but my hubby is very concerned about schooling which is an absolute priority for us. How can we figure out the catchment area for particular locations? It seems there is a decent primary in one direction but equidistant in the other direction there are 2 not so well rated ones. Also he keeps saying that nobody comes in to Belfast from that far out (25mins in my reconing!) for grammar school, is he right or is he just getting cold feed about the logistics of living in the countryside? Its much harder and more expensive to get land closer to the city. Any advice on this would be appreciated.

Rojak Thu 09-Jan-14 17:54:03

I realise this is an old thread and I will start a new one if cant get replies.

We are moving to Belfast in July.

Can someone recommend a primary school in south / south east Belfast?

I have approached Stranmillis but they are over subscribed.

Also interested in a school that has a good swim programme as DC swim competitively (or is this something for outside school with clubs?)


DingbatsFur Sat 18-Jan-14 10:40:47

I'm in Belfast. How old are your DC? Strandtown is an excellent school in East Belfast for p4 plus. For swimming try Campbell College? They have a prep school and a swimming pool. Lots of swim clubs about. Templemore has a v good reputation.
You can pm me if you like!

Mccann06 Sun 01-May-16 15:14:37

Hi ,
Wanting to move to Belfast in a few months ( west ) but feel a touch nervous about it . I have 2 sons 20 n10 anyone suggest any good areas there or any where else in Belfast smile

Robbie1966 Tue 25-Apr-17 14:41:52

Thinking of moving to Nothern Ireland(Belfast). Any ideas? Do they have Rented houses & would I get welfare benefit till I get work?

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