Best place to be…

Yesterday’s Observer magazine carried an interesting series of opinion pieces on which part of the “British Isles” *ahem* is the best suited to your lifestyle. Best place to be a parent, famous, fashionable, green (Bristol, apparently), an artist, etc, etc.. Determined as they obviously were to hit every demographic I looked through to see who is, allegedly, best suited to live here. Belfast, it seems, is the best place to be ‘young’. Well, they don’t know any better, do they?The article sets the scene [you’ll have to scroll past the Bristol entry to find it though] –

Belfast was a byword for sectarian and rain-streaked urban misery. While the rain remains, things are looking up in every other way for the next generation which is benefiting more than any from the ceasefire agreements of the late Nineties.

At the last census, Northern Ireland had the youngest population in the United Kingdom. Belfast has a population of 600,000, one in 12 of whom are students at Queens or Ulster Universities. There are cultural festivals throughout the year. Northern Irish pupils consistently achieve the best results at GCSE and A-Level, a highly educated and motivated population are taking control of their lives.

Rents are low enough for young people to afford and vast amounts of EU and Westminster money have got the economy booming. New hotels and businesses are springing up. The £750m Laganside development on the banks of the River Lagan has brought thousands of jobs.

A recent Europe-wide survey found Belfast residents were more content with their lives than those of any other UK city.

Personal testimony in support of the motion is provided by a law student at Queens –

My generation is less interested in talking about the Troubles. Everyone’s got friends from both sides of the sectarian divide, and we’re completely tolerant of each other. Talking to people who’ve been away and come back they say it’s got so much better in so many ways.

Belfast is a constantly changing city, but it’s undoubtedly cool.

Maybe.. but the best place to be young? Really?