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Moving to Northern Ireland

Moving to Northern Ireland

Old Mar 31st 2022, 11:51 pm
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Default Moving to Northern Ireland

Hi all, Great forum, very informative.

My wife (UK citizen) and I are contemplating a move from NZ back to her place of birth, NI.
I am a retired NZ citizen who lived in UK throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s, returning to NZ in 1999.
The process of applying for a Partner Visa is understood, as are the Pension requirements, NHI/National Insurance position etc.

We are planning a further visit to NI later this year to agree where we would like to settle (Ards Peninsular, Newcastle/Warrenpoint, Enniskillen being favored).
Once we decide upon location, we plan to purchase our property (for cash), sight unseen, from NZ and we are comfortable in so doing.

We would welcome any observations Forum members may have (have you purchased property remotely?), including of course any flaws with our plan!

Cheers, Tate


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Old Apr 1st 2022, 6:38 am
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Default Re: Moving to Northern Ireland

Originally Posted by Tate View Post
Hi all, Great forum, very informative.

My wife (UK citizen) and I are contemplating a move from NZ back to her place of birth, NI.
I am a retired NZ citizen who lived in UK throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s, returning to NZ in 1999.
The process of applying for a Partner Visa is understood, as are the Pension requirements, NHI/National Insurance position etc.

We are planning a further visit to NI later this year to agree where we would like to settle (Ards Peninsular, Newcastle/Warrenpoint, Enniskillen being favored).
Once we decide upon location, we plan to purchase our property (for cash), sight unseen, from NZ and we are comfortable in so doing.

We would welcome any observations Forum members may have (have you purchased property remotely?), including of course any flaws with our plan!

Cheers, Tate
Morning Tate
I just got back to France last night after 2 glorious weeks in N. Ireland. I was in Fermanagh, Tyrone (the Sperrins) and the North Coast before heading to my mother's in Crawfordsburn, near Helens Bay in Co. Down. There are primroses and gorse blooming everywhere and the birds are singing away in the Spring sunshine.

I have purchased 2 rental houses there remotely in the past few years.
I used a local firm of solicitors based in Bangor called Murray, Kelly and Moore and was very pleased with them. When you're over looking at areas maybe go and see whichever solicitors you're intending to use and find out what paperwork they'll need from you. I remember the estate agent needed proof of ID and a bank statement to show we had the funds to proceed with the cash purchase.
For utilities, I opened an account over the telephone with Power NI and that was a very simple procedure.

If your wife has family members in NI I would strongly recommend you enlist their help and ask them to view the properties for you. My brother did this for me and picked up on a serious problem in one house that didn't exactly jump out of the survey report (which come with so many caveats these days they're barely worth the paper they're written on).

The great thing about NI is that people are almost always friendly and obliging so that all helps to oil the wheels. That's not to say of course that you'll never encounter incompetence and skulduggery but at least they'll bungle/rip you off pleasantly.
On a less positive note, it sounds like the health system is on its knees. Not enough doctors.
So unless you're prepared to wait 4 years for stuff like hip replacements, be prepared to dig deep and go private.
Not convinced the situation is much better in other parts of the UK. My niece is an A&E doctor in Cardiff and says it's the same story there.

Anyway, good luck!





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Old Apr 1st 2022, 9:17 am
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Default Re: Moving to Northern Ireland

I'd agree with Helen1964. Personally I would favor Enniskillen and you have everything you need on your doorstep including hospital, scenery, lakes etc.
If you are still ok driving, there are amazing beaches around Sligo on par with NZ. I am in the Republic myself and people can access both health systems, so it really depends on location and if you might want to go private. I twisted my ankle recently and went to a Laya walk-in clinic and got seen in less than an hour (x-ray etc.) and it was all covered through my work. Of course this can be different for others who can't afford private and you always hear the horror stories when it comes to public waiting times. Again, I hear the same from family in UK and Germany.
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Old Apr 1st 2022, 10:48 am
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Default Re: Moving to Northern Ireland

Hi Tate,

Exciting times ahead.

When we bought our house in the UK while living in the USA we actually visited first and made offers etc but then everything else was done remotely, including transferring the purchase money to our lawyer just prior to completion, and it all worked very well indeed.

When we arrived in 2017 we did purchase health insurance which was, and is, extremely low cost compared to what we were used to in the USA. It has been very nice to have and we have availed ourselves of it a couple of times. My wife had cataract surgery and in the middle of the Covid pandemic I had knee surgery to repair a torn cartilage.
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Old Apr 1st 2022, 11:24 am
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Default Re: Moving to Northern Ireland

I know you said you're comfortable with buying remotely but another option would be to travel to NI to find an area you like. Then go back to NZ, sell your house (if that's what you're doing) and arrange for your stuff to be shipped to NI and put in a self-storage unit. Some self-storage facilities will take delivery of your stuff without you having to be there.
When you return to NI, you would be given a key and could access the unit whenever you liked.

