What factors should inform your decision about where to buy a home in Northern Ireland?

Choosing where you would like to live is definitely one of the most talked about things in modern society and that’s just as true for people in Belfast or Boston. Armagh or Adelaide.

There’s a nester in all of us. Some of us have the urge to nest close to where we were born or brought up. It’s that familiarity that draws us. For others its about lifestyle, or the kind of environment they would like for their children.

In Northern Ireland we have some great locations with great neighborhoods and lots of strong communities. If you work in Belfast one of your top priorities must include ease of getting in and out of town. In 2013 you probably wont automatically jump into a car as your parents tended to in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Aside from the crippling cost of running a car, cities across the world are grappling with traffic congestion. There’s also the much talked about problems of greenhouse gases and their effect on ‘global warming’ (although Northern Ireland does seems to be getting the short end of the stick in that regard)

It’s true that Belfast is a little behind some other cities in attaching more importance to public transport and cycling, but things are beginning to change, bit by bit. The recent move to establish priority bus lanes was painful for car users initially, but it seems to be settling down now, and according to Translink the numbers of Metro users is definitely up.

Suburban rail links are also playing their part to provide fast and easy access to Belfast city centre. A bit like Dublin’s Dart lines, Belfast’s suburban rail lines serve south and east Belfast. Modern, fast, exceptionally quiet, and it has to be said, really cool looking trains, drop suburban dwellers right in the heart of Belfast.

Arriving from East Belfast into Central Station via Titanic Quarter, you can be at City Hall, Waterfront Hall, Victoria Centre in minutes. The next three stops are Botanic Avenue, City Hospital and Great Victoria Street. That’s pretty much all the major business, employment and retail areas covered.

if you’re coming in from South Belfast, you can use the ‘Portadown line’ which also terminates at Great Victoria Street.

So who are the lucky communities who live along these lines? The ‘Bangor line’ serving East Belfast shadows the main Bangor – Belfast arterial road, but it has a better view of the coast, it’s faster and best of all you don’t have the worry or expense of parking your car! Starting in Bangor stops include, Helen’s Bay, Cultra, Holywood and Sydenham Station, the main suburban station serving residents of East Belfast.

The good people of south Belfast have access to the ‘Portadown Line’ from stations at Derriaghy, Dunmurry, Finaghy, Balmoral and Adelaide.

Other big factors to consider about location are things like how close are you going to be to schools, shops etc? Is it a nice neighborhood? Are values going to rise, or at least not fall? What are the leisure facilities like? And, if you do need to use a car, just how convenient is it to work and family?

In 2013, you’ll also have to consider which properties or developments will provide you with the best chance of securing a mortgage. Some new developments in east Belfast are pre-approved for help-to-buy or shared ownership schemes. You should consult your bank or financial adviser for details of these.

Of course, it almost goes without saying that you should seek good independent financial advice about any decision you are making in relation to buying a home.

Finally, listen to your heart and your head, talk to your loved ones and then make your decision.

Good luck!