When I say recently, it has actually been about three months already. Which is a good amount of time to get acquainted with my new surroundings and sort out a whole lot of paperwork. This is why I had to take a small break from blogging, because life priorities as important as these demand some attention.
A change of scenery and lifestyle felt necessary as well as getting away from a city where, let’s face it, life is getting incredibly expensive (I found apartments for rent in Paris itself that were cheaper than our suburban apartment on the edge of Dublin; somehow, this does not sound right). Over the past couple of years, a few people I know already left the country and I could not agree more with the reasons they would decide to leave (my friend Alex talks about the reality behind her and her family’s big move to Canada which would give you an idea about the cost of living and lifestyle in Dublin - plus, this was nearly two years ago, things have increased since then).
As for moving to France, I have been weighing the pros and cons over the past year and decided against it for now. This Summer, it has actually been 15 years (!!) since I left France to move abroad. There were reasons why I left at the time and I still have good reasons to not move back. I leave the option open but not for the near future. Who knows, I might change my mind after a while. Que sera sera!
So going back to where I live now. An opportunity to move to Belfast came up and voilà!
I had honestly never considered it as a place to move to but after nearly three months living here, I wished I had known earlier how nice it is.
Of course, when considering to move to a new city/town, it is important to do some research and make sure you will feel good living there. Make a list of the everyday things that matter to you and see how it compares from your current place to the one where you are thinking to move to: cost of renting, types of accommodation, energy bills, phone and internet fees, location, transport system, where you will find good ingredients if you love cooking, access to culture, where to go for walks, etc. The list could go on depending on what you like about where you live.
After this, and if you have decided to move, it is time to find accommodation (the site Property News is a good source to find rentals here in Belfast), get organised with paperwork, pack your boxes and figure out other things on your list.
We all have our ways to prepare for this but here is how I did:
This is not my favourite part but having decluttered a lot over the past couple of years has made the task easier. Plus, moving is the opportunity to declutter even more and see what you really want to keep or not. When moving from Dublin to Belfast, and if you do not have a lot of heavy furniture to bring with you, you can rent a Go Car van. Only two trips were necessary to move everything and it was cheaper than hiring people to do the job. As for getting boxes to pack your things in, I had kept some sturdy large plastic ones from the previous move and to this was added a large pack of cardboard boxes from Argos (you can get a selection of small, medium and large boxes there). If you are renting, make sure to keep your boxes if they are not damaged, then flatten and store them for your next move.
For this, I carefully check everything it involves and make a detailed list. The usual things are to organise a mail redelivery and update your address where necessary (think about everywhere you use your address for online payments for example).
In this case, moving to Belfast also meant depending on a different country’s system and using a different currency. So my list went from informing the relevant institutions I moved country to registering where I needed to in Belfast and getting a new bank account in between. I find the system very organised in Belfast so everything was sorted out efficiently. After signing the rent contract and having an official document with my new address on it, I was able to show up at a bank and open a new account here and then (I did some careful research to find the right bank - feel free to email me if you would like the name - the staff there were really friendly and helpful so I had my account open within an hour and was able to immediately sort out direct debit for such things as the electricity bill for example).
For things relating to your health in Belfast, you need to register at a medical practice within your catchment area (usually within 3 miles from where you live). You will need to fill in a form and bring a proof of address and ID. Once you are registered, most practices have open mornings and then the afternoons are for booked appointments only.
This part really depends on what things matter to you. The first thing I personally do when moving to a new place is I take a few walks around the neighbourhood to get acquainted with things: where can I shop for food, where are good restaurants and cafes, where is the nearest pharmacy, where can I go for a walk and get some fresh air, etc.
One of the things I did for example is registering at my local library so I can borrow the books on my reading list (Libraries NI have a very efficient app you can install on your phone). And of course, I managed to make my all important list of places where to eat and where to find delicious ingredients. I am still discovering my new city so the rest is an ongoing process.
Just like any city or town you decide to move to, there is some time for adaptation and settling in needed. I am still in this phase so for now I will embrace having moved here and let's see on the long term how this goes.
When you move to a new place, what is your process?
Please feel free to share your best tips in the comments below.
If you are considering moving to Belfast, do not hesitate to ask questions and I can answer as best as I can (since I am still very new here).