In the meantime you could stay in an Airbnb or other furnished rental while you view houses.
One potential problem with this plan is that you wouldn't have utility bills (as proof of address for opening bank accounts, etc). I'm planning to get round this by asking a family member to add my name to their electricity bill (my 2 little houses in NI are rented out so all utility bills are now in the tenants' names).



We're planning to move from France to the UK and that's how we'll do it. No way I would buy a house without seeing it in the flesh first.

Tip: let your partner choose the area you're moving to and then they can't blame you if it all goes wrong.

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Old Apr 1st 2022, 11:27 am
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Default Re: Moving to Northern Ireland

Originally Posted by Moses2013 View Post
I'd agree with Helen1964. Personally I would favor Enniskillen and you have everything you need on your doorstep including hospital, scenery, lakes etc.
If you are still ok driving, there are amazing beaches around Sligo on par with NZ. I am in the Republic myself and people can access both health systems, so it really depends on location and if you might want to go private. I twisted my ankle recently and went to a Laya walk-in clinic and got seen in less than an hour (x-ray etc.) and it was all covered through my work. Of course this can be different for others who can't afford private and you always hear the horror stories when it comes to public waiting times. Again, I hear the same from family in UK and Germany.
Femanagh is indeed fabulous, isn't it. I hadn't been in Enniskillen for years and was surprised how lovely it is. Great cafe called The Toastery towards the top of the town.
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Old Apr 1st 2022, 1:12 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Northern Ireland

Originally Posted by Helen1964 View Post
Femanagh is indeed fabulous, isn't it. I hadn't been in Enniskillen for years and was surprised how lovely it is. Great cafe called The Toastery towards the top of the town.
Lots of great places around and Enniskillen has certainly improved a lot over the years. We aren't up North too often, but do drive around the Island a lot and it's very hard to pick a favorite place. I love the drive from Westport to Clifden and you can drive through the mountains and might see the rain coming down, go a bit further and along the coast you suddenly have glorious sunshine and some of the best beaches I've seen.
Last summer we drove to County Mayo nearly every 2nd weekend and went swimming, or just enjoyed the beach. We went up to Strandhill near Sligo two weeks ago and loved it there too. Of course it all costs money and not everyone can afford to drive around, then again others waste their money on alcohol:-). Retired people will obviously need other things, I think Enniskillen offers a good balance if you want things around you, but want to be away from a large city (not that there are too many anyway). Of course weather might be another factor for some and Enniskillen does seem to be a lot wetter and slightly cooler (especially winter).
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Old Apr 1st 2022, 3:25 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Northern Ireland

Originally Posted by Tate View Post
Hi all, Great forum, very informative.

My wife (UK citizen) and I are contemplating a move from NZ back to her place of birth, NI.
I am a retired NZ citizen who lived in UK throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s, returning to NZ in 1999.
The process of applying for a Partner Visa is understood, as are the Pension requirements, NHI/National Insurance position etc.

We are planning a further visit to NI later this year to agree where we would like to settle (Ards Peninsular, Newcastle/Warrenpoint, Enniskillen being favored).
Once we decide upon location, we plan to purchase our property (for cash), sight unseen, from NZ and we are comfortable in so doing.

We would welcome any observations Forum members may have (have you purchased property remotely?), including of course any flaws with our plan!

Cheers, Tate
Hi Tate,

Quite exciting times for you. Not often I read of people moving to Norn Iron, but it is a great spot... just mind you don't have too many Ulster Fries.

I grew up in Bangor, which is on the Ards Peninsula, so I can give you a bit of an idea about that part of the world. Bangor, in my view, has a great location: on the sea, with some nice beaches nearby, as well as great coastal walks, easy access to driving around the Ards Peninsula and down the other side of Strangford Lough, as well as only being 12miles from Belfast with regular train service. Carrickfergus on the other side of the Lough would have similar location and transport delights, except its scenic area would be the north Antrim coast... depends what you are into. Only thing I would say about Bangor is that it is easily one of the worst governed towns in NI. The seafront streets, in particular, have been neglected since the 80s, and a town centre shopping mall is, somehow, now deserted. They do seem to be getting their act together somewhat as Bangor participates in the Belfast City Deal, but it definitely should be a lot better than it is.

If I can answer any questions about the area, please let me know.

