Named the best city in the UK by the prestigious Guardian and Observer Travel Awards, Belfast, which means "mouth of the sandbanks", is the vibrant capital of Northern Ireland.
As with many British ports, it was the beating heart of a number of industries, including linen, tobacco, and shipbuilding. In fact, in the early 20th century, Harland and Wolff was the largest and most productive shipyard in the world, building the RMS Titanic (yes, that Titanic) among others.
Belfast was also a key player in the Industrial Revolution, and was a bit of an industrial powerhouse until the latter half of the 20th century. Thanks to those blossoming industries and the migration it generated, Belfast became the biggest city in Ireland at the outset of the 20th century (it is now second to Dublin).
Although the city suffered during the period known as ‘the Troubles’, it has emerged as a modern and lively city, with a strong arts scene and a number of high-performing industries. It has also enjoyed considerable expansion and regeneration, particularly in and around Victoria Square.
Location, Location, Location
If you choose to rent in Belfast, then you’ll be glad to know you will be as connected as you would be in any other major European city. There are two airports: the George Best Belfast City Airport, and the Belfast International Airport, a main train station: Belfast Great Victoria Street, and a commercial port, should you fancy testing out your sea legs.
The housing options are diverse, with a number of small villages and cities all within commutable distance to Belfast city centre. And for the young professional, the city centre itself shouldn’t be discounted, thanks to its wonderful modernisation and abundance of amenities.
Live on the Lagan
If it’s the bright lights of the big city you’re after, then moving to Belfast city centre is a good call. Over the previous ten years, there’s been expansive redevelopment and regeneration, including a number of residential riverside properties.
Living next to the River Lagan puts you at a comfortable 15 minute walk into the city centre, and within touching distance of a number of shops, bars, cafes, and restaurants. And the nearby Gasworks means you’ll have an award winning landscaped park and Botanical Gardens just waiting to be explored when you need a break from the hustle and bustle.
Meanwhile, the Victoria Square commercial, residential, and leisure development houses over 70 shops, cafes, and restaurants, including high street names such as Apple and House of Fraser. There’s also an 8 screen cinema, and The Dome, which offers panoramic views across the city.
Living down by the river means you can walk or cycle just about everywhere, however there are plenty of bus routes, and several train stations connecting you with the rest of the city and beyond.
Down in the Valley
Sitting just 8 miles southwest of Belfast, and located on the River Lagan, Lisburn is a city in its own right. The capital of the Lagan Valley, you’ll soon find this is a place full of dynamic and happy people.
Awarded city status in 2002, it has grown as an enterprising and spirited location, with the highest levels of inward investment in Northern Ireland outside of Belfast. It also has the lowest unemployment rates, a high standard of living, and a tremendous amount of education and health services.
For those of you pursuing a career in Belfast, but wish to live outside of the city, Lisburn is ideal; hopping the express train lands you in the city centre in just under 15 minutes.
And for those with young families, there’s a plethora of primary and secondary schools to choose from, and plenty to keep the little ones entertained when the summer rolls around. With the out-of-town shopping centre at Sprucefield, and the Lagan Valley Leisureplex, there’s so much to see and do you might just forget you live so close to the capital!
Making the move to Belfast? You simply must check out the city centre and Lisburn.
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