In the final instalment of our Belfast focus, we’re looking at what it’s actually like to live in the city if you’re thinking about relocating there for work.
Throughout the month of March, we’ve been taking a closer look at what makes Belfast such a great sci-tech hub for top talent to move to.
Relocating is always a big step and it helps if you have a good idea of what the city you’re moving to is really like.
Our guide to Belfast’s sci-tech ecosystem should give you a good indication of the kind of place it is for tech talent, top companies and budding start-ups.
But there’s so much more to life than work. Even if you know everything there is to know about Belfast’s sci-tech scene, that doesn’t paint a full picture of what your life will be like if you choose to relocate there.
With this in mind, we’ve taken a closer look at what the Belfast lifestyle is like to give you a better idea of what to expect when you make the move.
1. Cost of living
For its nearby neighbours in Dublin and London, this will likely pique their interest straight away. Belfast boasts some of the lowest accommodation costs in the UK.
With London nearly 300pc more expensive, it’s no surprise that many tech workers are leaving the expensive rat race of England’s capital in favour of Northern Ireland. According to Hays, the average house price in Belfast is almost half the UK’s average house price.
General costs of living outside of housing also match the same trajectory, making it a very appealing city for tech workers who have been priced out of Dublin, too.
2. Location and amenities
Belfast straddles the line of busy city and peaceful suburb beautifully. It’s quieter than some of the other major cities but still has large shopping outlets, plenty of restaurants, bars and cafés, and all the amenities you would need.
However, you don’t have to go very far away from its urban centre to find yourself close to the countryside and the mountains.
When living in Belfast, you’re only a half an hour from the coast. If you want to take a day trip up to the famous Giant’s Causeway, you’re only a little over an hour away.
3. Birthplace of Titanic
For those who don’t know, the ill-fated Titanic was built in Belfast – along with its sister ships, Olympic and Britannic – at the Harland and Wolff shipyard.
While the Titanic never completed her voyage, the world-class Titanic museum now stands proudly in the city, attracting tourists and locals alike.
Housed in an iconic, six-floor building, this visitor experience tells the story of the Titanic from the shipyard in which she was built to the murky depths where she met her end.
4. Game of Thrones and Narnia
Belfast has been particularly popular in recent years for Game of Thrones fans, as the hit TV show is filmed there and many of its stars are frequently spotted around the city.
However, it’s not the only fantasy world that Belfast hosts. CS Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, was born in Belfast, and Narnia itself was inspired by Northern Ireland.
Fans of both can immerse themselves in what Belfast has to offer with the Game of Thrones tour and the CS Lewis trail and park.
5. Art and history
For those looking for older culture within the city, Belfast has a number of art and history museums on offer.
From St Anne’s Cathedral and the Ulster Museum to the HMS Caroline and Belfast Castle, there is plenty of architecture and history to soak up as you explore the city.
Don’t forget about Crumlin Road Gaol, which hosts tours that take you through the tunnel beneath Crumlin Road, built in 1850 to bring prisoners from the courthouse across the street. For a sunnier expedition, try the Botanic Gardens.
6. Festivals and zoos
For more lively entertainment or something for the kids, Belfast certainly isn’t lacking. The outdoor music festival Belsonic has taken place in Belfast every summer since 2008.
Culture Night is also a massive celebration in Belfast, taking place in September every year and offering hundreds of free events across the city.
For animal lovers, don’t forget about the Belfast Zoological Gardens, located in a relatively secluded location overlooking Antrim Road. This creates a uniquely peaceful environment for the animals.
7. Meet-ups galore
One of the great things about Belfast is the number of meet-ups that have developed over the last few years.
While the sci-tech meet-up scene has exploded, other meet-ups are plentiful, too. This would give anyone relocating to Belfast the opportunity to meet new people with similar interests.
If you’re moving up for work, there will also be meet-ups that will suit your professional needs, and you won’t be short of friendly people to talk to.
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Belfast City Hall. Image: James Kennedy NI/Shutterstock