Instant Improver

Why Everybody Should Move To Belfast Right Now

This week, ShortList declared Manchester to be the greatest place in Britain to live if you’re a man. DJ and BBC broadcaster Rigsy disagrees.

Here’s why he thinks Belfast is heads above the rest…

“There are idiots in Belfast. No more than most cities, but here they get an unfair whack of publicity and can make us look pretty bad. I think that’s why the majority of people from the city are so friendly – we’re overcompensating. That’s why Belfast is such a great place to be a man, because anyone who happens to be in this city will have a good time forced upon them.

“The likes of The Woodworkers, Katy’s Bar and The Pavilion are all great places to get drunk with nice people who, crucially, aren’t trying too hard. Nowhere in Belfast is too cool or overly aware of itself.

“Music and culturally, we punch way above our weight. Van Morrison, George Best and CS Lewis were all born a few minutes from each other in east Belfast. There’s plenty to see, too. Two reasons Game of Thrones shoot so much of their show here: we’re cheap and because there’s no shortage of outrageous and unique locations. Just consider The Giant’s Causeway – I still can’t get my head around it.

“So yeah, Belfast is pretty cool, without trying to be or knowing it is, and that’s what makes it so cool, right?”

And here's ShortList's take...

OK, we know we said the “best places to live in Britain” and Belfast is technically part of the United Kingdom, not Britain, but calm down, Captain Geography. Think of this as bonus information. We’re including Belfast for good reason. ShortList readers named low cost of living and housing as, respectively, the fifth and fourth most important considerations when choosing a place to live.

The capital city of Northern Ireland is the least expensive major UK city to live in, and one of the cheapest places to buy your own home, with an average house-price-to-earnings ratio of 4.12. That might still sound a lot, but when you consider in some areas of London the ratio is more than 26, it’s a comparative bargain.

After a troubled history, Belfast is a city on the up, with impressive architecture popping up next to historical buildings and the likes of Game Of Thrones, which shoots a lot of its interiors in the city’s Titanic Studios, bringing money into the area.

It made National Geographic’s top 10 destinations in the world in 2012, and the Financial Times thinks it’s in the top 10 places to hold a conference or event (might be the £3.10 average pint price). Also, if eight is your lucky number (hello China), it’s ranked eighth in the country for nightlife and happiness and low crime. But ninth for kebabs.

Not everything is perfect. Belfast is apparently the worst place in the UK for traffic jams, with journeys taking 32.1 per cent longer than the average, according to data from the Congestion index. It’s also better for those in a steady relationship, as it’s quite low down the rankings when it comes to percentage of single people, with only 46.6 per cent of inhabitants on the dating market.

As a completely unrelated stat, Belfast has the second fastest broadband speed in the UK, at 20.82Mbps. We don’t know what that means practically, but it’s quick, whatever you’re downloading. So if you’re married, want a massive house, play a lot of online Fifa and are excited by the possibility of passing a Lannister on the high street then Belfast might be ideal.