Moving to Northern Ireland: Violaine’s experience

Moving to Northern Ireland? It is with great pleasure that I welcome on the blog Violaine, 26, who has moved to Belfast, Northern Ireland.

In this article she tells us about her experience as an expatriate and gives us a few tips to prepare for her departure to Northern Ireland. 


Moving to Northern Ireland – Violaine’s experience

Hello Francesca! My name is Violaine, I am 26 years old and I live in Belfast, Northern Ireland where I have been an expatriate for 2 years. In my professional life, I work as a marketing consultant and digital strategy for a local e-commerce company. I am also a travel blogger during my free time, I blog on for 2 years. I started my blog when I arrived in Belfast in January 2014.

Previously, I also lived 1 year in Ireland in Dublin and Cork, 2 years in Estonia, 6 months in Italy, 6 months in Canada, 6 months in China, 3 months in Iceland and 3 months on Reunion Island. In other words, I’ve been an expatriate for 7 years! But for now, my suitcases are in Northern Ireland.


Why did you leave France?

I started with a lot of travel for my studies. Internships, expatriations, as soon as the opportunity presented itself, I went abroad, I sent a lot of spontaneous applications to companies that interested me and that were in agreement with my studies, and I always found structures and universities to welcome me for several months. In France, it was always more complicated. And I was less interested, I wanted to go on an adventure, discover new cultures, see new landscapes and speak other languages. This is mainly why I chose to leave France in the first place.


What did you do during your stay?

Being an expatriate has a good side. It feels (almost) always on vacation. Being in a country different from your own makes you want to enjoy it, to know more and to see more and more! So I try at least once a month to go somewhere in Ireland/Northern Ireland to visit a place I don’t know yet.

As for the pro side, I was always either on an internship or in expatriation for the last few years, now I have a fixed job here in Belfast.


What were your fears and strengths before you left? 

Being used to expatriations and moves, I can’t say I had fears. I’m used to leaving and adapting to a new environment now. It’s one of my main strengths, knowing how to adapt wherever I go.


Did you speak the language of the country before you left?

Yes! Although it is not a weakness in my opinion if someone wants to go to Ireland/Northern Ireland without speaking English. As they say, you learn twice as fast when you’re in the bath! Being immersed is the best way to learn a language.


What did you like most about the local culture and what you liked the least?

I love the friendliness of the Irish. The people here are incredibly kind. They will always help you if you need to. If you are looking for a place, anyone on the street will offer their help. I have no less in mind, than more for this funny and welcoming population!


What was the hardest part of your installation?

Nothing at all! I had absolutely no difficulty. Moving to Ireland/Northern Ireland is very simple.


Do you have any sites to advise people who want to go to this country? 

I will tell them to read a little on the blogs but very few talk about expatriation in Northern Ireland! For my part, I have several articles on this subject on Vio’ Vadrouille, I have also concocted a small practical guide for newcomers: Moving to Belfast: the main thing here! which can be useful.

Expatriation forums also provide a lot of information and interaction with people based on the spot or who have already lived in the destination. I recommend which is well complete.  


How did you find a place to live?

When I arrived in Belfast, I was at the hotel for a week. Time to find accommodation, to visit. I think here in Belfast it is important to visit the accommodations as they are often very different from the pictures. I went through sites like Gumtree and found an ad for a well-located 2 bedroom apartment, I went to visit it with a friend and we got into a roommate! We went through an agency, there was a registration fee of 35 euros for the agency only and at least we had a guarantee that the accommodation would be suitable. We never had any worries!


Are there any administrative steps that you have to think about before you leave?

Whether in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland, there is no specific approach. Your ID card is enough! If you are leaving for a period of time, there may be steps to be taken in your native country, such as terminating your telephone contract to take one on the spot. It costs less as well.


Small indiscreet question (you may not answer): what budget did you have before you left?

Well, honestly, I don’t remember! It’s been too long!

However, if I were to quantify it for someone who is about to move to Northern Ireland, then I would say that it is wise to leave with a minimum of 1000 euros in your pocket, so that I can pay for transport when arriving, the deposit and the first month’s rent for accommodation and a few first errands. Finally I speak for someone who would come here with a job beforehand of course. It really depends on the situation of the person who is moving abroad.


What did you learn from this experience? 

By moving abroad, you learn to become less materialistic and to focus on the essentials, to get out of your comfort zone and that’s important. I think we learn to become much more patient too, after all, we grumble less in general! 


The country’s must-see places? 

In bulk, Belfast the capital, the Mountains of Mourne for nature, Portrush for surfing, Ballycastle for the coast and its beautiful beach, Whitehead a nice little fishing village or the Strangford Peninsula for its authenticity.


For you the journey is …

Learn, meet, share, discover, marvel… in a few words.

Portrush, Northern Ireland
Portrush – Northern Ireland by Kay Williams[CC BY-SA 2.0] , via Wikimedia Commons




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