If I had to rank my favorite cities in the UK, Belfast wouldn’t be very high on the list. It has its merits but it’s not my favorite. Though visiting is very fun, when I think about living in Belfast, I don’t get overwhelmingly positive feelings.
Belfast has been through a lot in its history so I can’t really fault it for being a little sad and a little run down. The city’s main claim to fame is working very hard on things that, through no fault of their own, ended up being a disaster: the Titanic and Game of Thrones. They’re very proud, which is cute; former crew of the HBO show walk around brandishing their official production jackets. But some of the lively pubs with flowing beer and whiskey are full of people who look like they’re definitely a little on the alcoholic side, and like Game of Thrones might have been the best thing to ever happen to them. There are certain parts of the city that are adorable and full of cute shops and cafes, but other parts seem kind of dead, even on a weekend which is depressing. They have a great market, but then that’s only open on the weekends. It seems like the city has a lot of down time. I imagine that’s worse when it’s really cold. It’s a huge port town and it feels like it. Not my favorite vibe.
The people in Belfast are outrageously nice and kind. It’s always a pleasant experience to meet helpful strangers who have a great sense of humor. It’s the kind of place where you definitely feel welcome as a visitor, probably because it isn’t the tourist circus that a lot of other major European cities are. But if I think about all the unsolicited conversation I would experience if I lived in Belfast, I feel overwhelmed. I prefer a little bit more social distance from other people. That being said, they’re definitely some of the nicest people in the world so it’s great, just not all the time.
Even though it’s on the pound, Belfast wasn’t as expensive as I expected it to be. Food and drink are fairly priced and very good quality. I can’t complain about Belfast being hard to afford. Compared to other major cities in the UK, I’m sure it’s one of the cheapest both in housing and general living expenses. The center of the city is very walkable so I might not even have to spend money on transportation.
The food in Belfast was good but not mind blowing. Aside from some really good chicken we had at Yardbird, I don’t know that I’ll remember any meal after the trip. Nothing was horrible but it was also bordering on mediocre. And good food is kind of important to me, so that’s not a huge plus. The drinking situation is fantastic though. I love a good beer and so do the people of Belfast. But unfortunately, I can’t survive on alcohol alone, and I didn’t find any of the food craveable.
Living in Belfast seems like it would be simple and hassle free. It’s small enough to get around comfortably. I speak the national language which is a big plus after spending three years marooned in Czechia. I also love that the airport is so close to the city and cheap to get to by bus or Uber. It would make my short getaways that much more convenient.
Total livability score: 4/10
Belfast is nice. But I rather live in a city that is something more than just nice.