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Old Apr 1st 2022, 3:50 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Northern Ireland

I fully endorse your opinion of Ards and North Down borough council. They’re a disgrace.
It’s particularly galling as local residents pay the highest rates in NI and the town of Bangor SHOULD be thriving.
The chief executive was at school with me and I’m sorry to say he’s proved a total waste of space.
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Old Apr 1st 2022, 4:36 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Northern Ireland

Originally Posted by Tumbling_Dice View Post
Only thing I would say about Bangor is that it is easily one of the worst governed towns in NI. The seafront streets, in particular, have been neglected since the 80s, and a town centre shopping mall is, somehow, now deserted. They do seem to be getting their act together somewhat as Bangor participates in the Belfast City Deal, but it definitely should be a lot better than it is.
That seems to be a general problem in the UK and lot of seaside towns are rundown. I used to live in Kent and places like Folkestone, Margate never moved on and felt depressing. Hopefully it will work out for Bangor https://www.ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk/...ty-region-deal
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Old Apr 1st 2022, 5:13 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Northern Ireland

Originally Posted by Moses2013 View Post
That seems to be a general problem in the UK and lot of seaside towns are rundown. I used to live in Kent and places like Folkestone, Margate never moved on and felt depressing. Hopefully it will work out for Bangor https://www.ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk/...ty-region-deal
Thing about it is that, away from the immediate seafront streets, Bangor is not at all run down. Nearly all the schools have been rebuilt in the last 10 years or so, it has a cracking new leisure centre with olympic sized pool, (although they managed to open that after the London Olympics, missing out on a potential base for athletes) nice parks, pubs and restaurants, new doctors surgeries everywhere etc. The seafront paths and marina are not run down either: it is just a couple of streets. I sometimes wonder if the council (present and past included) had to study to become so incompetent as I have scarcely seen the like in my life.

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Old Apr 1st 2022, 6:03 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Northern Ireland

Originally Posted by Tumbling_Dice View Post
Thing about it is that, away from the immediate seafront streets, Bangor is not at all run down. Nearly all the schools have been rebuilt in the last 10 years or so, it has a cracking new leisure centre with olympic sized pool, (although they managed to open that after the London Olympics, missing out on a potential base for athletes) nice parks, pubs and restaurants, new doctors surgeries everywhere etc. The seafront paths and marina are not run down either: it is just a couple of streets. I sometimes wonder if the council (present and past included) had to study to become so incompetent as I have scarcely seen the like in my life.
According to a friend who works in local government, the problem stems in large part from a policy of internal promotion. They’re not bringing in talent from the outside. And after years working for the same organization there is a tendency to become lazy and complacent.
Another problem is the senior management’s total lack of cajones. There have been countless cases where incontrovertible evidence existed of corruption/misconduct yet the chief executive did nothing. One guy - known to everyone as Marathon Man - would regularly clock in, go home, change into his running gear and head out for a run. Then go back to work afterwards. It was a cut and dried case yet the guy suffered no consequences.
The mere mention of disciplinary action and they’re off to the industrial tribunal.
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Old Apr 1st 2022, 7:13 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Northern Ireland

On a more positive note, there are plenty of little towns in Northern Ireland which ARE looking much better these days. Apart from Enniskillen which has already been mentioned, Omagh (trees planted in the High Street and freshly painted shopfronts) , Ballycastle, Portstewart, Bushmills, Comber and Hollywood were all looking good when I visited last week. Killyleagh seems to be on the up, too.

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Old Apr 1st 2022, 8:44 pm
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Default Re: Moving to Northern Ireland

Hi all

Many thanks for your thoughts and advice.

Helen 1964, the info regarding conveyancing lawyers is most welcome, we will take the opportunity to discuss our potential purchase with them during our visit.
We are in the fortunate position of being able to purchase in NI without the need to sell our main residence in NZ (it will be sold prior to our move), we figure that if all goes well, we can time our arrival after completion and take possession straight away.
This does not work so well from a shipping/furniture perspective but will make life easier for our cat!

There are so many prospective places we could settle in NI, we are looking forward to visiting as many as possible in the allocated time. My wife is from Belfast so we know the areas from north of Carrickfergus through to Bangor as well as Derry and the towns along the northern coast. One obvious downside of moving back is the weather....I guess that is not going to vary that much from town to town. A big attraction for our move is the ability to jump on a plane and be somewhere warm within a couple of hours (something we plan to do several times a year).

On another matter I wonder if any Forum members have experience of gaining a UK Ancestry visa? I qualify on all counts (Commonwealth citizen, grandfather born in UK) but am confused by one of the eligibility requirements "can and plan to work in the UK"?
Being retired I have no intent or desire to seek work although I would be happy to undertake unpaid/charity work. As an aside, I used the have the right of permanent abode from my 27 years of living in the UK, that however was lost after an absence exceeding two years!

Appreciate the feedback, comment and observations! Thank you all for sharing your knowledge and experiences.

Cheers, Tate

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Old Apr 2nd 2022, 5:57 am
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Default Re: Moving to Northern Ireland

Can't help with the visa query but Moses is right about the weather being worse over in the West.
East coast is definitely drier.
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